Michael Longoria, best known for his star turn on Broadway as Frankie Valli in the Tony Award-winning musical Jersey Boys, releases his new album today, Like They Do In The Movies.
The collection of classic, romantic songs from movies also features the debut of an original song written by Longoria, “Kiss Me (Like They Do In The Movies).”
As a singer-songwriter, Longoria has performed his original songs at Joe’s Pub, The Cutting Room, CB’s Gallery, and Caroline’s on Broadway. The acclaimed artist has been nominated for Best Male Vocalist and Best Cabaret by The Glam Awards in 2016.
I had a chance to chat with the handsome actor/singer about his new album as well as the process that goes into creating a new project.
The Randy Report: You’ve written a terrific new song for the album – “Kiss Me (Like They Do In The Movies).” I expected a slow, romantic ballad, but instead, it’s a driving, urgent uptempo. What was the inspiration for the song?
Michael Longoria: The lyric pleads, “Kiss me like they do in the movies. Like you would in the last row, come on, let’s go. You have to show me now.” When I was recording these amazing movie love songs, I found myself wondering if this kind of love exists in real life. There is a sense of urgency in the beat, mixed with the sweeping strings characterize musically the internal conflict we have when we expect things to be like we have seen played out on film, but in reality, it doesn’t always happen as a screenwriter might dream up.
TRR: I understand you grew up on Mariachi music. How did that, as a musical foundation, form how you listen to or approach music?
ML: Because I didn’t speak Spanish, I had to learn Mariachi songs by hearing and emotion. My parents would teach me how to pronounce the words and then explain the general idea. The music and melody would reveal what the true meaning was without me knowing the words. I somehow would know what to feel when belting out a classic Mariachi tune.
TRR: Is there a favorite song on the new album?
ML: Besides “Kiss Me,” which is my favorite because it’s about my own life, I love singing “It Must Have Been Love” from the movie Pretty Woman. It’s a heartbreaking song about being alone on Christmas after a breakup.
TRR: The song list for the new album is wide-ranging – how hard was it to whittle the list down? Was there a song you really wanted that didn’t make the album?
ML: So many songs didn’t make the album but were on the long list. I wanted to record “Cruel Summer” from Karate Kid. I find that song so sexy in its tragedy. Another breakup song with an upbeat arrangement.
TRR: Many of the songs on the album are so iconic and the performances by the original artists are embedded in our psyche (“Wind Beneath My Wings,” “I Will Always Love You,” “My Heart Will Go On”). Was it hard to disassociate the original? Or did the original serve as a springboard?
ML: I was originally discouraged from taking on “My Heart Will Go On” and “I Will Always Love You.” But once I started to dive deep into the lyrics and storyline, the songs became about my life. That’s the sign of a great song. A lyric that tells a human experience and a melody that colors the emotion of that experience. The singer brings breath and sound to these words and then that sound stays in your head. It’s amazing how music can move the human spirit.
TRR: With years of experience on stage in long-running shows and concert work, do you approach studio recording projects differently? If so, how?
ML: Yes! When I’m recording a song it’s just me and an engineer after we record the band. I’m in a small sound box singing my feelings all alone with an amazing engineer recording my every breath. It’s a very intimate and emotional journey when you record like that. When you listen to Like They Do In The Movies, you are hearing into my deepest emotions. It’s not a performance I’d give under pressure for a 2,000 seat theater. It’s more of a one on one singing just you and me vibe.
TRR: This is your third studio album. With that experience now, is there any advice ‘2019 Michael Longoria’ would tell ‘2016 Michael Longoria’ about recording an album?
ML: Keep writing! Tell your story. Someone will need to hear what you are going through and it will let them know they are not alone.
Like They Do In The Movies, produced by Grammy nominee and 12-time Emmy Award winner Michael Croiter, is available now in stores and online.
Longoria celebrates the new release with concerts in New York (last night at The Green Room 42), and in San Francisco on October 16 at Feinstein’s At The Nikko.
Follow Michael Longoria on Instagram here.