Three years ago Sabrina Carpenter was everyone’s blonde villain, but now day by day, her self proclaimed “pop hit” climbs charts and viral playlists, following its release over half a year ago. How has an album tour and the power of TikTok completely altered the trajectory of her career, and more importantly, her public image?
It is no secret by now that for the vast majority of 2021, Sabrina was proclaimed the vicious anti-hero of young Olivia Rodrigo’s glimmering new career. It is also no secret either that that narrative was fabricated and perpetuated by bored, drama-obsessed trolls and none of the discussed parties involved (remember Joshua Bassett?) were at any more fault than comes with the endings and beginnings of new relationships. In fact, both Sabrina and Joshua had killer years for their careers this past year with new music, changing their narrative, and winning the hearts of the public as the heat of the drama came to pass.
Before all this, it was clear to Sabrina’s fandom that she was on an upwards trajectory to the next beloved “main pop girlie”, following in the shoes of both former Disney/Nick stars, and other talented female artists – think Taylor, Adele, Ariana… This may have taken a pause as she cleared her name in the drama, culminating in the release of her 2022 body of work emails I can’t send. There, she discussed the issues of the past 18 months, but also wrote stories we hadn’t heard, and bared her soul out to those who would listen, completely drama free. She at first pushed the track “because I liked a boy”, which was her final hurrah to the drama, clearing her name and pleading innocence in a completely ludicrous ordeal.
It took a little while for the world, and her fanbase, to find one particular song on the album that could become an obvious contender for the next single. At first, the confidence-booster bet u wanna was a favourite, with its quippy lyrics and confident production, and other songs on the album receiving similar moments in the sun in the few months after release.
But it was truly with the announcement of the first leg of the emails I cant send tour that Sabrina first started using the song Nonsense in her TikToks more, and then the tour itself that launched the song to become what it is now. The end of the song trails off with a few funny lines, contenders for main verses before being written off with a laugh and a declaration from Sabrina that “most of these aren’t gonna make it”. So, on tour, Sabrina began freestyling the outtro of the song, adding lines to relate to each city, or particular incidents specific to that show.
To her amazement, and surprise, the outtros (being posted by fans) took TikTok by storm, with fans and new listeners alike looking forward to the new shows to hear the new four lines of each city. It is this that is truly amazing to me. It shows the power of an app that has been long complained about for becoming saturated, and artists that are successful there gaining the reputation of a “TikTok artist/band”. It was only natural from that point that Sabrina began promoting the song on TikTok, and elsewhere. A classic dance was created with a sped up version of the song.
My For You Page was filled with people doing this dance. Having been a fan of Sabrina for a significant amount of time now, seeing the regularity with with people were using her music was mind-blowing to me. My twitter feed started to change its tune from the toxicity of the 2021 drama to outpourings of love, support and apologies for the blonde girl, as I thought to myself “the world is healing”.
Now, Nonsense has been out for over six months. It was starting to gain popularity on TikTok in October, but the hype has moved to streaming, with Sabrina breaking her own streaming record for the song daily, rising the Global Top and Viral Charts. It has also helped that the sped up version, as well as a very funny Christmas remix were released to streaming platforms.
I think this song has been mostly successful because of the irony of title vs lyrics. It is nonsense. It is incredibly self aware, and highlights the peak of Sabrina’s humour in a way she hasn’t expressed in music before. Humour is a prevalent theme throughout the album, and this self awareness has been the reason it has resonated with so many people. Because, no matter how much TikTok success a song gets, the streams and the word gets spread when there’s a concept that truly resonates.
This success of one song has completely changed the trajectory of her career, from a point of being utterly villainised to the realisation that an artist is more than the drama attached to them by fans and the media alike. It highlights the power of an app like TikTok, but also that Sabrina has been working almost ten years to break into the mainstream, a few songs like Thumbs, Skin and the 2017 collab with Alan Walker On My Way helping her along the way.
I am absolutely loving watching Sabrina rise like this, and I know she’s going to follow it up with something incredible – no matter how well it does. But one thing is for sure, the world’s eyes are on her in a way they never have been.
You can listen to all three versions of Nonsense wherever you stream your music, watch the music video on YouTube, and click below for the infamous outtros on tour: