After two critically acclaimed albums about loss and mourning and a New York Times best-selling memoir, Michelle Zauner—the Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter known as Japanese Breakfast—wanted release. “I felt like I’d done the grief work for years and was ready for something new,” she tells Apple Music. “I was ready to celebrate feeling.” Her third album Jubilee is unguardedly joyful—neon synths, bubblegum-pop melodies, gusts of horns and strings—and delights in largesse; her arrangements are sweeping and intricate, her subjects complex. Occasionally, as on “Savage Good Boy” and “Kokomo, IN,” she uses fictional characters to illustrate meta-narratives around wealth, corruption, independence, and selfhood. “Album three is your chance to think big,” she says, pointing to Kate Bush and Björk, who released what she considers quintessential third albums: “Theatrical, ambitious, musical, surreal.” Below, Zauner explains how she reconciled her inner pop star with her desire to stay “extremely weird” and walks us through her new album track by track. “Paprika” “This song is the perfect thesis statement for the record because it’s a huge, ambitious monster of a song. We actually maxed out the number of tracks on the Pro Tools session because we used everything that could possibly be used on it. It's about reveling in the beauty of music.” “Be Sweet” “Back in 2018, I decided to try out writing sessions for the first time, and I was having a tough go of it. My publisher had set me up with Jack Tatum of Wild Nothing. What happens is they lie to you and say, ‘Jack loves your music and wants you to help him write his new record!’ And to him they’d say, ‘Michelle loves Wild Nothing, she wants to write together!’ Once we got together we were like, ‘I don't need help. I'm not writing a record.’ So we decided we’d just write a pop song to sell and make some money. We didn’t have anyone specific in mind, we just knew it wasn’t going to be for either of us. Of course, once we started putting it together, I realized I really loved it. I think the distance of writing it for ‘someone else’ allowed me to take on this sassy '80s women-of-the-night persona. To me, it almost feels like a Madonna, Whitney Houston, or Janet Jackson song.” “Kokomo, IN” “This is my favorite song off of the album. It’s sung from the perspective of a character I made up who’s this teenage boy in Kokomo, Indiana, and he’s saying goodbye to his high school sweetheart who is leaving. It's sort of got this ‘Wouldn't It Be Nice’ vibe, which I like, because Kokomo feels like a Beach Boys reference. Even though the song is rooted in classic teenage feelings, it's also very mature; he's like, ‘You have to go show the world all the parts of you that I fell so hard for.’ It’s about knowing that you're too young for this to be it, and that people aren’t meant to be kept by you. I was thinking back to how I felt when I was 18, when things were just so all-important. I personally was not that wise; I would’ve told someone to stay behind. So I guess this song is what I wish I would’ve said.” “Slide Tackle” “‘Slide Tackle’ was such a fussy bitch. I had a really hard time figuring out how to make it work. Eventually it devolved into, of all things, a series of solos, but I really love it. It started with a drumbeat that I'd made in Ableton and a bassline I was trying to turn into a Future Islands-esque dance song. That sounded too simple, so I sent it to Ryan [Galloway] from Crying, who wrote all these crazy, math-y guitar parts. Then I got Adam Schatz, who plays in the band Landlady, to provide an amazing saxophone solo. After that, I stepped away from the song for like a year. When I finally relistened to it, it felt right. It’s about the way those of us who are predisposed to darker thoughts have to sometimes physically wrestle with our minds to feel joy.” “Posing in Bondage” “Jack Tatum helped me turn this song into this fraught, delicate ballad. The end of it reminds me of Drake's ‘Hold On, We're Going Home’; it has this drive-y, chill feeling. This song is about the bondage of controlled desire, and the bondage of monogamy—but in a good way.” “Sit” “This song is also about controlled desire, or our ability to lust for people and not act on it. Navigating monogamy and desire is difficult, but it’s also a normal human condition. Those feelings don’t contradict loyalty, you know? The song is shaped around this excellent keyboard line that [bandmate] Craig [Hendrix] came up with after listening to Tears for Fears. The chorus reminds me of heaven and the verses remind me of hell. After these dark and almost industrial bars, there's this angelic light that breaks through.” “Savage Good Boy” “This one was co-produced by Alex G, who is one of my favorite musicians of all time, and was inspired by a headline I’d read about billionaires buying bunkers. I wanted to write it from the perspective of a billionaire who’d bought one, and who was coaxing a woman to come live with him as the world burned around them. I wanted to capture what that level of self-validation looks like—that rationalization of hoarding wealth.” “In Hell” “This might be the saddest song I've ever written. It's a companion song to ‘In Heaven’ off of Psychopomp, because it's about the same dog. But here, I'm putting that dog down. It was actually written in the Soft Sounds era as a bonus track for the Japanese release, but I never felt like it got its due.” “Tactics” “I knew I wanted to make a beautiful, sweet, big ballad, full of strings and groovy percussion, and Craig, who co-produced it, added this feel-good Bill Withers, Randy Newman vibe. I think the combination is really fabulous.” “Posing for Cars” “I love a long, six-minute song to show off a little bit. It starts off as an understated acoustic guitar ballad that reminded me of Wilco’s ‘At Least That's What You Said,’ which also morphs from this intimate acoustic scene before exploding into a long guitar solo. To me, it always has felt like Jeff Tweedy is saying everything that can't be said in that moment through his instrument, and I loved that idea. I wanted to challenge myself to do the same—to write a long, sprawling, emotional solo where I expressed everything that couldn't be said with words.”

Video Extras

Select a country or region

Africa, Middle East, and India

Asia Pacific


Latin America and the Caribbean

The United States and Canada