Caroline Rose’s ‘Superstar’ is a cinematic pop experience.


New West Records

The cover of Caroline Rose’s fourth studio album, ‘Superstar’.

Mason Montano, Music Editor

The daughter of two artists, American singer-songwriter and musician Caroline Rose was born with big dreams of becoming a star and began writing songs and poems when she was 13 years old.

In late 2012, she independently released her debut album, America Religious, following a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund its production, which helped her build a name for herself on the indie folk scene and got her signed to Little Hi! Records, who released her second album, I Will Not Be Afraid, in August 2014.

Rose then took an extended hiatus to explore new musical directions and expand her sound that saw her undergo numerous personnel changes, including a switch to New West Records, before making her return in February 2018 with her third album, LONER.

The record marked a drastic change in style compared to her previous work, as while her first two albums were largely influenced by folk, country, and rockabilly; LONER blended indie pop and alternative rock elements with prominent synths in addition to sporting a shift in lyrical tone from serious and matter-of-fact to humorous and satirical, earning her newfound widespread success that would eventually expand upon the arrival of her fourth studio album, Superstar, in early March.

According to Rose, the record is a “cinematic pop album” that “plays out like a film” and “tells [the “underdog story”] of a [“shamelessly odd hero, or rather anti-hero”,] who leaves behind everything they know and love in search of something bigger and more glamorous” as well as a “story about losing yourself but also finding the brazen self-confidence to follow a dream”.

It’s an evolution of the indie pop and alternative rock sound that she first explored on LONER with brighter, bolder synths that juxtapose the bassy guitar riffs that form the foundation of each track and give the record, as a whole, a space-like quality.

This is especially true for the futuristic opening track, “Nothing’s Impossible” — a starry, sci-fi-esque synth odyssey that makes several references to American pop culture and sets the album’s story into motion, introducing the aforementioned protagonist as they embark on their journey to superstardom.

The rest of the tracklist follows this journey and covers the various events and obstacles that they encounter along the way while presenting themes of chasing success, freedom, love, and disillusionment.

Immediately following “Nothing’s Impossible”, the second track, “Got to Go My Own Way”, is an ambitious anthem for the protagonist, who is determined to make it big in Hollywood and idealistically fantasizes about the admiration that they hope to receive from their hometown upon achieving their goal, and the lead single, “Feel the Way I Want”, is a testament to their desire for freedom and to unapologetically live life to the fullest as their true, authentic self.

Other tracks like the third single, “Do You Think We’ll Last Forever?”, and the second single, “Freak Like Me”, see them singing to their life-long partner, who has been there to support them along every step of their journey, and on the non-single “Pipe Dreams”, the protagonist dreams about the couple’s plans to eventually marry and settle down together in a life of grandeur.

Unfortunately for them, neither of their dreams end up coming true, and Superstar closes with “Back at the Beginning” and “I Took a Ride”, which contrast the idealism of the opening tracks and comment on how many people who seek out fame are left disappointed by what they find, don’t find, or lose in the process.

The former is a groovy alternative rock bop reminiscent of the work of iconic American rock band Blondie that depicts the protagonist’s disillusionment with the Hollywood life, and the latter is a dark, ethereal baroque pop ballad that sees them desperately searching for their partner, who had left them due to their dissatisfaction with the person that they became in their pursuit of fame.

The ambiguity of these tracks gives the album an open ending, reflecting how happy endings rarely occur in the real world while leaving room for a potential follow-up to the protagonist’s story should Rose decide to create one.

At its core, Superstar is a cautionary tale about fame and being careful what you wish for as well as an incredibly strong, cohesive body of work that received universal acclaim upon its release, adding another major step in Caroline Rose’s own journey to superstardom.

Superstar is available now across all online and streaming platforms.

Stream Superstar on Spotify: 

Watch the music video for “Feel the Way I Want”:

Rose in the music video for “Feel the Way I Want”.