“Ain’t Together” – King Princess
King Princess released “Ain’t Together,” a smooth and slow pop song carried by guitar chords and backed up by Father John Misty on drums, on Sept. 3. This single will also appear on her upcoming album, Cheap Queen, which is set to release this fall through Mark Ronson’s Zelig Records before she begins touring in October.
“Ain’t Together” follows the throughline of King Princess usual unrequited love and no-strings-attached relationship saga. The 20-year-old’s lyrics plead with her subject of affection: In the chorus she sings “We say ‘I love you’ but we ain’t together / Do you think labels make it taste much better?” This labelless love she sings about emphasizes the restless discomfort she feels being stuck between the relationship status of casual and committed.
She confesses these frustrations when, in the pre-chorus, she sings “Being chill / Being chill with you / Oh, it kills / I ain’t chill / At all, at all.” Her new single echoes resounding themes of loneliness, as well as ungraspable and undefined forms of love and relationships—both of which are relevant to her young listeners who largely belong to the generation often dubbed the “loneliest generation.”
“I want to get to a place where the story is less about me and my face and more about what the fuck’s going on this world,” King Princess told Rolling Stone in 2018. “How I can be an active voice for gay people but also the music industry?”
Yet, King Princess music continues to fill a burgeoning genre of pop, one which explores and expands the definition of love in the music industry beyond heterosexual romance.
“Comfort Crowd” – Conan Gray
If a slew of increasingly famous female artists—think Billie Eilish, Lana Del Rey, and Snail Mail—could claim the title “Queen of Sad Girl Hours,” Conan Gray is the undisputed King of Sad Boy Hours. In his new single “Comfort Crowd,” which was released on Sept. 5, Gray shamelessly longs for attention. His lyrics are desperate yet unapologetic, defensive yet honest.
“Comfort Crowd” is a smooth transition from the vengeful tone of his last single “Checkmate,” which was released on June 26. Comfort Crowd begins its first verse picking up on these darker tones in “Checkmate”—Gray sings “Begging on my knees / Screamin’ ‘someone come and help me’ / But by the time they’re there / I’ve already hid the body.”
Yet his song has a narrative progression. In the beginning, Gray is crazed for attention from his “comfort crowd.” When he finds his crowd, he settles in and the tone shifts from frenzied, critical, and self-loathing, to exactly what he wished for: comfort in company.
There’s always been a homemade quality to Gray’s music, a lingering stylistic element reminiscent of his start—covering songs and debuting his own music on his YouTube platform. Not only is his sound grounded in these roots, his songs tend to mirror his emotional journey, reflecting precise moments in his life.
“Comfort Crowd” is no exception: In a Sept. 5 Instagram post promoting the single, Gray briefly revealed the emotional state and experience he had while writing the song.
“All my friends were back home in Texas and I had just moved to college so I didn’t have a single friend,” Gray wrote.
Confronted by his solitude, Gray wrote this song for his best friend.
“Liar” and “Shameless” – Camila Cabello
Camila Cabello flooded this week with two new back-to-back singles: first Liar, released on September 4, followed by Shameless, released on September 5 – songs laced together by guitar riffs and lyrics giving into vulnerable and irrepressible love.
Liar begins with intermingling trumpets and guitar chords, a jazzy combination that uniquely meshes with the pop-synthesized beat of the song. Cabello sings in the refrain, “Oh no, there you go, making me a liar / Got me begging you for more”. In this song, she sings about uncontrollably falling in love; despite denying her feelings, she falls for her crush, becoming the liar.
In Shameless, a ballad confronting and brandishing emotion, Cabello chases her crush. The single begins with a soft and seducing guitar riff, with synthesized beats picking up at the chorus. In the chorus she sings, “Right now, I’m shameless / Screamin’ my lungs out for ya / Not afraid to face it / I need you more than I want to”. Cabello is indeed shameless as she pours out her desires in this song.
Both of these songs will appear on her upcoming sophomore album, Romance.
Featured Image by Columbia Records