Volv Concierge Issue #42

🌟 The rules that guarantee Chappell Roan's stardom

Hey everyone!

Shannon here, and I'm back with five of this week's most interesting stories: from cheating 'cake eaters' to the worst-dressed men in America. After that, I've got some thoughts about the Chappell Roan phenomenon taking over pop culture right now.

πŸ“° Headlines you need to check out:

  1. The most powerful men in America are also the worst-dressed

  2. John F. Kennedy's grandson is posting bizarre, viral TikToks... it's all part of a big plan

  3. More weird news in politics: This man desperately wants you to believe Biden pooped his pants

  4. TikToker set up a fake account and rage-baited people into sending her money

  5. If your partner suddenly identifies as a 'cake eater' β€” watch out!

πŸŽ™οΈ Worldbuilding is a necessity for artists to generate a cult following

Charli XCX and Chappell Roan, two of the most acclaimed pop artists of 2024, are both enjoying breakthrough moments on the Billboard charts with their respective most recent albums 'Brat' and 'The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess.'

Young girls have visceral reactions when attending their concerts. "I'm watching this like a teenage girl seeing Elvis for the first time in the 1950s." That's the general disposition that fans have over singers like Chappell Roan, Taylor Swift, Charli XCX, and Lana Del Rey, to name a few.

What's common among all of them is that they have all successfully created a unique character in a world they have built. (I've talked about worldbuilding several times, you can read previous editions here).

Let's start with Chappell Roan. Her viral songs have the internet ablaze with theories that she is an industry plant, when in reality, she's a '10 years in the making, overnight success.'

We are on the precipice of witnessing the next meteoric rise to fame pop star after Lady Gaga. People are championing her because it's truly refreshing to see a normal person become famous.

But what makes Chappell Roan appealing?

Several factors are required for an artist to successfully world-build. They must create a character with an identifiable sound, song lyrics, and aesthetic β€” the holy trifecta.

  • Sound: Chappell's music is inspired by 1980s synth pop β€” bops punctured with synths overlaid with lyrics that put queerness at their center. She categorizes her music as drag music, and has local drag performers open her shows.

  • Song writing: Chappell's music is all about queer experiences, from messy moments of heartbreak to ecstatic discoveries of love and sex. Her witty lyrics and infectious melodies bring listeners along on journeys through situationships, affairs, breakups, and even the satisfaction of seeing an ex get what they deserves.

  • Aesthetic: Chappell says her on-stage persona is a drag queen version of herself because it's very larger-than-life. She considers the character Chappell Roan her "drag project." She likes to call herself a "tacky pop star" and isn't afraid of not looking pretty. Artists are never comfortable with not looking pretty or not being perceived as the best versions of themselves. So, by default, that itself is a character from a world of its own.

Chappell's charisma accentuates that she was a born star. She understands pop, live performance, and camp, which have not been portrayed in mainstream media since Lady Gaga.

CHARLI XCX follows the same formula

The success and cultural relevance of Charli's latest album feel particularly gratifying as, for years, she has straddled two cultures = the darling of underground + mainstream pop.

She's known for her hyper pop bangers and her e-girl aesthetic, which includes her 'sexy lobotomy' stare, 'dissociative pout,' and the 0.5 selfie, all while making really fun music you can dance to in a club.

Charli XCX is quintessentially a cool girl, and unlike so many others, she can articulate what it feels like. She can write a song about being 31, in love, and contemplating having a baby without it sounding normie.

She has been deemed the "future of pop" owing to her hyper-pop-inflected sound, so much so that other artists emulate her aesthetic.

Now everyone wants to be Charli β€” Camilla Cabello with her song I luv it, which fans have claimed has copied the style and sound from Charli. Katy Perry's rebrand is also being seen as a Charli XCX derivative.

I would be remiss not to mention the OG world builder Lana Del Rey β€” branded herself an image so effective, the "gangster Nancy Sinatra." Her music is often melancholic with a vintage Hollywood glamour aesthetic. Her Americana lyrics are often evocative of relationships with older men, making all the girlies wish they had daddy issues.  

And need I mention Taylor Swift?

It goes without saying that Swift used a similar playbook to build her cult following, albeit with more economic sense.

All of them have a unique sound that is so distinguishable that you can say, 'I think this is a Charli XCX song' without ever having heard it before.

So it's not just about having a unique sound; song lyrics and aesthetics matter a lot. Fans always want to surgically dissect the meaning of artists' lyrics and believe that perhaps their outfit choices have a deeper meaning, and so on. Leaving them puzzles to decode creates an unescapable world for them and an army of loyal followers.

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This newsletter was edited by Ishita Sen.