She’s the artist you probably haven’t heard of yet, but Arabella Latham, better known by her stage name, Baby Queen, will soon be taking this side of the pond by storm. In the queer community, she already has, as her songs from Netflix’s Heartstopper soundtrack have seen a huge surge in streams since the series launched in late April; his two songs in the first episode of the series are among the reasons why the series makes you addicted and fast.
Born and raised in Durham, South Africa, Latham felt that her aspirations for a musical career would eventually come to a halt in her home country. So she moved to the UK when she was 18 and soon started working at the Rough Trade East record store in London. Not knowing anyone in the recording industry at first, she struggled as best she could to network within the London music scene. During this time, she was constantly jotting down lyric ideas on sticky notes, many of which ended up on what her co-workers called “Bella’s Wall” at the store. The struggle lasted for several years, as she went through tough time after tough time; then, to top it off, she lost her job at Rough Trade when the pandemic hit. Several weeks into the lockdown, Baby Queen signed her first recording contract with Polydor Records.
There’s so much more to Baby Queen than her rapid rise to stardom. Countless profiles and interviews sum her up as embodying the hopes – and anxieties – of Gen Z. But her music can also resonate with anyone who is part of or plans to join the “Great Resignation,” as her lyrics express exasperation. . with a toxic workplace, social media, homophobia, gender tropes, beauty standards and dismissive attitudes towards mental health.
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Let’s start with one of his signature songs, “Internet Religion”, which speaks as much about the impact (or lack of impact, despite what the press releases say) that many of our institutions – including the business world, often have on society – that the lyrics speak to the angst of Gen Z:
Death and guns and beating gay children
It doesn’t happen to you, so why give a fuck?
If you can go online just to become
The identity you build
Yeah, let’s twist the standard of beauty
So none of our little sisters want to eat
Yeah, that’s fucking cool and that’s a shame
We cannot customize the Facetune personality…
While we’re on the subject of angst and for those who still don’t understand what drives Gen Z’s distrust of our institutions, including technology and the media, be sure to bookmark “Narcissist” on YouTube or your favorite streaming app:
When I was just a girl, I read a magazine
He said, “You can have the world if you’re pretty
But you’ll never be enough, so avoid the humiliation
And stop looking for love when all you need is validation”
So I grew up hating myself
And let all you m—–f—– monetize my sanity
By making me believe that my personal success
Depended on my weight and how I dressed
I see the same magazine criticizing my generation
And I find it kinda weird that you’re criticizing your own creation
But you still go online and call me obsessed with myself
Expect! Have you forgotten who created the Internet?
I hate when you ask me “What’s your problem?”
As if you didn’t already know
For those who work at a company that publicly broadcasts its purpose and culture, but IRL presents a completely different reality – whether internally or resisting any significant social impact – listeners can certainly relate to “Buzzkill :”
Well I was changing the world, but I got distracted by my phone
In every crowded room, I feel unnaturally alone
It’s like I’m living in a dream but all the characters are me
I’m disillusioned with the world and I’m filled with apathy
All cheaters prosper and all quitters win
And he’s your president because you voted for him…
And while we’re talking about whether you can really contribute – or even be recognized for your creativity and strategic thinking – where we work, i.e. that hijacked buzzword, “inclusion”, lead your AirPods to Wannabe:
I’m way too smart to talk about the weather
And every rumor ever made up to fit in
F— being thinner I’m done skipping dinner
And looking in the mirror at my ambition
To all the critics who listen to my words
I am totally prolific and able to rule the world
But for West female dogs born in wealth
Who finds it weird that I kiss girls…
Now, before our Baby Queen playlist suggestions trigger you any further, there’s a lighter side to Latham’s work, which is if the complexities of life and themes of unrequited love are lighter than daily reminders of unfair beauty standards and outdated gender roles. “Colors of you.” This song was the theme for the Heartstopper teasers; it’s a loving yet haunting poem that illustrates one of the show’s main characters’ journey to understanding and accepting their sexuality.
Then, of course, there’s Dover Beach, which is beautifully photographed, although Baby Queen does a good job of reminding us that 10 straight days of PTO might not be enough to shake her current romantic obsession:
Image credit: Treveales via Wiki Commons