Arts, Music

Sabrina Carpenter Puts on a Brave Face in ‘Skin’

★★★☆☆

If you’ve been online at all during the past month, you’ve likely heard talk of the messy drama between Disney stars—past and present—and the series of back-to-back music single releases fueling the speculation. Olivia Rodrigo’s song “driver’s license” has been breaking streaming records for weeks as it blazes through TikTok, Twitter, and other social media platforms, driving fans wild as they try to match lyrics with Rodrigo’s alleged dating history to High School Musical: The Musical: The Series costar Joshua Bassett. 

Amid the media storm that has followed the song’s release, Sabrina Carpenter, a former Disney star herself and rumored girlfriend of Bassett, released “Skin” on Jan. 22. Some of the track’s lyrics seem to parallel Rodrigo’s, convincing fans that “Skin” is Carpenter’s version of a diss track. Although she insisted on Instagram that the song isn’t directed at Rodrigo or any one person, that certainly hasn’t stopped the online conversation. 

This week, Carpenter has released the accompanying music video for “Skin,” a ’70s-inspired video directed by Jason Lester. 

In the three-minute video, we see Carpenter in a vintage home, laughing, dancing, and cuddling with a love interest (Gavin Leatherwood). As the couple smiles at one another, the very climate around them starts falling apart. The couple is blasted with rain, fog, snow, and earthquakes in their house, a not-so-subtle metaphor for the online hate and negativity that’s been threatening Carpenter recently. And yet, the two ignore it all as Carpenter sings, “I wish you knew that even you / Can’t get under my skin / If I don’t let you in.” 



Drama aside, “Skin” is a catchy song with a decent music video. It’s hard to ignore the disconnect between the modern pop sound of the track and the ’70s aesthetic. Carpenter and her partner lounge around at home while artificial snow and rain consume them, but the weather effects in the video aren’t convincingly real, diminishing her attempt at metaphorizing the backlash she’s received in the media. 

But, Carpenter redeems herself in the end. While Carpenter sings outside in the rain, sitting on a Mercedes-Benz, she indicates that even though she tries not to let petty dramas affect her, they still do. In fact, in the final shot of the music video, there seems to be some real emotion on Carpenter’s face. Even though the “driver’s license” saga has been entertaining to say the least, it’s definitely taken a real toll on her, whether she made “Skin” to shut down Rodrigo’s account of what happened or not. 

Rodrigo’s “driver’s license” sets the bar pretty high, and “Skin” doesn’t beat it. The lyrics and beat are simple, at times repetitive and overdone. But, at its most nuanced, “Skin” seems to be Carpenter’s take on the emotional pain that comes with living out relationships in the public eye. It’s much more than a diss track. 

Photo Courtesy of Island Records

February 7, 2021
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