dodie
The English singer dodie rose to prominence after getting started on YouTube, an increasingly common route. (Illustration by Lina Kang, Rhode Island School of Design)

dodie’s New EP, ‘Human,’ Presents a Sonic Portrait of Contemporary Life

Social media, love, vulnerability: the new release explores all the complexities of modern teendom.

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dodie

Social media, love, vulnerability: the new release explores all the complexities of modern teendom.

In 2011, when Essex native Dorothy Miranda Clark was 15, she created a YouTube channel under the username doddleoddle, where she began uploading original songs alongside covers and lifestyle-related videos. Today, that first channel boasts over 1 million subscribers, and her secondary channel, under the username of doddlevloggle, has an audience of over 900,000 subscribers.

Over the years, dodie has gradually shifted her attention to focusing fully on her original music. In 2016, she released an EP entitled “Intertwined,” and then another EP, entitled “You,” in 2017. Despite the fact that dodie released the projects before signing to any record labels, both works enjoyed commercial success; “Intertwined” made it into the top 100 of the UK Billboard charts, and “You” secured a spot at No. 6 on the same charts just a year later.

The projects’ increasing success mirror the steady, organic growth she’s seen both in listenership and social media fandom. Catapulted in part by her massive online following, dodie’s music has garnered a total of over 2 million streams on Spotify.

Last month, on Jan. 13, dodie released her third EP,  “Human,” which has reached No. 5 on the UK Billboard charts and ranked No. 4 on the U.S. Indie Charts.

Because she is known for her honesty and open online persona, it is no surprise that dodie’s newest work is revealing. Still, the amount of artistic growth and self-discovery reflected in “Human” is sizable. The EP is a cohesive piece, with songs connecting to common themes throughout and each approaching issues from a different angle.

Through powerful crescendos and orchestral progressions, dodie addresses the disingenuous nature of content creation and influencer culture in her song “Not What I Meant,” singing, “How am I meant to stay on track / when each hand I shake will pull me back?”

The song mirrors the album’s concluding song, “Burned Out,” which touches on the pressure that comes with having a large audience. In the track, dodie reflects back on her childhood desire for fame, singing, “You waited smiling for this.” After experiencing success and the issues that it brings, her childhood desires for fame have dampened significantly; where her voice once rang with youthful eagerness, now she sings with a kind of bewilderment. “There’s so much pressure and expectation, no one knows what they’re doing,” the artist told BBC’s Radio 5.

In addition to detailing her first experiences with fame, dodie’s EP also contains songs addressing personal relationships, which are more relatable for a wider audience. These tracks cover topics from love to co-dependence to crushes.

One of the EP’s stand-out songs, “Monster,” reflects on the experience of a relationship with someone growing bitter. In a video titled “dance party,” uploaded after the EPs came out worldwide, dodie explained that the song was written about a very specific moment in her life. According to the musician, she remembered sitting across from someone she had once shared feelings for before realizing they had come to hate her.

In another such instance, “Human,” the single that preceded the release of her EP, discusses an old relationship. She sings that in time, she realized that their dynamic was an unhealthy codependency, as she explained in an interview with BBC’s Radio 5.

Despite the sadder nature of some of the songs on  “Human,” the EP is far from one-dimensional. Hopeful tracks like “Arms Unfolding” and “If I’m Being Honest” serve as uplifting breaks throughout, adding complexity to the EP.

“Arms Unfolding” speaks of learning to love again. Over harmonic drones of humming, dodie sings, “Partner in crime / I’m going to try / To fall in love with you again.” Anyone who’s ever tentatively, hopefully, returned to someone can find a quiet comfort in the song’s hesitation.

Despite its minor piano chords and soft lyrics, “If I’m Being Honest” also has an uplifting undertone. The track paints a familiar image for anyone who’s ever had a crush or been in a situation of unrequited love. As the question “Could you love this / Could this one be right?” sounds over a backing orchestral track, the song immerses listeners in a deep feeling of longing, along with a tentative anticipation of what is to come.

The power of dodie’s new work is that it portrays a modern-day young adult’s existence with striking accuracy. It speaks of the struggles of living within a curated, digital society and combines them with the universal issues many people often encounter. It is an ode to self-discovery, reinvention, heartbreak and growth, getting to the heart of what it means to be human, while begging the audience to regain that vulnerability for themselves and accept it in her as well.

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