It’s mid-July, and the race for the song of the summer is heating up. Pop singers are rushing to praise the sun and the sand and the parties that warm weather always seems to prompt. But what about pop music for people who find all of it- from the humidity to the hormones to the mandate to socialize- downright oppressive? Is there room in the world for an anti-summer song? Baker Grace is betting that there is. The teenaged New Jersey singer makes music that’s just as catchy, pouty, and sexy as that of any pop star you might name. Unlike those other singers, though, she’ll never put on a fake smile: if she’s not happy, she’s going to let you know.
That candor has always been her calling card. Honesty was her hallmark in Bitter’s Kiss, the pop project she started when she was fourteen years old, and she’s carried that over to Girl, I Know, the acclaimed five-song EP she released earlier this year. As the title implies, it’s a set of straight talk – she’s taking a hard look at the all the forces that make young people doubt themselves, and she’s serving notice that she’ll overcome all of them. This is pop, yes, but it’s pop for realists, made by a young woman who leads with a preternatural sense of self-possession. The set got the attention of Ones To Watch, which wrote that the EP “proves that Baker Grace is ready to conquer the pop world.” (The pop world should be so lucky.)
“Sad Summer” picks up right where the EP left off. Once again, she’s matched frank, subtly funny lyrics to a propulsive beat and a rubbery bass groove. Consider it a different kind of beach anthem: one for the kids who won’t play along. That’s the attitude that Baker Grace strikes in Darren Craig’s colorful clip for “Sad Summer” – she’s surrounded by girls licking ice cream cones, and boys with surfboards, and she’s not having any of it. Oh, she’s got an ice pop, too, but pointedly, hers is decorated with an image of a scorpion. By the end of the clip, she’s covered in ice cream drippings, and when it rains, it pours from the underside of her umbrella. Paper Magazine is already smitten with the clip; it premiered there earlier this week. We’re betting you will be, too.