The Evolution of “emo girl”
In October 2021, Machine Gun Kelly and Travis Barker completed the initial version of “emo girl” (originally titled “Emo Prom”). They even had a pre-written verse for WILLOW. However, while reflecting on her journey and experience as a Black woman, WILLOW felt the verse didn’t say enough and needed to be rewritten. With Rolling Stone, WILLOW states, “Honestly, to be a Black woman and be able to come on that song [‘Emo Prom’] and write my verse with my outlook on life — just being able to be authentically me on that song — those are the kinds of things that are going to make more people feel seen.”
Producer Travis Barker saw this payoff. In a continuation with Rolling Stone, he says, “Obviously you remember, but when we first sent it to you, we were like, ‘Yeah, we even have a verse written.’ And your verse was insane compared to ours.” Then, in January 2022, MGK and WILLOW were together on his TikTok, dancing around and showing off the song.
Analysis of “emo girl” by Machine Gun Kelly (feat. WILLOW)
Off the bat, the production is heavy on drums and has a hard bass sound. Avril Lavigne and Lil Huddy are also currently resurrecting this early 2000s pop-punk rock sound within their music. Machine Gun Kelly dominates the first verse with raw vocals. He sings, “She is a monster in disguise / And she knows all the words to the trap songs / Takes pics with a cherry-red lipstick / Says she only dates guys with a big -, mhm.” In the introduction, a snippet from Jennifer’s Body plays with Megan Fox saying, “I am God.” And, through the descriptive lyrics, it is safe to assume MGK’s “her” references Megan Fox’s demon character. The guitars go overdrive as both Willow and MGK sing, “I fell in love with an emo girl / I’m in love with an emo girl.”
In WILLOW’s verse, her voice is on top of the production; it is strong and clear. There is minimal vocal layering, though you can hear the awesome grittiness when it’s noticeable. The drums are punching and keeping a steady melody. She sings, “Kiss me, holy f*ck, I’m bleeding on your blink tee / So, so, so many regrets / You tell me you’re depressed, baby girl, that makes two of us.” As the pair finish the song, you can hear WILLOW scream alongside the instrumental then giggle at the end. The track is nostalgic of Avril Lavigne’s The Best Damn Thing album but reinvents the common pop-punk sound for the new generation.
What’s Next For Machine Gun Kelly?
MGK’s sixth studio album was titled “born with horns;” however, he recently changed it to “Mainstream Sellout” with a funny Instagram video with longtime friend and producer Travis Barker. The release date for Mainstream Sellout is March 25, 2022. This may be the last single before its release, but Machine Gun Kelly is always full of surprises.