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  • Sasha Uvarova

You’re Gonna Love It: The Alternate Side of Pink Pony Dreams

Context is the most important aspect to understanding situations. Musicians are ironically the least inclined to give context about anything, god forbid someone writes obvious lyrics! When people write songs, there’s usually an incredible amount of subtext that you can’t even try to uncover, and consumers can accept that. My favorite thing is when an artist gives complex and even conflicting narratives in different aspects of their music. So imagine my excitement at the contrast given by the insanely talented Chappell Roan in her songs “Pink Pony Club” and “California.” 

Pink Pony Club, her hit song, and basis for her debut persona, follows a girl’s actualization of her biggest dreams. Chappell Roan guides her audience through one of the most emotionally potent and playful pop songs I’ve ever heard. Throughout the lyrics, the story is understood: a younger, and hopeful Midwestern girl leaves her home and family behind to pursue her dreams of becoming a star. Roan recognizes her humble beginnings at the fictional “Pink Pony Club,” where she embraces the environment because it allows her to express her actual adult self (even at the expense of her mother’s disapproval). “Oh mama, I’m just having fun/On the stage in my heels/It’s where I belong down at the/Pink Pony Club.” She knows that this is the path that she has to take, and that there’s nothing scandalous or shameful about being this person. 

However, the song called “California,” that Chappell Roan releases the following month in May 2020, guides her audience through the pitfalls of the actual emotional experience. It’s the turmoil of homesickness and fear of failure, as she navigates through this incredibly honest surrender. Where “Pink Pony Club” is optimistic and excited: “I’m having wicked dreams/Of leaving Tennessee/Oh, Santa Monica/I swear it’s calling me,” “California” is the opposite: “Thought I’d be cool in California/I’d make you proud/To think I almost had it going/But I let you down.” It’s a beautiful articulation of the sacrifice made by Roan to value her talent, her personality, and her freedom. It’s an acknowledgement of the context of a vulnerable situation, and it sculpts her songwriting with no restraints. 

The most satisfying element of this story is that for Chappell Roan, her Pink Pony Club aspirations have become a reality. The song became an insane success (11 million streams on Spotify!) and has allowed her to build a platform for more sincere, and fun, storytelling of aspects of life. As she becomes more and more popular and recognized for her talent, there’s an extra bit of love held in my heart to know that it couldn’t have happened without the California side of the story, too. 

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