The opening notes of Sarah Barrios’s new single “I Didn’t Mean To” establish a strong groove right away. Over the course of the proceeding 3 minutes and 20 seconds, that groove slowly expands and contrasts, eventually blossoming into a dreamy 2020s pop bop. Released on April 24 via Arista/Visionary Records, the song is the first major single from the Connecticut-born-and-raised artist.
Speaking with American Songwriter about the inspiration of the tune, Barrios said: “I know that owning up to a mistake doesn’t change the fact that it happened, but I just felt like I needed this person to know that I was sorry and that I really didn’t mean to hurt them in the process.”
The painful honesty and open-hearted remorse of “I Didn’t Mean To” makes the song an exciting oddity. With lyrics like “I didn’t mean to make you think that/ After all this time I never really cared/ I know you think I’m lying but/ I didn’t mean to,” the song’s message has just as much potential for the likes of George Jones as it does for the likes of a Summer 2020 Spotify playlist.
Yet, despite the country ethos that its lyrics are reminiscent of, the song’s production is firmly planted in innovative pop music techniques. Barrios’s breathy vocals act just as much as a percussive instrument as they do a melodic one. Compressed into a singular force on the song’s hook, her harmonies hit in a way that makes them feel more like an instrument than a human voice, while still retaining a uniquely human element.
Combine that with the infectious nature of the hook’s melody and you end up with a finished product that is honest, innovative and catchy. Barrios describes herself as a book fanatic who reaps just as much inspiration from Jane Austen and sci-fi novels as she does from Fleetwood Mac and Jon Bellion. The synthesis of her influences, as well as her strong and endearing personality, coalesce into a mighty force of pop music potential. Keep an eye on this one.
Listen to Sarah Barrios’s new single “I Didn’t Mean To” below: