Rina Sawayama Hold The Girl | A Japanese girl wins over the English with her new Pop
Rina Sawayama represents the new wave of pop music. She is breaking musical boundaries thanks to her gift and talentlessness. On her 2nd album, ‘Hold The Girl’, Rina tells her story, the one of a pansexual Japanese girl growing up with a single mother in the UK.
Rina Sawayama Hold the Girl
Who is Rina Sawayama? | Biography
Rina is a Japanese girl born on 16 August 1990 in Niigata. In her musical career, after a few hesitations about using her real surname, she decided to be proud of her origins and be known by her real name, Rina Sawayama, although in her early days she called herself ‘Riina‘.
- Her parents emigrated to London when she was only 5 years old, divorced, so she lived all her childhood alone with her mother, which inspired ‘Hold the Girl‘ (more on that later 😙).
- She went to a Japanese school, so it took her a while to learn English, which complicated her relationship with English boys, provoking episodes of racism during her youth. Everything would change thanks to music.
At 16, he started posting music on MySpace, and formed a hip hop group called Lazy Lion.
Rina went on to study and graduated in Political Science, although she did not practise, focusing instead on music. In 2013, she released her first tracks: Sleeping in Waking and Who?.
- Later that year, she released the single ‘Terror‘.
- Then, in 2015, ‘Tunnel Vision‘, and in 2016, ‘Where U Are ‘, which explored human interaction with digital media.
She interspersed songwriting with various jobs to pay the bills and a budding modelling career that allowed her to save a little 🏦. That way, she was able to self-finance her first EP, named after her, ‘RINA‘, released in 2017.
- Critics ranked it as one of the best pop and R&B albums of the year.
Sawayama would return in 2018 with two new singles, Valentine and Cherry, in which she explores her sexual identity.
- This would lead to her first tour acros UK, US and Canada.
It was at this time that Rina went public with her sexual orientation. She describes herself as bisexual and pansexual ⚧
Rina Sawayama ft. Elton John Chosen Family
How do you spell Rina Sawayama in Japanese?
For all the fans of that wonderful culture and its famous kanji, this is the way Rina Sawayama writes in her native language: リナ・サワヤマ
In 2020 Rina signed to Dirty Hit label, releasing her first studio album, ‘Sawayama‘.
- Critics loved it and she began to amass a small legion of fans who appreciated the fresh air she brought to pop with lively, dynamic and sometimes crazy rhythms.
- Among the album’s highlights were: XS, STFU!, Comme des Garçons (Like the Boys), and our favourite, which she would sing with Elton John on the Deluxe version of the album, ‘Chosen Family‘.
- As Rina was Japanese, she couldn’t enter the BRIT Awards or the Mercury Prize, so she started a protest on Twitter with the hashtag ‘#SawayamaIsBritish‘, which led to the rules being changed so that anyone resident in the UK for 5 years could enter.
Outside of his music career, Sawayama has continued to work on a number of fashion campaigns, even stepping into movies with ‘John Wick: Chapter 4’.
Back in 2022 Sawayama appeared on the single ‘Beg for You’ featuring Charli XCX, which you can find in our Best of 2022 playlist. Subsequently on ‘Follow Me‘ with Brazilian drag queen Pabllo Vittar.
On 16 September 2022, Rina Siwayama released her long awaited 2nd studio album ‘Hold the Girl’.
Rina Sawayama Hold The Girl | An album of personal and world reconciliation
Many articles have been written about Rina Sawayama’s new album ‘Hold the Girl‘, almost all praising the mix of pop styles (pop-rock, dance-pop, alternative pop, country-pop, nu-pop, pop-punk, J-pop, hyperpop, etc.) and the beauty of her voice, but claiming that the album is still missing something.
We’ll let you judge for yourselves and we’ll focus, as always, on the stories behind the album, which are many and very intense 😍:
1. Rina is pansexual, which means that she is attracted to people regardless of their sex or gender identity. This caused her family problems as a child.
- In the first song on the album ‘Minor Feelings‘, amidst delicate guitars and synthesizers, she calls out those who told her that she should repress her sexuality:
When you’re telling me that nothing in my life is real? … Dreaming of the day I’m tall enough to save myself. But I was just a child
- In the first single from the album ‘The Hell 👿’, amid country chords made for shouting in big stadiums, he hides a message for the rights of the LGBT community. Sawayama explained:
When the world tells us we don’t deserve love and protection, we have no choice but to give love and protection to each other. This hell is better with you
- Halfway through the album we find ‘Holy, Til You Let Me Go‘, where she again asserts herself:
I was innocent when you said I was evil … I took your stones, and I built a cathedral.
What does the cover image of ‘Hold the Girl’ mean?
On the cover of Rina Sawayama’s latest album we can see her wearing a black dress that bulges out from her belly. Although Rina likes the multiple interpretations that have been given on the socal media about it, the truth is that the image represents her pregnant, symbolising her connection to herself as a child.
Rina also joked that she wanted to wear something that could be worn as a Halloween costume 👻
2. Rina was bullied. Growing up in London, not knowing English and being Japanese meant she was teased.
- In the second track, which gives the album its name, ‘Hold the Girl’, she says to herself that now that she is older she should hold that little girl who suffered, that is, that she should take care of herself.
Reach inside and hold you close, I won’t leave you on your own
3. Rina grew up with her single mother. Rina’s relationship with her mother was one of love-hate and codependency.
- On the magnificent second single ‘Catch Me In The Air‘ she explores that relationship in a lyric that culminates in her being proud of where she has accomplished:
Mama, look at me now, I’m flying.
4. Rina’s trauma. We don’t know what exactly she is referring to because Rina has never talked clearly about it, but she has a strong trauma.
- In the track ‘Your Age‘, accompanied by electronic effects, she talks to someone who, when he was the same age as she is in 2022, i.e. 32 years old, hurt her a lot:
Now that I’m your age I just can’t imagine why did you do it, what the hell were you thinking? You fucked up my life.
- In ‘Frankenstein‘, Sawayama creates a tense atmosphere to ask for help to overcome her trauma:
I’m trying to be normal, but trauma is immortal
‘Hold the Girl‘ has great songs and very personal messages, all dressed up in refreshing new pop music. Just get ready, because we have a new pop star in front of us, and we assure you, she is ready to take over the world 🌎!