Debut singles are the musical equivalent of an introduction. The great ones— ‘Baby One More Time’, ‘Royals’, ‘Crazy in Love’—can put an artist’s full potential on display while foreshadowing all that’s yet to come. These milestones often occur when the performer is completely unknown or launching a solo act, but what happens when a star who’s already well-known in one medium makes the jump into pop? The question is one Addison Rae has been considering. A Gen-Z household name thanks to her immense popularity on TikTok, Rae is best known for her viral videos, but her latest project shows a new side of her talents. Today’s launch of her first single, ‘Obsessed,’ re-introduces Rae to the world as a musician, singing and dancing her way through an upbeat song dedicated to self-love.
Rae’s foray into music may come as a surprise to some, but she’s been hard at work on her new tracks since last year. Involved in each part of the process, she’s thrown herself into songwriting and recording. “From the beginning, I wanted to make sure that I was writing my own music,” she says. “I remember jotting down lyrics when I was little and trying to figure out how to make them a song, [now] I’m learning every detail and from amazing songwriters.”
‘Obsessed’ pulls from Rae’s experiences as a social media star, using word play to discuss the ins and outs of a relationship. “One could take it as being vainly obsessed with yourself, but that’s not what I’m trying to communicate,” explains Rae. “It’s more I can love myself as much as you love me, and that’s important. There are days where I struggle, and it’s definitely a work in progress to accept who I am and give myself the love I deserve. But that message was so strong, and I wanted to communicate it [in the lyrics].” The track’s self-affirming nature is deliberate. Inspired by artists like Taylor Swift, who fill their songs with relatable themes, she wanted her music to have heart. “I wanted to find out who I was as an artist before I put something out into the world,” says Rae.
A dancer since childhood, Rae wanted the choreography to be as expressive as the song’s message. Enter Sara Biv and Calvit Hodge, whose skillful choreography has upped the ante for artists like Camilla Cabello, Major Lazer, and Nicki Minaj. “Dancers can feel something through the music when they’re dancing,” says Rae. “I’m so fortunate to work with Sara and Calvit and figure out what would look best and make the video truly stand out. I think it’s about finding that connection and understanding what works best with the music.”
The same philosophy applies to the video’s fashion selection, chosen by stylist Kyle Luu. It features everything from sheer catsuits from LaQuan Smith worn with Mugler underpinnings to a magenta faux fur Gucci bolero worn with a crystal-studded bra top. Sexy but playful, the four looks each come with its own fashion message. “No one has seen this side of me before,” says Rae of the dramatic changes, including a fiery new hair color and bold makeup. “What’s exciting is that this has all been a part of me for so long, but not something I’ve been ready to show just yet.”
’90s fans may experience a moment of nostalgia while taking in some of the outfits. A white Dion Lee corset worn with wide-leg Dickies channels Britney Spears circa ‘Sometimes’ while the slinky catsuit calls to mind the Spice Girls in ‘Say You’ll Be There. The retro feel pays homage to some of the performers Rae grew up listening to and her mom’s personal playlist. “When I was young, she was always listening to music from the 90s and 2000s, so I was incredibly influenced by that,” says Rae. “Beyoncé, J.Lo, Britney Spears, Katy Perry, there are so many artists and songwriters who inspire me. There is such an emotional connection people have to their songs; they change people.”
Rae hopes that her contributions to music can have a similarly evocative effect—especially once she can perform live. “Getting on stage is such a huge part of being an artist,” she says. “It’s going to be exciting to share something I’ve loved my entire life with the world and hopefully surprise people who didn’t realize this was a part of who I am.”