Chappell Roan Proves Her Pop Princess Status with Debut Album

As we were tackling a five hour drive home from a concert, my friend Grace asked “did she just say ‘get it hot like Papa John?'”

I laughed and played the song again until we were sure that it was the correct lyric. We replayed the song a few more times until we found ourselves bouncing along and dancing to Chappell Roan’s “Femininonenon.” These joyful moments, which Grace and I like to call ‘core memories,’ summarize Roan’s new album, Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess.

Establishing herself with the crooning indie piece, “Casual”, Chappell Roan caught the attention of a very specific audience that resonates with her music. In a press conference organized by Universal Music Group’s 1824, Roan discussed with Almost Famous Zine her colorful and bold personality, and how it is something that resonates deeply with the small town midwest gay community.

Chappell Roan by Ryan Clemens: Album Debut
Photo by Ryan Clemens.

We asked about how she distinguishes her personal life moments, stories and experiences from the public persona that is Chappell Roan, a persona we all embrace for its uniqueness. Her answer was as straightforward and honest as she could be;

“I don’t.”

The mystical whims of this persona give us a much clearer idea about the struggles of a rising star like Roan herself as she tries to find the precarious balance between genuineness and entertainment, while staying creative and honest. Roan jokes about the fact that not every single line is based on a true story; for example she told us “I don’t know anyone whose mom has a house on Long Beach” when referring to the song “Casual.” Regardless of this, her incredible story building is enough to entice an audience.

The album Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess boasts a cohesive, bubbly, fun and impressive lineup of pop hits. Some of my favorites, like “After Midnight” and “Naked in Manhattan” illustrate the lustrous 20-something year old life as a queer person with newfound freedom. The sweetly upbeat tracks feel like my early experiences as a queer girl, with lines like, “new crush, high school love again / the rush of slumber party kissing.” Coming in hot with the 2000s-esque pop hit, “Super Graphic Ultra Modern Girl,” Roan emanates the unapologetic shining stardom of idols like Lady Gaga and Britney Spears.

To prove her simultaneous versatility as a pop icon, Roan belts out emotional complexities through the moving songs “Coffee” and “Kaleidoscope.” Giving southern queer outcasts a safe space and a place to relate, Roan sings these lyrics in the song “California”:

“Come get me out California / No leaves are brown / I miss the seasons in Missouri / My dying town.”

This line is a personal favorite of mine, since it shows the variety of experiences Roan offers (providing many places for fans to create connections to her music). The beautifully organized singles orchestrated a thrilling build up to the full scale project where Chappell Roan proves herself as an important piece of the pop game today.

(Check out Erika’s coverage from Chappell’s show in Philly!)

Words by Patti Doud (@piecesbypatti) and photos by Ryan Clemens.

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