Over the course of a half-century in the music industry, 68-year-old singer/songwriter/producer/multi-instrumentalist Todd Rundgren has proven himself as one of the world’s leading pop geniuses— on par with Burt Bacharach, Carole King, Brian Wilson, or Max Martin— all while refusing to let his weirdo streak fade away. From the pristine “Hello It’s Me,” to the bad-trip masterpiece A Wizard, a True Star, his solo work has shown versatility since day one.
As a producer and collaborator, Rundgren is even more eclectic. Who else has produced an Americana album as good as The Band’s Stage Fright, and then turned around three years later and basically invented punk rock (on The New York Dolls’ self-titled debut)? Who else has both played lead guitar on one of the bestselling hard rock albums of all time and arranged the strings on a new wave masterpiece (Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell and XTC’s Skylarking, respectively)?
Rundgren just announced White Knight, which by our count will be his 27th studio album as a lead artist. Glancing at the guest-heavy tracklist, it looks like the 15-track project will be a testament to his ability to play, write, and produce any style of music under the sun. Daryl Hall, Dâm-Funk, Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen, film scoring duo Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, and guitar hero Joe Satriani are just a few of the guests. Today, Rundgren has shared the lead single, which features none other than Swedish pop goddess Robyn.
“That Could Have Been Me” is an ‘80s-style power ballad that’s more epic than its 3:17 runtime suggests. There’s definitely a hint of Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” in there, but with the addition of a beefy, Phil Collins-style backbeat. Robyn’s vocal chops are given room to adequately shine, as Rundgren himself doesn’t sing on here, and with his spacious production, it sounds like she’s belting it all the way to the cheap seats.
Look out for White Knight, coming your way on May 12th.