Fletcher dropped a new, surprise song last night. I'm loving all the new releases that have started pouring out in the last week or two. Fletcher has been one of my favorite artists since "Undrunk" started showing up everywhere. She has a great mix of a versatile voice and an unfiltered look at songwriting, and "Bitter" certainly keeps that trend rolling. You can always count on her to deliver some brutal honesty and feel good break up songs.
When the song went live last night, Fletcher talked a bit about how the song came to be on her Instagram. "this was a funny one for me. y'all heard a suuuupr rough 30 second demo of this and asked me for it for months," Fletcher wrote. It seems like the major quarantine trend with music is releasing old tracks that didn't make albums or were just put to the side when they were finished. It's really interesting and has brought a lot of great stuff out. The story of the song also fits well with the spirit of the moment and the reconnection that's been happening as we're all looking for things to do. "I wrote this with my college best friend Mary Weitz (@disbitchmary) that I lost touch with for a whole and this was the first song we wrote when we met back up and hashed out feelings and talked about old times." The finishing touches were produced in a way that's becoming more and more prevalent as writers and producers work to adapt to the distanced world. "finished the production in quarantine over FaceTime with kits and made a music video with Shannon Beveridge (@nowthisisliving) and Tess Bjiere (@studiotessbjiere). first time in my life. putting out a song and video entirely written produced, directed and edited by women. won't be theist. babe gang 2020." Hearing about it being a completely female driven song makes its badass feel and awesome look even sweeter. Women working together is the way that the industry is going to keep opening up to women beyond artistry into video, writing, and producing. There's still a real lack of women behind the scenes in the industry, and this is a step towards changing that.
As for the song itself, I was into it from the start. It starts quiet and understated with a focus on her voice and the vulnerability in it. The production makes you focus on the lyrics which is the perfect choice because this song has a set of opening lines that are not to be skimmed over. By the time we get into the chorus, though, we get to experience an infectious dance beat that makes it impossible not to move to it. I like that the beat isn't too aggressive. It's molded to fit the chiller vibe of the song while still being infectious. As we get into the second verse, the beat scales back, but it doesn't go away entirely. Kito manages to expertly direct your attention to whatever the focus of the section is without being distracting with the musical cues. The dynamics are a major highlight of the song.
I'm also a huge fan of the melody as well. Especially in the chorus, it rolls through the words so easily. It allows the whole song to have a smooth, almost casual vibe that contrasts with the biting lyrics throughout the song. This is definitely one of the best produced songs Fletcher has put out lately.
The lyrics aren't to be missed either. Fletcher is always so exact with her words that the listener gets a super blunt, immediate picture of what she's talking about. This makes it easy for everyone to find some part of her song that they connect with.
The first verse is immediately intriguing opening with a repetitive run of a whole bunch of paper cut-like situations.
"It's like being on the outside of an inside joke
It's like when they only got Pepsi but you really want Coke"
That one is one of my favorite lines in here because it's such a random cultural reference to an internet joke. But everyone knows that feeling well.
"It's like you finally get a text back and it's just your mom"
This is another super relatable, of the moment point. I love how she's able to pick mundane, universal experiences that everyone's felt so the song is immediately infused with a new emotional layer based on a shared yet individual experience.
"It's like when you just broke up and they play your song"
I love this opening. It grabs your attention from the start and also makes you think from the beginning. It keeps the listener more engaged with the song and wondering about what happens next. It's so effective because they're simple experiences with so many layers of emotion to unpack about them.
I like the pre-chorus as a musical transition into the next phase of the song, but it doesn't add anything to the storyline that isn't reiterated or explained better in other places. The chorus cuts straight to the point, though, like most of Fletcher's music. She doesn't hold back. Here, we switch gears from explaining the fresh hurt of a recent break up to wondering about this new girl and your ex's new life.
"I know she's thinking that she found herself a winner
I know you f*cked her on the counter
Right before you cooked her dinner
Yeah, I know you think about me when you kiss her"
This is another attention grabber. It's an instant image creator, which works well in music. These lines make a quick point that have the added bonus of getting more twisty and complicated the longer you think about them. She's able to imply both that this new girl is there to pass the time while also adding a layer of caring and sweetness with the cooking line. It complicates where this other girl stands. And then she slams that first section to a close by reasserting her superiority and setting the tone for the next part of the chorus.
"I left a taste in your mouth
Can she taste me now that you threw out all our furniture and pictures?
I bet you sugar coat the truth
I bet you're real sweet with her
Yeah, I know you think about me when you kiss her
I left a taste in your mouth
Can she taste me now?
I appreciate all the little details the chorus lets you collect if you're paying attention. If they had furniture and decorative pictures, it implies that their relationship was pretty serious. It's another little thing that clues you into why she's so invested. I also love the pervasive confidence (feigned or not) that's layered overtop the sadness and vulnerability. It makes for an empowering break up song. The defining image, and what cues a lot of the scenes in the visualizer, is the "I left a taste in your mouth/Can she taste me now?" lyric that turns an emotion into something easy to picture. It's a prime case of showing instead of telling. And then she admits that she's bitter which I see as a power move in this context. When people can own their most simple, basic layer of emotion in a song, I always give them props. There's a power to admitting that you're angry or petty or bitter or arrogant. It takes back the power to already be aware of your shortcomings.
The last part I want to talk about is Verse 2. It focuses on the denial side of bitter and almost feels like two sides of the brain arguing. You're saying everything right to move on, but deep down, you can't force yourself to feel one way or another. You can't deny your real feelings and use that tactic as a permanent Band-Aid. But here, she's going to try.
"Hear about your new life and the brand new you
It's like heard you got a new job but I heard you moved
It's like I don't wanna hear it, don't wanna hear about you
It's like a don't give a f*ck (Yeah, I do)"
This song is all about quiet admissions sandwiched between the bold, eye catching statements, and I think that leaves it perfectly lyrically balanced and continually interesting through multiple listens. It's a song with a long chorus that you hear three times. It makes up the vast majority of the lyrical content of the song, but I don't mind. It's packed with enough layers that you can notice something different about it each time it plays.
"Bitter" does a great job of keeping it fresh both sonically and lyrically. It's packed with Fletcher's no hold barred, unfiltered approach to songwriting mixed with quiet, emotional moments that add to the intrigue. She packs a lot of conflicting emotions into a tight, danceable package, and I always love a song that makes you want to dance and cry. There's a confessional edge, a cathartic edge, and a club edge that makes it super versatile.
I'm so happy that we got this song, and it's definitely getting a spot on my summer playlist. I also have to applaud Fletcher for how creative she's been getting with filming new visuals lately with the limited resources of home isolation.
If you haven't yet, I also recommend checking out "Forever (stripped)" that recently came out. I love the reimagining of the song because I always thought the lyrics lended themselves more to an emotional, ballad style interpretation. I'm so glad that's what we eventually got.
More on Fletcher:
Recent Single Reviews