Chappell Roan's "Casual" Is a Stirring Pop Stunner That's Hard Not to Get Hooked On
Photo: Ryan Clemens
Chappell Roan continues to build the pop star fantasy of her dreams with “Casual,” the newest installment of an already pristine budding catalog. In this dream-pop, country-influenced track, the singer-songwriter details a heartbreakingly relatable revelation that she’ll never be seen as more than a hookup. Leading up to the release, “Casual” gained momentum on TikTok as Roan teased the intriguing verses to get fans excited. The song in its full form is more ethereal than any of the clips could’ve portrayed and serves as another indicator of Roan's inevitable rise to stardom.
What makes Roan a special artist is her ability to set stories in a dreamscape of colors, details, and caricatures. These stories are not particularly unique but, because of the immersive world she builds around each track, listeners celebrate the shared experience and embrace parts of themselves that they’ve been taught to suppress. In “Casual,” she sings about trying to be the chill girl who’s okay with a friends-with-benefits type of situation. It’s clear that she’s not and as the song progresses, we hear true emotion break through the front she’s putting up.
This breakthrough is portrayed sonically, with a buildup of beautifully haunting synths courtesy of frequent collaborator Dan Nigro. The lyrics progress by becoming more and more brutally honest, eventually resulting in Roan’s admission of having sex in the bathroom while the object of her affection’s parents were waiting for them at the table. This immensely specific detail puts even more weight on the question repeated throughout the song, “Is it casual now?” This moment is indicative of a songwriting superpower of Roan’s; not being ashamed of the details that make her stories compelling and most importantly, real.
“Casual” compliments Roan’s small but mighty catalog of tracks that explore different genres and subjects. It sounds nothing like her previous release, “Feminomenon,” but clearly exists in the same universe. This range has already solidified her as a dynamic artist but also one who is firm about the message she wants to portray through her music. By being utterly and unapologetically herself, Roan is connecting with an audience that has been waiting for music like hers to be made, whether they realize it or not.
Watch the "Casual" visualizer below: