At fourteen she was nominated for an Oscar for her role as Mattie Ross in the award winning film True Grit. She’s more recently known for her role in Pitch Perfect 2 as Emily along with her friendship with the queen of pop, Taylor Swift. Hailee Steinfeld, 18, is now dipping her toes into the world of music. On August 4, 2015 she released her first single Love Myself, an anthem for self-love as well as a song that spiked a lot of speculation. Following the success and chart topping hit, Steinfeld released her first ever EP entitled Haiz on November 13, 2015 with four tracks including: Love Myself, You’re Such A, Rock Bottom, and Hell Nos and Headphones.
No matter how you choose to perceive the message of Love Myself, it’s powerful, brave and honest. Whether you’re putting yourself first emotionally or physically, proclaiming your independence and fully embracing who you are is inspiring. We live in a shame culture where we are consistently judged by how we look, act, think and feel. Our world is consumed by social media where our best self is broadcasted. No one gets to see the darker parts of who we are; we don’t share anything but the highlight reel of our lives. The level of self-esteem has decreased significantly due to the criticism of our peers but also our own self-judgement. For a well-known female figure to demand her own sense of self-worth and ability to “feel good on [her] own,” because she “don’t need anybody else” is revolutionary.
Despite the criticisms claiming the “message,” is “delivered with such dead-eyed, finger-on-the-zeitgeist blandness that it ends up disproving the very point it’s trying to make,” from this Vulture article, it is quite impressive that a woman at such a young age is approaching this sort of openness at all. Lindsay Zoladz, in her review of the EP, mainly criticizes Steinfeld for her modest responses to the speculation over the message of Love Myself. From personal experience, the song initially seemed innocent and fun: a young woman choosing to own every part of herself? Count me in! Upon deciphering the lyrics it became clear that there is indeed a double meaning behind the song. Considering Steinfeld has chosen to overlook the blatantly obvious message of the song, Zoladz claims it ruins the aesthetic and message the song embodies. On the contrary, Steinfeld is not denying the fact that there are different ways to understand the meaning behind the lyrics as Zoladz points out, for her it’s more about “taking care of yourself and indulging [in] yourself.” Zoladz finds this to be diminishing to the message because of Steinfeld’s “reluctance to own up to and joke about the song’s head-smackingly obvious double-meaning.” It’s clear, however, that Steinfeld is letting the audience decide for themselves. John Green, critically acclaimed YA author and a NY Times best seller, believes that once a book of his is published it no longer belongs to him. He no longer owns the story and therefore cannot embellish or add to it. Similarly, Steinfeld is allowing her listeners to take what they will from the song as they choose. Interpretation is up to the listener.
The second track, You’re Such A, calls out a relationship which left you heartbroken. It’s an “I’m over it” anthem leaving you feeling in control of the mess they left you in. You will no longer succumb to their pleas of forgiveness because you’ve been down that path before. That window of opportunity is long gone.
Rock Bottom dedicated to a troubling, on and off relationship has a unique sound. It’s a song that embodies the essence of confusion and frustration of an inconsistent relationship. It leaves you walking across a metaphorical tightrope.
Hell Nos and Headphones inspired by Aleissa Cara’s Here is Steinfeld’s interpretation of feeling out of place. Although Zoladz finds it to be a cheap imitation, it’s true that imitation is the best form of flattery. Steinfeld told the same story with her own twist, nothing wrong with writing a song that comes from the same place of vulnerability.
For her debut EP, Steinfeld may not have dug as deep into her personal life, and she does has quite a lot to learn, in terms of truly expressing who she is as an artist, nonetheless she is clearly on her way to dominating the music scene. With catchy relatable lyrics, a sound with a unique style and a killer voice to match, the industry has a brewing star on their hands.
Never forget the essence of your spark!