Just as Michael J Thomas absolutely slayed with his smash hit version of “I’ll Never Love Again” and brought a unique, infectious jazzy vibe to Tears for Fears’ “EverybodyWants to Rule the World,” he brings fresh instrumental fire and irresistible funky intensity to Stevie Wonder’s buoyant, instantly recognizable 70s smash “I Wish” – thefifth and final digital single from the Outside the Door EP. It’s all punchy, power-packed, soul, sass, and freewheeling brass, pure danceable fun throughout, topped with Trammell Starks’ synth razzle-dazzle and explosive sax solo action capturing Thomas’ newfound love for inventive, off-the-main scale harmonic dissonance that makes this version so much more than another cover of a well-known R&B classic.
Thomas’ status as a guy “outside the door” is particularly interesting considering his Billboard chart success and extreme streaming numbers, which beyond traditional radio spins is the true metric of success in music today. In addition to his #1 Billboard airplay hits “Baby Coffee” and “I’ll Never Love Again,” an instrumental re-imagining of Lady Gaga’s hit from “A Star is Born,” he has accumulated 4.7M+ total streams on Apple Music and 2.6M+ on Spotify – numbers otherwise unheard of in smooth jazz. “Sippin’ the Yak,” the follow-up single to his Gaga cover from his appropriately titled 2020 EP Stream’n Love, has been one of his major sensations, with 1.8M+ streams on Spotify in addition to reaching #2 on three major charts - the Billboard Smooth Jazz Airplay/Smooth Jazz Songs chart (where it stayed in the Top 5 for eight weeks), the Smooth Jazz Network Top 20 and the Mediabase Smooth Jazz chart. In addition, the title track of the saxman’s 2019 album “City Beat” racked up over 600K Spotify streams. Thomas has over 41,000 monthly listeners on Spotify and 1.4K daily listeners on Apple Music.
For Thomas, one of the perks of having all that impact “outside the door” as well as the admiration of so many fellow genre musicians is being able to invite top-name special guests to add their magic to his projects. Featuring four previously released singles, the new EP includes tracks with R&B/jazz singer Maysa (“It’s Christmas”), trumpet legend Randy Brecker (a cover of “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” featuring Thomas on lead vocals), and guitarist, fellow #1 Billboard artist and Special EFX founder/leader Chieli Minucci (“H.A.D.”). The project’s sole radio single “The OG Bounce” – named for the song’s co-producer and Thomas’ A&R director and mentor Carl Griffin – featured the saxophonist’s regular crew of keyboardist/co-producer Trammell Starks, guitarist Chris Blackwell, bassist Sam Sims, and drummer Louis K Newsom. The track peaked at #15 on the Billboard chart and stayed on the Smooth Jazz Songs chart for over 20 weeks.