That grinning sarcasm that teenagers have in spades is so lucrative a cottage industry that it’s fueled the youth entertainment business for decades. There’s never a dearth of material running from films like Valley Girl to Heathers, TV shows like Roseanne to Don’t Trust the B In Apartment 23, to songs like Romeo Void’s “Never Say Never” to Taylor Swift’s “I Forgot That You Existed.” This passive/aggressive and snarky cynicism can be downright emotionally destroying to the victim, but to the sassy deliverer? It can be cathartic and fun AF. The new single “Happy For You” by Canadian pop songstress Anna Sofia slips right into that trope smoothly and presents a skippy, happy bop that’s loaded with a boatload of shade.
“’Happy For You’ is about this guy that I really, really liked and had a crush on,” she explains, with a snicker. “I was away on a family trip and, in the middle of that trip, I found out he got a girlfriend!”
At any age, this sort of revelation can be a bummer, but as a hormonal and über-emotional 17 year-old like Sofia, it can be devastating. So what is a creative teen to do? She wrote a song about it.
“The rest of my trip was sad after that,” she confesses. “I was prettyyyy upset.” And rightfully so. That guy was a heel anyway. “So I wrote ‘Happy For You’ to be kinda sarcastic and express the fact that I’m not actually happy for him or her at all.”
While most teens strike back through social media… y’know, like, posting mean stuff on their Insta feed or doing, like, a #ihateyouchallenge on TikTok, Sofia gets probably the best revenge of all her classmates: a song she wrote getting mad spins on Spotify and YouTube.
Musically though, Sofia is advanced for her age. Striking a cool balance between the spunky punkish kick of Be Your Own Pet and the sleek, humid pop of Lorde, she captures a polished and perky pop sound that puts her on a trajectory that can follow Clairo or FLETCHER or even Billie Eilish. Having a big timer like Frank Dukes (who has worked with Taylor Swift and Post Malone) in the producer seat pushes it way past the starting gate. But as a multi-instrumentalist and a songwriter herself, Sofia is no slouch. She has already proven that she’s got the goods. With a handful of independently released singles last year, she attracted the eye of Republic Records and signed to a major label record deal. With over three million cumulative streams already under her belt, her revenge song to that boy who got away couldn’t be sweeter. And besides, because of her growing popularity and with the open road to pop stardom ahead of her, she’s got no time for boys like that anymore.
“I want my audience to see that [I’m being sarcastic] and understand that changing yourself for someone to like you in any way really isn’t necessary,” she explains. “Surround yourself with people that like you for who you are and want to be.” And what if you run into someone who doesn’t fit into that mold? Write a song about ‘em.