Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit
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Nine Songs
Madison Beer

As she comes off a year of touring and continues the rollout for her upcoming project, Madison Beer talks Laura David through the pivotal songs in her life, the people that have inspired her and her deep admiration for The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson.

28 October 2022, 08:00 | Words by Laura David

Even though she’s only 23, Madison Beer knows well the ropes of the music industry.

She’s been in the world of online fame since the age of 12, her presence beginning with a series of YouTube covers she posted, eventually blowing up after an infamous retweet from Justin Bieber. She’s grown up in front of an audience, one that only seems to get larger every year. Her Instagram following, for example, has now surpassed 33 million.

In support of her debut album Life Support, she went on her most extensive tour yet, playing dates across North America, the UK and Europe, and this August, she played the BBC Radio 1 Dance Stage at the storied Reading & Leeds Festival.

“The festival was amazing,” she tells me. “It was definitely not what I expected. I didn’t think I was going to even get a big turnout at all, and then they said it was the biggest turnout they’d ever seen at that stage.”

But today, she’s back from the road, calling me from the comforts of her bedroom. It’s a space Beer tells me she covets, a space that is so deeply and intimately private amidst a life and career in which she often has to - or, perhaps more accurately, is expected to - give that privacy away.

“I honestly don’t know if I would have made the choice to be as active as I am [on social media] if I didn’t make it when I was 12,” she explains. “I’ve developed such a real, honest relationship with my fans that I don’t think I’m ever going to sever that, because I do love them and get so much joy from interacting with them, but I think it’s changed. People forget that we are entertaining and creating music for people, and I don’t think that also includes a bundle package of ‘you get to know everything about my relationship, and you get to see what I eat for breakfast every morning’. If I choose to share that, I will. And if I don’t, that’s a boundary I set.”

Beer’s learned restraint and maturity have come from years of trial and error. Indeed, her new music reflects that too. Though her older tracks often feature complex layers of electronic production, she’s shifted course in her newer offerings. Beer’s latest single “Showed Me (How I Fell In Love With You)” feels effortless. It’s right in Beer’s wheelhouse, taking cues from ’60s records, an era that excites her above all others. The instrumentation is straightforward and slick, the vocals restrained while still showcasing Beer’s prowess as a singer.

“I’m excited for everyone to hear it because I think it’s a really good example of the new direction I’m going in,” she says. “I’ve been in the industry for so long, I was such a baby when I started, so I think it’s only natural that as I’ve gotten older my music has also progressed and changed with me. And I don’t think I’m done by any means.”

And as she continues to evolve into making music that she’s increasingly proud of, part of that process has been consistently drawing on the people and influences that ground her the most. Her Nine Songs selections were chosen with that ethos in mind. “I picked songs that reminded me of certain people or happy moments for me, anything I could tie memories back to or that I’ve found a lot of inspiration in.”

“The Way I Am” by Ingrid Michaelson

MADISON BEER: My mom showed me this song when I was super, super young. She can’t sing for her life, but she would always sing this to me. And this was our song, for my entire life, it’s been our song. Every time I hear it, I think about being super young, hearing her sing this to me in the car and it being special for the both of us.

It’s a very sweet song, if you listen to it. You can sing it to a kid because the lyrics are super clean and they’re super friendly. Listening to it growing up and hearing my mom say that stuff to me made me feel like she would just love me for who I am, no matter what.

BEST FIT: Did any of those lines make that point hit home for you?

Probably the one where she goes: “If you were falling / Then I would catch you.” That’s a super important lesson I was taught, and an important element of the relationship between us. In a lot of ways, I’ve always had her to fall back on. Having her involved in my career and having her with me through a lot of these steps has been really helpful for me.

Also, Ingrid Michaelson is amazing. This song is definitely a favorite for me from her, but I think she’s incredible.

“Tragedy” by the Bee Gees

I love the Bee Gees and I always have, but funnily enough I’m not as into them as my little brother is - they’re his favorite band. We were in the car around three summers ago, and he was playing “Tragedy” and singing along to it. He has this amazing voice. We probably played it 70 times through this one specific summer - we listened to it every single day.

So much about that summer was amazing. We live in New York, so we were just having fun and driving around in the Hamptons. It was beautiful, and we were being silly, which was so needed after so many years of not living together. I love spending time with him, he’s one of those people I can completely relax around.

I always think of my brother when I think of this song, and so it’s one of those songs that will always put me in a better mood or put a smile on my face.

“In My Life” by The Beatles

I’m a huge Beatles fan, they’re my number one for everything. Part of it is the ‘60s, which to me were the best years for music. I don’t know why, it’s not a meticulously thought-out opinion or anything, it’s just the music that’s stuck with me. I think it was a different time, people were more eager to be themselves and experiment, and it was such a cool coming of age time for music.

When I listen to music from then, I feel really connected to it, so that’s why I always reference it. I try to do anything I can to pull inspiration from that era and give people some of its essence in my music. I try to give people the same feeling from my songs that I get listening to ‘60s stuff.

With “In My Life” specifically, I’ve known this song pretty much my whole life, but it didn’t have such an important meaning to me until about five or six years ago. I was with my dad, and we were having a really deep, important conversation about a lot of things to do with our relationship. We were driving and talking and this song came on shuffle, and I remember for a second it cut the tension and we were able to both just listen to it. We both were crying by the end of the song, but because we were having a conversation that felt super serious and deep and heavy, it was somehow able to lighten things up again. It was a way to say, “I love you.”

The song is really about loving someone so much, unconditionally, and we needed that song in that moment. It felt very serendipitous, it felt very meant to be when it came on.

“The Way I Feel Inside” by The Zombies

I first heard this song in the studio. I definitely play a lot of music that I love in the studio, it’s an easy way to tap into what I want to make that day or week. Because I’m into The Zombies, I played the whole album and then this came on and I had never heard it. I was instantly drawn to it in a way where it felt wrong that I hadn’t heard it before. Ever since then, it’s stuck with me.

This song is really important to me, for a couple of reasons. Honestly, it’s one of my most played songs ever, so it felt like it would be wrong not to include it. Seriously, I bet that if you check my Spotify it’s in my top ten most played songs.

First of all, I love The Zombies so much. But, second, I think that what I really love about them is the way they put something like this on their album, something that was this weird strange melody and such an interesting song in general. The lyrics feel so honest and genuine, and as the words flow out of him you realise he’s literally saying everything that he means. There aren’t that many lyrics, but I think the whole stanza is incredible.

The melody is something I was truly taken aback by. With a lot of songs nowadays, you feel like they were songs that took hours to write and were meticulously thought out. That’s great and amazing, but there’s something about this song where it feels like a poem. Every time I listen to it, I get this feeling that I don’t think the song was written, but rather that he just stood up to the mic and sang it.

Emulating that feeling, that’s a huge source of inspiration for me, particularly in the mixing. The way he grabs people’s attention with only a melody and lyrics and nothing else, that’s special for sure. If I could do that, too, that’d be special.

“Love Of My Life” by Queen

This was another one of those songs I heard when I was really young. I love Queen, I love Freddie, and I listened to them a lot when I was younger, but this one didn’t resonate until I got older. It’s not like the Queen song that everyone knows, you know?

“Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy” was actually the first Queen song that I fell in love with, but from there, I wanted to know what else they had. I was playing the album - I listened to it on vinyl for the first time - and I remember this one being so, so good.

Again, like with so many of these songs, it was one of those songs where I heard it for the first time and thought it was a perfect record. If I’m not wrong, this is a song that he wrote to his ex-girlfriend. That’s such a beautiful thing and a beautiful part of his story, particularly because he wrote the song at such an interesting time in his own career. I like to listen to it and feel that energy from it.

Also, the use of the harp is really fucking cool.

“Here Today” by Paul McCartney

This is one of my newer discoveries. I had never heard this song, but I went and saw Paul at SoFi Stadium with my mom and her boyfriend, which was fun. I really wanted to go to that show, but I couldn’t find any friends who wanted to go with me, so I asked my mom and we made a cute little double date out of it.

Anyway, at the show Paul gave a speech about John that really touched me, particularly hearing him articulate the life that they shared together. And that’s really what this song is about. As an artist, to think about what they had, it’s so hard to wrap your head around and it got so emotional for me.

The way he articulated their life on this song is beautiful, and I sobbed the whole time I was watching him perform it. I think that’s why it’s become one of my favorite songs, because of how honest and true it was.

“The Less I Know the Better” by Tame Impala

Kevin Parker is one of those people who transcends eras. When you listen to Tame Impala you’re like, “This is what music should feel like.” I’m such a huge fan of his, and this was the song that catapulted my obsession. It’s funny, because I have an “Eventually” tattoo, so I guess maybe that’s my actual favorite Tame Impala song, but still...

I have a really vivid memory associated with “The Less I Know the Better”. I was driving around LA with my ex-boyfriend, and - I will admit it - he was the one who put me on to Tame Impala. He played "’Cause I’m A Man,” and then I took the phone, I was looking at all the titles and I really loved “The Less I Know the Better.”

I’m the kind of person where I need to know everything, I want to know every detail of a story or else I feel like things are being kept for me. That’s why the title stuck out to me, it was jarring and cool. I remember listening to it and being like, “Okay, yeah.”

What’s also interesting is that Currents came out back in 2015. I remember reading about how Tame Impala played Coachella around that time on the smallest stage at 2pm or 1pm, and then they went on to release album, but it didn’t click until 2018 or 2019.

That’s inspiring for me. Sometimes it’s hard to compare yourself to artists who do so well in week one of their releases and have these number one debut albums. Currents didn’t even debut remotely high, and it’s still one of the most streamed albums of all time. That album is hopeful for me, as someone who compares myself to things and people a lot.

I’m also really into the mystery that Kevin Parker keeps with everything. I think there are a lot of people - myself included - who are so out there, and it’s cool that regardless of what level of success Kevin has, he still remains a bit mysterious. With him, the music drives everything, he is beyond a tastemaker and pushes so many boundaries. I think he’s a really visionary person.

“In My Room” by The Beach Boys

The Beach Boys are special to me for a lot of reasons. I mean, Pet Sounds is one of the greatest albums ever made. The harmonies are special, and hearing their arrangements, they’re so impactful.

Also, Brian Wilson is so incredible to me.

I’ve just gone HAM on watching documentaries on everything The Beach Boys have done and learning information on everything that’s been released. With “In My Room”, that was one of those songs where the meaning changed for me after doing all of that learning.

I’m someone who spends a lot of time in my room, it’s where I feel safe and happy. I get in bed and feel cosy. It’s how I am! At first, that “cosy room” association was kind of all the song was to me, but then finding out about the ownership situation Brian was in, as well as how he was abused and trapped, it changed the perspective. Weirdly though, I also felt like I could relate to the song in a lot more ways.

I feel really similar to Brian. I’ve had a lot of mental health diagnoses in the past couple of years, and, while they might not be schizophrenia, I feel like I’ve felt like an outcast in my circle and had similar experiences where I feel super alone. I’ve been in places where I’m my own worst enemy, and I’ll trap myself in my room for five days at a time and not even see sunlight.

I recently watched the documentary that came out about him, and they showed him getting really emotional seeing his child, or just wanting to go get a milkshake and getting super overwhelmed. And I get that way too. I get overwhelmed really easily. I struggle with really, really bad paranoia, mainly, that’s a huge thing of mine, and I know Brian did as well. And while I wasn’t in a conservatorship, and while my dad wasn’t the person who was in the room being terrible to me, I’ve had that experience time and again with others. Over the years I’ve found a lot of synchronicities between Brian and I.

In the industry today, it’s hard. There’s so many more layers than there used to be, it feels never ending. For me, a huge thing has been being able to detach and say ‘no’ and focus on my real life instead of my online life. There’s also this weird thing that happens with artists now, where because people like their music or follow them on social media, they think they’re entitled to their private and personal information. But that’s not what I’m ever going to do to myself.

Now I’m at a point where if someone asks me a question where I feel like it’s not for the public but instead just for me, I allow myself to say no. There’s a weird unspoken rule of not being allowed to say no, but that’s not how I’m going to live my life.

“Wake Up Alone” by Amy Winehouse

Amy has always been one of my biggest inspirations. She’s an incredible talent, it’s otherworldly.

This song in particular, while maybe not my most played, it’s the most special, because my best friend Lena showed it to me. She told me about this record and when I told her I’d never heard it, she couldn’t believe it. She then said to me, “You should totally cover this song.”

She had brought up the idea of the cover to me one night when we were on FaceTime and sent me the song the next day after I told her I hadn’t heard it. She just kept saying, “Dude, listen to it.” And I did, and I loved it. The record is 6/8, and I love 6/8 records, the beat of them is beautiful. Lyrically, too, it’s very special.

Lena suggesting that cover did a lot for me, because when I was first doing covers on YouTube I was always told to make covers of songs that, frankly, I didn’t want to do. They were songs that didn’t feel right to me and weren’t showcasing my vocals. So to hear someone finally say that I would sound great on something that I loved and knew I would sing well felt really good.

That’s also just the bigger picture of Lena, she makes me feel really seen. She holds a really special place in my heart. She lives in Maryland, so we don’t see each other often, but we talk every day online.

Madison Beer’s new single “Showed Me (How I Fell In Love With You)” is out now

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