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I would very much like for there to be more pop / rock songs from Black girls and Black women. It’s a hugely untapped market. Willow pops into it every now and then. Rihanna has the attitude and the look, but not the sound. There is no constant. And I get it. Record labels probably disregarded it as something that can work after Azealia Banks’ variant Fefe Dobson’s career came, crashed and burned. This sounds like I’m possibly setting up the introduction of the next Black girl in pop / rock right? No. But this is an artist who has made me once again ponder over the pop / rock space featuring more melanated women.
chlothegod is not a rock artist. But her song “Outta My Mind” is a pop / rock song. If I had to compare chloethegod to somebody musically, I’d say Kelis is a good pick. Not just because of the hair, but due to chlothegod starting out in a more R&B space which then broadened out to the likes of “Outta my Mind”. The same way Kelis went from the R&B and Hip-Hop stylings of her debut Kaleidoscope to an album which featured songs such as “Young, Fresh ‘N’ New” and “Perfect Day”. And much like Kelis, chlothegod is not afraid to be loud, honest and a bit abrasive in their music.
The song “Outta My Mind” is not only pretty thrashy and loud, but features admissions of wrongdoing and mental health generally being in the toilet. But much as was the case with Kelis’ “Caught Out There”, it’s a song of stinging honesty which is wrapped up in humour – which is sometimes the best way to deliver hurtful admissions to yourself. Because if you don’t laugh about it, then you’ll only just end up crying over it. And in a day and age where people are being so open and frank with complete strangers online and Internet humour is so steeped in making jokes out of the most dire and tragic of situations, taking the same approach with a song is smart. “Outta My Mind” had all of the ingredients to catch on online; a highly TikTok-able hook, a highly TikTok-able / meme-able music video thanks to the doll. And yet…nothing.
|chlothegod – Outta My Mind | EQT Recordings|
The chorus of “Outta My Mind” is where the money is and what really carries this song. The verses aren’t as strong as they should have been, but thankfully the chorus is able to pick up this slack massively. But with this said, there is definitely a charm to how loose and meandering the verses are, given the subject matter of the song. Despite the chorus being chlothegod screaming that she’s outta her mind, it’s the one focused thought in the whole song. Whereas the verses feel like these dumps of chlothegod’s thoughts as they come to her. So there is a reasoning here as to why the structure of the song is what it is at least. I’d like to believe this is the case and that it was an intentional songwriting and arrangement choice, given how strong and contrasting the chorus is. But I still would’ve liked the verses to have been just a bit tighter.
“Outta My Mind” is also hampered by being really short. The song just ends after two verses, when it really needed a middle 8 or a bridge section. Not just to pad the song out and make it feel more complete, but lyrically the song needed something near the end which acts as chlothegod being centred and calm in her thoughts. Seeming like she might just have it figured out, before reverting back and being like ‘Fuck it. I guess I am just outta my mind!’. The song ending where and the way it does feels like we’re leaving chlothegod part way through her conversation with herself. And not in a ‘to be continued’ type of way. But a ‘the-internet-cut-out-mid-zoom’ kinda way. The song feels more than incomplete. It feels unintentionally unresolved.
The song not featuring an extra verse and being better structured is unfortunate, because the lyrics are one of the coolest things about the song aside from the sound. Self sabotage, realising that things wrong in your present are linked to unresolved traumas from your past and just feeling overwhelmed by life is a very relatable thing. And in this day and age where more and more people are being open about their struggles with just life in general, it’s cool to have a pop song come along where the artist is like ‘I know my life is a bit of a mess. But y’all. I really am trying.’ It not only makes you feel sympathetic towards chlothegod and people in your life who may be going through the same thing, but it causes you to self reflect and give yourself grace. Because life really is hard. And as fucked up as you may be, you could and probably should be a whole lot worse.
The production on “Outta My Mind” is really fun and fully evokes the sound of rock and grunge of the 90s and early 2000s. A sound and look I can envision making a big comeback over the next couple of years. Maggie Rogers was out trying to bring it back with Surrender, but not enough people paid attention to it, despite how fucking well she pulled it off. And Demi Lovato is making a pivot to rock, but she pivots every 6 months. She has no idea what she wants her look, sound or vibe to actually be. “Outta My Mind” is very different from what chlothegod has released before, but I think she should consider making it her package. “Outta My Mind” is not a perfect song. There are a few cracks in it. But it it’s realised well enough that I can see the vision. There’s a clear course for chlothegod to chart for future songs, her look and her whole brand if she chooses to. And I hope that she does.
|chlothegod – Outta My Mind | EQT Recordings|
The prospect of chlothegod going the pop / rock route and working with popular writers and producers is really exciting. It’s not hard to imagine chlothegood becoming the new pop / rock darling of Shellback or Max Martin – who I feel would probably be really excited to not only work with new talent, but somebody with some fire to them such as chlothegod, who will cuss, go there lyrically and allow themselves to be so open. They would be good choices to pair with chlothegod, as they could help her deliver something which is a little more structurally polished, but without glossing over the edges of her songwriting and vocals. Kevin Parker would also be a great choice of writer and producer to throw in the studio with chlothegod, for something with a bit more funk which feels somewhat adjacent to chlothegod’s earlier releases.
Pop has become so sedate. Which is why chlothegod pointing to the 90s and early 2000s when pop felt a little more risky and there were no real rulebooks is so exciting, because it’s such a good fit for her and it’s something different which could create noise and shake things up for other bitches. The pop game has been long overdue a Black pop / rock girl who can really stick around and take up space. And if chlothegod wants it, the spot could be hers for the taking if she takes “Outta My Mind” and really builds on and refines it.