Ladies and gentlemen, Conan Gray has officially done it again. The undisputed king of bedroom bops who went from sharing his dreams of making music to a legion of adoring fans on YouTube to making a stir in 2018 with his debut EP Sunset Season and a near-sold-out national tour is back with a brand-new single that is sure to have you all caught up in your feels.
“Checkmate,” the latest anthemic single from Gray, is nothing short of euphoric, surging forward with an undeniable frenzied energy. The first of hopefully many follow-ups to “The King,” “Checkmate” sees Gray moving beyond the will-they-won’t-they stages of infatuation and potential heartbreak to deliver a moment of pop-punk-tinged ecstasy.
“Can’t play me like your pawn/ Set fire to your lawn/ Just like you did my heart/ And I’mma wreck your car/ And max your credit card/ A lover on the large/ You’re gonna wish you never harmed me,” Gray sings with such a conviction that we would be hard-pressed to believe he wasn’t already in the midst of lighting the match. Gray spoke on “Checkmate,” sharing,
“‘Checkmate’ is a song that spewed out of me while alone in my bedroom. It took me about four minutes, and I just ugly cried out a whole song about this person I liked who was always playing games with my heart. They’d call me super drunk in the middle of the night telling me they loved me, then they’d spend the next week cold and ignoring me. ‘Checkmate’ was my last draw; my way of saying 'I’m done with these games. If you wanna play this game, I’m gonna win.'”
Wherein Ariana Grande’s “thank u, next” arrived as pop’s moment of taking the high road, Gray’s “Checkmate” is a much-needed dose of catharsis. Playing out like an adrenaline shot to a broken heart, Gray proves he is more than ready to step into the ring with the best of pop royalty.
Watch the lyric video, which was hand drawn by Gray himself, below:
For more from Conan Gray, revisit our “All Eyes On” performance and interview with him below, and catch him in a city near you this fall and winter.