AR by Addison Rae // EP Review

AR is the debut EP from social media sensation Addison Rae, who gained popularity in 2019 through TikTok and has gone on to become one of the most successful creators on the platform with over 88 million followers. She released her first single in March of 2021, "Obsessed", which was Addison's first attempt at starting a music career. The song was met with mixed reviews. Although it wasn't bad by any means, it's a song that I never really ended up returning to in the years to follow. Even though it was produced by Benny Blanco, one of the biggest hitmakers in pop music, it just wasn't really anything that notable. In the months that followed the "Obsessed" release, she was teasing a debut album to go along with it, which ultimately was shelved a few months after for unknown reasons at the time. 

She actually revealed recently in an interview with Vogue that she intended on giving up on music entirely after the response to her first single in 2021. "I wrote a lot of songs, obviously, as one does when they're trying to figure out what they want to say, and what kind of music they want to make," she told Vogue. "As I was doing that, I put out 'Obsessed,' and…I'm pretty hard on myself in general. I have very high standards for myself, and that can be my downfall sometimes. I just wanted people to know that I really care about music, and that I take it seriously. I put out 'Obsessed' and, you know, people didn’t love it as much as I loved it."

After that, she didn't release any music officially since "Obsessed" in early 2021. However, in the past two years, much of the music she was working on at the time ended up getting leaked and also subsequently gained a lot of traction online. To her surprise, a lot of positive attention came along with it too. Addison told Vogue, "I was just really surprised, after what felt like a long period of time, that people were so interested and wanted to see me continue. And so I began to realize that the only way I can fail is by not continuing. I think that's the most important thing I've learned over the past two-and-a-half years." She has often referred to this as her "lost album" and for the first-time, bits and pieces of what was meant to be on her original debut album were finally released in an official capacity by Addison herself. If it wasn't for the positive response to the leaks, this EP probably wouldn't have ever seen the light of day otherwise. 

Although influencer music isn't a new trend by any means, one of the differentiators of AR is that unlike a lot of her peers in this space, this EP is made up of really fantastic bona fide pop hits.  This is definitely more of a niche music release, but is a really fun listen that I can't get enough of! As the listener, you can really tell she is having fun with this music too. It is actually really interesting that "Obsessed" was chosen to be her first single because compared to the other four songs, as well as some of the other leaks that haven't been officially released yet, they are leagues above the quality of her first single.  

The first track, "I got it bad", is undoubtedly the best of this EP and has quickly become a fan favorite too. She has the recipe for pop perfection with this song and I haven't been able to get enough of it! The lyrics depict her obsession with an all-encompassing crush. I always loved the lyric "He looks like the boy next door from my boy band poster". The production and vocals are both stellar, this style of music suits her so well. No one in this new generation of artists has really leaned into the sugary 2000's bubblegum pop sound in the way that Addison has and I absolutely love it. If Britney Spears were to have put out this song in 2003, it would have been a huge hit and I say that in the best way possible. She has the potential to fill an empty space in the 2020's music landscape if she continues making music like this. It is one of my top favorite songs of the entire year. 

The Charli XCX influence is also all over this EP and I would love to see Addison follow in Charli's footsteps with her own career too. Charli is such a massive talent that has impacted and pushed forward pop music in such a major way throughout the past decade. While on the surface, this seems like they would make an unlikely pairing, they worked so well together and "2 die 4" is a perfect result of that. "I've looked up to Charli forever, and to have her as part of this means so much, as she's been supportive of me all the way," Addison told Vogue, "She's always been excited about my music." They worked on this song together in 2021 and feels like it was possibly a scrapped song from one of Charli's recent projects, presumably her CRASH album from last year. Charli's feature on it really elevated the song and made it so much better. I would love to see them work together again - hopefully on a full AR album one day! 

This EP is definitely paying homage to other pop icons that no-doubt inspired the direction she wants to go in with this music, Britney Spears, Selena Gomez, Katy Perry, and Lady Gaga come to mind right away as some of the obvious influences. That era of music that she is so clearly influenced by is one of my personal favorites and I love that she is paying homage to the classic bubblegum pop motifs. With the exception of a few, there really isn't a lot of new artists that are in the lane of making music like this anymore and that is what the industry is so desperately lacking right now. When it comes to the obvious influences I mentioned, she actually worked with a lot of the same producers and songwriters that played a part in some of their biggest hits, as well. Many of those sonic and lyrical references are evident when you listen to this EP. 

In fact, the third track was actually originally written for Lady Gaga and has such an interesting origin story of how it eventually made it onto this release. Along with "I got it bad", "Nothing On (But The Radio) is another one of the biggest highlights from this EP and has such an iconic backstory behind it. Once again, it is pop perfection! Billy Steinberg and Josh Alexander actually wrote it in 2007 and gave it to Lady Gaga to record the demo of. Gaga originally recorded it in 2010 when she was working on Born This Way, but it ultimately didn't make the cut for that album. Two years later in 2012, she re-worked it for ARTPOP under the title "Heart It On The Radio", but again it didn't make the final cut for that album either. Gaga didn't write the song, so she isn't credited, but it is a very well-known unreleased demo that has been floating around online for over a decade at this point. The song was eventually given to an artist named Paris Monroe in 2016, who ended up never releasing her leaked demo of it either. Who would've thought this song would one day get a second, or third, life with Addison Rae! That demo is such a great early Gaga gem and Addison's official version of it is such a bop. When comparing it to the original 2010 demo, it is very similar, with the exception of a few lyrical changes and obviously more refined production. For this being one of Addison's first songs she has ever released, it is such a gutsy thing to even attempt to record a well-known Lady Gaga track like this and she really made it all her own in the best way. Addison really does hold her own in this song, which will inevitably come with comparisons to the Gaga version. It is such a great song and I love that it is finally officially out in the world through Addison!

The fourth song is another shining star in it's own right, even after the run of the fan favorite opener, the Charli XCX collab and the unreleased Gaga demo. It is more of a sleeper hit, but "it could've been you" is actually one of my favorites from this short collection of songs. It reminds me of something Selena Gomez & The Scene would've made, which defined so much of my early love of music. To give an even deeper cut, it also reminds me of something Miranda Cosgrove would've released during her short-lived (but iconic) music career. Addsion kind of sounds like a mix between both Selena and Miranda on this song actually. "it could've been you" was written and produced by Alexander23, who worked on two of Olivia Rodrigo's biggest hits, "good 4 u" and more recently, "get him back!". "it could've been you" shares a little bit of the pop punk flair that those songs by Olivia also have in them too. It is so catchy and really gets stuck in your head all day after listening to it. 

"I think I know myself now, and I know what I want to do, and I know where I want to go, and to have full control over doing it exactly how I envision it. I wanted this EP to be the end note to the past few years, and a stepping stone forward in my career," she told Vogue. "And I can’t wait to show you the next part."

I can definitely see her becoming a cult classic pop star, as her collaborator Charli XCX also called her, and I am absolutely looking forward to hearing what she does next. While I'm not saying Addison is going to be the next Britney Spears, I do think she shares a lot of similarities to Britney's upbringing and a style that resembles much of her early sound. She really does have all of the tools to be on a trajectory that can fill that space in the 2020s pop music landscape. AR takes a lot of the principles of what makes early 2000s and 2010s pop music so great, all of the sugar, spice and everything nice - with a boom boom bass 2 die 4! 

Addison Rae is such a promising voice in pop music and one that has so much potential to bring back pure, fun pop music in a big way. I have been loving this short little collection of songs for the past few months and the story behind this release was too good not to share. She is very talented and has so much potential as a musician. She is the pop star we deserve! I hope this is only the start of Addison Rae's music career, I am definitely looking forward to hearing what she will release next! 💗🫧

Thanks for reading! I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below! 

Photo Credit: Addison Rae, Sandlot

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