Photo / Sam Berger
When I first listen to Los Angeles singer-songwriter Frankie’s brand new EP Sta7ges, I’m instantly hooked. She’s perfected the formula: glorious, chill-inducing opening chords, squeaky-clean vocals, all leading up to a pop-banger chorus that’ll get stuck in your head for days. Add in bitingly clever lyrics and immaculate production and there’s no denying it: Frankie has everything a great pop musician should.
When I meet her at the bar inside Gramercy Park Hotel, we bond instantly over the religion that is pop music. We gush over Ariana Grande’s new album and how Lady Gaga was a star long before Bradley Cooper directed her.
Despite the joy that pop has clearly brought to our lives and many others, it gets a bad rap. It’s clearly appreciated (as, you know, it’s short for “popular”), but the genre tends to get written off as fluffy, unintelligent, or vain. But in reality, pop music is singularly captivating.
“It becomes a phenomenon more than any other genre,” Frankie muses as we’re discussing the 90s-era pop we both grew up with. “There’s something so attractive about the glitter and the fluff and all the colors. It’s like…I can’t look away.”
But of course, there’s much more going on beneath the shiny surface. When I ask Frankie who her biggest influences are, she cites the pop greats: Adele, Alanis Morissette, Taylor Swift. “The girls that really get you through it,” she says.
Pop musicians are the ones we turn to when we need to be lifted up. Whether we we’re going through a bad breakup or had a rough day at work, these are the songs that will make you feel like you can (and should) dust yourself off and try again.
But these days, more and more artists are straying from labeling their music as straight pop, preferring instead to mix in other, perhaps less less mainstream genres (i.e. indie pop, electro-pop, and pop/R&B).
Frankie, though, isn’t afraid of the pop label; in fact, she embraces it wholeheartedly. Born and raised in Oakland, California, Frankie grew up admiring The Spice Girls and the girl power pop that they brought to the table.
“I write everything and I choose to do it in this lane,” she says. “I feel like I could easily write country songs. I love pop music, too, for it’s perfection. I feel like when you ace a pop song that’s almost harder to do than any other type of song.”
In her first EP, 2016’s Dreamstate, it’s clear that Frankie is a pop musician through and through. Though she occasionally incorporates electronic influences into her production, her soaring melodies and Swift-esque lyrical sass solidified her as a force in the pop scene. “Lost in Translation”, the first single from Sta7ges, is the satisfyingly tune-heavy follow-up fans expected from her.
Photo / Sam Berger
And now, the full EP (released today) proves that she’s here to stay.
Sta7ges is a breakup album, but not every song was written at the peak of heartbreak. Instead, Frankie takes us through the seven stages of grief, from the moment her ex tells her it’s the “Wrong Time” until she’s brushing hands with a new date in “When I’m Ready”.
“I was in a serious relationship for a long time and we were best friends for eight years and then together for three,” Frankie says. “He was like my childhood best friend, so it was just a really big split.” She goes on to explain that the EP wasn’t intentionally written as the stages of grief, but after a random Google search, she realized that the songs aligned with them perfectly.
You’ll cry with her on “Good Enough”, turn up to “Lost in Translation”, crank “Boy” when your crush isn’t texting you back, and at the end of it all, fall in love with Frankie’s honesty and masterful execution.
If you’re a true pop fan, you know the genre about more than catchy choruses or glittery costumes. At its core, it’s about womanhood. It’s about navigating life and love as a female, commiserating the bad times, celebrating the good ones, and learning how to feel good in our own skin. Frankie gets that. And with S she’s giving her fans, whatever their gender, a safe place to feel their feelings right along with her.
Frankie tells me a story from the day before, when during an in-house performance along her PR tour, someone in the audience started crying.
“It was really a special moment,” she says. “It’s moments like that where I think that these songs can help someone. You know what I mean? I feel like when I’m going through a breakup I want a pal through music, and then to do that for someone else, that then makes the whole experience worth it.”
Story / Catherine Santino
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