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I’ll be the first to admit that I learned about Doja Cat much later than most people, especially considering how I tend to live under a rock (not unlike a certain starfish). My first time listening to her was beyond a new experience. It was like I had found myself in a whole new world that I had never discovered before, and from the look of recent events, Doja Cat has also made some new discoveries herself.
In an interview with Angie Martinez on Harper’s Bazaar, Doja Cat said that Scarlet would be “a little punk” and that she’s leaning toward a “darker” aesthetic. On top of that, Billboard’s article by Glenn Rowley shows that Doja Cat had previously stated that her new album Scarlet would be predominately rap instead of the catchy pop songs that she’s more known for, such as “Kiss Me More” and the Planet Her album.
Overall, Doja Cat definitely achieved her goals with this album. Long gone is the bubbly pop of “Say So” and “Need to Know;" Doja Cat has stepped into a darker place with her music. Songs like “Demons,” “Attention,” and “Paint the Town Red” give off a devil-may-care kind of feeling, along with a more aggressive tone, which can easily be seen through most of the songs in Scarlet. Seriously, if you can’t see it, get your eyes checked. With lyrics like “I never gave a F, go stir the pot, bitch” from "Attention," Doja Cat has taken a stance on how she feels about her haters, which is to say she really couldn’t care less. Overall, you've got to respect Doja’s “I do what I want” take on her fame and fans.
Another aspect of the album that should get put in the spotlight is Doja Cat’s near constant focus on calling out her fans on their parasocial behavior. It’s commendable, and even encouraged, seeing as how most celebrities are more than content to just smile and wave at their fans. If there’s one thing Doja Cat does best in this album, it would definitely be her bold attitude towards dealing with fans who cross the line. The different beats used throughout the album were also something to note. From funky rhythm, to sounds leaning more into lo-fi territory, the album is a wild ride from start to finish. While it’s true that the different array of beats used were experimental, and they varied from song to song, they were interesting to experience back-to-back.
Scarlet has some straight bangers (or whatever the kids are saying these days), especially if you’re feeling a little rebellious, even if it’s just as a treat. If you’re looking for a catchy song with a badass vibe to enter your villain era with, look no further than “Paint the Town Red.” “Paint the Town Red” has a restless beat and danceable lyrics which are fantastically on point for Doja Cat. Lines like “My illness don't come with no remedy/I am so much fun without Hennessy” are fun and make you feel like dancing even if everybody is watching. Another song with a similar vibe is “Fuck the Girls (FTG).” This song is another one you blast in your car with the windows rolled down without a care in the world. Scream it at the top of your lungs, even. “Fuck the Girls (FTG)” is an absolute bop and with lyrics like “Who dare ride my new Versace coattails?/You can't buy none that if it was wholesale,” you’ll definitely feel the confidence of a conqueror in your veins.
With every album, there will always be the songs that flop, and you know what they say: the bigger they are, the harder they fall. By far, the worst perpetrator of me wanting to tear my earbuds out is “Wet Vagina," which was criminally bad, especially coming from Doja Cat.
The verse felt like an elementary school poem at best, and the chorus made me want to press the skip button and end my suffering. With lines like “Pretty face plastic, it’s givin’ Kardashian/Agent 47, yeah, I’m giving assassin," I felt like I was listening to a middle schooler try to brag about how cool they are. Honestly, this song should’ve never made it out of the brainstorming phase. It’s just that terrible. Another accomplice to this crime is “97," which has a meh chorus, and with that being the unfortunate highlight of the song. The lyrics are treason against my ears at best, especially with lines like “They ain't even ready-spaghetti, baby, they sauceless.” That line in particular shows an outright lack of creative lyricism and any sort of thought as to how it would sound in the song itself. Overall, the song itself is a time-waster, and not in a good way.
Unfortunately, most of the songs in the album do not leave much of an impression and feel like they are coming from a mid-tier music artist who is still trying to find what sound works best for them. “Ouchies,” “Often,” and “Go Off” are kind of a blur that do not give any sort of feeling other than “yeah that was a song I just listened to.” With these songs there is no point of connection between the listener and Doja Cat. It’s just words passing through your earbuds and nothing more. The only “meh” song that stood out despite being “meh” was “Demons.” “Demons” is overall only okay as a song because the chorus was good, but the verses are weak and uninspiring. There is a little too much hype over the song, especially considering how there is nothing remarkable about it other than its darker tone and aesthetic.
The Depressing, Unfortunate Conclusion
Overall, Scarlet is a downgrade from Doja Cat’s previous albums, and I didn’t find myself enjoying most of it. While it’s true that Doja Cat has stuck to her claim of moving into a darker theme, maybe she shouldn’t. A few bad songs in an album doesn’t make or break said album, but this album had one too many for me to call it good.
Contact Marcus Stach with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org