You Signed Up For This (Apple Music Up Next Film Edition)

Maisie Peters

You Signed Up For This (Apple Music Up Next Film Edition)

“I'm my own album's biggest fan, and I have been for ages,” Maisie Peters tells Apple Music of her debut You Signed Up for This. “I've been writing music for a while now, and there are so many different avenues I could have gone down and so many different albums I could have made. I feel so surely that this is the right one.” Peters doesn’t exactly need to be her record’s main cheerleader. Those already in her corner include Taylor Swift—whose influence shines across all of Peters’ output—and Ed Sheeran, who signed the Brighton-born singer-songwriter to his Gingerbread Man record company in 2021 and who joined her in writing three of the songs here. “We just worked really well together,” says Peters. “This can feel like a very lonely [job], so it’s great having a teammate and having someone rooting for you.”
Featuring previously unheard work alongside new tracks written in a Suffolk Airbnb in summer 2020, You Signed Up for This houses the soft indie folk the singer has built her name and loyal following on, but also forays into the ’80s (“John Hughes Movie”), the early 2000s (“Boy”), and bouncy, unabashed pop (“Psycho”). “It was very important to me that this album reflected everything that I do,” adds Peters. “I was very free and I let myself do whatever I chose.” Running through all of it, of course, is the razor-sharp lyricism and wordplay that have made Peters one of 2021’s most feted rising songwriters (and which led Sheeran to declare her the “voice of this generation” to Apple Music in 2021), as Peters deftly dissects young adult life and falling in and out of love, first with a “bolshy, dramatic, immature” attitude and then with reflection. Read on as Peters guides us through her brilliant debut, one song at a time.
“You Signed Up for This” “It's almost like a bullet point list of everything you need to know about me: I'm the narrator. This is my life right now. This is how I sing. This is how I write. But it’s really self-aware—it starts off with an eye-roll. In this track, you have the synth noises, which felt like an ode to that side of the album, as well as a guitar feel to it, then this Coldplay-esque moment which married the two together. You’re falling out of one sound and into the other.”
“I’m Trying (Not Friends)” “There's like 5,000 lyrics in this song. It’s all of my personality and everything that was going on in my life at the time. The first verse and the first chorus were actually written for Trying [the Apple TV+ comedy; Peters wrote the Season 2 soundtrack], but it wasn’t the vibe for it, so I took it back. This song is chaotic and bitchy and passive-aggressive and really flawed.”
“John Hughes Movie” “I wrote this when I was 17, and it just never felt right to come out at the time. We reworked it for the album, then I sent it to [LA producers] Afterhrs, who have done a lot of my stuff and who gave it a shine. This song is so naive and hopeful and stupid and embarrassing and teenage. The first half of this album hits you round the face with melodrama.”
“Outdoor Pool” “I have a voice note on my phone that says, ‘Midnight, outdoor pool.’ We wrote the chorus for this song one night in Suffolk after we wrote ‘Love Him I Don’t.’ It was such a random chorus and it was really hard to understand what it was about. Why are we in an outdoor pool? Then [Taylor Swift’s] folklore came out that night, and, listening to ‘betty,’ it just clicked. It was like, ‘Oh, I cannot be me all the time.’ Then I came back to it a few days later realizing it had to be from the point of view of a 15-year-old. From there it was like, bang. I wanted to make it super British and we were throwing in all the references we could: Skins and HMV and form on Monday, science lockers, the French exchange.”
“Love Him I Don’t” “My favorite on the album. Lyrically and musically, it feels like the combination of a lot of songwriting that I've done and a lot of learning about what I love. There’s a real heaviness but also lightness. It’s a song to sing to yourself when you don’t feel it.”
“Psycho” “Everything about this track is so wild. It was the last session we did for the album. It was like, ‘The album is done, so if we get something, great, but if not, it’s done.’ I was with Ed Sheeran and [prolific British songwriter] Steve Mac and thought, ‘If I’m here with these people who have done massive things, I’m here to win, I’m here to write a big song.’ Ed has previously said ‘Psycho’ would be a really good song title. The track only took about 45 minutes once we were in the session, but afterwards I just felt really scared of it—it’s very different for me. I actually told my manager I'd release it ‘over my dead corpse,’ but I’m so glad I got over it—I love it now. It’s so fun.”
“Boy” “[Producer and songwriter] Joe Rubel, Ed Sheeran, and I had written ‘Hollow,’ then had dinner. Afterwards, I was like, ‘Let’s write another song.’ Everyone had been drinking wine, so it was a fun vibe, and we ended up talking about fuckboys and softboys and I was educating the boys on the differences. They said we should write a song called ‘Fuckboy.’ I was crying with laughter as we wrote it, and I think you can hear that. Really last minute, I said we should take out the ‘fuck’ and just have a gap. They eventually all came around to that idea.”
“Hollow” “This is a special song. I did it with Ed, Joe, and [Snow Patrol’s] Johnny McDaid. It was the first day I’d met Ed and Johnny, and we all knew there was something to this song. It’s so simple but it also has a weird charm—it kind of harks back to what I did when I started, but also what Ed did when he started. It's very sad and has one of my favourite lyrics on the album: ‘You're the one that got away and you got away with a lot.’”
“Villain” “Up until this point, a lot of this album is very rash. It's coming from a place of being hurt and saying, ‘I was right and you were wrong.’ But ‘Villain’ is this moment where there's a cold shower of realism and you understand that you are not always the hero of the story. It felt like it almost leveled the playing field, a moment to hold your hand up and move forward. Sonically, it felt like an older sister to ‘John Hughes Movie.’ I was looking at Bruce Springsteen and Brandon Flowers and The Killers for this song.”
“Brooklyn” “This is about me and my twin sister Ellen going to New York when we were 19. We went to Gatwick, we had terrible tickets, we flew at 2 am, we had noodles for breakfast. This song literally just tells the story of that trip. I did it with [songwriter and producer] Frances [aka Sophie Cooke] and it came together quite naturally. It was funny—a lot of people wanted to produce this, but in the end Frances finished it, and it’s not dissimilar to the demo. Two women wrote and produced the song, and I think that's really amazing. ”
“Elvis Song” “One of the oldest tracks on the album. This is like stadium euphoria to me but with more realism to it, I guess. ‘I've got no right to miss you’ is something I’ve always played around with, and it's a feeling I've definitely felt before.”
“Talking to Strangers” “This is a love song and it’s really sweet. I did this with [songwriters] Brad Ellis and Jez Ashurst, and we wrote it really late at night. The vocals you hear in it are the vocals I did then. In fact, all of this song is basically the demo, apart from some harmonies I added from my bedroom studio during lockdown. The demo was very much how it needed to stay.”
“Volcano” “This is a different palette, and it’s almost the hardest to talk about because there’s so much within it. It’s really a song about people who you feel like never see the consequences of their actions. This song is just repetition all the time, because that’s how it feels, I think, when you’re in that moment, and someone has hurt you and gotten away with it. No one has called them out, so they’re able to keep living their life, and you’re just stuck in this song. It was definitely fueled by #MeToo. There’s a lot of real, simmering female resentment and the silence you take upon yourself. I was referencing Dolly Parton and Kacey Musgraves. It felt like the right tone for that sort of thing—no one does ‘woman scorned’ better than country musicians.”
“Tough Act” “To me, this song feels sad but also has a real air of growth in it. It’s hopeful and it’s respectful and comes from a really mature place of ‘This is nobody’s fault.’ By the end of it, you're not sure if it's meant to be a sad song or if it's meant to be a song of happiness. I listened to it recently and was struck by the second verse, when I say, ‘I got busy and you forgot how to miss me when I'm not much of who you grew up with.’ I think that speaks to so many people and so many relationships, romantic or platonic or family or anything. It's the realization that you're not who you were and that's fine, but that’s something that everyone has to accept at some point. Originally it was a piano ballad with no harmonies and it was very stripped. It ended up this really beautiful orchestral arrangement. The lyrics felt like a great way to finish this album.”

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