The viral musician chronicles a messy night out on the latest lead-up to her debut album.
A quick trip to YouTube circa 2013 would inevitably lead to a few key content selections — the asked (and answered) question regarding a certain animal sound, yet another notable organization attempting the Harlem Shake, and a bedroom songstress in the style of one Dodie Clark.
Armed with a knack for witty and winking lyricism perfect for Tumblr’s prime, not to mention a British accent that bled into every syllable she sang, Clark charmed her way to internet stardom with a host of original songs and covers. She was casually talented, so effortless in the little ditties she seemed to produce by the minute and so humble about the whole affair of making music. Sat at the piano bench or ukulele in hand, she was the patron saint of quirky girls everywhere — awkward at times, but overwhelmingly sincere.
But flash forward eight years, and Clark’s not just the girl with the ukulele anymore: She’s dodie, an acclaimed singer-songwriter and capital-M Musician with a handful of singles and EPs to her name. Her writing more pensive, her musical palette more expansive, dodie is a full-fledged artist, and on her latest single “I Kissed Someone (It Wasn’t You),” the development is more apparent than ever.
The track takes a much darker approach than many of dodie’s previous compositions, favoring the quick pulse of a guitar and a moody string arrangement over the light plucks and strums of earlier eras. Structurally, it subverts expectations — easier, detached verses give way to jarring shift in the chorus, and the insertion of a minor chord at the apex reveals something much more somber lurking beneath the surface of this seemingly casual affair.
Elevated instrumentals and a more sophisticated arrangement are all part of dodie’s musical maturation. The neat compositions primed for viral clips have long been abandoned, replaced now with something more ambiguous, something messier. It’s not hard to gauge the thoughtful music-making behind the track, but the way it changes on a dime feels spontaneous, almost haphazard. Considering the subject matter, this calculated unpredictability fits.
“‘I Kissed Someone (It Wasn’t You)’ is set in the aftermath of a newly-single person’s messy night out. It’s the feeling of trying to patch over a broken, lonely heart by indulging in a revenge fantasy of promiscuity — sadly only resulting in feeling lost, lonelier and shameful,” dodie said. “I wrote the song to take place in a drunken, dark mindset — teetering on the edge of sinking deep into the bad thoughts that alcohol can amplify, before snapping back in the verses to a slightly more grounded, but still sad, place.”
Subsequent regret makes itself known across the track. The lyrics are contemplative at first, a cautious justification of the night’s events, until the floodgates open. “Put me in the car, I just want to go home,” dodie laments lightly. The whispery delivery never gives way to a grand emotional release, but the lyrics make enough of an impact on their own. Besides, the smaller moments of vulnerability in her vocals speak louder than a more demonstrative display ever could.
The single comes as a follow-up to “Hate Myself,” another precursor to dodie’s debut album Build A Problem out May 7th. Continuing the theme of ruthless self-examination, the record will serve as a retrospective on the chaotic two-year period during which it was written.
“I think I was going through a crisis actually,” dodie said. “I was very unsure of who I was and I was trying to figure it out in music. So I think it’s quite unstable of an album — but it’s definitely honest.”
For longstanding fans, the years of faithfully following dodie’s growth have yielded a tremendous payoff. She enters this era simultaneously more tumultuous and more refined, with lyricism more attuned to the lawlessness of adult living but instrumentals that attest to her intricate musicianship. Quietly chaotic and intriguing in its subtle moments of emotional turmoil, “I Kissed Someone (It Wasn’t You)” is a testament to the burgeoning artist dodie has become.
Check out “I Kissed Someone (It Wasn’t You)” below and catch Build A Problem May 7th!