Tuesday, June 21st, 2022

Rina Sawayama – This Hell

Gaga pastiche? Gaga parody? It’s undeniable we’re living in hell, though.


Tobi Tella: Has the aura of an extraordinarily talented musician who spent a little too much time engaging with stan twitter; the obvious comparison is “Born This Way” but less misguided and more sonically interesting. SAWAYAMA’s focus on family gave Rina a lot of rich emotions to work with and helped it stand apart from more lovey-dovey pop releases, so I hope this and “Chosen Family” have filled up her Equality Anthem quota and we can get something a little less pandering for the album.

Ian Mathers: If I hadn’t seen Sawayama describe “This Hell” as ‘country pop’ I never would have made that connection, but now I can see it. Her mind!

Katie Gill: This is country-pop for people who have no idea what country-pop actually sounds like. It’s a fucking jam, though.

Al Varela: Rina Sawayama has always been amazing at taking the best parts of 2000s pop and transforming them into something modern, yet timeless, and “This Hell” may be the pinnacle of her method to the madness. An explosive anthem with a triumphant hook where Rina faces the rampant bigotry she faces for being queer and instead of submitting to their hatred, vows to ride into hell and protect the people she loves. Rina’s performance is truly incredible, howling against the roaring synths and clanging bells. It’s battle cry of a chorus is perfect for enduring the worst of what the world has to offer, and rather than being bleak or losing all hope, it vows to keep fighting and live their best life no matter who tries to stop them. And that sense of pride over oneself, embracing who you are and not changing for anyone, is the spirit lifter I needed this pride month. 

Scott Mildenhall: As it lurches awkwardly from verse to pre-chorus and chorus to verse, no amount of crowbarred pop culture references can conceal the sense that “This Hell” is a weaker Gaga pastiche than those Ava Max churns out without such a presupposition of quality.

Alfred Soto: Of course the bridge sounds like Gaga. Facts are facts. If for the sake of a misbegotten anthem she exploited a cultural moment when the future for gays and lesbians looked brighter, “This Hell” recognizes a decade later that we live in the title landscape. It could be less clippety-cloppety, less reliant on dumb punchlines I expect to hear in Fire Island.

Reader average: [5.55] (9 votes)

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One Response to “Rina Sawayama – This Hell”

  1. I like how Rina approaches music with such attention and care for the power of Cheesiness in the emulation of feelings, to varying degrees of (un)subtleness. The clearly divided structure is elemental to that appeal, but I think it backfired this time. Although I loved the key changes and actually enjoyed how playfully she tackles shame and intolerance in the verses, I can’t help but feel the choruses NEED me to sacrifice those small victories in order to fully indulge in it – and that’s just not a good bargain.