Why Break-Out Artist Frankie Ended Up On Taylor Swift’s List Of Favorite Songs
In 2008 when Taylor Swift released her sophomore album Fearless featuring the hugely successful tracks “Love Story” and “You Belong with Me,” she arguably broke the “bubble gum” mold that her singer songwriting predecessors like Michelle Branch, and Avril Lavigne had been chipping away at. But, instead of shunning that bubble gum pop star image like those predecessors, Swift embraced it, arguably transforming herself into a more bubble gum version of Taylor as a means of gaining mainstream traction even while maintaining her authenticity and musicianship. Swift was at once, a singer-songwriter and radio hit maker with a strong appeal to tweens and college women alike. Like Swift, Frankie doesn’t shrug those bubble gum accoutrements in favor of creating an accessible, “authentic” music. She’s doing both, and again, like Swift she does it incredibly well. Maybe that’s why it’s not too surprising that Swift recently gave Frankie a shoutout on instagram, posting up a playlist entitled “New Songs that Will Make Your Life More Awesome (I Promise!)” that featured Frankie’s track “New Obsession”.
New Obsession is a blockbuster hit waiting to happen and so is pretty much every other song on Frankie’s new EP “Dreamstate,” a decidedly upbeat and high-energy debut. Frankie’s candy coated vocals are incessantly, for lack of a better word, ecstatic. She’s the antithesis of the melancholic wistfulness that seems to seep out of Lana Del Rey. Even when she is expressing frustration and sadness in her lyrics, the music on “Dreamstate” can have anyone fooled into thinking the EP is a slew feel good anthems, when in reality there are some deceivingly painful moments present too. Like on “Problems Problems” where Frankie tells us that she’s “growing numb to being put on the side,” all the while the major key progressions and staccato acapella vocal accompaniments that occasionally replace instrumentals seem to communicate an entirely different feeling. “Problems, problems I know that everybody’s got them,” she belts out– but it actually doesn’t really sound like she does, or perhaps more likely, she may know, but she is going to try her damnedest to make us all forget that we do.
“Dreamstate” is the kind of feel good music that makes you sing in the mirror no matter how hard you try not to to, the kind of songs that get stuck in your head and make you want to replay them despite the fact that you don’t generally enjoy this particular brand of pop, and it’s “Soo not what you’re actually into”. Listening to the EP, I feel like Frankie is pushing me–unwilling– towards child-like joy. I want to hate it, but the truth is I don’t, I just hate that I don’t hate it. You know, it’s the kind of pop that people describe as “incredibly catchy” in order to explain in the most backhanded way possible, why they keep listening to it, keep singing it, and keep enjoying it. I would know…because that’s pretty much exactly how I feel about the EP. I won’t say any of those things about Frankie’s music, even if instinctively it’s how I would like to react, however.
I didn’t know why but I wanted to either be a Spice Girl or hang out with one.
Here’s why: It’s time to stop pretending that calling something “catchy” without acknowledging the type of skill that it takes to create that kind of track isn’t a particular kind of casual misogyny that women who create pop music frequently endure. When I asked Frankie during an interview we had back in August whether or not she resented being classified as pop music for this exact reason she explained that the over the top elements of her music are not at all unintentional. “Growing up my mom put on all the music in the car, I just had to sit there and like the song basically. She was a 70s queen so I listened to Fleetwood Mac, The Beatles, Joanie, and I was especially obsessed with Stevie Nicks and how honest she was—cut to me coming home I would turn on the TV and I would see the Spice Girls and Britney. And that was also important to me. I didn’t know why but I wanted to either be a Spice Girl or hang out with one. I love bridging those two elements together, those in your face pop elements that are a little bit enhanced and over the top. But, then I love having smart lyrics about stuff that’s happened to me. It’s very confessional. I didn’t write this pop song just to write a pop song. I wrote a song, and then produced it as pop.”
I didn’t write this pop song just to write a pop song. I wrote a song, and then produced it as pop.
That type of upfront honesty, as we’ve seen with Swift’s music, it what makes Frankie’s pop music relatable– even as it remains just so goddamn happy. After speaking with her, I begin to think that Frankie’s incessant positivity is probably what is going to drive her success– both from a musically, and as an approach to her life. When I asked her how she made the decision to pursue her career as a musician despite the relative instability that comes with it, she revealed her thought process: “I decided, I’ll probably be broke for the rest of my life, but whatever yolo let’s do this.”
Broke for the rest of her life? With a Swift endorsement it seems as though that life path is probably off the table now for good. And while I can tell she’s being honest about taking a gamble, with the kind of musical talent and skill that Frankie has, it really wasn’t much of a gamble at all.
Image courtesy of @TaylorSwift.