Review, Arts

Girl In Red Falls Short in New Album ‘I’M DOING IT AGAIN BABY!’


Three years after releasing her debut album if i could make it go quiet, Marie Ulven Ringheim, known by her stage name girl in red, has reemerged with her new album I’M DOING IT AGAIN BABY! released on April 12. Despite her early stardom, however, Ulven simply misses the mark with her new latest work.

Rising to fame with songs “we fell in love in october” and “i wanna be your girlfriend,” girl in red has grown to be one of the figureheads of young singers, even opening for Taylor Swift during her Eras Tour. Girl in red has become known for her alt-pop sound that straddles the indie genre. Her song topics, ranging from mental illness, sexuality, and heartbreak resonate with many of her young listeners.

With I’M DOING IT AGAIN BABY!, girl in red attempts to lean more into her pop side, opting for more upbeat melodies and extravagant instrumentation to deviate from her previous melancholic side. While the effort was certainly apparent, girl in red’s vocals and candid lyricism ultimately do not quite match the sound she tried to harness.

The album begins with “I’m Back,” telling the story of the artist’s need for a break for mental health reasons and finally finding her way to music again. But by portraying this deep and significant narrative with a light, lofty pop sound, the album does not start off on a strong note.

“I know I have a tendency, melancholic tragedy / always seems to follow me ’round. / Living life in grey did something to my brain / But hey, I took a shower today,” girl in red sings.

While her message is quite poignant, tugging at the heartstrings with its honesty about mental health struggles, the choice to tell it through background sounds of whooshing wind and delicate piano takes away from its impact. 

This is especially the case when girl in red decides to follow the opening song with a much more classically pop-sounding song, “DOING IT AGAIN BABY.” 

Featuring an unrelentingly fast pace and strong vocals typical of the pop genre, girl in red takes a complete turn that disrupts the album’s cohesiveness. 

“I’m on a new level, something’s got me feeling like / I could be inflammable, and I might be,” girl in red sings in quick succession in the chorus.

With such a fierce chorus backed by hectic instrumentation, girl in red needs to tap into a stronger vocal acumen than she has previously used in her popular hits. It seems, though, that the artist’s range shines greater in slower tracks, her more thoughtful and sentimental voice not fitting well with the poppier songs of this album.

Instead, songs like “A Night To Remember” showcase girl in red’s already developed skills in the indie-pop genre perfectly, making this sixth track a highlight in an otherwise mediocre album. She infuses a few generic pop aspects, namely a synthetic background beat and steady, robotic pace, displaying her lyricism and thoughtful vocals while successfully transitioning into the pop genre. 

Beginning with a light piano behind softly sung lyrics, “A Night To Remember” begins to grow as the instrumentals start to include drum beats and synths, the chorus then kicks in to fully combine girl in red’s indie and alternative skills with her venture into pop.

“A night to remember / Nothin’ ever felt like / The moment I met her / Perfectly timed / What if I didn’t go out that night / took a left instead of a right? / Yeah, missed you by a red light / What could have been?” girl in red sings in the first verse.

Not only does girl in red let her true vocals shine through this song, but she also introduces her usual themes without letting them be overshadowed by the pop sound she tries to accomplish. Targeting the motif of love in a similar fashion to what she did in “we fell in love in october,” girl in red reflects sentimentally about meeting the love of her life.

“The moment I met her / I met the rest of my life,” she muses in the outro.

Girl in red succeeds when she reveals the themes of her songs without letting her attempts at a pop hit overshadow the message. Though songs like “You Need Me Now? (feat. Sabrina Carpenter)” and “Ugly Side” are enticing, girl in red’s vocals and themes end up getting lost in the robust guitar strumming and synthetic drum beats that characterize pop music.

Girl in red is an immensely popular artist, winning three Norwegian Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year, at only 22 years old. Although her previous album, EPs, and singles have taken the world by storm, I’M DOING IT AGAIN BABY! did not live up to the quality of music girl in red has previously created.

April 14, 2024