Wednesday, February 10th, 2021

Sabrina Carpenter – Skin

Everybody Is Either “Skin” By Sabrina Carpenter Or “Drivers License” By Olivia Rodrigo — Which Are You?


John Pinto: Sabrina Carpenter with a brilliant rebuttal: replicating “drivers license” in such detail (same generic piano-and-ultralow-synths instrumental! same dynamic shifts!) that it can only be read as deeply sarcastic.

Katherine St Asaph: Is it more or less of an insult if your publicity stunt song directed at your nemesis doesn’t bang?

Harlan Talib Ockey: The rules of Steady’s PR are “no bigotry”, “no taking Ls for other people”, and “no Instagram Live”, but I’m going to add another one: “no picking fights with teenagers”. There’s no context where gloating about how little guilt you feel for immediately snatching up your coworker’s ex-boyfriend is appropriate; knowing this is aimed at the 17-year-old Olivia Rodrigo, however, gives the song’s pathetic condescension a disgustingly vicious edge. Carpenter responding to lines like “she’s so much older than me / she’s everything I’m insecure about” with what’s essentially “silly little girl, your man can’t keep his hands off me” is a level of abject sadism I don’t think I’ve ever seen expressed unironically in any other modern piece of media. “But is the song good,” you ask, as if that matters. The lyrics are clunky and amateurish, rhyming “skin” with itself more times than I can count, and the production is a generic wad of nothing. Let’s not pretend Carpenter’s outdated Ariana Grande impression could’ve saved this from being so brutally offensive, though.

Michael Hong: Sabrina’s focused on the wrong lines — “so much older than me” feels like a bit much — but for the archetypal mean girl, I can’t see being called “that blonde girl who always made me doubt” as anything other than the highest of compliments.

Samson Savill de Jong: When this was first shared in the super secret Singles Jukebox group chat, I boldly claimed it was a better song than the one it’s clearly taking aim at (aside: pop star diss tracks lack the viscerality of rap beefs, but they’re far funnier). To clarify that statement, I think it’s a better song sonically; it builds better, it doesn’t have that interminable bridge of “Driver’s License,” and I think Sabrina Carpenter has a better singing voice (albeit a very Ariana Grande-sounding one). Lyrically, though, it’s far worse. Olivia made a song about a whining teen losing their first love sound authentic and almost universal. Sabrina just sounds petty and lacks the lyrical deftness to pull it off. And while Sabrina may be a better singer, Olivia’s song had far more of an emotional punch than “Spin.” For all its superior production, it feels insignificant.

Alfred Soto: The flesh is willing, the anguish is weak.

Alex Clifton: Taylor did it better.

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One Response to “Sabrina Carpenter – Skin”

  1. On a linear graph where Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend” is one pole, this song is the other.

    ugh wish I’d thought of that in time to blurb