Dubbed the “prince of sad internet teenagers” by Teen Vogue, Conan Gray made his mark with catchy indie-pop songs paired with honest, confessional lyrics that navigate topics like unrequited love, nostalgia, and coming of age in difficult environments. Pretty relatable! He first made waves on YouTube through vlogs and covers before releasing his debut single, ‘Idle Town,’ in 2017, but that was only the start. Since then, he’s released his Sunset Season EP in 2018 and his debut album Kid Krow in 2020, which propelled him even further into the spotlight.
Conan has recently announced his follow-up album Superache, and if the currently released singles are any indication, we have so much more to look forward to. While we wait patiently for June 24th, here are our picks for nine Conan Gray songs your playlist needs!
Released in 2021, ‘People Watching’ is an up-tempo indie-pop ballad that narrates the struggle of watching people around you fall in love but never experiencing it yourself. While acknowledging that his own commitment issues are keeping him from experiencing love, Conan hopes that “one day I’ll fall without caution / but for now I’m only people watching.”
As a fun easter egg, the song features a choir section that can either be heard as “I feel love emotion” or “I feel no emotion,” depending on which way you’re leaning when you listen to it. What do you hear? Let us know in the comments!
Another recent release from 2021, ‘Overdrive‘ diverges a bit from Conan’s usual sound. It’s a catchy, upbeat pop song celebrating living in the moment and losing all inhibitions. Intended as a “moment of reckless abandon and catharsis,” it’s the perfect song to sing along to with all your heart and simply let go for a moment.
‘Wish You Were Sober’
While Kid Krow includes many amazing songs, this is a personal favorite of ours – and that’s by no means an isolated opinion. On top of being critically very well received and performing well commercially, it was even praised by Taylor Swift – if that’s not the ultimate endorsement, we don’t know what is. ‘Wish You Were Sober’ tells the story of being stuck at a party you don’t want to be at with someone who can only be true to their feelings when drunk. Another upbeat pop song, it serves as the perfect narration to teenage mistakes.
Of course, Conan’s newest single, ‘Memories,’ had to make the list. In a spin on the traditional breakup song, this song is about reaching a point where rather than wanting someone back, you just want them out of your life so you can finally get over them. Opening with slow piano, it builds up to a broad, layered chorus and a stripped-back bridge that betrays the real desperation he feels for that person to finally leave.
When getting into a new artist, there’s always something to be said for going back to the roots – in this case, Conan’s amazing debut single ‘Idle Town.’ This beautiful ballad is a nostalgic tribute to his high school years and hometown. Originally intended as a love song, the changed lyrics celebrate Conan’s love for his friends and their shared memories.
While Conan is largely known for his sadder songs, he’s also exceptional at writing cutting, angry lyrics. This is evident in ‘Greek God’ – essentially a battle song, it’s a defiant response to those that hurt us, whether it be back-stabbing friends or straight-up bullies. Conan essentially taunts the aggressors in this stunning, low-tempo song, tracing their cruelty back to their own insecurities. With a lower tone and humming chorus, the song stands out stylistically from his other work, showcasing his variety once more.
This fun, 80s-reminiscent synth-pop anthem is another great example of Conan’s angrier writing, this time taking aim at a “psychotic ex” that would spread rumors about Conan being a “freak” that wouldn’t leave them alone, while actually being the one to still text him and show up at his shows. ‘Maniac’ is a fun, yet cathartic, breakup song that will be stuck in your head for days.
Returning to acoustic guitar with ‘Astronomy,’ Conan once again showcases a more intimate, personal style. In this slow ballad, he tells the story of falling out of love and growing apart. Ramping up in intensity around the bridge, he asks his partner to give up on trying to revive their relationship.
Yeah, yeah, you were probably expecting this one – but ‘Heather’’s popularity is undoubtedly well-deserved. Released back in 2020, this Kid Krow song is Conan Gray’s most successful single to date. It perfectly exemplifies one of the styles he’s best at: simultaneously making you want to cry and feel comforted in knowing that you’re not alone in what you’re feeling. As he put it, everyone has a Heather – someone who’s simply too perfect, even more painful when the person you like likes them instead. Set between folk and indie pop, his layered vocals combined with acoustic guitar result in a stunning song.
Add these songs to your playlist and tell us in the comments what your favorites are, or tweet us @TheHoneyPop with your top picks! For more articles on pop culture, music, and fashion, check us out on Instagram and Facebook.