Poster Girl

Zara Larsson

Poster Girl

“This is like starting over for me,” Zara Larsson tells Apple music of her third studio album Poster Girl. Released four years after 2017’s So Good—the Swedish singer’s wildly successful second album—it’s a collection of disco-pop ready to raise the 2021 mood. But why the need for that clean slate? “After So Good, I felt a lot of pressure to make something even better, which can hinder you,” she says. “But after so long, it's hard to ride on the wave of that success. This is a fresh start.” The upbeat, dance-friendly production of tracks like “Ruin My Life” and “Right Here” belies more melancholy lyrics, in the great Swedish tradition of sad-banger supremos Robyn and ABBA. “That's my favorite genre,” Larsson says. “I grew up around those artists, but it was only last year that I decided to sit down and have a proper listen to the production and the lyrics. It's mind-blowing how timeless ABBA's melodies are.” Below, let Larsson talk you through Poster Girl, track by track.
Love Me Land “This was the last song that we recorded for the album, a day before the pandemic shut down everything in LA. I was sitting with [US songwriters] Julia Michaels, Justin Tranter, and Jason Gill and just wouldn’t shut up about the boy who is now my boyfriend. I wanted to make a sassy, fun song that felt clubby but still had a lot of emotions, and I think it's the perfect mix of those things.”
Talk About Love (feat. Young Thug) “As soon as I heard this, I felt like having a featured artist would make it extra special. Originally we thought about asking a country artist, and we went through so many people before someone suggested Young Thug, and I thought he'd be perfect. What makes pop fun is that it's so broad, you can try new vibes or sounds and still maintain that authenticity.”
Need Someone “I love what the song is saying: I don't need someone, but I want you. It's like what Cher said: ‘A man is not a necessity, a man is a luxury, like dessert.’ They're yummy, they're nice to have, but they're not necessary for survival. This song makes you want to roll your windows down, look at a Malibu sunset, and crank it up.”
Right Here “My friends say that the lyric 'Why can't you look at me, you keep your eyes on the screen' should be about me, because I'm always on my phone and never really engaging in conversation, which is so dark. This song is about someone not giving you the attention and love that you deserve. Their mind is somewhere else and you're like: ‘Hello?’ It's heartbreaking to feel like someone is right there, but not actually right there. I think that's very relevant for a lot of people.”
WOW “This was produced by [US producer and DJ] Marshmello, and I thought it was really fun, but at that point it didn’t fit the sound of my album. Then it was used in an advert for Citibank in the US and people started Shazaming it like crazy. It's funny how music works, because people started showing love for it a year and a half after the release. You never know what's going to happen.”
Poster Girl “Though it sounds like a really cute love song—about how you're not the poster girl for feelings, but you can't stop expressing how much you love this person—I actually wrote it about weed. We were in LA and Justin [Tranter] said, ‘You smoke so much. So write a song about that.’ That's where the lyrics 'Holy smokes, I'm not the poster girl for feelings but with you I can't stop’ come from.”
I Need Love “This was written by [British songwriter] KAMILLE, who also did ‘Look What You’ve Done’ with me. We'll come up with a melody and she'll be like, ‘What about blah blah blah,’ and suddenly you have the whole verse. She does this every day.”
Look What You’ve Done “When I came into the studio, [British producer and songwriter] Steve Mac and KAMILLE had already started on this. They had the 'And now they're playing our favorite song' section as the chorus melody. I said, ‘How about we use that as the verse and come up with something else for the chorus?’ I thought it sounded like a classic ABBA song, which I loved.”
Ruin My Life “I released this as a single [in 2018] thinking my album would be coming soon, so it still feels like part of the album. Sometimes people act like I deleted those songs, but they're still out there.”
Stick With You “I wrote this song for my friend who was seeing this guy who I hated. When you're in that love bubble, nobody else can understand how you feel. Luckily she came to the same conclusion as me and they split up. It usually turns out that your friends are right.”
FFF “‘FFF’ stands for falling for a friend. I wrote it the same week that we did ‘Love Me Land’ when I'd become fully obsessed with a boy who'd been my friend for a really long time. When you fall for a friend, you have so much to lose, so I wanted to write about that experience.”
What Happens Here “Such a female empowerment song. I remembered after I did the dirty with my first boyfriend at school, he said, ‘I don't have to tell anybody at school because I don't want them to think you're a slut.’ I was so confused, because I thought, 'If I'm a slut then you're a slut?' I was naive to the concepts of feminism or slut-shaming. Girls get shamed for doing something completely normal: having sex. So I wanted to write a song about not giving a fuck. Because I don't.”

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