Madison Beer. You may know her as an internet sensation, a TikToker with connections such as David Dobrik and Nick Austin. But did you know she has a wonderful career in the music industry? And that her voice is the reason she got famous in the first place?
Let's start from the beginning. When Madison was 13, Justin Bieber discovered her cover of Etta James' "At Last" and reposted it to his socials. This instantly blew her up, and so began her music career. In 2013, Madison released her single "Melodies" which was a populicious hit, and the video even had Justin himself in it. She became pretty well known but grew up in a very toxic environment, one of men and music industry buffs taking advantage of her youth and innocence. She continued to drop singles through 2016 and then came the As She Pleases EP in 2018. This was the next big step in her music. A little older, with a little more experience making songs, she dropped a 7 track pop EP. Featuring songs such as "Dead", "Fools", and "Home With You", this work helped her gain traction again. Although none of the songs were insanely personal or vulnerable, they were radio-ready and perfect for blending into what was coming out at the time.
Also in 2018, she released a track featuring Offset of The Migos titled "Hurts Like Hell", yet another perfect pop song with a feature from a rapper who she could gain traction from. In my mind, this was the last song of the era before Madison truly came into herself. In 2019, she delivered "Dear Society", one of my favorite songs of hers and one that finally felt like we were beginning to see a bit of her true self. I distinctly remember my ex-best friend telling me to stop playing it so much because I just couldn't get enough of it. What an incredible track, with lyrics such as "Been 21 since 17 thanks to all the magazines / Man sometimes I just wanna scream and break my screen." The poor girl grew up way faster than she should've had to. She didn't get to enjoy being a teenager and do teenager-y things without being under public scrutiny. She goes more in-depth about these experiences in her memoir "The Half of It", I'll be going into more detail on her book in two blog posts which is all about memoirs, so keep an eye out for that.
Next came the beginning of the Life Support era, my personal favorite. She finally began to show the world who she was, still with many pop songs, but also heartfelt ballads. "Good in Goodbye" was the first single, kicking off her new album with a bang. Lyrically genius and a great song to scream with your best friends, it still stands as one of my favorites. The one I can pretty much guarantee you'll know, "Selfish", with the riff challenge from that song going viral on TikTok for a while. A few more singles later, she finally dropped Life Support in its entirety in February 2021. The standout tracks from this album are "Follow The White Rabbit", "Stay Numb And Carry On", "Homesick", "Sour Times", "Emotional Bruises", and "Everything Happens For A Reason". That album was one of the many that became the soundtrack to my senior year, and I'll always hold it close to my heart.
I didn't mean for this to become a Life Support review, but I realized I've never really spoken about it on The Music Box, and it deserves a spotlight. I do want to bring up one more point, though. It seems like her music career is not taken seriously, and I think there are many reasons why. She has all the talent, she was born to be a star, so why is she not more well-known? Her beauty is intimidating, and I don't think you realize how big of an issue that is. I think a lot of people feel they can't relate to her or that she doesn't, couldn't possibly, have any problems. Beauty overrides all the pain in a person's world, apparently. So there's the relatability aspect, but I think TikTok has also put a dent in her career. I can't tell you how many times I've told someone I like Madison Beer and they've said, "The Tiktoker? I didn't know she made music!" or "Oh I love her, she's so pretty!". It breaks my heart a little bit. Maybe people see her as one of the TikTok stars who blew up and decided they needed to start a music career, like Nessa Barrett or any of the others. It just hurts to know people don't see her worth as a musician.
Okay, rant over. Now, the actual reason I'm writing this: Madison's sophomore album Silence Between Songs is out in the world! Since Life Support, she has dropped five singles that made it on the album. I'm going to give an overview and then break it down track by track, each of them is so unique that I think every song deserves the spotlight.
Silence Between Songs (2023)
This is an important album. One that says a lot about Madison's songwriting and her ability to deliver the lyrics. I adore Life Support, but on Silence Between Songs, she reveals more of herself than we've ever seen before. She speaks of anxiety, the guilt she has over taking away some of her brother's childhood, the relationship she has with her father, being cheated on, and one of my favorite themes that we also saw in Life Support, being jealous of inhuman things, or things not from this world. Another is being envious of the person she's in love with, I can't wait to go more in-depth on that one. I urge you to listen to the album while you read what I've written about each song, enjoy!
Track One: Spinnin
If there's one thing Madison has mastered, it's the art of creating gorgeous harmonies. Spinnin starts in just that way, with a few moments of layered vocals to engage you, and then jumps right into the first verse: "Did the world stop spinning / Nothing seems to change / I'm stuck at the beginning, and I'm in pain." Madison has stated that this song is about being disappointed in your reality, waking up and only wanting to go back to sleep to live in your dreams. To me, this is a perfect way to begin the album. Right off the bat, she's taking you into her head, not beating around the bush with a perfect pop song. It's a beautifully constructed ballad. My favorite part is around 1:33 where the tension builds a bit and then she belts this incredible line at the top of her range: "Did the world stop spinning, or did I?" That's one of the strongest moments in this whole album and in my opinion, the perfect way to begin her album.
Track Two: Sweet Relief
One of the very few populicious songs on this album, "Sweet Relief" takes you directly into an upbeat, danceable world with the tastiest of basslines. The urge to shake my booty in this song truly never fails, don't play this at the function!!! I will drop what I'm doing and pull out my best (worst) moves! This theme is a constant throughout many of the other tracks as well. She explains her predicament, saying, "Please leave, Godspeed / I can't be around you right now, don't speak / It's a problem, it's addictive". My understanding is that she's a little too obsessed with her lover, maybe in the way that she falls too hard and too fast for her own good. It's better to just not be around that person than to have to deal with the all-encompassing obsession. She needs "sweet relief" from her lover. This idea can be found in "Nothing Matters But You", "Showed Me", and "King Of Everything", so pay attention to those lyrics. I'd say this track and "Home To Another One" are the most similar to her other music, but at the same time, they're complete standouts. It's one of the rare moments where she strays away from ballads on this album. Although I do sort of wish there were more tracks like this, it fits perfectly. I mentioned this earlier, but that BASSLINE! Oh my gosh, it's so funky and escalates the chorus, bringing a bit of Flea-esque funk. Did I just compare Madison Beer's music to the Red Hot Chili Peppers? I can't decide if that's an appropriate comparison or not. Oh well. Even the way that the track opens works so well, the riff brings you right into the steady thumping of some kind of drum track, and that drum track establishes the kind of upbeat song you can tell it will be. There's a pause right before the chorus, and then full-fledged funky bass comes in, and the urge to shake my ass returns. This is one of the best songs on the album! Listen to it at sunset with your windows down and I'm sure you'll fall in love with it.
Track Three: Envy The Leaves
Here's where that theme of being jealous of inhuman things comes into play. "I envy the leaves that grow from the trees, they're all so carefree / Through the seasons, unaware of the fall." I've found this idea to be unique to Madison. She takes the listener on a journey through her deepest envies of nature, saying "I envy the snow, how it's blissfully cold / The world around it is melting and it still doesn't know." Where does she find herself within these elements? The delivery of this song fits the message incredibly well, it's quite stripped back, with only a dull synth thumping to keep the beat together which gears the focus to her vocals. The last twenty-five seconds have a bit of change though, and it works well in the track, to a point where I wish the change had occurred earlier in the song. It repeats the first verse but is sung in a different style to match the way the track lifts, pulling in almost thirty seconds with distorted drums and some crazy synth stuff. While this song is not particularly one of my top favorites from the album, I admire the way she's able to work her emotions and translate that into something that comes out like this.
Track Four: 17
Madison has always said that older music has had a lot of influence on her and that much is obvious on "17". I hear a distinct nod towards The Everly Brothers' "All I Have To Do is Dream", especially in the line "All this time I never got to sit and dream away the hours." This mirrors what The Everly Brothers say, "I'm dreaming my life away." I think this a brilliant way to incorporate her love for that style of old music with her own twist, including the meaning behind the lyrics. Madison articulates how she never got to just live her life while she was young. "My life moved faster than the speed of sound / Wish I could go there now and slow down." Even going so far as to talk to her younger self, "I hope she knows that I would never blame her / Cause all she did was all she knew." I understand how hard it is to look back on being young and wishing you could change things, wishing it had gone a different way, wishing you could take back certain things. It continues with its jazzy smoothness, lulling you into a sweet state of absorbance, taking in the lyrics and the incredible layering of her vocals. It's a track that is easy to get addicted to because it's so catchy, especially the chorus. I believe this is one of the strongest tracks on the album.
Track Five: Ryder
"Grew up in the same house, so I know why you lash out / Oh, I understand you more than you think I do." An ode to her brother Ryder and their childhood, it serves as an apology to him. Reflecting on lost time, the moments she left him out, and even taking responsibility for how her instantaneous rise to fame affected his life. Lyrically, this is absolutely one of the most heartbreaking on the album. "Sometimes all that you need is a shoulder to cry / And I'm lucky you're mine / Just two kids caught in the crossfire / Close your eyes, I know you're so tired." I can't imagine what it must have been like for him to hear this song for the first time. It takes a lot to not only own up to mistakes but to apologize for them in this way. This solidifies Madison's immense talent in my mind. The track is mainly a mix of piano and acoustic guitar, another ballad that can so easily bring you to tears. I did want to point out one more little Easter egg towards her adoration for older music, "I shouldn't have left you behind / And I fall to pieces." I'm pretty sure the "I fall to pieces" is a nod to Patsy Cline's song of the same name. I love those little bits to catch on to. This is a track to experience and just listen to her story, and what a beautiful way to tell it to the world.
Track Six: Nothing Matters But You
There isn't a bad song on this album, but to me, this track is just a bit boring. I do enjoy that she continues to write about falling too deeply in love and just being obsessed with that person to the point where she's saying "Nothing matters but you." I don't think this is one of the stronger songs on the album, lyrically or melodically, and in all honesty, I don't think the album needed it, but it still ties that theme together. I don't know. I don't have a lot to say about this one.
Track Seven: I Wonder
Coming back to her roots in 50s and 60s music, "I Wonder" seems to say that life is finally good again, the grass is greener on the other side. Madison has said that it's supposed to mirror "Spinnin" in some ways, whereas "Spinnin" was the lowest low, and "I Wonder" is where she begins to return to the surface again. I love this song because it's so cool to visualize. In my mind, I see Madison walking through a field that is dim and dull, and suddenly it begins to restore its color and life. The clouds cleared, the sun was rising, the air was sweeter, the world was bright again, all these beautiful ways of taking inspiration from nature once again to express that at that point, she had left a dark period. She's a new person, she finally feels fine again. It's easy to tell how Beatles/Beach Boys-inspired this is, it has that certain catchiness you only hear in music like that. Madison has a knack for being able to translate her inspiration into her music, whether that be with the style of song like this one, or lyrically where she's pulling from a traumatic event or emotion. I don't think this song would be what it is if it didn't have the old-school sound to it.
Track Eight: At Your Worst
In another track similar to Ryder, Madison has confirmed that "At Your Worst" is about her father. These tumultuous relationships have been transformed into two of the heaviest tracks on Silence Between Songs. It's such a nice break from hearing about being in love or romantic relationships. "I taught myself to cry on cue, I close my eyes and think of you / It's not that hard for me to do 'cause everything leads back to you." There is so much heartbreak outside of romantic relationships, and showcasing that pain in this way makes it one of the most raw songs I've ever heard. It seems as though a lot of artists don't dare to talk about these kinds of things, but Madison took the leap and was able to show the world who she is in her most vulnerable form. Another stripped-back ballad that says all it needs to say without intense music to back it up. "But I hope I never hate myself the way I know you hate yourself / It hurts to see you hurt the ones who love you at your worst."
Track Nine: Showed Me (How I Fell In Love)
Circling back to the theme of being obsessed with a lover and wanting to be like them. "You walk into a room and people fall for you / How I wanna be like you / Oh, it's true, I'm gonna be like you." This one always did make me giggle a bit because when Madison Beer walks into a room, people do fall for her. It's inevitable. But I understand where she's coming from, seeing a person with so much swagger and ease put on a performance of sorts, but it's so effortless. I feel her sentiment. It's so easy to fall into the trap of wanting to be like someone else. Lyrically, it's alright and easy to understand, but I think it stands out more melodically. It's this very slow and sexy song that makes you want to put on black sunglasses and waltz around the room seductively. But, it still holds an air of playfulness.
Track Ten: Home To Another One
This song baffles me. It goes back to the idea I was speaking about in the beginning where she's this perfect pop star who is so radio-ready, and yet she doesn't get any play on the airwaves. "Home To Another One" is the most populicious (is that my new favorite word?) track on this album. It's groovy, it's got a nice beat, it's got the perfect chorus to sing in the car, it's the perfect pop song. Catchy guitar riff, great verse construction, it just ticks every box. So that leads back to the question once again, WHY IS SHE NOT GETTING RADIO PLAY? It irks me so much. She's worked so hard for years now. This song is divine. It gets stuck in your head and just doesn't leave in the best way. It always makes me want to dance, even more so than "Sweet Relief". Justice for "Home To Another One"! The message is pretty straightforward, her lover is going home to another person and she's very aware of it. It makes me wonder if it's the same situation discussed in "Reckless" but this one is in much more of an unserious way. I'm usually not such a sucker for pop songs, but this might be my favorite on the album.
Track Eleven: Dangerous
Another one that I feel I never connected with a whole lot, "Dangerous" was the second single released for SBS. I'm not sure why, but her songs about being in love or heartbreak just don't strike me as sincerely as tracks like "Ryder" and "At Your Worst". I can still feel her pain through the lyrics and delivery though, and it isn't any less of a beautiful song, just not one I related to as much I guess.
Track Twelve: Reckless
This song came out at the end of 2021, and she had even begun playing it when I saw her on the Life Support tour. "This chapter's about how you said there was nobody else / Then you got up and went to her house / You guys always left me out." How sad is that? It's interesting to me too because "Reckless" doesn't necessarily come off angrily (except for the line that says "I hope you both go to hell"), but more just sad and heartbroken, which is understandable. The line about being left out really pushes this innocence, like she kind of knew what was going on but chose to not acknowledge it, and instead just pretended to feel left out rather than cheated on. Another sincere ballad with elements of disbelief and betrayal, "Reckless" is one of the most well-articulated heartbreak songs on the album.
Track Thirteen: Silence Between Songs
Title track up next! Mysterious and honest, it opens right away with "You wanna know the demons in my head / But you don't know they're sleeping in your bed." Madison brings us back to what's going on in her mind, the term silence between songs seems to mean those moments in her life in which things are quiet but in the worst way. Too much opportunity for her brain to think, and too much noise when it's silent in her world. Maybe she's at her worst when she's by herself, not having a distraction or something else to think about pulling her deeper into a discouraging state. "Oh I never knew that silence between songs could ever be so lonely and so long / So listen close to the silence after this song." This track is one that I feel very deeply, there's an urge within me whenever I'm by myself to distract myself, to occupy my mind, rather than sit with my own mind. Sometimes it's better to not have to think at all.
Track Fourteen: King of Everything
A lot of these heartbreak ballads seem to be about the same person. Kind of like how in "Showed Me" she says that this person has everyone in awe of them, and "King of Everything" has sort of the same vibe, except she sort of realizes that they aren't all that she thought they were. I could also see this not at all being about a lover but being about someone in the music industry, someone who preyed on her naivety when she was younger. "Look what you've done, taken advantage of people so young / Riding the high road on everyone's lows". I see this about falling out of love with someone or something, or maybe just falling out of the facade and seeing the truth. I love that there are so many ways for this to be interpreted. Although I think the album should've ended on "Silence Between Songs", this song does truly have the vibe of a closing song. It has the element of finality to it, so maybe that's her closing this chapter of her life, letting it go. Acknowledging the pain and wrongdoing and no longer letting it affect her. It screams "This is the end, onto the next".
Silence Between Songs truly feels like the most vulnerable retelling of Madison's life. She recounts her childhood and her family, coming into the music industry and being used, dealing with anxiety and the lowest lows, falling in love, falling out of love, everything that has had significance to her. This is Madison Beer at her most raw. This is the story she hasn't been able to tell before. Listen close and listen with respect.