Most people went into last Sunday’s broadcast of Grease: Live! expecting to be impressed by the musical stylings of Julianne Hough, Aaron Tveit and Carly Rae Jepsen. Few foresaw Jordan Fisher, the 21-year-old artist playing Doody in the production, being the one to triumphantly steal the show.
Fisher’s performance of “Those Magic Changes” midway through the Fox broadcast earned the singer rave reviews, Bruno Mars comparisons and a slew of new fans. Fisher tells Fuse that when the three-hour production wrapped, he went back and found his phone too overloaded with messages to use.
A few days removed from his breakout moment, how does he feel? “I’ll let you know when I come down, because I’m still way up there,” Fisher says with a laugh.
Sunday night was a big night for Fisher outside of Grease: Live!, too: the former star of The Secret Life of the American Teenager and the Disney Channel original film Teen Beach Movie dropped a new track, “Counterfeit,” online concurrently with the Grease launch. The slinky R&B track showcases Fisher in a more modern musical setting ahead of the release of his Hollywood Records debut album—and was released just as a large part of America was being introduced to his voice.
“We all took a step back once we were in the midst of Grease and understood what it could possibly bring in terms of an audience,” Fisher explains. “I sat down with [Disney Music Group president] Kent Bunt, and he said, ‘Listen, we’re all excited about ‘Counterfeit’ as it is. I think that the world should hear it the minute they become more interested on the night of Grease.’ I was in full agreement—it just felt like the right thing to do.”
Fisher says that his debut album is “just a few months away,” with a radio tour starting soon and a single that will hopefully precede a summer full-length release. He adds that he’s working with heavy-hitting producers like Pop & Oak and Danja, and that he’ll capture some throwback charm within his first soul-pop project. “It’s urban, and R&B, but it’s got some nuggets and hints of the ‘80s that I hope people catch,” Fisher says.
For now, though, he’s still basking in the success of Grease: Live!, which was a major ratings coup for Fox on Sunday night. Staging the three-hour production took endless hours of preparation, but Fisher says that inhabiting the supporting role was one of the clear highlights of his career.
“The source material is so cherished by so many generations, so the expectations were definitely high,” he says. “It was up to us to take something we all loved already and pretty much reintroduce it to everybody in our own special way. Thankfully, people liked it!”
Fisher also has a special place in his heart for the performance of Vanessa Hudgens, whose father passed away one day before she portrayed Rizzo in the production. He says that last Sunday was a true demonstration of Hudgens’ power as a performer.
“We all went to [Vanessa] in our own ways, and at our own times, and asked her what she needed, or how we could make the day as easy for her as possible, so that she could focus on her work,” Fisher recalls. “Her response to everybody was, ‘Honestly, the best thing for me in this moment is to be here right now, with you guys.’ That was her attitude the whole day. Obviously it was hard here and there—that’s not going to be easy for anybody. She’s a pro, and she handled the day like a pro.
“That kind of inspiration was a big upper for us and our energy, honestly,” he continues, “and definitely helped all of us in our performances and journeys throughout the day. We could see how she was handling it, how dedicated she was to giving everybody the best Rizzo she could possibly give. I’m biased because I love her, but I think she was just phenomenal.”