At a recent performance at NYC’s Rockwood Music Hall, singer-songwriter Thomas Day played for an enthusiastic crowd of about 75 Gen-Z concertgoers. “Can you do my BeReal?” was the question of the night. Phones were out for the entire 35-minute set, flipping back and forth between Day at the piano and the phone’s owner capturing themselves singing along to every word.
Day, who exists well within the social media culture himself as a 20-year-old, went along with it professionally and with a sense of humor. He seamlessly moved through tracks like “VICIOUS,” “not my job anymore,” and “MASOCHIST,” collectively with close to 30 million streams, with ease, showcasing a level of performance far beyond what was only his second official gig. During “MASOCHIST,” a pop-punk leaning tune with his most impressive vocal to date, he stood up and kicked the piano bench over as he effortlessly soared through the chorus: “Yeah, break my heart, please do it again / I’ve got to feel you under my skin.”
It was a stellar showing for a young singer who is, slowly but surely, moving past his identity as, primarily, a Tik Tok artist. His new song, “Come Home,” out now, only adds to his rapidly changing musical and personal image, as are two unreleased tracks that are, potentially, next to come.
Finding His Footing
After a short stint on the 2020 season of America’s Got Talent, Day, then a high school junior, chose to leave the competition and pursue a career in music his own way. A similar trajectory to Benson Boone (“In The Stars”) who took the same course of action after being labeled an immediate frontrunner on American Idol. Songs like “Wildflower” and “Overplayed” came soon after, and, while perfectly adequate, reflected his age and uncertainty regarding his artistic direction.
Now, with “VICIOUS” and “MASOCHIST,” Day’s artistic direction as a Finneas-type pop artist is clear. And the growth is extremely prevalent. “I think it’s interesting,” he said. “With the way that my career has gone so far, I haven’t had that humungous song yet. I think that has allowed me, creatively, to be more aware of what I like and what I need as an artist. For now. So that I’m more prepared for when that does happen.”
Head In The Game, Heart In The Song
Day’s confidence and drive come, partly, from his background in athletics. He played four sports, primarily football, but expressed that music was always in him as well. “It was an interesting combination because I’d be doing sports, then I’d go home and write a song,” he said, referencing the duality as something out of “High School Musical”. “I’ve always had a disciplined mind when it came to sports. I’m also naturally competitive as the youngest of four kids. That has translated over into the music industry… I’m very competitive and I’m always looking for what’s next.”
Though still young, Day is a student of the art. His parents, both with a background in music, exposed him to “the greats” such as Tom Jones, Stevie Wonder, and The Beatles early on, before discovering acts like Panic! At The Disco and British band Keane on his own. With more than 60 years separating the projects, he cites The Beatles’ Rubber Soul, Maroon 5’s Songs About Jane, and Rex Orange County’s Apricot Princess as his favorite albums. “I’m just super obsessed by everything,” he said with a smile, also expressing his love of The Beatles’ seventh chords and jazz music.
Most of his songs, which he prefers to write while feeling “comfortably uncomfortable,” focus on heartbreak, sharing his own up and down experiences in relationships with his fans. “MASOCHIST,” his most intense musically (he cites “Sex On Fire” by Kings Of Leon as a musical reference point), tells a story of self-inflicted heartbreak. “I was kind of obsessed with this girl I was talking to,” he said. “She was kind of mean… the opposite of any other girl I had talked to. But I think it was like… she was mean, but I was feeling it. “Come Home,” his most mature and effective ballad thus far, sees him looking back on a past love, reflecting on what was: “We’re not who we were when we were younger / It doesn’t mean that I don’t ever wonder / Whether in another life we could have got it right.”
“I feel like everybody likes heartbreak songs,” he said. “I think one thing that brings me closer to people is shared heartbreak. Doing that with music is a great way to connect with people.” A natural caregiver with boundless amounts of (non-caffeinated) energy, Day translates the love and pain he gives and receives into his art and carries the lessons from each relationship to the next. “I feel like once somebody, as a human being, is hurt once, they’re aware of that,” he said. “If they go into something again, they’re aware that it could end the same. If I’m meeting somebody, it has to be a very special person… who fits everything I’m doing. My mind is always thinking and always moving… the best thing is for me to be calm.”
With two headline sets, as well as two opening sets for “Daylight” singer David Kushner occurring the week of this writing, Day, confident and poised, is only looking towards his exciting future. “I feel like everything creatively and artistically in my life right now is all just a big arrow pointed up,” he said. “I have so much unreleased music. It’s really hard to sit on stuff and then write a better song than what you’re sitting on. I’m just excited to take off.”