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Chappell Roan, 'Casual'

Pop music is in a golden age for those seeking a highly specific cocktail of moods: a strain of world-weariness that's inescapably tinged with sadness, longing, boredom, resentment and lust. That exact fuel mixture — the lustful woe; the bored, resentful longing — courses through every word of Chappell Roan's irresistible "Casual."

Throughout the song, Roan peppers her pleas with explicit details — some more explicit than others — about a relationship between lovers with incompatible desires. The story will surely sound familiar to anyone who's wanted more from a relationship and tried to be chill about it, but it's all the smartly phrased specifics that make "Casual" sing: the blurry images of future domesticity, the re-contextualized conversation with a relative, the eternal miscalculation of clinging to sex as a stand-in for emotional intimacy. Narratively speaking, "Casual" accomplishes a lot in four minutes. Don't be surprised if it makes Chappell Roan a star along the way.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)