Japanese-British singer Rina Sawayama has at least one song fitting for any music taste. Her songs are influenced by a number of genres such as early 2000s dance-pop, rock, country, and R&B, just to name a few. Are you looking for a modern take on the nostalgia of the early 21st century? Or are you just looking for what might take the top spot on your Spotify Wrapped next year? Regardless of what your vibe is, here are 5 songs by Rina Sawayama that you absolutely must add to your playlists.
The first single off her highly anticipated sophomore album has a country-pop influence and an over-the-top nature that is synonymous with Rina. The lyrics are about her personal struggles with religion and her queer identity. Despite that, they can also be read as a love song with the chorus saying “this hell is better with you.” The song is also bursting with pop culture references, most notably “posing for the paparazzi, f*** what they did to Britney, to Lady Di and Whitney.” Each of these names is a reference to the paparazzi intruding into the privacy of famous women when they were at their most vulnerable. The song, heavily influenced by the likes of Shania Twain and Dolly Parton, also has a gritty guitar solo that makes it truly Rina Sawayama.
‘XS’ is a throwback to the pop divas of the Y2K era. The production, instrumentation, and lyrics make it seem like a fun, upbeat shopping anthem. At the root of it though, the song’s meaning can be connected more to the dangers of capitalism. The lyrics in the first verse are about being able to afford anything you want and how you deserve it. The pre-chorus even ends with “call me crazy, call me selfish, I’m the baddest and I’m worth it.”
It’s in the second half of the song that the tone starts to shift. The parallel at the end of the second pre-chorus is what really drives the message home, though. “Call me crazy, call me selfish” is the same, but instead of Rina singing about how she’s worth it, she sings “say I’m neither, would you believe her.” The change is an allusion to the different perspectives of those who can mass-buy and the general consumer. The lyrical depth of the song doesn’t take away any inherent danceability and it is still perfect for any playlist.
This song has more of a rock vibe compared to the others, with its heavy bass line full of distortion. The song’s anger is absolutely palpable with the instrumentals almost concealing Rina’s vocals, something that was popular in 2000s nu-metal. It’s the perfect song for when you want to feel powerful or wish you could just tell someone to STFU.
‘Comme des Garçons (Like the Boys)‘
This song’s instrumental is something that would’ve been pumping through clubs in the mid-2000s, with a funky bass line full of nostalgia. The song is about confidence in your own body and that confidence should be worked in your own individual way. This song exudes danceability but also makes the listener feel like they can do anything. Perfect for a studying or workout playlist, but also great for when you need to strut your stuff across campus and feel like the baddest person out there!
‘Chosen Family (feat. Elton John)‘
This song’s arrangement is more toned down compared to the others on the list, but the message behind it is beautiful. The penultimate song of her first album, it’s a love letter for those who have a chosen family. With lyrics like “we don’t need to be related to relate, we don’t need to share genes or a surname” and “hand me a pen and I’ll rewrite the pain, when you’re ready, we’ll turn the page together,” this ballad is an anthem for anyone who feels a closer bond to their chosen family instead of their blood relations.
Send us a tweet or leave a comment to let us know which of the songs you’ll have on repeat. If you’re looking for more recommendations from the THP team feel free to check us out on Facebook and Instagram!
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