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Gonzo Report: Girl in Red fans talk mental health and music

Psychological songs at The Sound

“She’s not afraid to disclose what she’s been through, and it makes her all the more lovable.”
“She’s not afraid to disclose what she’s been through, and it makes her all the more lovable.”

It was kind of surprising to see families with kids at the Girl in Red show at The Sound. There were a few with really young kids — like five or six — but other families were there with tweens. Then again, fan Savannah got into Girl in Red when she was in middle school; all her friends were listening to it. “I’ve been obsessed ever since,” she says. She likes the song “Bad Idea,” which is about how it was a bad idea to invite a particular girl over, because, as she sings, “You put your hands under my shirt/ undid my bra and said these words/ ‘Darling, you’re so pretty it hurts,” and now, “I can’t get enough.” It’s a funny kind of love song, the kind where you complain that you’re “totally fucked,” but that’s Girl in Red.

Candice’s favorite Girl in Red song is “Dead Girl in the Pool.” It starts off creepily enough: a girl waking up in a trashed house after a party and spotting a dead girl in the pool. Then it gets creepier: the line “This house is such a disaster” changes to “My mind is such a disaster,” and “There’s a dead girl in the pool” becomes “I’m the dead girl in the pool.” She asks, “Is this real or is this fake?” and laments that she’s in “a creepy dream I can’t escape.” Candice thinks the song is “very unconventional and fun,” and there’s no denying that it’s crazy catchy. I like it, too. But you can see how someone would hear it and think, “Maybe Girl in Red is not okay.”

“There’s that serotonin song, too,” notes Candice’s friend Morgan. In that one, our Girl sings, “I get intrusive thoughts/ Like burning my hair off/ Like hurting somebody I love/ Like does it ever really stop?” She worries that her therapist hates her. All this because “I’m running low on serotonin.” There’s a lot of mental health talk in Girl in Red songs. Eliana likes “Rue,” which just puts it out there: “I hate the way my brain is wired/ Can’t trust my mind, it’s such a liar.” Her trouble isn’t heartbreak, it’s brainbreak. The gray matter has gone wrong, and so the self turns against itself. Alex is here for it. “I think it’s important. A lot of people relate to music for that purpose” — mental health — so I think it definitely plays a big role, and that’s a good thing.”

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Another Savannah thinks that mental health shows up in songs because “it’s not as stigmatized as it was in older generations. I think it’s talked about more.” Eliana isn’t sure about the stigma part. “This could be a controversial take, but I think we’re blessed. We get to spend more time on things we don’t have to. Like, farming, bro? Do you think those people get to care about their mental health? They just have to work.” And Bowie isn’t sure about it being talked about more: “It’s not mainstream to have it talked about amongst peers. But when it comes to idols and celebrities talking about it, then it becomes something you can connect to, because you connect to them as artists already. So when they’re talking about problems you face, you connect with them even more.”

Simone agrees. “In 2020, I was just starting college, and I saw her on Spotify and resonated with a lot of her lyrics. They coincided with what I was going through at the time. I think we’re a new generation of understanding of compassion. She’s not afraid to disclose what she’s been through, and it makes her all the more lovable.” Boyfriend Tanner adds, “When you come out about mental health issues now, it’s not shamed on. It’s more accepted now. It’s cool to see, because people have struggled with it since humans have been born.”

But it’s not all trouble and trauma tonight. Simone and Tanner are boyfriend and girlfriend. He likes Girl in Red because she likes Girl in Red, “and her hits were really catchy.” He’s wearing pink because she’s wearing pink — which is a bit of a twist. “Typically, I dress really masculine, but I wanted to kind of surprise him, so I dressed really feminine. I tried to go for a hyper-femcore kind of vibe. I was like, ‘I’m going to wear cargo pants and live my best life,’ and he was like, ‘Sure.’ And then I show up in a skirt and he’s like, ‘Oh my God, who are you?’ I’m like, ‘I’m a girl! It’s so crazy!’” I think they’re adorable; Ken and Barbie without the angst.

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“She’s not afraid to disclose what she’s been through, and it makes her all the more lovable.”
“She’s not afraid to disclose what she’s been through, and it makes her all the more lovable.”

It was kind of surprising to see families with kids at the Girl in Red show at The Sound. There were a few with really young kids — like five or six — but other families were there with tweens. Then again, fan Savannah got into Girl in Red when she was in middle school; all her friends were listening to it. “I’ve been obsessed ever since,” she says. She likes the song “Bad Idea,” which is about how it was a bad idea to invite a particular girl over, because, as she sings, “You put your hands under my shirt/ undid my bra and said these words/ ‘Darling, you’re so pretty it hurts,” and now, “I can’t get enough.” It’s a funny kind of love song, the kind where you complain that you’re “totally fucked,” but that’s Girl in Red.

Candice’s favorite Girl in Red song is “Dead Girl in the Pool.” It starts off creepily enough: a girl waking up in a trashed house after a party and spotting a dead girl in the pool. Then it gets creepier: the line “This house is such a disaster” changes to “My mind is such a disaster,” and “There’s a dead girl in the pool” becomes “I’m the dead girl in the pool.” She asks, “Is this real or is this fake?” and laments that she’s in “a creepy dream I can’t escape.” Candice thinks the song is “very unconventional and fun,” and there’s no denying that it’s crazy catchy. I like it, too. But you can see how someone would hear it and think, “Maybe Girl in Red is not okay.”

“There’s that serotonin song, too,” notes Candice’s friend Morgan. In that one, our Girl sings, “I get intrusive thoughts/ Like burning my hair off/ Like hurting somebody I love/ Like does it ever really stop?” She worries that her therapist hates her. All this because “I’m running low on serotonin.” There’s a lot of mental health talk in Girl in Red songs. Eliana likes “Rue,” which just puts it out there: “I hate the way my brain is wired/ Can’t trust my mind, it’s such a liar.” Her trouble isn’t heartbreak, it’s brainbreak. The gray matter has gone wrong, and so the self turns against itself. Alex is here for it. “I think it’s important. A lot of people relate to music for that purpose” — mental health — so I think it definitely plays a big role, and that’s a good thing.”

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Another Savannah thinks that mental health shows up in songs because “it’s not as stigmatized as it was in older generations. I think it’s talked about more.” Eliana isn’t sure about the stigma part. “This could be a controversial take, but I think we’re blessed. We get to spend more time on things we don’t have to. Like, farming, bro? Do you think those people get to care about their mental health? They just have to work.” And Bowie isn’t sure about it being talked about more: “It’s not mainstream to have it talked about amongst peers. But when it comes to idols and celebrities talking about it, then it becomes something you can connect to, because you connect to them as artists already. So when they’re talking about problems you face, you connect with them even more.”

Simone agrees. “In 2020, I was just starting college, and I saw her on Spotify and resonated with a lot of her lyrics. They coincided with what I was going through at the time. I think we’re a new generation of understanding of compassion. She’s not afraid to disclose what she’s been through, and it makes her all the more lovable.” Boyfriend Tanner adds, “When you come out about mental health issues now, it’s not shamed on. It’s more accepted now. It’s cool to see, because people have struggled with it since humans have been born.”

But it’s not all trouble and trauma tonight. Simone and Tanner are boyfriend and girlfriend. He likes Girl in Red because she likes Girl in Red, “and her hits were really catchy.” He’s wearing pink because she’s wearing pink — which is a bit of a twist. “Typically, I dress really masculine, but I wanted to kind of surprise him, so I dressed really feminine. I tried to go for a hyper-femcore kind of vibe. I was like, ‘I’m going to wear cargo pants and live my best life,’ and he was like, ‘Sure.’ And then I show up in a skirt and he’s like, ‘Oh my God, who are you?’ I’m like, ‘I’m a girl! It’s so crazy!’” I think they’re adorable; Ken and Barbie without the angst.

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