Three. Two. One.
For six years beginning at age 12, Lennon Stella wasn’t herself. She was Maddie Conrad on the hit musical drama Nashville, co-starring alongside her younger sister Maisy. By 19, she released her debut EP, 2018’s Love, Me, a pop departure stacked with broody beats, followed closely by 2019’s delightfully deviant single “BITCH (takes one to know one).” She toured with The Chainsmokers and 5 Seconds of Summer, and experimentation allowed her the confidence to become candid on her debut album, Three. Two. One., eight years into her career. “This is me releasing myself from the pressure of prior expectations and intimidations,” Stella tells Apple Music. “Three, two, one, I’m diving in and doing what feels good to myself. The album is a free fall.” Her statement piece is stacked with dark dance-club breakup anthems for the end of the world, fueled by invigorating indie pop (“Kissing Other People”), dystopic disco influences (“Fear of Being Alone”), a fluid Potemkin village reference (“Pretty Boy”), and a brilliant interpolation of the Donna Lewis classic “I Love You Always Forever” (“Save Us”). “Ultimately, I wanted [this album] to be an honest introduction, true to who I am as a human being,” she explains. “And hopefully people will draw parallels to their own lives.” Below, she breaks down each track on her debut album.
Much Too Much “This song I wrote when I was in what felt like this very intense, very deep relationship. Looking back now, it was so much more surface. I was so concerned about letting it go, because I had this fear of, like, ‘Well, what about later when we think that we're supposed to rekindle?’ So this is that fear-based concept: of being scared of letting go of something because you think, 'What if later on I'm like, it was perfect, and now it's not?'”
Kissing Other People “I did a writing camp in Cabo [Mexico] with my favorite writers and producers. This song came together the first night we got there. All of us went to a little club, and on our way back at like 3:00 in the morning, [songwriter] Caroline [Ailin] was asking me about boys. I was talking to her casually and said, ‘I don’t feel weird anymore when I kiss people... It feels normal. I don’t feel guilty for it.’ She took that into her session the next day.”
Games “This one is about falling into this trap—and I’ve fallen into it so many times—where [dating] is literally just a game. He’ll wait two hours to text me, and then I’ll wait two and a half because I have to prove that I care less than he does. It’s so normal in our generation, and it’s not about treating each other properly and respectfully and with love. It’s just insecurities.”
Fear of Being Alone “This song, production-wise, is definitely one of my favorites, if not my favorite. Malay produced it; he beautifully meshes all the sounds that I love. There’s a darkness...I really just wanted some of that. It’s a different feeling than the rest of the album.”
Pretty Boy “‘Pretty Boy’ was also written in Cabo. We were inspired by DJ duo The Blaze—their synth sounds and drum sounds are so watery and unique. I've played this song live and people sometimes take that away that it's just about a pretty boy. The thing is, he really was and is so much deeper than that, and I was trying to dig [beyond] this shield.”
Golf on TV (feat. JP Saxe) “We were talking about monogamy in general and how rare it feels, and how normal and frequent open relationships have become, and JP said, ‘I just don’t get how people do that. But some people watch golf on TV, and I don’t get that either.’ We were like, ‘That’s such a cool song title,’ so we wrote about that.”
Older Than I Am “I've never felt more connected to a song, and it's so weird because I didn't write it. It's one of those things where I feel like it's so close to me that I don't even know that I would have been able to write it. When I heard this song for the first time, I was literally sobbing uncontrollably, and I was very quick to put my vocal on it and dive in and make it feel even more like myself.”
Bend Over Backwards “This one I wrote in LA. It’s about wanting to not completely mold into what other people want of you. It’s me saying, ‘I can compromise with you and I'm down to be polite and not overstep, but I'm also not going to bend over backwards and completely lose my initial vision over something that you want.’ It doesn’t have to be creatively. It can be in relationships, too.”
Jealous “I started writing this one with FINNEAS. He's so creative and so musical; I was refreshed and inspired. The song started with the idea of you moving on faster than somebody else. It's a lighthearted take on 'I'm not trying to make you jealous, I'm just moving on and I'm feeling good, and it's not an intentional, calculated thing to hurt you.'”
Since I Was a Kid “It's really about growing up and holding on to the way that I was, trying not to change the moral openheartedness that my parents ingrained in me. Life makes you jaded, and [this is me] steering away from that and trying to continue to look at things through rose-colored glasses.”
Weakness (Huey Lewis) (feat. Maisy Stella) “With Maisy, all that we did together, it's forever going to be such a massive part of my life. I'm such a fan of her as an artist, and I really wanted her to be a part of my debut album. This song was very much written about her and for her.”
Save Us “This one, again, is about Maisy—the idea of no matter what, no matter where you go, no matter how fast you get there, I'll always be there with you.”
Goodnight “This song has a feeling of not wanting something to end—wanting it to just be good night so that you can wake up to it in the morning, rather than it being goodbye, because then obviously it's gone. It’s hopeful.”