CHLSY Delivers a Tongue-in-Cheek Takedown of Creepy Old Dudes in “On Read”

There are two types of people in this world: those who use read receipts, and those who don’t. 

Videos by American Songwriter

Based on CHSLY’s latest single, “On Read”—premiering below—the Nashville country pop artist has been hanging out with too many people in the latter group.

“I think I sent you like three texts last night / But they were never opened / And now you’re messing with my head / Leaving me on ‘read’ / Wondering what I did,” CHSLY sings in the opening verse of the track, a tongue-in-cheek bop about ghosting.

You sent a message on Facebook / I never use Facebook / that’s so outdated / it’s probably best if we don’t text / I’m sorry if I left the wrong impression,” she continues. “But you’re too old to be chasing girls half your age still in school on the weekdays / and I’m too young to be wasting my weekends on you.”

“The track was written in my home studio in December,” CHLSY tells American Songwriter over email. “My roommate went on tour and I was scared to be home alone for the first time ever so I decided to dedicate all my time to writing songs to occupy my mind. A couple of weeks later I brought it to Dave Audé (who I had done several other co-writes with) and he really brought the song to life. He made it better than I ever thought it could be. It was one of those studio magic moments when you’re like: wow this one’s gonna be great.”

“On Read” comes after CHLSY’s previous singles “Cowboy” and “Tornado” (with omgprkr). The former American Idol contestant wrote the song after getting ghosted herself.

“At the time I had been talking to this guy who ghosted me and I didn’t even really like him but I couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that he ghosted me and I didn’t know why,” she explains. “So I got the concept ‘left on read’ from that. Then I thought it would be funny to make it about old guys because right now the internet is a scary place and there’s a lot of creepy old guys out there. So I made the message kind of like a satirical take at talking to older guys. It’s really a joke song more than anything else. But I think it will be one of those songs that is silently relatable to a lot of people in my generation because it speaks about the unspeakable.”

CHLSY is the moniker of San Francisco-born singer-songwriter Chelsea Gilliland, whose song “Fire” nabbed third place at the 20th Annual John Lennon Scholarships in 2017. 

“The last few months have looked pretty busy for me, surprisingly,” says CHLSY. “I managed to lock myself away and just write as many songs as possible during the pandemic. I’ve been growing a lot of vegetables too so that also gives me something to look forward to. I plan on releasing a song every month until my EP, so there is quite a bit more music to come.”

Listen to “On Read” below and keep up with CHLSY here.

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