One of the only things that have managed to keep me sane while in quarantine has been listening to music. When Rina Sawayama's debut album, SAWAYAMA, came out in the middle of quarantine, I was ecstatic. I have been a fan of hers for a while now and I knew that I was going to love her album, but it actually surpassed my expectations.
I'm a huge pop music lover and Sawayama's album took me right back to pop from the early 2000s. However, several songs on her album also have elements of rock and metal blended into the pop. You might think these genres don't go together, but just listen to "STFU!" and you will change your mind. This song is especially amazing because it is about the microaggressions that Sawayama has had to face in her life as a Japanese woman. She channels her anger in this song and lets the world know that if they are going to make uneducated and stereotypical comments towards her or any other person of color, they can shut the f*** up. I also recommend watching the music video for this song because the intro shows you some of the microaggressions that Asian women face every day.
The song on the album that sounds the most like the early 2000s, and is also one of my favorites, is "Comme Des Garçons (Like The Boys)." I can't help but dance when this song comes on because the beat is absolutely infectious. When explaining the meaning behind this song, Sawayama said,
"...I wanted on one hand to lyrically explore the idea of people having to adopt negative male tropes to appear confident, whilst on the other sonically paying homage to the early 2000s dance tracks that made me feel confident. The idea that the socially acceptable version of confidence is in acting "like the boys," otherwise as a woman you get called a bitch—but in the club, we reclaim the word "bitch" as a sign of ultimate confidence ("yes bitch," "work bitch"). I wanted to sit these two together and make a club fashion banger that makes you feeling like THAT bitch whoever you are." I definitely understood where she was coming from with this song because I also used to think that in order to be accepted by my peers, I needed to act "like the boys."
Now I know that I am most confident when I am 100% myself and not trying to conform to what other people think a confident woman should act like. When I listen to "Comme Des Garçons," I feel like the world is my oyster and I can do anything and be anything.
Another fantastic song off SAWAYAMA is "XS." When listening to the song and watching the music video, the message is clear: capitalism is destroying our world. This song makes fun of people that are obsessed with constantly buying the newest, most expensive products in order to flaunt their socioeconomic status. Sawayama stated,
"Given that we all know global climate change is accelerating and human extinction is a very real possibility within our lifetime it seemed hilarious to me that brands were still coming out with new makeup palettes every month and public figures were doing a gigantic house tour of their gated property in Calabasas in the same week as doing a 'sad about Australian wild fires' Instagram post."
I'm a sucker for pop music with an important message and that's exactly what I got from SAWAYAMA. I cannot recommend this album enough. This is only the beginning of what I'm sure is going to be a long, successful career for Rina Sawayama, and you don't want to miss it.