The Pride of Pop: Rina Sawayama

Trying to find the correct words to describe Rina Sawayama is a waste of effort. (If you were to try, the words “thrilling”, “creative”, and “badass” might scratch the surface.) With gorgeous vocals, music videos so captivating you never want to look away, and songs centered around self-confidence and acceptance, Rina is an expressive star that will thankfully never fit inside the standard labeled box. She’s an artist that has a lot to say, but in case you think she cares about your opinion of her, she wants you to clearly know that she does not.

Despite having been on the music scene for almost a decade, she’s starting to gain more mainstream traction as of late and has amassed a steady following that completely digs her strong persona and feel-good messages. Her fun and bubbly personality shines through on her personal YouTube channel, but her songs are much more serious and focused on crafting an avant-garde artistic vision.

Her identity is at the forefront of her music: she takes her experiences as a Japanese-British bisexual and pansexual woman, to create a space that feels unique, safe, and real. Nothing is off the table with her, from songs about commercialism and beauty standards to tracks that show solidarity with the Asian and LGBTQ+ communities she’s a part of. Her most recent release is a collaboration with the infamous Sir Elton John, titled ‘Chosen Family’, a beautiful and heartfelt ballad about the many family can be represented. She effortlessly showcases her versatility here, being soft and serene, a stark comparison to, say, her fiery track titled, ‘STFU!’.

She cites her inspiration as mainly stemming from the successful female pop stars of the 90s through early 2000s, and hoped to pay an homage to them when released her debut album, Sawayama, in April 2020. It certainly payed off, as one of the biggest pop icons herself, Lady Gaga, is set to feature her on the upcoming Chromatica remix album. She’ll then take a big leap and tackle the big screen, as she makes her acting debut in 2022 in the fourth installment of the John Wick action films. Whether it’s a club stage or movie set, we can certainly expect big things to come from Rina Sawayama.

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