Whether it be the artist's main intention or not, music often has the magical effect of perfectly encapsulating a certain point in time for the listener. When listening to clairo, it's hard to envision that time being anything else than those awkward yet precious years of self-discovery that make up young adulthood.
19-year-old singer-songwriter Claire Cottrill from Boston, Massachusetts is the artist behind the clairo moniker who found viral fame after uploading lo-fi pop recordings from her bedroom to Youtube. The young Bostonite, who just entered college, can now add opening for Tyler the Creator, SZA, BROCKHAMPTON, as well as being managed by the same man who led Chance the Rapper to fame to her list of rapidly growing accomplishments. But what makes clairo such an intriguing act? After all, plenty of people upload music from their bedroom but very few ever manage to ever see the level of success that clairo has. So, what exactly is so special about clairo?
The answer to the purposefully leading question is made immediately obvious after watching her most popular video to date, "Pretty Girl." The song, quickly making its way to 11 million views on Youtube, is a synth-laden melancholy dream. Showcasing Cottrill dancing and lip-synching in her childhood bedroom, "Pretty Girl" hits an immediate chord of those nights spent at home dancing and singing along awkwardly and without a care with your computer screen as your only audience. The video is more than its fair share of charming, but what really makes it and clairo shine is the songwriting.
"Pretty Girl" is at first glance a straightforward melancholy song about the notion of having to change yourself in order to match up with someone else's expectations and fantasies. Of course, the song is inherently ironic, poking fun at the notion of doing such a thing but the underlying sentiment rings out as irrevocably true. In a time of self-discovery where one isn't entirely sure who they even are exactly, the pressure of changing yourself to match some perceived ideal makes all too much sense. And it's exactly because of that, that clairo's music manages to resonate with so many people.
Take one look at clairo's second-most popular song to date, "Flamin' Hot Cheetos," a track that got its name because of the chips Cotrill was eating at the time. Yes, all too symbolic of young adulthood from the outset, however, "Flamin' Hot Cheetos" is more than just an amusingly named song. It's a meditation on the struggle of overcoming the feelings surrounding a past relationship, about feeling torn between wishing to just get over it and wanting to go back to how things used to be.
There's no doubt that clairo is making beautiful lo-fi bedroom pop that is equally as easy to lose yourself in as it is to dance to. But more than anything, clairo is crafting pop music that is at its very core touching upon relatable life-experiences; experiences that are for whatever reason rarely touched upon with the same level of poignancy this young artist is managing to do within the walls of her bedroom.