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PinkPantheress’ ‘to hell with it’ Traverses the Heart of the Mysterious Internet Star

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PinkPantheress is your favorite rising artist that you didn’t know existed. The London-based student furthers U.K. garage and dance music while laying as low and mysterious as an internet dance-sensation can be. What began as a 20-year-old’s efforts to stay creative caught fire when her TikTok for “Pain” started to net thousands of interactions every day. Nearly nine months after the post, “Pain” has received 99 million streams on Spotify and captures one of the best sounds of the year. Her debut mixtape, “to hell with it,” which was released on Oct. 15 on Parlophone Records, might as well be a collection of her greatest hits — PinkPantheress is blowing up and there’s no end in sight. 

Similar to other internet sensations like 100 Gecs and Yung Lean, when you get it, you get it. PinkPantheress is no exception. I didn’t really consider myself a fan until I found one of her tunes stuck in my head: I was hooked before I knew it. PinkPantheress guarantees a confessional, melodic vocal delivery on a U.K. club banger. The tonal juxtaposition between lyrics and beats per minute is perfect for hits that everyone can vibe to. With most of her promotion being fan-driven, jokes on Twitter have surfaced about the conflicting tropes coming together in an embarrassingly satisfying way for some. 

Growing up with the internet at her fingertips, PinkPantheress carefully chooses how much of  herself she presents to the public. It’s more likely that you’ve heard a song of hers without knowing who she was. That isn’t an accident. PinkPantheress values the ability to turn away from the buzz and retain privacy.

“It feels good knowing people are listening but I can turn it off really easily,” she told NME

Staying enrolled in university and keeping her identity hidden, she aims to preserve what identity she has away from music. 

The mixtape doesn’t reinvent a genre of music, but rather appreciates U.K. garage in its drum fills and plentiful influences. In the same interview, she considers how profound the genre can be to international audiences: “U.K. garage has been around forever, but I don’t know if Americans grew up with it like we did. A lot of them might think it’s a new thing — take a dive and listen to some old records.” 

Citing artists like Shy FX, Adam F. and Shola Ama as her influences, PinkPantheress fuses her beloved sounds with her own spin to make music that appears contemporarily vintage. 

Tracks like “Reason” and “Passion” show her knowledge of the genre exceptionally well, with her conversational melodies fitting into the quick breakbeats without detracting from the airtight production. With her familiarity, she’s able to express herself with a sound that’s like home. The formula for your favorite PinkPantheress track calls for a garage beat, chopped samples and a new, re-arranged loop to sing over. That said, her brutally honest writing provides a personality that’s rare in music. 

A majority of America’s younger generation likely remembers hearing sensual R&B and its slow tempos growing up, but the up-tempo playfulness in “to hell with it” sounds completely opposite and fresh. The drums remain dry, but PinkPantheress often uses keys that run like vivid watercolor. One of the most ethereal moments in the album, “Noticed I cried,” uses an arpeggiating synth that transports the listener to a fantasy realm of dance. Informed by a totally different aesthetic than Americans, the album pays homage to U.K. garage and dance in the most personal way.

From the echoed ad-libs to the rapid closed-hat, PinkPantheress uses the duration of “to hell with it” to express her animated moods with brevity. “Last valentines” gives a snapshot into the mind of a lover who caused a car accident in their unrequited devotion while “All my friends know” considers how much time she’s lost in separation with an ex that used to be her best friend. Interestingly, the 10 tracks in “to hell with it” only span 18 minutes. Considering the duration of your average TikTok, this duration qualifies as a spirited explosion of emotion. “to hell with it” is a relatable piece of media that you love for its time before scrolling to the next thing … then you’re led to scroll back up and experience it again.  

While explaining the phenomena for Billboard Magazine, PinkPantheress joked, “I kind of get bored very easily of the same melody over again,” without really intending for songs to be that short. Intention aside, the depth of each idea on the album doesn’t call for much longer. Each track feels intrusive once you put the lyrics together for yourself. Moreover, “I must apologise” is a wonderful drum-and-bass track that takes accountability for telling lies that tear your relationship apart. But you wouldn’t be able to map the song to under two minutes because it takes you to the sonic equivalent of Shy Guy Beach from Mario Kart. 

We don’t really know how much we’ll hear from PinkPantheress. As contagious as her grooves are, they’ll only last for as long as she deems necessary. She’s remained anonymous thus far and released a mixtape that doesn’t last longer than 20 minutes. In that way, “to hell with it” exemplifies a wonderful balance between artistic privacy and an insightful, personal sound. PinkPantheress redefines what it means to be a star and sounds amazing while doing it. 

Mason Stoutamire is an Entertainment Intern for the fall 2021 quarter. He can be reached at mstoutam@uci.edu.