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Chappell Roan returns with a sapphic angst and desire

Screenshot from ‘HOT TO GO!’ video | Amusement Records

Nearly a year after her critically acclaimed debut album “The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess,” Chappell Roan returns with the new single, “Good Luck, Babe!” Opening with a very reminiscent drum beat and shimmering synths, “Good Luck, Babe!” gains momentum as the track unfolds. 

Instrumentally, the piece does not vary too greatly from some of Roan’s previous efforts, but given the artist’s varied and unique take on song production, this is far from a negative critique. The 80’s synths and drums only add to the anthemic power ballad qualities the track possesses and do well in furthering the lyrical themes and emotions found within. The fist-pumping chorus, powered by staccato keys that perfectly accent the rousing vocals, makes this song a joy to sing along to.

Roan’s vocal range is on full display, ranging from a breathy ethereal lament to an anthemic boom. At times, the impressive vocals drift into the sonic realm of the many bedroom pop artists that cropped up in the late 2010’s — however, the singer’s vocal capabilities save her from the lackluster, overdone vocal styles attributed to that era. 

Roan truly flexes her capabilities towards the end of the track, when the chorus falls amorphously into a highly theatrical and powerful bridge; her bitter voice dripping with dramatic flair, only to fall into a defeated, whispered tone. The artist would benefit from introducing more of this style in her music, as the theatrics perfectly match the persona and genre-bending reputation she has given herself.

The lyrics delve into the spiteful lamentations of a scorned lover, a woman whose true love has left her for a man. Throughout the track, the speaker, presumably Roan, bounces back and forth between vindication and a defeated quiet, wishing her lost love would regret her decisions and feel the same pain the speaker experiences — all the while attempting to deal with that pain. Lyrics such as “you can say it’s just the way you are, make another stupid excuse, another stupid reason, you’d have to stop the world just to stop the feeling” solidly display the narrator’s anger and pity for the other woman. 

At times, the narrator allows their anger to win, letting loose with a torrent of emotion. with lines like “With your head in your hands, you’re nothing more than his wife/And when you think about me all those years ago/ You’re standing face to face with I told you so”. These outbursts, however, are always followed up with a return to the melancholic pity that defines this deceivingly upbeat song.

“Good Luck, Babe!” is a strong effort from Chappell Roan and is certain to keep the momentum following her debut critically acclaimed album.

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