The RIAA has announced its 2022 class of 39 artists who have earned their first-time gold and platinum certifications. Among those burgeoning stars is 18-year-old GAYLE.
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Few musicians in recent memory can shoulder the term “breakthrough artists” better than GAYLE. The Texas native went from relative obscurity to becoming one of the brightest up-and-coming stars in mere months after sharing “abcdefu.”
The biting anthem has made her a GEN Z household name, landed her a highly coveted spot opening for Taylor Swift, and earned her a triple platinum plaque from the RIAA – the highest certification for a first-time honoree in 2022.
“I remember when the song went gold,” GAYLE tells American Songwriter. “My best friend [Sara Davis, who she wrote the song with alongside Dave Pittenger] and I were just so excited. I also remember when it hit the iTunes charts for the first time. It’s incomprehensible.”
She continues, “The fact that people are buying it, especially when they have access to stream it, is so mind-blowing. It’s the song that we wrote in our room and now people all over the world are listening to it.”
For those watching from the sidelines, it seems like “abcedfu” was a shoo-in for runaway success. The chorus is a 20-second punch of catharsis that has no better home than a TikTok “For You” page. After the verses are added in with their narrative heft in tow, her revenge story is made into three-minutes of pop excellence.
GAYLE, however, did not predict “abcdefu” becoming the song to change her life and career forever.
“I don’t think I had a moment when I thought, ‘Wow, this song going to be big,’” she says. “I’m a bit superstitious and, when it comes to your hopes and dreams, it can feel like the stakes are really high. I do remember hearing it on the radio for the first time and that was really special.”
GAYLE practically wrote the playbook for using TikTok as a vehicle. For months after “abcdefu” got the viral treatment, many of her fellow content creators were scrambling to strike the same gold. Many of them found that turning a phrase on its head in the way GAYLE does is no easy feat.
She also shares advice on how to use social media as a platform for artist careers. “Don’t do anything that you can’t stand by because it’s not worth it,” she says.
“Also, it is a bit cheesy but, it’s true: be yourself,” she continues. “It’s intimidating and very scary to figure out where your place is on social media and how to accurately portray your personality. But doing the things that feel close to you as a person will give you success in the long run.”
Alongside sharing “abcdefu,” GAYLE released a deeply emotive double EP, a study of the human experience volume one and two. Like the hit single, the rest of the project doesn’t mince words. She projects a myriad of emotions across the project with a discerning eye on both the world and herself – an ability she thinks is a by-product of growing up.
“A lot of my music is based on my own personal experience,” she explains. “The EP is a look at the lessons that I’m learning about growing up – the things I like and don’t like about it. The lessons that I’m learning about my friendships and relationships.
“I used to think the more specific you were in your writing, the less people would be able to relate to you. Now I think even if some won’t be able to relate, the people who do will be able to relate to you 10 times more. That idea has really changed my perspective on songwriting.”
With the success of “abcedfu” and the double EP, 2022 was undoubtedly GAYLE’s year. 2023 promises to be just as bolstering for the pop maven as she gears up to appear alongside Swift on her Eras Tour.
“I had so many emotions when she asked me,” GAYLE says of Swift’s tour invitation. “I felt really honored. I know that is not a decision she would take lightly. I’m such a fan of her and I’ve looked up to her for so long. It’s an absolute dream come true.”
Photo Credit: Acacia Evans / Courtesy Atlantic Records