We have some pretty sweet news for you, honeybees! Or should we say bittersweet? McKenna Grace has finally released her debut EP, Bittersweet 16, and we can’t get enough! We had very high hopes for this project because of how talented McKenna is, and she surpassed every single expectation with flying colors.
One of the biggest things that stood out to us about Bittersweet 16 on our first listen (and second listen, and third listen…) was just how raw and punchy every lyric is. From anger and confusion to insecurity and anxiety, there’s such a wide range of emotions on this project and McKenna nails every single one. Each song feels like a page ripped out from a diary, with imagery that brings the stories to life and pulls at our heartstrings along the way.
[Writing is] total therapy and I just put it all out there. Which is very frightening and scary because I never talk about that kind of stuff in interviews or in my everyday life. I’m a very positive and extroverted person and I always like to bring a ton of positivity to what I do, but everybody has their moments.
McKenna Grace to The Honey POP
To celebrate Bittersweet 16 and McKenna’s unbelievable talent, we wanted to round up some of our favorite lyrics from each song on the project!
“I know a girl who’s too bitter, too sweet / She’s mature for her age, but too young for 16…”
Bittersweet 16 opens with the introspective ‘Ugly Crier,’ which takes an almost “I’ve got this friend…” angle as McKenna describes herself from another perspective. Of course, we love that this lyric nods to the EP’s title, and we also love how it showcases the high expectations society has for teenagers (and people in general) as they’re trying to figure out who they are. The world makes us feel like we have to have everything figured out and be the perfect balance of all different traits. We could only imagine how much pressure being in the spotlight like McKenna adds on top of that!
“You’re such a liar, liar, words on fire / Hanging my heart from a telephone wire…”
‘City Leaver’ brings all the post-breakup, heartache rage to us on a glittery pop-rock platter, and we can’t get enough! It’s so satisfying to scream-sing along to this line, especially with the “liar”/”fire”/”wire” rhyme. We also love how the telephone wire imagery ties into the long-distance theme of the song and how the fate of this relationship was literally hanging on by a telephone wire when they (or at least McKenna) tried to stay in touch.
“You ruined parking lots and movie snacks and photo booths, imagine that…”
This lyric from ‘Checkered Vans’ really feels like a little sister to McKenna’s April 2022 song ‘You Ruined Nirvana,’ and we love the connections! That feeling after a breakup (romantic or platonic) when everything reminds you of them is so painful, especially if it’s tainting fun things like photo booths and popcorn. Our advice, though: plan an exciting day out with friends that involves facing a few of those “ruined” things that scare you, so you’ll associate them with a better memory!
Speaking of parking lots, this line ties into the later track ‘What If?,’ and we love how many connections there are between the songs on Bittersweet 16! It makes us wanna replay the EP 48597435 times to catch all the references.
“Left me crying in the bathroom on my birthday…”
We were torn between this line and the cathartic “you suck… the air out of the room,” but this lyric is so ‘All Too Well’-coded that we couldn’t resist. We know McKenna’s a Taylor Swift fan like us (she even wrote ‘Ugly Crier’ about a night she went to a fancy party wearing a folklore cardigan), so we just had to make that connection! “Not weeping in a party bathroom… it’s supposed to be fun turning 21” and “left me crying in the bathroom on my birthday” will never fail to make us simultaneously feel devastated and enraged on behalf of two of our fave blondes.
“What if you never parked your car in that parking lot? Took out the keys from the ignition or just found a different parking spot? / If my friends had never called to go to the shopping mall, and I never walked through those main doors where you were standing by the dollar store…”
We tried to narrow down our pick for ‘What If?’ to one line of this section, but it’s just so immaculate that we had to put the whole thing! The song opens with McKenna recounting how she met the person that broke her heart, and the way she describes the scene sends us right there with her. The mall is supposed to be a fun place to enjoy time with friends, find cute clothes, and eat good snacks!
An honorary mention goes to “What if you never asked me out to go to the afterparty, only to leave me in the living room where I didn’t know nobody?” for how well it leads us into the next track, ‘Post Party Trauma!’ Speaking of connections to other songs, did you catch how the parking lot imagery goes back to our favorite lyric from ‘Checkered Vans?’
“I don’t know why I try to be honest in a room full of sharks and piranhas…”
‘Post Party Trauma’ is for the introverted girlies out there! It touches on how McKenna feels cast out at parties, and this line really strikes us because it has a double meaning of sorts. You can take it as “I don’t know why I try to be honest,” as in McKenna trying to stay true to herself when she feels like an outsider, or as “why I try, to be honest,” as in trying in general. This lyric makes us feel so understood on those nights when we don’t feel like being social, or we get anxious while we’re out on what’s supposed to be a fun night.
I just hope that I can help other people feel less alone. I want to make sure that I’m not seen as feeding into the negativity, but for me, listening to music is a therapeutic outlet, the same as writing it. That’s what I hope people can get from my music. That they can find something they relate to, cry, and let it out, and then they can get back up and know that they are okay and everything will be fine.
McKenna Grace to The Honey POP
“Not really sure if you’re human or just a heart-killing machine, ‘cause I’m trying to see if you ever did care about me…”
First of all: ouch. Second of all: we’re sending the biggest virtual hug to McKenna, because this line from ‘Collapsing Stars’ just ripped our heart right out of our chest and stomped all over it. We love the contrast between the natural imagery on the song (see the titular lyric and McKenna calling this person’s heart a black hole) and the robotic nature of this person’s actions. Just so well done!
“Maybe I should get this life thing figured out…”
For the final lyric, we wanted to choose a line that anyone can relate to, and pretty much everyone has the feeling at some point that they have no clue what they’re doing in life. You don’t have to be 16 to feel this lyric from ‘Bittersweet 16’ down to your bones! At the end of the day, we’re all pretty lost and it doesn’t make you any less of a person if you’re feeling unsure of yourself or your goals.
Which lyric from Bittersweet 16 is your favorite? Is there a connection between songs that we missed? Let us know in the comments below or hit us up on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter! And for more new music you need to hear, click here.