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Less than a year since finishing as a top 5 finalist on the 20th season of American Idol, pop/alternative songwriter Fritz Hager is making moves, and shows no signs of slowing down. With the release of his new single, “Caroline,” the Nashville-based artist showcases a fully realized sound, one that he says is a taste of what’s to come in future projects. “I describe the music I wrote before Idol as writing out of necessity, and I think this next project is writing because it’s what I love. I’m really excited for people to listen to these new songs,” Fritz tells Pop Crave.

Co-written by multi-platinum producer/songwriter Drew Pearson and singer/songwriter Francisco Martin (who also appeared on ABC’s American Idol in 2020), the track follows the aftermath of a fictitious one-night stand gone wrong, as the narrator tries to find a clever way to remember her name. Pearson, who has worked alongside some of music’s biggest names, such as Katy Perry, Kesha, and One Republic, has become a close collaborator to Hager, also working with him on his single, “Hearts Align,” in 2022.

Alongside the single release for “Caroline” is its music video, which Pop Crave had the chance to exclusively premiere today. “I knew I wanted to do something more than stand in front of a camera and sing, and the song has a very clear narrative, so all we had to do was deliver that story in a creative way,” Fritz tells us of the visual, which sees him suited up and jamming out on a guitar as the song’s narrative plays out.

Pop Crave spoke to Fritz about his new single, “Caroline,” accompanying the track with his first-ever music video, aspirations for 2023, and more. Keep reading for the full interview, and make sure to check out the music video for “Caroline,” out now!

Congratulations on the release of “Caroline.” The song is an absolute banger! What inspired the track, and is there anything you’d like listeners to take away from it?

Honestly, this song was created because of an accident almost. We were in the studio and Francisco (one of the writers on the song) was getting a bunch of texts about posting on socials from our manager’s assistant “Carolyn.” And when he cried her name in frustration, I thought he was singing a melody, and the song just developed from here. I like to leave my songs open to interpretation, so I’ll just say it’s a bop and people should listen to it!

The song was co-written and produced by the Grammy-nominated Drew Pearson, who you worked with on last year’s “Hearts Align.” What has it been like to collaborate with a producer like Drew, who has worked with some of the biggest names in music?

Working with Drew has been amazing! I released “Hearts Align” which Drew was a writer on and after that first single I knew I had to work with him. I can’t wait for people to hear more of the songs we’ve made together.

Fellow American Idol alum Francisco Martin also co-wrote the track, and he’s featured on drums! How did you both first connect, and how did he get involved with “Caroline”?

Francisco was also a writer on “Hearts Align”! As soon as the show ended, like the day after, we set up our first write. Since then, we’ve been writing very often, and we just wrapped up a tour together!

I immediately noticed the South Park-inspired animation of the lyric video! What made you decide to go that route for the track’s first visual?

This song is like a sit-com put to music, so when we were thinking about a lyric video, we wanted to make something that matched the ridiculous nature of the song.

Speaking of visuals, the music video dropped today! What was it like being able to capture the story of “Caroline” in this way? 

This was my first time making any sort of video to accompany my music. I knew I wanted to do something more than stand in front of a camera and sing, and the song has a very clear narrative, so all we had to do was deliver that story in a creative way. I think we achieved that, hopefully people think the same as well!

You’ve mentioned using your time after Idol to experiment and fine tune your sound as an artist. Would you say that “Caroline” is a solid taste of what fans can expect from you in the future?

Yeah, I think so! I describe the music I wrote before Idol as writing out of necessity, and I think this next project is writing because it’s what I love. I’m really excited for people to listen to these new songs, and I’m honestly just glad I’m still able to do it. 

ABC/Christopher Willard

Your songwriting is already so personal and truly resonates with listeners in a unique way. Are there any specific themes you’d like to tackle in the future that you haven’t written about yet?

As of recently I’ve been trying to dissect the concept of modern masculinity. I think that there’s an important discussion going on right now about what roles men play and what it means to be masculine. A lot of my new music plays with that in more of a comedic, self-referential way, but I want to really get down into the mud with that idea.

You recently wrapped up the ‘Don’t Blink Tour’ alongside Johnny West, Francisco Martin, and Allegra Miles. What was that experience like? Are there any memorable moments you can share with us?

That was my first tour I’ve done with a full band, and it was amazing! I was able to use it almost as field testing for some upcoming releases and gauge what works and what doesn’t. Allegra, Johnny and Francisco are all amazing artists, and I was honored to be able to go on the road with them. And, of course, it was so cool to meet everyone that came out to see us. They’re the reason any of this has happened to me, so it felt good to return my thanks in person.

We had a few days off in Utah after playing in Salt Lake City, and we booked an Airbnb up in the mountains. We went on a little hike, sat in the hot tub, looked at the stars. It was amazing. I’ll remember those couple of days for a really long time to come.

Gen Z is absolutely crushing it in the music industry right now with artists like Billie Eilish, Olivia Rodrigo, and The Kid LAROI rising to fame in recent years. As a Gen Z artist yourself, what perspective do you think your generation offers that is resonating so well with audiences today?

I think that there is a lot of change coming as the younger generations begin to have their voices heard. Young people are topping the charts, changing the music scene… hell, we’ve got a 25-year-old (Maxwell Frost) in congress now! And regardless of whatever political side people may take, everyone wants change. Young people are bringing that, and people are resonating with it.

I saw on Twitter that you’re a fan of music critic Anthony Fantano! Since you’re all across social media, I have to ask — who are some of your favorite influencers?

I would die if Fantano reviewed my music, just putting that out there. But I love him, I’m on Twitch all the time so I love Ludwig and Moist Critical. And I’m also a huge Critical Role fan. I’ve been playing D&D for a while now and I watch their stream every week!

You’ve already accomplished so much since your Idol run. What aspirations do you have for yourself in 2023?

Last year was insane, so the goal now is to take that momentum and continue growing as a person and an artist. I want to put out more songs, play more shows. I want to get to stadiums someday, so for now, I keep working as hard as I can to make that happen. It’s gonna be hard to top last year, but that just makes me more excited for this one!

Fritz Hager’s new single, Caroline, is out now.