Meet PinkPantheress, TikTok’s next Superstar

Courtesy+of+readdork.com

Courtesy of readdork.com

Marybeth Stanziola , Columnist

Achieving on TikTok feels far more reachable than it does on other platforms. The unpredictable algorithm coupled with the notable success of other creators – many of whom  relate to GVSU Lakers in age and college environment – make content creation seem fun and promising. For some, like Addison Rae, the luck of the draw was pulled in their favor. It appears as though the next TikTok superstar is PinkPantheress, a 20-year old musician who acquired initial attention after her song “Break it Off” became a trending sound.

The Londoner dished out subsequent singles, each garnering paralleled success of her debut. As the hype surrounding her signature 2000s dance, drum & bass, jungle-hybrid sound grew with each single, PinkPantheress proved that it could hold up across an entire body of work on her album “To Hell with It,” released in Oct. 2021. The ten-track record provided fans with a deeper look into her otherwise anonymous identity, allowing listeners to empathize with her heartbreak and struggles with mental health – all while keeping her name and other personal details completely private.

The short project contains all three of PinkPantheress’ viral singles: “Pain,” “Just for Me,” and “Break it Off (Bonus).” The three best encapsulate the sound she’s now known for, pulling innovative, at times almost unrecognizable, samples and interpolations from songs whose era she pays homage to. The opening track, “Pain,” masterfully accomplishes this by interpolating the beat of Flowers’ “Sweet Female Attitude,” swapping out the harsh vocals for wispy synths. Her first hit, “Break it Off,” pulls a drum sample from Adam F’s “Circles,” establishing the foundation for the ensuing tracks in her discography.

Despite using differing samples and borrowing from a smorgasbord of genres, many of the songs on “To Hell with It” sound similar in rhythm, instrumentation, and vocal performance. PinkPantheress’ quiet, sing-talk melodies quickly become repetitive – especially when paired alongside a glitchy break-beat. The majority of the record’s tracks clock in at under two minutes, leaving them with little room for full development.  “Noticed I Cried” and “Break it Off” have nearly identical drum patterns and production styles, an unfortunate flaw in PinkPantheress’ smooth and otherwise impressive debut.

Two standout tracks in the record’s latter half thankfully disrupt the repetition, delving into a more raw, vulnerable side of PinkPantheress’ enigmatic identity.  “All my Friends Know” ditches the succinct and at times overwhelming beats preceding it, instead opting for slow piano chords.  Her post-breakup doubt is emphasized through some lower-register vocals, replacing her signature “talk” style of singing with impressive runs and harmonies.

“Nineteen” blankets her vocals over a diluted break-beat and sorrowful violin. PinkPantheress introspectively analyzes her growth by guiding listeners through her hometown and acknowledging the loneliness of adulthood: “everyone’s gone but I still feel the same”. Acting as a closing track, “Nineteen” ends the record on a high note, a nice contrast to many of the shorter, lyrically simplistic tracks that came before it.

Other highlights include “Last Valentines”, a haunting, guitar centric instrumental with another deep vocal performance, and “I must Apologize,” which sounds like the MySpace profile song of any cool older sister in the 2000s. “To Hell with It” is both an authentic homage to the era that inspired it and a showcase of PinkPantheress’ ability to create newness from nostalgia.