Chappell Roan’s The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess is the album all small town queers moving to a big city in their twenties for messy, juicy self-discovery need.
Ever since hearing Chappell Roan’s breakout hit “California” in 2020, I have been anxiously awaiting the fruits of her Los Angeles misadventures. Her debut album is an 80s-Madonna-inspired angsty glitter party that is unapologetically bratty in all its glorious bisexual chaos. Think of a more emotional Kim Petras with “Don’t be a drag, just be a queen” energy. It’s fun, it’s horny, it’s campy, it’s everything you needed as an early twenties queer.
Every single song on this album makes me want to throw on a puffy prom dress and hysterically dance around, but a few of the tracks pack a silk-glove punch. “Red Wine Supervova” is one of her top streamed songs on Spotify, which is a personal win for the queers because it’s easily one of her gayest songs: “I like / what you like / long hair (no bra) / It’s my type / You just told me / want me to fuck you / Baby I will ’cause I really want to” and later, “I heard you like magic / I got a wand and a rabbit.” COME ON. Why has no one thought of that innuendo before? She’s a queer genius.
“After Midnight” is for those of us who grew up with parents who told us “nothing good happens after midnight.” She proclaims “everything good happens after midnight,” and I agree. “Casual” lands particularly well with the relationship girlies. Have you ever had a thing with someone who insisted on a no-strings situation but…you’ve met their parents and their friends and have clothes at their house? Yeah, me too.
I cannot rave more about “Super Graphic Ultra Modern Girl.” It’s easily her most campy and dancey track. The song begins with her talking to us like she’s spilling the tea (“they say you should never waste a Friday night on a first date”), and she quickly vocalizes about boys who aren’t worth her time. It feels very similar to Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” which is a bold comparison, but I love Roan so much I’m willing to go there.
Immediately following this track is “HOT TO GO!” It’s horny cheerleading in a song. Videos of her performing it feature her making cheerleading arm gestures as she sings “H-O-T-T-O-G-O.” It’s the latest queerleader anthem. “My Kink is Karma” is a more mellow pop ballad for all of us who just want to see our ex struggle a little bit. We want to “use your distress as foreplay.”
The two standout tracks on this album were both singles that served as Roan’s breakout pop artist moments. “Naked in Manhattan” was her first explicitly queer single: “boys suck and girls I’ve never tried.” She proceeds to tell us about getting naked with a girl in Manhattan. They “both have a crush on Regina George.” She sings of star signs, lip gloss, hairclips, and even admits they’re “an inch away from more than just friends.” And the second standout track “Pink Pony Girl” epitomizes the themes and sounds of the entire album.
The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess is THE album for the small town queer who feels a sense of duty to her family back home but moves to a big city to dance with drag queens and makeout with girls anyway. Even though it’s fun and seemingly superfluous, it’s profound in that she remembers where she comes from, honors that, and also claims her space as a queer person who needs to go discover herself. The entire theme of this album comes back to this idea, which is made apparent even in the title. She gives all of us, and herself, permission to love where we came from, leave to find ourselves, miss our hometowns, and love our new messy lives. While most of these tracks are certainly jams you might hear at a queer dance party, it really hits home for us fly-over state queers. After laughing, shouting, dancing, and crying along with Roan, all I can say is: Thank you for giving us messy Midwestern bisexuals something so unequivocally relatable.
You can stream The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess now, wherever you get your music. Additionally, I would HIGHLY recommend seeing her on her Midwest Princess Tour. All her music was made for performance and audience engagement, so if you need a good time or a release, see when she’s coming to your city.