Ruel’s “Growing Up Is ____” Is an Open-Ended Ode to Coming of Age

Photo: Michele Grace Hunder

Growing up is a simultaneously universal and subjective experience. It's an unavoidable characteristic of life but within that inevitable fact lies an expansive range that defines the at times overwhelming breadth of the human condition. From sorrow, euphoria, to the outright mundane, growing up is not a one-size-fits-all mold. This variety that makes up life builds the emotional crux of Ruel's latest pop stunner, "Growing Up Is ____."

"Growing Up Is ____" is an intentionally open-ended message. A cliffhanger meant to be filled in by anyone and everyone. "The idea of the underline at the end of the title was to try to explain that everyone has a different experience growing up. Everyone has ups and downs but because it's never just one thing, I couldn't just give it one word and wanted to leave it open for interpretation," shares Ruel.

The lead single from his debut album, expected to release next year, showcases a marked evolution for the pop wunderkind turned inevitable pop icon. Over an intoxicating meld of synthetic and organic elements, he delivers some of his most impressive lyricism to date. Whisking up a bittersweet nostalgia with lines like "Growin’ up is strange, get too close, push away" and "Growin’ up is strange when the one who’s to blame/Is lookin’ at the mirror," Ruel bares his heart without sacrificing the infectious undercurrent that drives the track into radio-ready territory.

While "Growing Up Is ____" makes no attempt to definitively define coming-of-age, what it does do is highlight an artist in the midst of his own coming-of-age. Ruel has never sounded so assured in his sound, and it feels like this is only the beginning.

Watch the "Growing Up Is ____" video below:

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