Wednesday, June 2nd, 2021

Bella Poarch – Build a Bitch

This ain’t build-a-controversy either…


Ady Thapliyal: When I first heard “Build a Bitch,” I assumed Warner Music had assembled a crack team of industry veterans to cook up the perfect anthem for the TikTok generation, but a quick look at the credits reveals that Poarch’s team was cobbled together and unproven. The biggest names listed are Salem Ilese and Sub Urban, C-listers who have scored one viral hit each with “Mad At Disney” and “Cradles,” respectively. With their help, “Build A Bitch” sounds alright, trendy but insubstantial; it’s entirely carried on the way it tweaks American anxieties around the e-girl phenomenon.

Tim de Reuse: Bulletproof execution of a concept I don’t like. Everything, from the carnival-ride bassline to the chirp of the backing vocals echoing “a bitch” is immaculate, candy-sweet, right on the money: the best possible version of a song specifically designed to make the listener feel they just ate their body weight in funnel cake. I suppose I’d feel it was more than empty calories if the lyrics did something more shocking with the (admittedly pretty fun) “Build a Bitch” metaphor.

Katie Gill: I cannot wait for the day that the music industry realizes that they don’t need to release a full-length track for a song that is basically just a TikTok hook. Because that’s all this is: two minutes of a song built solely around the line “this ain’t build a bitch.” I guarantee you, Bella Poarch: if you just put up a 1:30 version of this song that’s just the “build a bitch” chorus and the la-la-las in between for filler space, it’ll get you the same amount of downloads and save you so much money on the video budget.

Jeffrey Brister: At 34 I’m a fuddy-duddy when it comes to TikTok, but I’ve figured it out! You make a plain, non-descript song with some sticky lyrics (not melody–there’s hardly any melody here), and then let the visuals do the work. Makes for a reliable formula, but results in incredibly poor music: nothing to latch onto, nothing to engage with, just a container for 30-60 seconds of goofing off on camera.

Dede Akolo: Remembering the fact that Bella’s predominant brand does consist of being pretty on camera and crossing her eyes, I think having a song and video with this concept works beautifully. I know, an industry plant grows wide blah blah blah, but you cannot argue that “Build a Bitch” isn’t the best release from a TikTok star yet. It’s childish without being infantilizing, it’s catchy without being grating (although that depends on who you’re asking with that Melanie Martinez-airy vocal performance), and it tells a funny and provoking story. All this coupled with the very grounded and chill vibes she gives when she actually opens her mouth, and I think imma stan. I think we’re going to look back at Bella Poarch like we look at Megan Fox and say “oh, we hated her because she was pretty… whoops! My internalized misogyny is showing.” We all gotta survive under the cis-heteronormative racist capitalist patriarchy, and if I can shake my behind whilst doing so, I will! To this song!

Katherine St Asaph: One risks ok-boomering by pointing out that the whole concept was stolen from a video on the archaic platform Vine. One risks it even more by pointing out that Build-a-Bear Workshop was a dying mall brand even before COVID accelerated malls’ demise, and thus an obsolete reference verging on a dead one, but like other dying mall brands Build-a-Bear’s stock is lately at a five-year high, so what do I know? What I know is that I laughed harder at “Bob the Builder broke my heart” than anything else in the past few weeks. And while that wasn’t in a good way, it provided more enjoyment than the music — Melanie Martinez except not known problematic — or the concept. In accepting with a frown but without question the current definition of “perfect” looks, and ignoring that people do pick and choose for them constantly, this becomes even more retrograde than “All About That Bass.” Points for effort, I guess — i.e., one point for that backing vocal that kind of sounds like Ariana Grande trilling “I’m Coming Out,” the only effort here.

Nortey Dowuona: Bella’s soft and gently-taped-together voice carries a very overladen song that surges on the lyric “this ain’t build-a-bitch.”

Edward Okulicz: “Build a Bitch” really aggravates, rather like if a fairground ride’s music started taunting you — which is something of a shame as “this ain’t Build a Bitch,” the reason this song exists, is one hell of a hook. Those five words are quotable and pithy, as the wisdom of the TikTok masters often is. But even though you get quite a few repetitions of those magical two seconds, the rest just fills out the running time, and not in a very clever way. At least, because it’s 2021, the running time is mercifully short.

Harlan Talib Ockey: I’ve been trying to avoid using the word “catchy” on here due to its incredible vagueness, but “Build a Bitch” hasn’t left my head for a week. About half of that is its unhinged nursery-rhyme energy, like Marina when she still had her Diamonds. The other half is what it represents. There’s something intellectually fascinating about a TikToker who seems to have initially gone viral for being pretty taking a literal axe to her objectifiers, and there’s something intensely cathartic about an Asian woman doing the same. I could critique this song for being short or repetitive, but maybe that’s the point; it’s a snappy, quick-draw “fuck you,” meant to both gouge you in the moment and leave you bleeding out for days.

Alfred Soto: I mean, I suppose Doja Cat’s been around enough to serve as influence.

David Moore: This song was really funny the first time I heard it, like I actually laughed out loud at it, so I am very tempted to give it credit there. But alas, it is plagued with the affectations of all post-LDR(?) pop: it’s saggy and drab even with a literal music box in there somewhere and a bunch of impish sprites providing the back-up vocals. It all calls for something sunnier, and all I can think of is the post-Duff Disney blankness of the last viral Bella I’m aware of, on her song that also made me laugh out loud the first time I heard it almost ten years ago. I really need to write something about how 2002-2012 got memory-holed from public consciousness, huh?

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4 Responses to “Bella Poarch – Build a Bitch”

  1. Didn’t have time to blurb this, but I basically would’ve amalgamated half these blurbs (the Melanie Martinez affect, Sub Urban music box’ing, etc.) and given it a [4]

  2. YES must build that “OK Boomer” brand for whatever microgeneration they’re calling us these days. “Whatever Xennial.” Ashlee Simpson is my Grand Funk Railroad I guess? “So I was browsing Vine on my iPod Touch, as was the style at the time…”

  3. dancing on the hood in the middle of woods on an old tesla, singing leona lewis – bleeding love

  4. just had the horrifying realization that I can’t say for certain elon musk has never done that

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