Released in August, Maisie Peters’ “You Signed Up for This” is the long-awaited creation meant to secure her spot in modern pop music. From the album’s first few lines, “But you, you signed up for this,” the listener is immediately captivated, drawn in by her sincere yet sweet callout.
Singing about her own experiences with heartbreak and mental health struggles, Peters adds a touch of youthful energy to topics that can be hard to convey under the sparkle of pop music. Though there is a time and place for a raging party anthem, she incorporates the rawness of youth to vibe with her music, not distract from it. The artist shows that it’s actually cool to be vulnerable and have a little more fun with it along the way.
But who exactly is this adorably upbeat songstress? Maisie Peters is a 21-year-old singer-songwriter from West Sussex, England. Though some may call her path to stardom “remarkable yet conventional,” the singer’s breakout cannot discredit the work she has done. At a young age, Peters busked in the streets and played her music for anyone who’d listen (i.e. one of those people singing with an acoustic guitar case open on the sidewalk). However, everything changed when she began posting videos on YouTube at the age of 15. Recording herself singing bedroom originals worked out for the better, as Peters’ manager discovered her music from the video-sharing platform. Though this means of discovery is now common in today’s digital landscape, it is the courage to share her original songwriting with the world that makes Peters stand apart from other budding artists.
Shortly after being discovered for her original videos, Peters signed to Atlantic Records. In an interview with Smooth Radio, she remarked on her decision to choose music over a typical path to university, saying, “In another life I might have done that but I can’t imagine doing anything else now. Music is all that I enjoy so why would I not want to do that.” Balancing the milestones that come with growing up and a growing career as a superstar shows that this is not something Peters takes lightly. She is fully invested in her songwriting, the music and her audience; and her perseverance has paid off, seen in her current and future success.
Under Atlantic Records, Peters released two EPs, “Dressed Too Nice for a Jacket” in 2018 and “It’s Your Bed Babe, It’s Your Funeral” in 2019. Both releases introduced the world to Peters’ vibrancy, making her a voice to look out for. Hits such as “Feels Like This” and “Adore You” showcase her perfect mesh of brittle truth and the comfort of her sweet voice.
Adding to her personal work, Peters crafted the soundtrack for Season 2 of the UK television show “Trying.” The album is a vessel that allows Peters’ voice to shine in original songs that pull at heartstrings and emotions. Not to mention the fact that this album also contains a collaboration with James Bay, whose recognizable voice boosts the already stellar collection.
With all her songwriting credentials leading up to “You Signed Up for This,” Peters was beyond prepared for this debut release. Nevertheless, this specific album release gained even more fame due to the fact that it was Peters’ first release with Ed Sheeran’s Gingerbread Man Records.
Reflecting on the new signing, she said, “I grew up inspired and in awe of Ed … so, it’s kind of amazing and hard to believe that I get to be the 21-year-old who is able to call him and the whole Gingerbread team now friends, family and mentors for life.” For her new mentor, the feeling is absolutely reciprocated: Sheeran remarked on Peters, “She’s a very special artist who continues to push her storytelling in new directions.” Pairing her signature animated sound with Sheeran’s knowledge as a veteran of the scene, Peters’ debut gathered all the pieces for a surefire success — and she delivered.
Thematically, “You Signed Up for This” paints a picture of the universal experience of fleeting youth. From the album’s title track, she immediately reveals that this will be more than just another pop album with the lines: “Please don’t give up on me yet/ I know I’ll get better, I’m just not better yet.” Instead of being turned away from this shocking vulnerability, the listener is invited into Peters’ world to experience the highs and lows of adolescence alongside her. With catchy choruses in tow, the album also pairs the electrifying nature of pop guitars and synth with the heaviness of memories lost in time. Listeners are treated to an arc that begins with budding relationships and ends in broken hearts, all the result of viewing life through rose-colored glasses.
“You Signed Up for This” simply exudes the pure fun, adventure and craziness that everybody craves from their youth. As Peters recalled in an interview for the debut, “It is my favorite album maybe ever and whilst I may be biased, I really hope it goes into the world and becomes lots of other people’s favorite too.” She sings about the kinds of silly scenes that some have already experienced and some have yet to encounter, along with the moments that will never happen to others. In a society that romanticizes youth to a cinematic extent, it’s no wonder that there’s a desire for music and media to match these idyllic dreams.
Peters’ music is no exception: She writes and sings for all those who are missing or hoping for this kind of joy that comes once in a lifetime. In her hit song “Brooklyn,” she slips in the line, “Sushi and a fake ID/ You’re Katie from Michigan.” The imagery of skipping from one place to another without a care becomes a special privilege that the listener gets to share with her. Even if scenes of questionable decision-making are not universal line-by-line, it’s basking in that sentiment of freedom that touches the audience.
Whether you just joined the fanbase or have watched Peters grow from her earlier EPs, there’s no denying that the young star has a brightness that spices up the definition of “pop anthem.” Creating songs that fully encapsulate her personal experiences, Peters’ “You Signed Up for This” leaves the listener wondering how her music can mean so much to so many.
Even though we can give credit to her songs’ ability to evoke such strong emotion — as featured in the spunky “I’m Trying (Not Friends)” or the glistening “John Hughes Movie” — the young artist also forms an inextricable bond with her audience. Being 21 and growing up surrounded by the media, Peters has fostered a community in her fanbase. She restores a kind of humanity to her listeners by reminding them that her preconceived “celebrity untouchability” is not all there is to the “Maisie Peters” image.
In a recent Tweet, the artist jokingly makes fun of her recent success by saying, “I quite literally girlbossed too close to the sun.” From any other artist, comments like this seem too off-the-cuff. But rather than being off-putting, Peters’ ability to connect with fans on the same platforms that they interact with her — through Twitter, Instagram posts, social media, etc. — makes the artist more relevant than ever. Since there really is no escaping the presence of social media, her music and image stay timely with her online fan interactions.
With the rise of “You Signed Up for This,” there are no signs of stopping for Peters. In a surprise appearance at the 2021 Reading Festival, the singer performed her hit “John Hughes Movie” during the weekend release of the album. Switching from the stage to the screen — as well as traveling overseas — the artist continued to celebrate her release on an international level through U.S. performances. On “Jimmy Kimmel” and “The Kelly Clarkson Show,” Peters sang her No. 1 Spotify song “Psycho.” Hearing the singer belt out “All your exes found me, and so beware/ We’re all friends now, maybe you should be scared” on TV thrust Peters into the limelight of pop stardom that she’s been working toward from the beginning.
As of October 2021, Peters has over 3 million monthly listeners on Spotify. With her resume of credits and singles, the singer’s popularity has extended to listeners from all over the world. But one of the benefits of sharing art in the modern age is how it reaches people that would never think to pay attention. An unconventional comment on her Kimmel performance reads, “I’m totally not the audience for this, but I gotta admit it’s catchy.” Peters is acquiring fans from unlikely places because of “You Signed Up for This” blowing up on a wide scale. This new album holds the potential to spread her voice worldwide, just as her humble YouTube beginnings projected her out into the music scene. Not only do longtime fans of Peters get to enjoy her refreshing take on the pop scene, but new listeners are equally surprised and thrilled to join the bandwagon.
Leading up to her album release this past summer, Peters wrote in an Instagram post, “It’s been years of train rides and bus journeys, sleeping in spare rooms and on sofas, writing and writing and writing and hoping that I could make something special and important and necessary.” Her incredible emotion and spirit are embedded in every aspect of this album, crafting a soundtrack that ebbs and flows with change; it’s then up to the audience to roll with it or cast the tracks aside. After all, Maisie Peters just hopes that out of everyone who listens, “You Signed Up for This.”