When our faves come out with a new release, the project’s tracklisting can often feel like a menu for the era. Whether you’re starting with the appetizer’s opening song or closing out with its outro dessert, we can picture ourselves sitting in a corner booth, jukebox plugged in on the side, trying to decide which song we’re ordering off the menu first. That is until you chow down on the rest of the tunes, eager for an all-encompassing sound buffet.
This food metaphor stems from Anne-Marie’s UNHEALTHY, and that’s just the start of them, by the way! And note the italics as we speak of the album rather than the title track ‘UNHEALTHY’ starring duet partner Shania Twain. This particular menu has 13 tracks (and 16 on the deluxe!), all about the psychotic tendencies of toxic love. In an ode to the menu of it all, we’re allocating four songs to a four-course meal: the hors d’oeuvre, appetizer, main course, and dessert! We’ll analyze its ingredients, aka what exactly went into cooking this musical stew.
On ‘CUCKOO,’ it was about saying, “Before you get into this with me, I want to let you know exactly who I am. And if you stay, you stay, and if you don’t, fine.” It felt powerful to get with someone and be your complete self right from the start. It was owning it and saying, “This is who I am.”
Anne-Marie to Apple Music
When we think of a starter for this UNHEALTHY meal, the perfect choice is ‘CUCKOO.’ The vibe of ‘CUCKOO’ is not only in the birds chirping sounds one hears after immediately clicking play, firing out of one of those clocks one could find on Playschool, but also in Anne-Marie’s fun, messy vocal stylings. Therefore, this energy is one of the ingredients boiling in our melodic pot, but as for the others? There’s a bouncy EDM beat, a school choir harmony acting as the backing, and lyrics noting her bad habits because… “Before you get a taste of me / Let me hit you with the recipe.” ‘CUCKOO’ was co-written alongside Conor Blake, Henry Tucker, Sam Brennan, and Tom Hollings.
While an appetizer could easily be mistaken as another hors d’oeuvre, the former is presented during the meal, while the latter is before. So essentially, think of all those parties you’ve seen in a television show where servers share bite-sized portions; that’s an hors d’oeuvre.
We’re talking about appetizers now, though, so our choice is ‘GRUDGE,’ co-written by slowthai, Conor Blake, Evan Blair, and Nami. It’s got this spicey, Cirque du Soleil vibe as its intro, as Anne-Marie comments snarkily, “If you piss me off, then I’ll shrug it off.” She spends the first verse and the pre-chorus in therapist mode, trying to suppress all of those ugly feelings down, but as the beat drops and we arrive at the chorus, she doesn’t care too much about attending the session, rather willingly holding a grudge.
She wants to tell you that it’s more self-inflictive and not because it’s joyful, echoing on the bridge, “I know that it isn’t fun / Been looking for a reason why / And deep down I wish I could just stop,” with these panting breaths following. Yeah, the rhythmic patterns are quite literally tiring her out but, it also demonstrates the emotional toll that she doesn’t have to put on herself. For that reason, we’re placing it as the appetizer, showing the airy dramatics of the album, but underneath it, there’s something more gentle. To bring that notion home, the track ends with the rewind sound effect, emphasizing that she’s unsure how to get out of this pattern.
It felt fun. I was googling the craziest stuff people have done to get their exes back. One person put cling film all around their ex’s car against a lamppost and I was like, “This is the best.” I have tattoos on my body of what friends have taught me in life, and one on my shoulder said, ‘Forgiveness,’ after my friend Beanie, who is so good at forgiving people. But I thought to myself, “I don’t want to do that.”
Anne-Marie to Apple Music
‘IRISH GOODBYE’ (written alongside Henry Tucker, Sam Brennan, and slowthai) is a high-stakes, waltzing number that, although it could sit quietly on a record full of sassy, dancing grooves, steals the moment beautifully. Don’t get us wrong; it still has the bravo of confidence Anne-Marie displays on the other tracks, but this time instead of pointing out her own, she points at the muse’s flaws and the terrible regret that will follow through ghosting. The breathy “Uh-uhs” that sit on the only verse in the track only add to the storytelling like they did on our selected appetizer, she was heaving for air, and now she’s breathing back in. It acts as the hearty realization that she’s not the only one at blame, tugging him down from the pedestal.
If the main course was the acknowledgment that she wasn’t the only one to blame in their about-to-be ex-something situation, then the dessert is the overindulgent whipped cream satisfaction for choosing herself. Snapping snake lollies in halves and even watching as chocolate oozes from the middle of a hot fudge bomb, getting to this conclusion after going through the toxicity of losing yourself really is something to celebrate!
Therefore the dessert song on Anne-Marie’s UNHEALTHY is ‘TRAINWRECK.’ This time around, KAMILLE, Plested, Sam Brennan, and Tom Hollings helped out with the writing scribbles. It starts with a keyboard ushering in that stays as she states she’s done everything that society tells her to do to get over someone (“I watched the films and drunk the wine / Here in the mess you left behind”). Now she’s found freedom, even if he never thought she’d be that elated without him there. That’s our girl!
What’s your special of the day off Anne-Marie’s UNHEALTHY menu? There’s a toxic selection of pop-centric, sugary tunes to choose from to keep those AirPods well-fed. With English recording producer Billen Ted on sight, there’s even an edition of the album which takes us behind the scenes, listening to Anne-Marie’s voice notes. You can find that album and other merch for the era on her store’s website.
Additionally, duet partner Shania Twain lassoed the wild west runway with Anne-Marie for the ‘UNHEALTHY’ music video. While we recreated these looks, you can also scroll through our Instagram and Facebook pages for more style steals!