Within the past two years, the elusive singer-songwriter Dominic Fike has risen to the forefront of the music industry. Beginning with the release of his debut EP, Don’t Forget About Me, Demos, Fike deviated himself from the rest of the modern alternative-pop artists by utilizing guitar riffs that encapsulate the sound of an early-2000s Weezer or Blink-182 song. These refreshed, retro riffs are complemented with buoyant synthesizers, occasional xylophone bumps, pitch-boosted background vocals, and subdued yet lush bass hits.
The wanderlust imagery presented in the tape immediately attracted the likes of America’s Boyband BROCKHAMPTON (BH). The infinite crew that is BH curated an alternate music video for the RIAA Certified Platinum hit, “3 Nights.” The free-flowing, casual video perfectly captures the freedom and disposition Fike consistently purports. This quick transcension into a rising superstardom allowed for the Florida-raised, LA-based Fike to earn some incredibly notable features, including credits on Kevin Abstract’s Arizona Baby and Bakar’s EP Will You Be My Yellow? Catching spots in these very highly anticipated and accredited albums allowed for Fike to garner some impressive features of his own for his “year of singles” in 2019, in which famed producer Kenny Beats curated two beautiful tracks in “Phone Numbers” and “Hit Me Up” for Fike. The latter track also included a feature from the truly angelic vocalist Omar Apollo. All of this had occurred during roughly a two-year time span before he’d even dropped a full-length album.
The anticipation for that debut album escalated exponentially for nearly two years, and honestly, how could it not? When you're repping a platinum hit, all-star-like credits, and receiving backing from legitimate staples in the music industry, you’re not just expected to, but you're required to curate an album that is genuinely momentous. Specifically, in a time when streaming is ever-growing, a sound that can truly enthrall a listener within the first 30 seconds of a song is more important than ever. The duo of Fike and Julian Cruz, the primary producer of DFAMD as well as Angelic Hoodrat by Kenny Mason, immensely understood this ideology, and they made sure to really emphasize that. Dominic Fike’s first full-length album, What Could Possibly Go Wrong, exceeded every single pre-conceived expectation I had produced in my mind.
Beginning with the pre-released singles, “Chicken Tenders,” and “Politics & Violence,” the usual guitar-heavy progressions I was used to hearing had now been replaced with near robotic, yet cheerful synthesizers and quick, jaunty 808s. I was no longer entangled in the perfectly formulated mixture of alternative and pop. The balance between the two genres collapsed in favor of pop, with a new East Coast twist strewed throughout. “Politics & Violence” incorporates a bridge-to-beat switch comparable to that of “Star67” by Drake and “Nikes” by Frank Ocean. There was a very large reason this track was my number one played song of 2020. Between the random, reverbed extrapolates shooting at you throughout and the flat, quick hi-hat hits at the end of the bridge, you are genuinely experiencing one of the best-produced pop songs of the year.
While “Chicken Tenders” was not in my top five tracks on the album, it was the perfect pre-release to showcase not only Fike’s transition, but also the progression and growth he's made since DFAMD. This maturation can especially be seen in tracks like “Wurli,” where the mixing of vocals is so much more polished than what you would hear in the past. It feels as if there are two alternately pitched Dominic Fikes seamlessly dueting with one another.
An unbelievable amount of evolution can also be observed within the realms of production and mastering quality that Fike had at his disposal to mold what is potentially the best album-closer of 2020: “Florida.” This track contains some of the most unfathomable credits I have ever witnessed. Fike and Kenny Beats actually created this song the same day they worked on the previously discussed track, “Phone Numbers,” and as we can see in a 2019 Twitch livestream, they had incredible chemistry.
In regards to the mixing, Fike was able to recruit the heavily-distinguished production and mixing engineer Tom Elmhirst. The multi-Grammy winner has credits on some of the most prominent songs of the century, including “Hello,” and “Someone Like You” by Adele, “Cigarette Daydreams” by Cage the Elephant, and maybe most notoriously, “Back to Black,” by Amy Winehouse. This pure quality boost in the production can be discerned throughout the entirety of the LP because of both his growth as an artist and who he had the opportunity to work with.
After the release of What Could Possibly Go Wrong, I believe Dominic Fike manifested and authenticated the fact that he has the potential to become one of the biggest artists in the world. Fike teased the potential for another full-length, non-guitar album to drop by the end of 2020; however, this obviously didn’t occur. Fike has emphasized the fact that he’s trying to produce music on a daily basis, and has been doing so since he started the production of his first album. Fike habitually accentuated the fact that his rise to fame has done nothing but help him realize what is most important to himself.