Watch Emily West Play Intoxicating 'Games' on the Opry - Rolling Stone
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Watch Emily West Play Intoxicating ‘Games’ on the Opry

Powerhouse singer teams with longtime collaborator K.S. Rhoads for a humorous, throwback duet

Emily West’s ability to deliver songs that encompass so many different styles made her a natural frontrunner on America’s Got Talent. Since placing second on the show last year, she has taken her eclectic show to cities across the country — including residencies in Philadelphia, New York and Chicago — and frequently visits her old Nashville stomping grounds, stopping by the Grand Ole Opry as often as she can. As any musician knows, there’s nothing quite as historic and meaningful as singing on that Music City stage, especially for someone like West, to whom country music fans have been loyal since her days as an artist on the Capitol Nashville label. It was during that time, in fact, that she made her Opry debut in 2008.

Since then, the Iowa native has stood inside the Opry stage’s legendary wooden circle a number of times to perform such cover songs as Sia’s “Chandelier” and the Moody Blues’ “Nights in White Satin,” both of which will be featured on her upcoming album, All for You, due out this summer.

West’s most recent Opry appearance saw her accompanied by guitarist and songwriter K.S. Rhoads, as the pair performed the comical “Games,” which, musically, starts off as a deliciously frothy throwback to the Forties. Lyrically, it’s a two-person tale of adults who are acting like “two kids on the playground playing games,” as one of them gets “jacked up on push-ups” and the other winds up spying from the bushes. He’s dreaming of “eatin’ Cheetos and watching Homeland on my couch,” and she’s “teelin’ kind of fipsy” after a few drinks, as both characters endure a series of misunderstandings. Finally, the couple gets together and goes “all night long,” he says. Her version of events, however, turns out to be a little different.

K.S. [Kevin] Rhoads is West’s co-writer on several of the original songs on her new album, including “Falling,” another tune which, like “Games,” gives the singer a chance to channel the vulnerable and iconic Billie Holiday. But unlike the light, comic approach of “Games,” “Falling” takes a darker, more sinister turn.

“We were writing this beautiful love song. We couldn’t finish the song,” West tells Rolling Stone Country. “I was driving down the road in Nashville and Kevin calls me up and says, ‘I’ve got it. We make her see this beaten woman.’ I argued with him and said, ‘There’s no way I’m going to be hit in a song by a man! But it’s an ode to Billie Holiday. I’ve never been in a relationship where I’ve been beaten by a man. Just so people know that!”

All for You, which also features West sharing duet vocals with Cyndi Lauper on the pop superstar’s hit “True Colors,” is due out August 18th.


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