Doja Cat's Scarlet: All Talk?

Aleksa Misic Aleksa Misic Instagram Oct 23, 2023 · 2 mins read
Doja Cat's Scarlet: All Talk?
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After independently making music on Soundcloud in her teens, Doja Cat was catapulted into superstardom upon the release of 2020’s Say So: a bubbly pop-rap anthem of early COVID years, soon followed by the anticipated 2021 album, Planet Her, featuring Woman, Need To Know, and Kiss Me More. The world was ready for more of Doja’s music, but her recent adoption of a demonic aesthetic, denouncement of previous works, and harsh words towards ‘stans’ left a mixed public perception. Alongside her controversies, a string of singles preceded her newest album, Scarlet, which was released this September.

Doja started strong with her lead single, and my personal album highlight, Attention. I’d sum the song up with the concluding line from the first verse: “You follow me, but you don’t really care about the music.” She is clearly criticising fans that believe they have a say in her choices, deeming them as fake fans who don’t truly appreciate her music.

I felt optimistic about this new direction she was taking. Attention doesn’t fit into the homogenous Planet Her, but unfortunately Paint The Town Red scurried back to the safety of her old style. Paint The Town Red is a collection of uninspired earworm hooks, and a vague backlash against the notion of public martyrdom, yet it wasn’t as strong as her previous successes. The subsequent single, Demons, is yet again about her public perception, while also lightly pushing her demonic aesthetic, albeit more enjoyable than Paint The Town Red.

On September 22nd, we finally got to hear the entirety of what Scarlet had to offer. Doja pushed back against fans who detracted her aesthetic, retorting with “The only thing I sold was a record” in Skull and Bones. Doja also exercises some of her comical lyricism in songs like Can’t Wait, with weird quips like “I wanna be the stubborn crust of barnacles around you” and, my personal favourite, “If you were to become a Middle American farmer / I’d read up on every vegetable and harvest them around you.” There is even a rare moment of her vulnerability when she raps, “I hope that I can ease some the stress, can I chime in? / I know I’ve been the root of the cause.” In some regards, Scarlet did not disappoint, with its entertaining moments sprinkled throughout.

Unfortunately, that’s all they are: sprinkled. I had to scour for the bars I quoted. My interest runs dry when I listen to tracks like Gun, where we get yet another song about a reproductive appendage without any memorable or clever lines. The album became repetitive by restating the same concepts about the same topics, which usually range between two things: her fans and her fame. Her instrumental and lyrical growth remain very limited, despite some slight stylistic and aesthetic departure. The structure still remains the same: she releases a few singles, some of which blow up, and the rest are filler. If her goal was to lose her ‘fake fans’, then Scarlet’s current dominance of #9 on the Billboard 200 must mean very few were ‘fake’, but despite her PR shenanigans, she’ll eventually lose the public’s Attention.