Best Music Discovery EVER...this week: girl in red "Doing It Again Baby"

This week’s ALT 104.5 Best Music Discovery EVER...this week, is “Doing It Again Baby” by girl in red

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Thanks to Family & Co Jewelers !

Since the release of girl in red’s chiming debut single “i wanna be your girlfriend,” Marie Ulven has been at the forefront of alt-pop with biting songs about navigating the world as a young queer woman. Her honest lyrics and intimate production thrilled listeners around the world, making the Horten, Norway-born singer-songwriter one of the streaming era’s biggest grass-roots success stories.

With her Columbia debut I’M DOING IT AGAIN BABY!, the Oslo-based Ulven maintains her closely felt songwriting while also broadening her sonic horizons. Songs on the new album aptly demonstrate how Ulven’s songwriting has grown even stronger over the last five years, while the title track brings girl in red to an entirely new place.  

"I think I’ve just been on a journey of loving myself,” says Ulven. “Finding my self-esteem, allowing my girlfriend to love me, allowing someone to love me for the first time. Saying yes to life. This record’s a little bit more fun and playful, and there’s a lot more humor—there’s a little bit of everything on there, like my first record.”

I’M DOING IT AGAIN BABY! comes after a long period where Ulven felt frustrated with herself despite commercial and critical acclaim, spots on Lollapalooza and Coachella, famous fans like Taylor Swift and Billie Eilish, millions of streams for songs like the sweetly determined autumnal favorite “we fell in love in october,” and a fiercely loyal fanbase. “I thought I wasn’t going to make another record,” Ulven confesses. “Obviously, I knew that I would, but I also felt like I couldn’t make another one. But then more music came to me, and then I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m doing it again.’”

Eventually Ulven realized that the phrase could double as a mantra for a long-needed attitude shift. “I realized for so long I wasn’t living life like I used to,” she says. "I wasn’t loving myself. I didn’t have fun. I thought that if I was hanging out with my friends, I was wasting time: ‘I should be in the studio.’ I was depriving myself of all joy, really. I was punishing myself if I wasn’t working.”

Meeting her now-girlfriend helped Ulven pull herself out of her rut, and opening herself up to love helped Ulven see that she needed to say yes to life more in order to nourish her creative impulses. “’Doing It Again Baby’ just became this thing I was telling myself,” she says.

The 10-song album chronicles Ulven’s last two and a half years with honesty and wit—and a healthy dose of what Ulven calls “ballsy shit,” like the countrified, banjo-led breakdown on the swaggering title track. Ulven’s willingness to play around with her music, and her image, is, in her eyes, an evolution of the candor that has made her such a beloved musician.  

“As I’ve gotten into my twenties, I think I’ve been a little bit humbled by life,” she says. “Everything can feel embarrassing; being in a booth and singing, just screaming, and performing it authentically—if you’re too self-aware, that can be embarrassing. I need to stay honest, and to stay frank. But it takes as much frankness to be honest and playful, and go all in on that, as it does to really belt and sing some sad shit.”

Ulven’s successes so far have taken her a long way from the bedroom where she made her earliest records. She’s played European festivals like Oya and Glastonbury and toured with next-generation pop stars Billie Eilish and Conan Gray. Multiple songs of hers have hit nine-figure streaming numbers on Spotify. She won Album of the Year and Best Artist at 2022’s Spellmanprisen, was nominated for the BBC’s Sound of 2021, and won the 2022 Telenor Culture Prize for being a Scandinavian whose cultural impact was felt both at home and worldwide.

But last year, when Ulven spent a month opening for Swift on the North American leg of her record-breaking Eras Tour, her perception of how truly big her music could be was blown open. “Stadiums are not very normal in Norway,” Ulven notes. “We might have a couple but going to see a football game or a concert at a stadium, it’s not very normal. We’re literally just five million people here, so it’s very hard to do those kinds of things. Just stepping into that world was just so magical.

“Playing my shows was great,” she continues. “It was so fun, and I was so nervous, but it was cool to win people over, and have people text me or DM me things like ‘Oh my God, I did not know who you were coming here today, but we were blasting your album in the car on our way back home.’”

That experience helped galvanize Ulven, who first heard about Swift’s fandom of her when the world-conquering pop star dropped a note gushing over about girl in red’s music. “I don’t think anything will ever top the moment when I actually got email from her,” Ulven recalls. “She was like, ‘Marie, I’ve been talking about your album to all my friends nonstop, so I should say this to you, too.’ A lot of people do that to artists, but artists of that scale, they tend to maybe not do it. I just think she’s special.”

With I’M DOING IT AGAIN BABY! Ulven is ready to harness the experiences she’s had and build girl in red into something “more ambitious, and more exciting, and more idea-driven,” as she puts it. “The past five years have been so insane, and that I’ve been given this opportunity is insane,” Ulven says. “But I think what’s really hitting me now is that I need to pursue music fully, and that’s something I want to do with this record.

“I just want to go all in on girl in red in 2024. I’m at a point where I’m willing to fly.”

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