Halftime Leisure

Pabllo Vittar and Rina Sawayama’s “Follow Me” is an exercise in excess

April 20, 2022


Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Pabllo Vittar is a master of pop. Her work is all about performance, whether it be for others or just yourself—as a drag queen, Vittar brings drag’s ethos of showmanship and playfulness to her music. While she certainly brings the party, I mostly associate Vittar with the ritual of getting ready to go out. It’s impossible to hear her music and not feel imbued with a sense of confidence so outsized it verges on delirium, making it perfect to lip sync along to in the mirror. “Follow Me” is no exception—in her collaboration with Rina Sawayama, Vittar crafts a club banger with plenty of heart.

Since 2015, when her Portuguese version of Major Lazer’s “Lean On” titled “Open Bar” went viral, Vittar has garnered a major following both in Brazil and worldwide. Born in Maranhão, Vittar’s biggest hits like “Amor de Que” and “K.O.” pushed the boundaries of forró electronico, a Brazilian genre that adds electronic keyboards, brass section, and electric guitar to the traditional forró instrumentation (usually an accordion, bass drum, and triangle). While her earlier work appealed to Brazilian audiences through the incorporation of regional styles, Vittar endeared herself to hyperpop fans through her feature on Charli XCX’s “I Got It.” Collaborating with Rina Sawayama, then, is a natural progression—Sawayama’s sophomore album SAWAYAMA established her as one of the most exciting voices in pop. “Follow Me” brings these two pop powerhouses together to dazzling success.

In contrast to her almost purely brega (another genre of Brazilian pop) album Batidão Tropical (2021), “Follow Me” seems to promise a new era of pop exploration for Vittar. The song’s keyboard melody is an instant ear-worm, and the layering of various electronic drum beats makes the track fiercely danceable. Still, the track is far from bubblegum pop—the song is punctuated by three intense beat drops that would put Skrillex to shame. As pop incorporates more elements of electronic music, beat drops have become a cheap way of infusing mediocre pop songs with some semblance of energy (think of The Chainsmokers’ entire discography). But Vittar and Sawayama are skilled in their use of the so-called “pop-drop.” 

The first drop is the most traditional, with the beat rapidly increasing before it falls away, leaving only Vittar’s command: “follow me.” The beat that follows is much deeper, contrasting with the brightness of the first verse. Vittar pulls us out onto the dance floor, imploring us to “back off the wall, work all your angles / Walk ‘cross the floor, Naomi Campbеll.” Following Sawayama’s verse, the beat builds to a frenetic pace once again, but this time Vittar delays the gratification of a beat drop for almost ten seconds. The track strips back to the original upbeat melody, and when the drop finally hits, the heaviness of the bass is intoxicating. Before the final chorus, Vittar repeats the same trick, but this time Sawayama and Vittar’s voices soar over the preceding drop, cementing the stars’ diva status. 

  “Follow Me” is pure fun, and Sawayama and Vittar’s confidence is completely contagious. I’d follow them anywhere. 



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