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Rina Sawayama|Hold The Girl

Hold The Girl

Rina Sawayama

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Like Lady Gaga, Rina Sawayama understands the beauty of camp and that there can be intensely real human emotion under all that artifice. On the British-Japanese singer's sophomore album, she presents a euphoric, glam country-pop stunner, "This Hell"—complete with neighing horses and a cheerleader chant, a Paris Hilton quote (a droll "That's hot") and a Shania Twain tribute (the first line: "Let's go, girls!"), and topped with a thick slice of guitar-solo cheese. There are references to Britney Spears, Lady Di, Whitney Houston, The Devil Wears Prada and a thirsty Satan as Sawayama cheekily LOLs about being warned she's going to hell for liking girls—but, hey, "This hell is better with you!" It's the definition of gilding the lily, and it is glorious. Blinded by the disco-ball glitter of "Catch Me in the Air"—inspired by, of all bands, The Corrs—you might not realize the track is about her relationship with her mom, a single parent who didn't speak English while living in London, and the complicated support they gave each other as Sawayama was growing up. Or that the chill, early 2000s R&B pop of the title track is supporting a story about digging deep and reclaiming herself: "Sometimes I just wanna run away/ Leave behind that old me, start again/ Then I'll remember who I'm really made of/


And she's been hide-and-seeking, waiting all alone." Is it any wonder Sawayama wrote the song after a therapy session while working through some leftover teenage trauma? In fact, she has said the album was born of a more intensive therapy she's been practicing, focused on the notion of "re-parenting yourself"—in other words, figuring out how to provide what you didn't get enough of as a child. The dreamy "Phantom" is about realizing in adulthood that, as a "girl, pleasing the world, dying to be liked," she weakened her own boundaries to please other people: "Stickers and scented gel pens/ Give possessions, get friends … I've been trying to find her since/ She gave a little too much away." "Frankenstein" is ultra high-tension, with Bloc Party's former drummer Matt Tong setting the 130-BPM pacing as Sawayama pleads for metaphorical reinvention: "Put me together, make me better, love me forever … I don't wanna be a monster anymore." There are moments of Celine Dion-style grandeur ("Forgiveness"), and the float-like-a-butterfly, sting-like-a-bullet dichotomy of Evanescence ("Your Age," on which the industrial music drops out and Sawayama intones: "You fuck with my life"). And "Send My Love to John" surprises with acoustic guitar folky tenderness, as the singer imagines a mom apologizing to a son—accepting him and his love, John, after a lifetime imagining her boy with a girl and "hiding behind the bible" rather than standing up for him. © Shelly Ridenour/Qobuz

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Hold The Girl

Rina Sawayama

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1
Minor Feelings
00:02:00

Lauren Aquilina, Composer, Writer - Rina Sawayama, Composer, Writer, MainArtist - Vic Jamieson, Composer, Writer

© 2022 Dirty Hit ℗ 2022 Dirty Hit

2
Hold The Girl
00:04:05

Jonny Lattimer, Composer, Writer - Rina Sawayama, Composer, Writer, MainArtist - Barney Lister, Composer, Writer

© 2022 Dirty Hit ℗ 2022 Dirty Hit

3
This Hell Explicit
00:03:56

Paul Epworth, Composer, Writer - Lauren Aquilina, Composer, Writer - Rina Sawayama, Composer, Writer, MainArtist - Vic Jamieson, Composer, Writer

© 2022 Dirty Hit ℗ 2022 Dirty Hit

4
Catch Me In The Air
00:03:35

Stuart Price, Composer, Writer - Oscar Scheller, Composer, Writer - Rina Sawayama, Composer, Writer, MainArtist - Grace Barker, Composer, Writer - Adam Crisp, Composer, Writer

© 2022 Dirty Hit ℗ 2022 Dirty Hit

5
Forgiveness
00:04:20

Rich Cooper, Composer, Writer - Jonny Lattimer, Composer, Writer - Rina Sawayama, Composer, Writer, MainArtist - Adam Crisp, Composer, Writer

© 2022 Dirty Hit ℗ 2022 Dirty Hit

6
Holy (Til You Let Me Go)
00:03:18

Nate Campany, Composer, Writer - Stuart Price, Composer, Writer - Rina Sawayama, Composer, Writer, MainArtist - Chris Lyon, Composer, Writer

© 2022 Dirty Hit ℗ 2022 Dirty Hit

7
Your Age Explicit
00:02:54

Marcus Andersson, Composer, Writer - Lauren Aquilina, Composer, Writer - Rina Sawayama, Composer, Writer, MainArtist

© 2022 Dirty Hit ℗ 2022 Dirty Hit

8
Imagining Explicit
00:03:32

Lauren Aquilina, Composer, Writer - Rina Sawayama, Composer, Writer, MainArtist - Adam Crisp, Composer, Writer - Vic Jamieson, Composer, Writer

© 2022 Dirty Hit ℗ 2022 Dirty Hit

9
Frankenstein
00:03:12

Paul Epworth, Writer - Lauren Aquilina, Writer - Rina Sawayama, Composer, Writer, MainArtist

© 2022 Dirty Hit ℗ 2022 Dirty Hit

10
Hurricanes
00:03:22

Rina Sawayama, Composer, Writer, MainArtist - Adam Crisp, Composer, Writer

© 2022 Dirty Hit ℗ 2022 Dirty Hit

11
Send My Love To John
00:03:25

Marcus Andersson, Composer, Writer - Lauren Aquilina, Composer, Writer - Rina Sawayama, Composer, Writer, MainArtist

© 2022 Dirty Hit ℗ 2022 Dirty Hit

12
Phantom
00:04:24

Lauren Aquilina, Composer, Writer - Rina Sawayama, Composer, Writer, MainArtist - Adam Crisp, Composer, Writer - Vic Jamieson, Composer, Writer

© 2022 Dirty Hit ℗ 2022 Dirty Hit

13
To Be Alive
00:03:54

Marcus Andersson, Composer, Writer - Lauren Aquilina, Composer, Writer - Rina Sawayama, Composer, Writer, MainArtist

© 2022 Dirty Hit ℗ 2022 Dirty Hit

Album review

Like Lady Gaga, Rina Sawayama understands the beauty of camp and that there can be intensely real human emotion under all that artifice. On the British-Japanese singer's sophomore album, she presents a euphoric, glam country-pop stunner, "This Hell"—complete with neighing horses and a cheerleader chant, a Paris Hilton quote (a droll "That's hot") and a Shania Twain tribute (the first line: "Let's go, girls!"), and topped with a thick slice of guitar-solo cheese. There are references to Britney Spears, Lady Di, Whitney Houston, The Devil Wears Prada and a thirsty Satan as Sawayama cheekily LOLs about being warned she's going to hell for liking girls—but, hey, "This hell is better with you!" It's the definition of gilding the lily, and it is glorious. Blinded by the disco-ball glitter of "Catch Me in the Air"—inspired by, of all bands, The Corrs—you might not realize the track is about her relationship with her mom, a single parent who didn't speak English while living in London, and the complicated support they gave each other as Sawayama was growing up. Or that the chill, early 2000s R&B pop of the title track is supporting a story about digging deep and reclaiming herself: "Sometimes I just wanna run away/ Leave behind that old me, start again/ Then I'll remember who I'm really made of/


And she's been hide-and-seeking, waiting all alone." Is it any wonder Sawayama wrote the song after a therapy session while working through some leftover teenage trauma? In fact, she has said the album was born of a more intensive therapy she's been practicing, focused on the notion of "re-parenting yourself"—in other words, figuring out how to provide what you didn't get enough of as a child. The dreamy "Phantom" is about realizing in adulthood that, as a "girl, pleasing the world, dying to be liked," she weakened her own boundaries to please other people: "Stickers and scented gel pens/ Give possessions, get friends … I've been trying to find her since/ She gave a little too much away." "Frankenstein" is ultra high-tension, with Bloc Party's former drummer Matt Tong setting the 130-BPM pacing as Sawayama pleads for metaphorical reinvention: "Put me together, make me better, love me forever … I don't wanna be a monster anymore." There are moments of Celine Dion-style grandeur ("Forgiveness"), and the float-like-a-butterfly, sting-like-a-bullet dichotomy of Evanescence ("Your Age," on which the industrial music drops out and Sawayama intones: "You fuck with my life"). And "Send My Love to John" surprises with acoustic guitar folky tenderness, as the singer imagines a mom apologizing to a son—accepting him and his love, John, after a lifetime imagining her boy with a girl and "hiding behind the bible" rather than standing up for him. © Shelly Ridenour/Qobuz

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