The Ride

The Ride

There are breakups, and then there are breakups that are so life-altering they inspire a concept album chronicling all the lingering animosity, sleepless nights, and regrettable text messages that result. LA-via-Ontario singer Johnny Orlando has done a lot of growing up in public since emerging as a teen-pop phenom in the mid-2010s, and on The Ride, we get a full accounting of his first proper adult relationship and its messy demise. “I went through this breakup and that was pretty much all I could think about for a very long time,” Orlando tells Apple Music. “It was my first major breakup, which was super weird for me, because I experienced a lot of things very late, and this was one of them.” On The Ride, Orlando expedites his transition into an adult-R&B auteur, with a heightened, straight-from-the-gut lyrical candor that complements his adventurous production. In cataloging the rollercoaster range of emotions he experienced throughout his doomed relationship, Orlando draws from a broad palette of sounds to vividly capture the mood of a particular scene, whether he’s applying dream-pop textures to a wistful plea for reconnection (“Close to You”) or dramatizing a rage-inducing phone conversation with muscular, metallic guitars (“Boyfriend”). “I had never really understood it when people would say, ‘When you're really going through something, the songs just come out of you,’” Orlando says. “But in this case, the music just poured out.” Here, Orlando offers his track-by-track invitation to come along for The Ride. “July” “One of the first things that I felt [after the breakup] was this nostalgia for what I had just been though. This person was my first girlfriend, and it was like, 'Oh my god—I've never felt so in love!' So that July I'm singing about was a very special month for me.” “Vegas” “I think one of the universal thoughts for anybody going through a breakup is, ‘Wow, I'm never gonna love again. It seems so exhausting to want to do all that again with a different person.' But I feel like I'm just now at the point where I'm ready to do it all again. So this song is about the acceptance of that risk.” “Boyfriend” "I was on the phone [with my ex] one morning, and then I went to a session the same day, and this came out. It was just a word vomit, like stream of consciousness, which I do regret—I mean, this song is quite angry, and I'm not an angry person. But at that point in our relationship, I was just so upset. So we got some angry guitars in there. This song actually had a lot of iterations. Initially, it was a synth-bassy song. And then I thought, 'What would it be like if I just did this?'—and I turned on the hardest [guitar] patch that I own. And then the producers redid it all, because I'm super bad at guitar!” “A Man Like Me” “Another thing that I noticed on the breakup journey was I started doubting myself, and I had never felt so guilty in my whole life. I would have actual panic attacks for no reason. Whenever I'd go to bed, there was a chance that I would just freak out. And I was like, 'This needs to stop.' I just felt very guilty for a variety of reasons. You know, everybody could have been better, everybody feels like it's their fault to an extent. So this song is the manifestation of all that guilt. This song was actually written before the breakup, but it just ended up describing so perfectly what I was feeling after the fact. I felt like this fucking reprehensible man, but everybody makes mistakes.” “Party for Two” “This is a Toronto song—it was based on old Drake shit. This is about that three-to-six-month period after the breakup, when you kind of feel like you’ve got everything under control, but you really don't. So you start asking yourself, 'Do I go back?' I think it's a question that everybody asks, and the answer is always 'no.' It was a strange writing style on this one. We made a bunch of parts and then kind of jigsawed them together. We were writing to a super funky-ass drumbeat—one that you kind of have to stop and think about, like, 'Okay, where's the one [beat]?' But it created these super cool melodies and rhythms, so when you put it over something more regular, it just pops a little bit.” “Close to You” “This speaks to that idea of: If you were with somebody for so long, do they still have a place in your life and do you have a place in theirs? It's asking: If something dire were to go down and I really needed a friend, would you be there for me?” “Thinking of Me” “I like writing to guitar, but I always feel like there's a million directions you could go with a song. Still, I've written some cool shit on guitar [like this] that I could have never done if there was a structured thing happening. It's all about what you're feeling on a given day. I actually wrote this at my first writing camp ever, about a year ago. But this song was a bit ahead of its time when I wrote it—it was written post-breakup, but it was still too early in that process for me to believe what I was saying.” “August” “To be honest, I just put this at the end just because I think it's funny to have a record start with 'July' and end with 'August.' But if we're trying to make it fit in [with the overall concept], this song is kind of like a more bitter goodbye, there's a bit more edge to it. I guess 'August' represents closure, but closure is never perfect. Does closure even exist?”

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