I refused to voluntarily listen to pop music between the years of 2018 to 2022, because I thought I was above it or something. In reality, I have never been above anything (I’m 5’2), but that’s beside the point. However, last September I made some friends who changed my perspective – mainly, to give less of a fuck about how cool my music taste ‘should be’ (which I’m aware is an odd worry to have in the first place) and to also remind myself how much sexier I would be if I were 5 inches taller. This revelation, paired with what is probably an overexposure to the absolute Tunes™ of Church Dundee and St Andrews’ very own 601 (please come back to me), has made me quite fond of pop, and of platform shoes.
This brings me to my artist of the month, Chappell Roan. Roan is a 25–year-old from the Midwest of the USA, who writes music about subjects most people write music about: love, loss, and pretty people (is there anything more to life?). Originally starting off as an opening act for the likes of Declan Mckenna and Vance Joy, her first EP is a venture I can only describe as perfect for the year it was released in (derogatory), and is very reminiscent of Birdy, Grace Van Der Waal, and early Sigrid.
I think that this EP was bad. It’s too boring and generic of a release to get a more interesting descriptor.
But that’s ok because she also hates it. Moving on!
From 2020 onwards, Roan released songs which were a violent, whiplash inducing shift from theprevious EP, culminating in an album, which, at time of writing, was released yesterday. The Rise and Fall of A Midwest Princess is a fun, personal, genre-shifting account of different aspects of her life — which, as a self-professed sucker for gossip, I love. This album reminds me somewhat of Olivia Rodrigo’s newest release in the sense that both women are excellent at oversharing to an audience of hundreds of thousands —numbers I can only wish I had access to. The Gay Saint goes global, anyone?
Although I like a pretentious song as much as the next guy
, sometimes I just want an unsubtle dance song with no hidden meanings (I do enough critical thought in my tutorials right now), and Roan fills this void perfectly. The gay club-esque sounds of Super Graphic Ultra Modern Girl, Femininomenom, and Pink Pony Club have strutted their way straight onto my Tuesday pre-drinks playlist (more on that masterpiece in a later blog post), whereas Hot To Go! and Casual are perfect for shouting the lyrics through a hairbrush in the mirror as you relate to some highly specific situations (or maybe you’re a massive liar like me). However, my favourite song from the Midwest Princess album has to be Red Wine Supernova. Although my little 15-year-old heart weeps at my favourite song also being her most popular track on Spotify, its spot at number 1 is well deserved. It’s the ideal combination between a modern 80s throwback dance song and a fun little background tune for getting ready to, with lyrics I can relate to if I squint (my favourite kind!). The rap/random spoken word/Zumba instructor tone of voice/Sprechgesang-minus-the-opera bridge of this song also manages to scratch some unknown itchy neuron in my brain, and I generally feel my quality of life has improved since listening to this track.
At the moment, my favourite songs are the ones that remind me that it is ok to be a girl with a life. Is this a vague statement? Yes, but it makes sense to me. What separates Chappell Roan from other artists in similar genres is the tone in which her songs are written. Although she stills writes about relationships and other people, and other topics which ought to depress the common man (me), the songs themselves are less angsty than Olivia Rodrigo’s latest album, for example. The songs on Rodrigo’s GUTS are technically danceable, but also resentful, vengeful, regretful and many other negative ‘fuls’ which I am not in the mood to indulge in right now. Perhaps later, Olivia.
When I listen to music casually, I want to be able to reflect on my life and not be plunged into the pits of despair as soon as I turn my speaker on. Chappell Roan is the perfect balance of relatable without being sad, danceable without being an outright rave (although that would also be fun), and generally a wonderful reintroduction into pop if you’ve been away from the genre for personal reasons. With tracks to suit every occasion, what’s not to like?