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"The Maybe Man" on Spotify
"The Maybe Man" song-by-song review
Maybe Man

"I wish I was me, whoever that is/I could just be and not give a sh**/Hey, I'll be whatever makes you a fan/'Cause I don't know who the h*** I am"

As the first song on the album, "The Maybe Man" sets the scene for our unlikely hero, Jack, as he sings a string of dreams and doubts he has for life. Like AJR's previous albums, "The Maybe Man" acts as the overture — but not in the way fans were expecting. Unlike their previous albums, each stanza in The Maybe Man corresponds to a different song in the album:

Verse One: "Touchy Feely Fool," Verse Two: "Yes I'm a Mess," Verse Three: "Turning Out Pt. iii," Verse Four: "Steve's Going to London," Verse Five: "The Dumb Song," Verse Six: "Hole in the Bottom of My Brain," Verse Seven: "The DJ Is Crying For Help," Verse Eight: "I Won't," Verse Nine: "Inertia," Verse 10 and 11: "God is Really Real" and Verse 12: "2085."

In the outro, Jack belts the lyric, "Here I go again," signaling the cycle between life, death and self-discovery is starting once more for the listener and The Maybe Man. While I'm still unsure about the tone change over halfway through the piece, it still a very impactful way to start the album.

Touchy Feely Fool

"I'm screwed/But, hey, what can you do?/I'm a touchy feely fool/I would give anything to not give a sh** about you."

This song is a people pleaser's anthem. Despite the red flags, AJR encapsulates the inability to leave someone with obvious red flags and how it mentally affects an individual. I love when Jack screams his frustrations into the pre-chorus, but it switches back to the happy chorus because a people pleaser will continue please, of course. The more I listened to the song, the more I adapted to the ending, and now I very much enjoy this number.

Yes I'm A Mess

"And I took a job for just July/But feels like I might be here for life/Yeah, I’m in it now, I'm in it now/Could I start again somehow?"

"Yes, I'm A Mess" almost immerses the listener into a western movie set in 2023. From the whistling to the steady drumming, the listener voyages on through life while conscious they are making more of a mess of it. It's relatable and catchy, and you'll find yourself whistling along soon, too.

The Dumb Song

"When we go down/When kingdom come/Don't look at me, don't look at me/I'm just too dumb." 

While this song is called "The Dumb Song," it spotlights the painful feeling of perceiving yourself as "too dumb." With gang vocals inspired by the Beach Boys, horns and guitar give the song a facade of being lighthearted, but also give weight to the insecurity of stupidity.

Inertia

"I'm an object in motion, I've lost all emotion/My two legs are broken, but look at me dance/An object in motion, don't ask where I'm going/'Cause whеre I am goin' is right where I am." 

This is my personal favorite song of this entire album. Inertia focuses on someone who knows their life is messed up but doesn't try to do anything to change the trajectory. This song highlights the numbing experience of living a subpar life and the general feeling of being lost, which is something I can definitely relate to. Though I wish the drums and horns hit harder, it's the song I connect with the most, and I will continue listening to it on repeat.

Turning Out Pt. iii

"'Cause half the time I can't love right/And I'm half yours, and you're all mine."

Turning Out Pt.iii ends a beloved trilogy, written and lived by Ryan Met. After the previous songs question being ready for love and whether the feeling is actually love, this song illustrates the anxiety of wondering if you are on the right path with this person. While this song dances around dreams and doubts, it feels like the big hug Ryan needed and a reminder that love is little, quiet and worth waiting for.

Hole in the Bottom of My Brain

"Heads up, I'm sorry to be that guy/Heads up, I'm lookin' to just get by/Let's just say, let's just say we're fine." 

Inspired by the children's song, “There’s A Hole in the Bottom of the Sea,” this song illustrates the constant feeling of missing something. The dichotomy of a children's song melody while mentioning heavier topics of addiction and struggling mental health is an interesting choice. I didn't agree with it at first until I realized the interesting irony of song. While the lyrics are stronger than the melody in this piece, it deserves a listen.

The DJ is Crying for Help

"Oh, hired, hired, can I get hired?/Yeah, I fu**** up, but I did it my way/I'm tryin', tryin', I can start Friday/Gettin' a life's a little like dyin'."

This is another top pick of the entire album for me, ever since it came out as a single all the way from November 2022. As the song title suggests, the singer is crying for help. They don't know what to do or what step to take next. The violin after the chorus ties seamlessly alongside the gang vocals, and the melodies together sound similar to what a panic attack feels like. As someone who has had panic attacks before, it's almost comforting to find a song that illustrates the internal commotion. This is one of the songs where the powerful music production shines through.

I Won't

"So I do what you tell me to and do it to death/But I can't do this sh** again."

This song is meant get your head banging along with its simple drums and rhythm. With the fast-paced singing, it feels like all the thoughts in the singer's head are finally getting out and recognizing the emotions and ideas they had been holding back. It's a thought-train song — a great song to simply just vibe and sing along with.

Steve's Going to London

"While you try to find some meaning in your life before you die/Here's a bunch of random sh** to waste your time."

This song didn't sell me at first because, unlike the rest of the album, it didn't have the same emotional hold or bigger meaning. But that's part of the point — it serves as the album's brain-empty track: a song about writing song. Add in the gang vocals bringing the song together, and it is a fun listen overall.

God is Really Real

"God is really real when you really, really need Him/Karma just appears when you suddenly believe it." 

This is the most emotional song of the album. Whether you are religious or not, "God is Really Real" highlights the desparation one feels when a loved one is close to the end. You hear it in Jack's vocals, and you hear it in the rise of the guitars and choir. It's a beautiful track for anyone who has ever lost someone.

2085

"So if this is me, then I'll do my best/I'll take all the sh** so you'll never have to/You can be you, and I'll be the rest/Yeah, maybe that's who the h*** I am."

The ultimate conclusion to the album is incredible. While on the first listen it feels as though two songs are strung into one, it works in the context of "The Maybe Man" as a whole. He is able to reflect on what he learned — the value of connection, creativity and constant growth  — and say so in both a warm, guitar-driven piece and a larger-than-life ballad all tied in one song.

One of my favorite aspects of the song is after Jack repeats how "you" need to get better, he states, "I gotta get better; I'm all that I've got." To me, this alludes that there is a part of The Maybe Man in each of us; when we get lost in life, we all need to be reminded that we have to keep going at whatever pace is best for us.

Review: Chappell Roan’s ‘The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess’ is an instant queer pop classic

Chappell+Roan+stands+in+front+of+a+vanity+with+a+full+face+of+makeup+on+and+prom-like+outfit+for+her+album+cover.+Roan+described+her+look+in+a+Rolling+Stone+article+as+her+own+version+of+drag.+Photo+Source%3A+Image+from+Official+Chappell+Roan+site.+
Chappell Roan stands in front of a vanity with a full face of makeup on and prom-like outfit for her album cover. Roan described her look in a Rolling Stone article as “her own version of drag.” Photo Source: Image from Official Chappell Roan site.

Content Warning: This album may not be appropriate for younger audiences, as it contains explicit language and references to sexual themes.

Kayleigh Rose Amstutz, a.k.a. Chappell Roan, quickly rose to fame for her hit singles, “Pink Pony Club” and “Casual” and after opening for Olivia Rodrigo on her GUTS tour. Roan’s debut album, “The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess” was released Sept. 22, and since my initial listen, I have been nothing short of obsessed.

In an interview with Teen Vogue, Roan described the album as “the storyline of a girl who moved from a small conservative town to a city and had an awakening of this world she never knew existed.” This new world opened her up to queerness, love and partying.

The album consists of upbeat songs about girls dancing in go-go boots and intoxicating feelings in new relationships, such as in “Femininomenon” and “HOT TO GO.” Roan goes all the way to the suffocating nature of hookup culture and inevitably disappointing your parents in “Casual” and “California.”

The first song I ever listened to of Roan’s was “Casual,” a sensual and crescendoing tune about being in a one-sided relationship with someone who views you as a sexual object rather than someone worth being in a relationship with. She sings, “I thought you thought of me better / Someone you couldn’t lose / You said ‘We’re not together.'” I fell in love with her honest commentary on the growing culture of “situationships” (a relationship where either one or neither person is willing to make it exclusive), being prioritized over authentic and intimate romantic relationships.

My Kink is Karma” could not be more different, and it showcases Roan’s incredible vocal range and lyrical brilliance. A personal favorite of mine, this song is a classic heartbreak anthem, with Roan praying on the downfall of her ex. She sings “Wishing you the best / in the worst way.” You can’t help but scream-sing along as if her ex was yours as well.

A central theme in the album is queerness and exploring your sexuality after being sheltered — Roan is from a conservative area of Missouri. “Femininomenon,” the album’s opener, outrightly states Roan’s feelings of dissatisfaction with men and calls for a female sexual revolution.

The perfect blend of Roan’s sultry and addictive voice and lively lyrics appears in the album’s second track, “Red Wine Supernova.” It’s my absolute favorite song from the record, and it captures a mesmerizing and unfamiliar relationship with a woman who has the addictive essence of Brigitte Bardot and whom Roan would do almost anything for. Every time I hear the catchy opening beat, I have to stop everything I’m doing and sing along.

Not every song was as impressive, with “Guilty Pleasure” and “Coffee” not totally matching the vibe of the rest of album. I felt “Guilty Pleasure” had a rushed sound and was not the album closer I expected an otherwise outstanding album to have. “Coffee” was the first introduction to Roan’s slower, more heartfelt songs on the record, yet the lyrics felt repetitive, unoriginal and did not reflect the same lyrical strength that the other songs did.

Two less than superb songs don’t define the album for me. It remains one I can listen to all the way through and always enjoy.

A song that can almost always bring me to tears is “Kaleidoscope.” A crushing tune about queer love blossoming from a friendship, it perfectly encapsulates the exploration that comes with new relationships, especially while discovering your sexuality. Roan describes love as a kaleidoscope — something she will never completely understand but is willing to try and learn along with her newfound lover.

The album is a beautiful amalgamation of songs I scream along to with friends at late-night sleepovers and songs where we rock each other and cry along to. It’s quickly becoming something I recommend to friends, and I am patiently waiting for some Los Angeles tour dates. I have to see this album live!

  • Lyrics
  • Sound Quality
  • Enjoyment
  • Impact
4.6

Summary

Chappell Roan released her debut album, “The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess” Sept. 22. The album explores themes of queerness, adolescence and self-discovery. It has an incredible blend of upbeat songs and mellow, sultry sounds. Roan bends the rules with her provocative lyrics and wide vocal range, making every song a surprising treat.

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About the Contributor
Maya Hernández
Maya Hernández, Staff Reporter
Maya Hernandez is in her first year on the Oracle as a Staff Reporter. She is on the Chess Team, is the leader of the Abortion Rights Club and is a member of the Ambassador Leadership Team Advisory Board.

Comments (5)

As part of Archer’s active and engaged community, the Editorial Board welcomes reader comments and debate and encourages community members to take ownership of their opinions by using their names when commenting. However, in order to ensure a diverse range of opinions, the editorial board does allow anonymous comments on articles as long as the perspective cannot be obtained elsewhere, and they are respectful and relevant. We do require a valid, verified email address, which will not be displayed, but will be used to confirm your comments. Because we are a 6-12 school, the Editorial Board reserves the right to omit profanity and content that we deem inappropriate for our audience. We do not publish comments that serve primarily as an advertisement or to promote a specific product. Comments are moderated and may be edited in accordance with the Oracle’s profanity policy, but the Editorial Board will not change the intent or message of comments. They will appear once approved.
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  • S

    Stella LMay 8, 2024 at 6:16 pm

    Great review and amazing album!

    Reply
  • C

    Charlotte BurnapApr 30, 2024 at 8:44 pm

    Such a great review Maya!! Love this album so much, you’re such an amazing writer <3

    Reply
  • N

    NatalieApr 29, 2024 at 8:12 am

    Fantastic article Maya – a great read that provides interesting insight into the tracks!

    Reply
  • O

    Olivia Hallinan-GanApr 24, 2024 at 8:37 am

    Obsessed with this album and your story Maya!!!

    Reply
  • K

    Katie Ray McKillopApr 23, 2024 at 2:53 pm

    A beautifully written article, Maya! I can’t wait to listen to this album and discuss it with you! Great job!!!!

    Reply