The Stories and Sounds of Ben Platt

With his high tenor sound, impressive vibrato, and riffs, Platt was immediately a celebrity to pay attention to. Starting as Benji Applebaum in the Pitch Perfect trilogy and then portraying Evan Hansen in the Tony Award-winning show Dear Evan Hansen, Platt gained a large audience that followed him from screen to stage. After leaving Dear Evan Hansen in 2017 and announcing his involvement in the tv show The Politician on Netflix in 2018, Platt revealed through an Instagram story in February of 2019 that he had a debut album in the works titled “Sing to Me Instead.” The album addressed the ongoing struggle people experience when they are torn between remaining with the one they love and letting that relationship go. The entire album oozes pure Platt style and vibe; each song is a unique orchestration of the growing pains everyone knows and hates.  

“Ease My Mind,” “Grow As We Go,” and “In Case You Don’t Live Forever” highlight Platt’s falsetto range and his ability to tell a story. In tracks like “Share Your Address,” “RAIN,” and “New,” there is more emphasis on a more “standard-pop” sound with drums, catchy melodies, and piano. Platt is careful to layer each instrument in these songs so as not to overcrowd the listener. The standard grand piano sound is still present but there is the introduction of a more muted “twang” synth line.  

The same can be said for the drums and rhythm in these pieces. The pattern of bass drum, snare, bass drum, bass drum, snare is a standard practice in most RnB and pop songs however, instead of using a normal drum sound, Platt opted to use a more processed artificial-sounding snare and a meaty dark bass drum sound for “RAIN” but in “Share Your Address” a standard drum kit is used, giving the song a more grounded sound.

Platt’s sophomore album “Reverie” was released in August 2021. The album depicts a person discovering what life is like and a teenager who is hesitant to love the person they do. Unlike his debut, Platt took on a more individual sound in this album with a variety of synths used across the songs and a heavy use of vocoder, a special type of synthesizer that changes how your voice sounds. In “Reverie,” the vocoder is used by Platt to sing a melody and then tune it to piano chords that he is playing. 

“Imagine” is one of the album’s highlights, with lyrics about being unable to imagine a world without a person’s lover and the joy that this person can bring. Yet, tracks like “King of the World pt. 1, 2, and 3” are built solely on Platt’s voice and a vocoder. Other great songs in “Reverie” are “Childhood Bedroom” and “Dark Times.” “Childhood Bedroom” opens to a pingy and echoing synthesizer intro only to move into showing Platt’s open-soaring falsetto and belt. “Dark Times” is a brilliant ballad of Platt telling the listener that it’ll be okay despite the dark times. With a simple piano to back Platt and strings coming in to give the song more movement and emotional payoff upon the chorus.

The two albums, although great separate, highlight a slight theme that reflects his personal life.  During the creation of “Sing to Me Instead”, Platt came out as gay.  As this was a huge part of his identity, Platt seemed to bring that into his debut album.  “Sing to Me Instead” shows a struggle between two choices, reflected in Platt’s life, of staying in the closet and living a lie or being out and proud. “Reverie” is more of a prequel in the overarching plot because in “Reverie,” we have a story of a person discovering what life is like and all the highs and lows that come with it.

 With Platt’s overall tenor and piano-led, vocoder synth-pop sound, his songs may not be for everyone, but they easily stand on their own and fit nicely on any playlist. I recommend listening to “Reverie” before venturing into “Sing to Me Instead.” However, if you want specific songs, I suggest starting with “imagine,” “King of the World pt. 3,” “In Case You Don’t Live Forever,” and “Grow as We Go.” 

Platt’s music resonates differently with every listener, suggesting a general story of love and growing up can have the ability to resonate with every person in their own way.