'Good Luck, Babe!' And 'Espresso': The Artists Reviving The Art Of Carefree Pop Music

9 July 2024 | 10:57 am | Anna List

You likely hadn’t heard of Chappell Roan and Sabrina Carpenter in 2023, but in 2024, you can't escape them - and for good reason.

Chappell Roan, Sabrina Carpenter

Chappell Roan, Sabrina Carpenter (Credit: Ryan Clemens, Vince Aung)

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The Music's sassy new regular pop culture columnist, Anna List, is here to drop truth bombs.

2010s nostalgia is real—not so much for the fashion (please, no more peplums and skinny jeans) but for the music.

The early 2010s were defined by the resurgence of happy, throw-your-hands-in-the-air-like-you-just-don’t-care pop from leading ladies like Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Rihanna, and Kesha after the infectious blend of EDM, pop, and urban pioneered by Flo Rida, Pitbull, David Guetta, and Calvin Harris had laid the groundwork.

Party Rock was in the house every night, but eventually, the relentless, upbeat energy (both literally and thematically) became too sickly sweet for our refined palettes, and the backlash began.

Lorde started the pop takedown with the musically minimal but maximally scathing Royals, and what followed was a decade of darker, more ominous indie, EDM and hip-hop-inspired sounds. The pop girlies were no longer.

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In hindsight, Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream era looked like a Wiggles-esque fever dream. Lady Gaga’s bombastic The Fame seemed ditzy and materialistic. What were we doing Just Dancing and enjoying ourselves when there was so much to be apprehensive about?

Suddenly, it was all about this new wave of downtrodden kids like Halsey, Post Malone, Khalid, Billie Eilish and the DJ/producer acts with the best minor key “drops” in place of singalong-able choruses.

Bruno Mars and Dua Lipa kept the spark alive (and really should get more credit) while our beloved pop girlies attempted to move with the times: Taylor Swift’s reputation, folklore, Evermore, and Midnights eras, Katy Perry’s ‘purposeful pop’ album Witness, Lady Gaga’s Joanne and Rihanna’s…. makeup line.

Everyone took a swing at baring their souls, begging listeners to take them seriously because, behind the glitz and glamour, they are true artists. But for all these years, it felt like there was a gaping hole in the charts, which used to be filled with nonsensical fun, silliness, glamorous excess and joyful escapism.

In 2024, that is finally starting to change, thanks to Sabrina Carpenter and Chappell Roan – two names you likely hadn’t even heard in 2023, but in 2024, you cannot escape.

We are witnessing the resurgence of the pop star in real time. It is reminiscent of when Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera first burst onto the scene in 1999, but the media has learned not to pit women against each other.

Sabrina is re-caffeinating the charts with her energetic, criminally infectious tunes and quirky lyrics. Who cares that we are staring down the barrel at another Trump presidency? My give-a-fucks are on vacation!

Espresso was the surprising smash hit, and undeniable song of the summer that reminded us all that music could be unabashedly silly and fabulous. Her follow-up single Please, Please, Please seems to blend country, pop, indie and even musical theatre influences in the most unexpected #1 in recent years - a musical introduction? A second verse modulation? A bridge? Only two choruses? 1970s gated guitars? Dropping a threatening ‘motherfucker’ in the chorus? To quote The Internet, mother is mothering/serving/eating, etc. 

That brings us to our next superstar on the rise, Chappell Roan. Once again, her name will be met with accusations of having “popped up out of nowhere”, but both Miss Roan and Miss Carpenter have been chipping away at this “overnight success” for many years.

Chappell Roan has been working her way through the industry minefield for almost a decade, building a massive cult following that has reached a pinnacle this year with a couple of instantly iconic performances and the single Good Luck, Babe! One of the most satisfying things about discovering these ladies in 2024 is that they have already made so much phenomenal music that has previously flown under the radar, unappreciated.

We are basking in the stunning beauty of Good Luck, Babe! and are blessed to devour their impressive back catalogues. It’s like falling upon a great show on Netflix and finding out it actually has five seasons. Sabrina’s emails i can’t send and Chappell’s The Rise And Fall Of A Midwest Princess are indelible feasts for the ears, showcasing glistening hints of Madonna, Stevie Nicks, Kate Bush, Cyndi Lauper, Lady Gaga, and ABBA.

Katy Perry once referred to her then-upcoming and soon-to-be ill-fated Witness album as ‘purposeful pop’ - but does pop have to have a purpose? Alternatively, does it, in fact, have the most important purpose of all? No matter how dark, monotonous or difficult life can be, you can always throw on an absolute scorching pop jam and be HOT TO GO! BRB, I need to go scream that Red Wine Supernova bridge again.