Over the last six months, Chappell Roan has experienced a bold and rapid rise to stardom, asserting her dominance as a new mainstay in the realm of pop music. Unashamed in addressing themes of queer identity, sex, and femininity, the larger-than-life, lipstick-stained pop star has become the darling of the most prestigious music festival circuits and horny Twitter users alike. Roan took no time to rest after stepping off the opening stage of Olivia Rodrigo’s GUTS tour: on April 5, she swapped her typical drag makeup and glittery unitards for a prosthetic pig nose to announce new single “Good Luck, Babe!”.

“Good Luck, Babe!” soars from the first several notes; Roan sarcastically muses that “It’s fine, / it’s cool” atop a pulsing 80s synth beat that draws comparisons to Madonna’s Like a Virgin (1984). Roan is no stranger to the tumultuous “situationship,” as she previously lamented a lover who will invite her to meet their parents but won’t deem the relationship official in the biting slow ballad, “Casual.” This time, she’s addressing a nebulous woman who toes the line between friend and lover but simultaneously throws herself at men to bury her budding queer expression: “You can kiss a hundred boys in bars / Shoot another shot, try to stop the feeling.” Roan opts to sing up the octave on the chorus, emulating the throaty, pleading voices of Kate Bush and MARINA. Yet, her voice remains distinctly floaty and almost angelic—timeless amongst the ever-changing pop scene.

In a world where pop stars feel increasingly unrelatable and JoJo Siwa claims to have “invented gay pop,” Roan and “Good Luck, Babe!” are refreshingly intimate and real. She speaks to every middle schooler who has ever struggled to understand why they so dearly craved a friendship with a certain individual and any queer person who’s ever felt like they’ve been kept a secret. She nails the nuances of growing up and coming to terms with queer identity—from moments of blossoming, overwhelming pride to inevitable but tragic instances of self-repression and tumult—all while maintaining a hopeful optimism. Rather than holding a grudge, Roan simply wishes her lover well, offering her good luck in her journey of self-discovery.

The singer is no stranger to taking the high road. Roan, whose real name is Kayleigh Rose Amstutz, works closely with her (and Olivia Rodrigo’s) Grammy-nominated producer, Dan Nigro, to create her unique sound. However, her path to working with such acclaimed talent was not always linear. Signed to Atlantic Records at the ripe age of 17, Roan was roped into producing music akin to her breakout YouTube single, the emotional and moving “Die Young.” When she cast off her typical slow, hymnal tunes in exchange for the bright and bold “Pink Pony Club,” her label dropped her. The song, which follows a small-town Tennessee woman on her sparkling journey to become a pole dancer at a Los Angeles gay bar, was deemed too raunchy by the mainstream audience and failed to achieve the numbers Atlantic hoped for. Down-trodden, Roan moved back to her midwestern hometown. Yet, this ultimately served as the springboard for her career. She began working with Nigro throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, releasing standalone songs that reflected the singer’s introspection into queer joy and homesickness. The two clicked, and an album began to take shape.

After officially signing with Amusement Records and Island Records in 2023, the pop princess moved back to LA and is embarking on a sold-out headline tour across the country. At each concert, Amstutz transforms into a dazzling, super-sized drag persona—Chappell Roan—to perform tracks off her long-time-coming 2023 album, The Rise and Fall of a Midwestern Princess.  

Despite the title of her debut album, our midwestern princess shows no signs of slowing down; “Good Luck, Babe!” has garnered over 11 million streams just over a week after its release. What sets Roan apart from her swaths of increasingly sexually liberated, pop-producing peers is her commitment to looking camp straight in the eye. “Good Luck, Babe!” is self-aware and defiant, with Roan proclaiming matter-of-factly, “I’m cliché, who cares? / It’s a sexually explicit kind of love affair.” She’s more than happy to poke fun at herself, and more so, not afraid to say “I told you so” to those who wrong her. She’s unapologetically flirtatious and quick-witted, only momentarily bitter in the bridge’s biting, gritty vocals. Yet, she’s moved on by the final refrain, and her last words—“you’ll have to stop the world just to stop the feeling”—melt and contort into silence. It’s momentarily eerie and uncomfortable, but more so for the fictional lover to whom Roan offers her sympathy.

Despite the single’s reflective content, Roan keeps things delightfully unserious. A reference to the overwhelming 80s-synth theme, the accompanying lyric video features low-quality, collaged images reminiscent of vintage television advertisements for that new device that you know will break in a week, but need anyway. Yet, the lyrics are also written glaringly in Comic Sans across rainbow-flashing, rotating gifs of corny smiley faces, clowns, and stock images still bearing the ever-so-irritating Getty Images watermark. “Good Luck, Babe” is the pinnacle of Roan’s duality as both an artist and content creator; she’s advertised this quintessential queer coming-of-age anthem by dancing flamboyantly in front of a strip mall Red Lobster and leaking “top-secret” insights tucked neatly away in her Notes app—really, she’s just like us.

More than anything else, Chappell Roan is reimagining the conventions and boundaries of pop, urging her listeners to embrace unseriousness. Pop music, at its core, is meant to be silly, cathartic, an invitation to let loose and dance. “Good Luck, Babe!” is yet another of Roan’s brilliant contributions to the genre, ensnaring listeners in her immersive world and encouraging them to wear their little queer hearts on their sleeves. It’s catchy, infectious, and simply fun—good luck! getting it out of your head.

Olivia Pozen
Olivia Pozen is a sophomore in the college studying American studies and sociology. When she’s not serving as the Voices editor or writing for the editorial board, she can be found waiting for Wordpress to finally display her profile picture (a photo of her and Lea Michele). It's been a year. Help.

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