Momentous Mondays: Influential artists of the next 5-10 years – Week 34: Sabrina Carpenter

2021… …

A year most of us are extremely glad to see. For 2020 has put us through the ringer so, so many times… it’s not even funny. There’s the obvious- the COVID-19 pandemic that has forever shaped the way we all live and breathe at the moment, as well as the riots in the middle of the year in response to George Floyd’s death and the Black Lives Matter movement. Of course, you also have the historic U.S. election way back in November, won by Joe Biden, and not conceded at all by incumbent Donald Trump (until recently), that has had massive ramifications for the world- most notably the storming of Capitol Hill just this year. And to top it all off, who could forget the bushfires of Jan/Feb 2020 in Australia? Or how about Louie Giglio’s ‘white blessing’ gaffe? I think those are all the ‘big’ and ‘massive’ events of 2020- but that’s not saying that I wish there to be more and more events from 2020 that we all were affected by. These above aforementioned, were more than enough, don’t you reckon? Anyway, as a nation and as a people of the world- we all were overall glad to see the back of 2020, and we were hoping that the problems of 2020 didn’t follow us into 2021. Oh how wrong are we!

With the storming of Capitol Hill, Trump’s impeachment, the discovering of new strains of COVID-19, and the censorship of many conservative voices on social media being at the forefront of 2021 thus far, one could be forgiven for thinking that we’ve travelled back a year and that this year is doomed to occur just the same like last year did. While I can’t promise you that this year will be rosy and nice and all sunshine and rainbows and unicorns, nor can I say that this year is beyond hope and repair; what I can say is that God is with us in this year and the next and the many more into the future. He will always be by our side, and He will never leave us. That’s a fact. I can guarantee it! Feeling confident and certain that this year will be better than last year? Or maybe still apprehensive and unsure about the future? Whatever way you feel about what this year is going to bring- I reckon that no matter what you believe in, whether you believe in God or not, there’s one thing for certain that we all can agree on and it is this. That because it’s a new year, we can have a new outlook, and we can choose to be happy in the face of adversity. Whatever life throws at us, our perspective is a choice, and we can wallow or we can rise above and be resilient, determined and robust. 2020 has knocked us down, so why should 2021 do the same? When we think of a new year as a new page in the chapter of the book that is our lives… well then we can think of a blank page and a fresh start to be a better version of ourselves. Yes… I know it’s hard sometimes to get back up when people and words have knocked you down. But with family, friends and God in your corner- the new year ahead will be fantastic… because we are alive. Yes, the breath in our lungs signifies an unfulfilled purpose, and meaning not realised. If right now there is an ache in our hearts to do something about the widows and the orphans and the least of these, and if right now there is something inside of us wanting to make the world a better place, to leave a legacy for the next generation; well then I’d say 2021 is getting off to a great start, don’t you think?

At the top of the year we as humans usually make New Year’s resolutions. Is that futile? Because we hardly keep them anyway? Or should we make strong vows, and hence we are bound to these unrealistic promises that stretch us beyond our limits? Perhaps we can chase our dreams to change the world at large, or at least to effectively and efficiently positively benefit the world we live in; but what does this look like? How do we improve the world from the desolate 2020 to a new and hopeful 2021? How do we know that our plight and our efforts won’t be in vain in 361 days time or not? And the truth is that we do not know what our efforts will look like a year from now. We can only work off what we think will be an edifying and inspiring result for our friends, family and others who know us. But in striving for greatness and striving to be an advocate for change and striving to be an active part of the change that we want to see happen in this world; we mustn’t lose sight of one thing. Ourselves. We mustn’t lose our character, we mustn’t lose our humanity, we mustn’t lose our values, morals, beliefs. While we are striving to be a positive influence and be someone people can love and respect and look up to, we mustn’t end up becoming the very thing we hate, the very thing we are against. And it’s a fine line- walking between really acting out calling and purpose and doing what we think is right, versus accidentally walking down a slippery slope and sacrificing our core values and beliefs, all in the name of earning a living. As I am typing this sentence, I am reminded by a quote from photographer Ken Duncan on a portrait in my bedroom- ‘Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life’. and that is so true. When you go big and try to change the world… sometimes we forget about the little things, and then 5-10 years ago by, and nothing is achieved, or worse- something is and we hate ourselves. So… that’s always something that we need to keep in check, and possibly have an accountability partner or group.

But why am I speaking about wanting to change the world from a sad 2020 to a brighter 2021- anyway? And what does this have to do with music and a new and up-and-coming artist? Well this series that I have delved into since the middle of 2019, has been about artists who haven’t been influential over the years, but are starting to come into their own around about now, and will definitely be classified as ‘influential’ and important over the next 5 years or so. And as this is a new year- the hopefully more optimistic and positive 2021; let me all remind you of an artist that is piqued my interest of late. Let me all remind you of an artist who started in the entertainment industry (music and movies) when they were very young- and is only starting to come into their own now. Let me remind you, or perhaps introduce you, to a young talent that will dominate the music and movies sphere in the many years to come. And as I say and assert this with confidence, let me remind you that while there are perils of being in the public eye when you are young (like in the case of Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato, both of whom have had a number of issues with the spotlight and with mental health); this artist has taken it all in their stride- and is a glowing example of how we as people need to act and behave even when despair and adversity hit us like a train wreck. This artist seems to be bubbly and positive and happy and optimistic, and just generally enjoying themselves no matter what- and though that’s not to say that other artists I’ve talked about and will continue to talk about are all doom and gloom, this artist has been included in my list of 50 artists because of their happy-go-lucky nature and their tenacity to succeed despite the odds.

Sabrina Carpenter, an American singer and actor who is signed to Hollywood Records, is 21 years old. She has released 4 albums already (Eyes Wide Open in 2015, Evolution in 2016, Singular: Act I in 2018 and Singular: Act II in 2019)… and just think about that for a second. She released her first album when she was 15 years old, her first collaboration song when she was 11, her first solo song when she was 12, her first music video at 12, her first movie when she was 13, her first guest TV appearance when she was 11, and her first stage production show when she was 15. Now does this overwhelm you somewhat? I personally don’t know what I was doing when I was in my early teens- I know I was studying in high school; but I definitely wasn’t acting and singing and mixing with people from Hollywood. Which begs the question… how young is too young to start in entertainment?

Last year I delved into a similar artist who started when they were quite young (Hailee Steinfeld), and my conclusion was that, at least for Hailee, that her ‘…time in the spotlight across acting and music has been smooth sailing surprisingly, even though she started younger- 13 years old in True Grit. I’m not sure if her parents were supportive or if she had a great team behind her- but whatever it was and is, I firmly believe that God has been and will continue to bless Hailee and will continue to shine His providence over her, regardless if she acknowledges it or not. We all need optimism and positivity in our lives, as well as a great example of someone who has no fear despite all of the insurmountable odds against her; and given the fluctuating emotions that we all face when faced with limited exposure to people right now, surely some dosage of Hailee’s music will bring a smile to your face. I know that I instantly feel lighter and more hopeful after listening to a Hailee Steinfeld song- so what do you all have to lose guys?…’ With Sabrina as well- she started extremely young (but she’s lesser known at the moment than Hailee); but I believe that the same conclusion can be drawn. That Sabrina, as evidenced by the atmosphere and feel of the first album especially, and then going forth into subsequent albums and music videos; has fun and had fun immensely. She didn’t worry about perceptions or expectations of the public and of critics- and when you’re that young, sometimes you have a childlike outlook on life, a simpler outlook on life- and I guess you might find children in Hollywood acting braver and fearlessly- no regard for the consequences (in a good way of course!). Think about Freddie Highmore or Joseph Gordon Levitt when they were both younger, or even Millie Bobby Brown now. Sabrina Carpenter’s career as a singer and as an actor is in the same vein- a young star of the future who is unashamed in their craft and is still unafraid, not yet jaded by the world. Bear in mind that Sabrina is only 21 at the moment- the world is her oyster; and if we as people act more like Sabrina- less afraid about the future and more living in the present… well the world would be a better place, less scary and more united in community, love and acceptance.

Being in touch with the theatrical side, at least for me, has always helped me write music and perform live. Because every song tells a story and there’s a lot in acting that I keep in mind such as being creative like I am in my songwriting process or the rhythms, whether it’s comedy or the way people speak to each other. I can pull a little bit from both things that I do to help each other out.

Music is myself. Music is Sabrina’s thoughts and words. When I’m acting, I get to tell someone else’s story. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to keep balancing but I try to make sure whenever I take on projects, it’s something that I feel connected to. My music is my baby child and it’s not something I’ll ever put down. It’s not like when I’m acting, I’m not singing anymore. It’s never going to be that.

I first heard of Sabrina’s music… well I actually can’t remember when it was, or which song it was. It’s not that good as a first impression if I can’t remember the song that initially drew me to her discography… but I do know that the first film of Sabrina’s that I saw was Work It. I reviewed Work It a while ago (and you can read the review here); but the long and short of it was that I was so captivated by Sabrina’s performance, that I had to go back and extensively listen to her songs. And when I listened to that first note of “Can’t Blame A Girl For Trying”, I knew that Sabrina would be on my list. Yet to dive deep into Sabrina’s songs and for you all understand why she is such a ground-breaking artist right now, we first need to go back to the 2015 debut project Eyes Wide Open. Aforementioned song “Can’t Blame A Girl For Trying”, written by Meghan Trainor, is the lead single off the project, and is a bubbly, positive anthem for life in general- and is a lyrically strong track for a 14 year old. As Sabrina eloquently relays that we all must try and try and try in the things we all long to happen, instead of being passive about our heart’s desires; the track on the surface is about girls; but is actually applicable to everyone and their own walk of life. “The Middle Of Starting Over”, a pure pop track and maybe the catchiest track on the project, is as inspirational as they come, and a personal album highlight; with the song in my opinion fitting right at home on Britt Nicole’s 2012 album Gold, with Sabrina fervently singing about needing and undertaking an identity and a self-makeover- figuring out who you are and what you’re all about; a necessary thing to do in your teens.

“We’ll Be The Stars”, single #3, about chasing your dreams and running to what you want in life, is the first official single from Eyes Wide Open (the other two songs were from Sabrina’s debut EP Can’t Blame A Girl For Trying), with Sabrina relaying that “…it’s definitely a song about dreams. You look up on the sky there’s so many possibilities and I think it’s the song, the sky is the limit you can never go too far and you can never dream to big, no dream is ever to big. That’s definitely a lesson I like to listen to and I’m excited for everybody else to hear…”; while the title track delves into the concept of always learning and never staying content with ‘arriving’. The concept of there always being something you can learn and glean from someone else who may or may not have a different point of view than you, the lyrics in the title track remind us of a race- of running towards the prize instead of looking on either side (Hebrews 12:1-3), a song that is impacting and encouraging even now; while the earnest and confronting acoustic guitar driven “Right Now” is deep for a 15 year old- with Sabrina singing about enjoying life today instead of worrying about tomorrow, inspiring us to ‘…slow down, slow down , my mind is racing, catch up, catch up, I’ve gotta pace myself, I’m always wondering, but I don’t need to go right now, let go, let go (let go), we hold our fears too tight, begin, begin (begin) to live your life, the present is our future past, we’ve gotta make this moment last right now…’– a concept that reminds me of Matthew 6: 25-34, where Jesus tells us not to worry about the future.

“Your Love’s Like”, another hopeful and encouraging song on the debut album, speaks about romantic love or platonic love, or even spiritual love in the form of God’s eternal love, and singing about how ‘…your love’s like breathing in the salty air, of summer on a private island just for me, your love’s like the feeling I get, when my favorite song’s spinning in my head, keep it play, playing on repeat, it’s like flowers in the spring time, every day is Valentine’s, so good, it’s hard to describe, it’s like Paris after midnight, dancing in the moonlight, that’s what your love, that’s what your love’s like…’ (which is again a stellar feat for a teenager to vividly and accurately paint a picture of God’s unending love!); while “Best Thing I Got” speaks about this ‘love’ being the ‘best thing I got’, which in my opinion is the continuation of ‘’Your Love’s Like”… and it’s songs like these that amaze me and astound me. Sometimes especially in this album I forget that Sabrina was 15 years old- way too old to think about philosophical questions like these, but still somewhat the right age if you know what I mean? Simply put, Eyes Wide Open is a stellar album with little to no faults- equal parts fun and playful, with reflectiveness and introspectiveness.

I think that, you have to be doing it almost for yourself. I think so much of it is knowing you can’t please everybody, because I’m the type of person that wants to please everybody. At the end of the day would you rather be a happy person or a miserable person? People make mistakes and you’re going to get through it, but also, make it as fun as you can and don’t take it too seriously. It truly is your job, but you should be having fun.

It’s so funny because I started writing my first album (Eyes Wide Open) when I was 13 but produced it when I was 16. It didn’t feel like it was that long in-between, but it was 3 years. So from that time, you know, from “Can’t Blame A Girl For Trying” to “Eyes Wide Open”, there was already a huge change, but those songs were both in the same album. Then there was only 1 year from Eyes Wide Open to EVOLution and in that year it was just – it was basically for me, like, I thought I had done something different enough that didn’t sound like it was just pop.

I love pop music, I’m a huge fan of pop music, but I think, at a young age and being on family show it could’ve been expected of me. So, I did want to do something different, but I’ve always taken so much inspiration from big singers and big voices like Adele, Christine Aguilera, Rhianna, and Beyoncé.

And if you thought that Sabrina ‘grew up’ and started to sing more about ‘party songs’ on her next album Evolution in 2016… you’d be dead wrong. What makes Sabrina unique and a one of a kind this generation is that she chooses to sing about the hard and difficult issues that hardly no one ever talks about. Sure, she’s not receiving that much radio airplay… but I’d say that she’s changing lives with her songs, and isn’t that more admirable? Lead single “On Purpose” is decidedly more pop in nature, and lyrically is a step away from the more existential songs from the debut album- and a more relationship transient based. Which makes sense as Sabrina is singing about real life and things she’s experiencing (in the case of “On Purpose”, it’s about two people who enter into a relationship knowing full well the risks of potentially crashing and burning, the notion of them being in a relationship ‘on purpose’ reminds us to always count the opportunity cost of something before you embark on… anything really- this song is about relationships but can also be about life in general. “All We Have Is Love”, a promotional single, is a personal standout on Evolution, as the track speaks about the importance of love in general in relationships, and in the importance of love in the pursuit of the meaning and purpose of life. Because if we have love for our fellow man and for our family, then we’ll be decidedly happier than those without love. While “Feels Like Loneliness” speaks about two people in a relationship that have a disconnect, with one person declaring that one person’s ‘love’ is the other’s loneliness, and that sometimes people don’t work- it’s a sad song but still a song that is needed to be listened to, as breakups are a part of life.

“Space” demands space from the media and the paparazzi and has Sabrina letting us know that her private life needs to be private for her to stay sane and to keep up with her mental health; while “Run And Hide”, the most emotional and personal song on the album, delves into the ever-true concept of all of us wanting to be loved and accepted for our true selves- a fact that Sabrina reminds us of, that she doesn’t want to run or hide from people criticising her for this or that- she wants to be loved… and this song is a reminder that we need to love people first and not expect others to love us first. If we give freely of ourselves to others without expectation of anything in return… then out of then I guarantee it that others will love us because we would be so lovable, because we would have the quality of kindness and of generosity that others would crave. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy- love others and be loved… but this song of “Run And Hide” is the first step of accepting that we need love in our lives otherwise we’d go crazy.

And not to be outdone by the decidedly more relationship style lyrics, Sabrina also includes the confronting and controversial 3-minute pop tune “Thumbs”, whereby she pointedly and bluntly asks the question of what people are doing with their time- they think they’re doing something very important, but are instead ‘twiddling them thumbs’. And as Sabrina reminds us that “…Thumbs is a song– I mean the cool thing about it is you don’t expect it from the title. I think, like I was talking about before, music should be as universal as you can make it, and it’s the language that everyone speaks and if you can get a message across in a song without being cheesy or preachy – try to do it. I think the message was important to be heard at that time. It’s about staying outside mediocrity and being comfortable…”; we are reminded to be active in the changes we want to see undertaken- and not passive. When we want to change 2021 to something much more positive as opposed to the drivel of 2020… we should be active otherwise we’d be just sitting idly by, and twiddling our thumbs instead. In fact- I’d say that “Thumbs” is the first song you should listen to from Sabrina if you haven’t heard of her music, and then we can look in the mirror and take stock about the decisions we are or aren’t making.

I felt that a lot of the music [on Singular: Act I and Singular: Act II] was very different from the music that I’ve put out before. At first, it was a full album with 16 songs. But I wondered if I gave the public a little at a time, let’s see how that feels. I think it became a more personal experience because they got to hear each and every one of those songs individually.

I’m performing every one of those songs on tour and I think that is a rarity in music. A lot of the time, things get lost because we feel that we have to keep giving more, more, more and, sometimes, less is more. That was one of those things that I felt for this album… and you get tired halfway through. It’s not because of the artist or the music isn’t enough. Sometimes, your brain can only handle so much at one time. Especially when it’s good and you do like what you’re listening to. I’m the same way when I’m listening to other people’s albums. I put myself in those shoes for this and tried something different. I’ve never released an album like that before.

Sabrina’s final two albums Singular: Act I and Singular: Act II, are two sides of the same coin. Two pieces of the same puzzle. Two birds of a feather. Two… you get the picture. You can’t listen to one without listening to the other, and you can’t critique and analyse one project without doing so to the other concurrently- because each talk about similar themes and each complement each other musically. It’s still not known why these songs were released separately (at least to me it’s not known- as I would have been happy with a 16 track album!)… but it is what it is, right? The subject matter of Singular (both parts) is the most mature we’ve heard from Sabrina to date; as she peels back the layers and reminds us all that Sabrina has grown up and she’s ready to take the pop world by storm. “Almost Love” is a dance/pop song that a fluffy song about two parties not taking a relationship seriously, while “Paris” is a subdued bass guitar led ballad-y type track, that delves into the concept of trying to find love in anywhere else but within yourself- because of the romanticism of finding love in another person… however this concept of identity and self-love is much needed in the world today, as we are all reminded to find our self-worth in ourselves and in God, rather than in other people.

“Sue Me”, inspired by Sabrina’s former managers suing her, her current management and parents for commissions, is a no-nonsense song to the haters, under the guise of the song being about a relationship, as Sabrina encourages keyboard warriors to ‘sue her’ for ‘…looking too pretty tonight, wearing your favorite color under the lights, for moving on, doing everything right…for being good friends with your friends, and running into you the place that we met, for being something you can’t forget…’, for things that are petty and aren’t worth being mad over; while “Mona Lisa” and “Diamonds Are Forever” round out Singular Act I, with the former being a song whereby Sabrina needily pleads with a guy to make the first move on a relationship, and the latter being a track whereby Sabrina confirms that her worth is like a diamond- precious and unique.

Soft pop tune “In My Bed”, from Singular: Act II, is a play on the phrase ‘in my head’, as Sabrina delves into the notion of overthinking in general, and speaks about trying her best and trying to let things go… but ultimately failing and at times being stuck in ‘my bed’ about it. It’s a vulnerable and honest song that is one of the most personal of her career- and Sabrina needs to be commended and congratulated, as this track is one that we all can relate to- we’ve all been overthinking something at one point in our lives. And sometimes the best remedy to help us get over our issues is for us to know that we’re not alone in them. “Exhale” speaks about the unseen pressure that Sabrina has been placed under over the years, and the need for her to ‘exhale’ and just sit and relax for a moment- and not feel the weight of the world on her shoulders; while the no-nonsense and rebellious “Pushing 20” speaks about the concept of Sabrina being 20 years old at the time of writing this song, and letting us know that she has no time for haters who disagree with her, because of the fact that she’s old enough to form her own views and her own opinions. And with these melodies forming the backbone of Singular, in music and theme; we are blessed to hear the evolution of Sabrina Carpenter– musically and lyrically across the years, as we marvel at how poignant, emotional and honest these songs are- and how needed they are in a world where right now hate and divisiveness are commonplace.

If influence and impact can be measure by the number of collaborations and stand-alone songs released, then Sabrina Carpenter would have been the top future influencer in my own opinion. Already having enough stand-alone songs throughout the years for one extra album, maybe two; we are blessed to hear more and more of Sabrina Carpenter, and hear more and more reasons why she is underrated right now, and why she definitely won’t be underrated in the coming years ahead. Pure pop stand alone single “Why” is an assertion that two people as different as anything, can make it work in a relationship if they choose to put in the extra effort; while “Alien” with Jonas Blue reminds us of feeling isolated and ignored for whatever reason, and wanting clarity and communication. “Let Me Move You” (from Work It), “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (U2 cover with Peter Hollens), “Wildside” (with Sofia Carson from Adventures In Babysitting), “Perfect Song” (for Royalties), “Tomorrow Starts Today” (Andi Mack theme song), “WOW” (a remix with Zara Larsson), “Hands” (with Mike Perry and The Vamps), and “If The World Was Ending” (a collaboration for Doctors Without Borders) are just a handful of collaborations and exclusive tracks that are all uniquely Sabrina, and all remind me of how skilful and creative a singer and songwriter she is; while “Smoke And Fire”, “Fall Apart”, “Safe And Sound” and “Smile” are a few of the earliest songs she’s ever recorded! Sabrina also collaborated with Alan Walker (“On My Way”), while “Honeymoon Fades” is rumoured to be the lead single of Sabrina’s untitled 5th studio album, which is in the works.

With influences including Christina Aguilera, Adele, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Lorde, Whitney Houston, Etta James, Sabrina Carpenter is here to stay, as she reminds us that age isn’t a factor in creating great art, and in bringing forth to the table relevant issues at hand. With such a strong social media and YouTube presence; Sabrina also has starred in a number of films of late that has garnered her recognition and success beyond music- films like Adventures In Babysitting, The Hate U Give, Work It, Clouds, Tall Girl, and The Short History Of The Long Road, have all propelled her to film stardom, while it was her stint on the sitcom Girl Meets World that put her well and truly on the map as an accomplished actor. Sabrina also was one of the lead voices in the animated series Milo Murphy’s Law, while she also had a guest spot in Quibi’s Royalties. Sabrina’s busyness beyond the music extended also to a short run, in theatre- playing the role of Cady on stage in Mean Girls; while Sabrina also garnered lots of awards, and also undertook numerous live performances shows and embarked on a number of concerts too. With the statistics and numbers on her songs being strong also (Eyes Wide Open debuted at 43 on US Billboard 200, “Thumbs” being the first charting and certified song- Gold by the RIAA, “Why” being certified Gold by RIAA, as well as “Alien”, “Almost Love” and “Sue Me” each garnering a number 1 spot on the US Dance Club Songs chart, each at different times), Sabrina is also working on yet another album- her 5th overall, as she continues to impress, encourage and inspire with every video, every acting role, every song, every music video- and just generally with her day to day activities that she posts online.

The other day my brother and I received a year’s worth of Disney Plus as a present. Now we are hooked, and writing a list of what we aim to watch- movies and TV shows- over the upcoming year. Why do I tell you this piece of probably useless information? Well, simply because Disney Plus has so much content, yet around about half is cartoon in nature. One may say that Disney Plus isn’t worth your money because of the fact that cartoon shows and movies aren’t worth our time and are only for the little kids. Yet as Jesus has mentioned that we all should be like children and humble ourselves before God, and having a childlike faith- so too can we realise that God speaks through kids shows too, and that it’s ok to find our inner child and to just have fun without second guessing ourselves. To have fun without fear of being ridiculed or cancelled… that’s how we are supposed to live. For Christ has said that it is for freedom that we’ve been set free- and it is in this freedom that we must approach 2021. Not scared or apprehensive; but rather bold, courageous and willing to step out of our comfort zone. Sabrina Carpenter is the perfect embodiment of someone who is willing to go out of her comfort zone, and she is one of many examples of how we must live this coming year. If this blog has taught you one thing- it is this. that like Sabrina Carpenter, and as evidenced through her daring and courageous music and film projects; we must strive for greatness and be active in it. Otherwise 2021 will be just like 2020. And yes, otherwise we’d be twiddling our thumbs. What is the first step, you ask? Well, how about we gain inspiration from Sabrina and listen to her music? I guarantee you’ll have a spring in your step afterwards, itching to change the world!

I think of [the last two albums] as one package but ironically, I decided to split up the album after I already called it Singular. So, now I’m just living with the decision. [Laughs] It’s all good, and it’s part of the metaphor more than anything, which I love. Life is full of those happy mistakes. I think Act II shows a different side of confidence. Act I was about empowering badass behavior. Bringing it into Act II, I want to show that there are multiple sides to confidence. It’s not just, like, great posture or appearing strong all the time; we all have weak and vulnerable moments that are also strong because they show us who we are and show us who belongs in our life. Through those moments, you change.

I had the idea of the staircase as a symbol for being on your way to finding out who you are, and being in the middle of that. On the cover of Act I, you’re amidst the chaos — you feel like you really are the only one who exists in the crowd. I wanted Act II to be the broken-down, less straightforward version of that, and so we found this big fire escape. It was dark, and there were a lot of shadows, and to me those represented the flaws and the negativity that we let into our lives. And it turned out to be very, very beautiful. You can never really plan a shot to perfection; it either happens or it doesn’t. I was very happy with how both of them happened in their own unique ways, but I’m glad you realized there’s a little bit of symmetry between the two of them.

I had to overcome – recently in my life – my own ability to overthink and letting other people’s opinions get into my head. Trusting myself has been a huge thing. When you were younger, you don’t really think about things too much. You just do it because you love it. When you get older, other people are taking this seriously and putting a lot of their time into me so I have to take things more seriously. It’s a balance, of course. You should take it seriously but you should enjoy it.

Everyone thinks of pop music as this really light, feathery-type of thing that’s supposed to make us bop through life like everything’s fine. I feel like I always was inspired to take things that I was going through that were more uncomfortable situations — not the brightest or the most positive — and musically shift the narrative. You end up remaking your memories as something that you can listen to, that doesn’t remind you of a negative time. I definitely think there’s parts of music that have to be uncomfortable. You have to face things you’re not comfortable talking about on a regular basis. That makes it hard, because then people choose to ask you questions you don’t want to be asked, but at the same time, it helps you grow. That’s everything I’ve learned from this record. I don’t think that growth stops here, I’m assuming my 20s just get worse or better. I’m going to find out.

I think if you were to look at the “life of a pop star” and really break it down, you’d probably be disturbed by many things. There are a lot of things within this world that are still very messed up. If you approach it from the perspective of me getting to create beautiful things and do what I love, and also be able to share that in-person when I’m performing live, it’s all based around love. The energy at my shows is always based around love. Everyone is there because they love music, everyone is there bringing someone they love with them, their friends or their family. I think that in a lot of ways it’s a positive community. In other ways, it’s supposed to make you question things and learn about yourself. There are some pop songs that are meant to be simple, but there are others that are meant to make you question things.

Does Sabrina Carpenter make the list for you all when you write your own ‘Influential Artists of the next 5-10 years’ list? Is there any song (other than “Can’t Blame A Girl For Trying”, “Thumbs”, “Why”, “Almost Love”, “Sue Me” and “In My Bed”) that has impacted you on your journey through life thus far, or even your walk with God? Let us know in the comments. Till next time!

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