A surprisingly populated feeling that many find themselves well-acquainted with. It is a topic that has inspired countless works, across all genres. Yet, I think Eric Carmen may have put it best when he sang the legendary chorus, “Don’t wanna be all by myself.” It is basic human nature to desire connection. Fundamentally, humans are social creatures. So, this idea of “being alone” is, at times, daunting and potentially a springboard for a long downward spiral into emotional oblivion. It is also a sentiment 21-year-old Nashville pop-singer Chey Rose has used to inspire her new single, “Number One.”
Rose’s “Number One” dropped September 25th on all major streaming platforms, and the track is a diary entry, an emotional confession, as Rose lays out her most vulnerable thoughts, reflections, and desires. It’s also the last single preceding the release of her new six-song EP set for late October, Even The Moon Goes Thru Phases.
“Apartment is empty and lately it scares me/I’ve gotten too good at being alone.”
These opening lines immediately shoot a familiar arrow into a listener’s heart. Never would I think of labeling loneliness as a skill, as something you can be good at, but Rose’s clever words are shockingly relatable. It’s a feeling when someone puts your jumbled thoughts into words and all of a sudden, your own mental awareness becomes crystal clear. It is that heart-wrenching relatability with which she has made her artistic thumbprint.
“Number One” is a sitting-on-the-couch, wrapped-in-a-blanket, sipping-on-hot-cocoa kind of track. The kind of track that could jerk some tears. But in a good cry kind of way. That way when you feel like someone else completely understands the way you have been feeling and it’s a wave of relief emanating from the depth of your soul.
At first glance, the track could be viewed as, for lack of a better term, a massive downer. But there’s much more to the story. Where the beginning is line after line of insecurity, the song evolves, like any good song does. She actually goes on to list exactly what it would be like being someone’s “number one”: how she would tell them everything, share with them her dreams just like they would share theirs, and so on. It’s this slight shift, this wash of hope that absolutely propels the song and makes you want to listen to the end and then slam repeat. All this paired with Rose’s delicately soft vocals and beautifully breathy atmosphere makes the song feel like a tight hug for those who are also feeling alone.
Regarding the writing of the song, Rose states, “I’m no one’s number one— those are the exact words that popped into my head the night of July 4th, when all my friends already had other plans & I realized I would be spending the holiday alone. I ended up spontaneously driving 6 hours to my hometown in Ohio to spend the weekend with my family, and it was on that drive that “Number One’s” chorus came to me.”
Rose explains, “I just kind of spilled everything I was feeling into it – estrangement, loneliness & a longing to be somebody’s first choice. Then back in Nashville a few days later, I had my session with Davin and he helped me manifest my vision for the song so well that by the time we finished it, I knew I had to release it. My deepest hope is that other people will hear this song and realize that they’re not so alone after all, because every single person in the world has experienced these same feelings at some point. That’s what really connects us all and makes us human — we feel.”
This type of soft pop that Rose produces slides right in next to tracks like Ariana Grande’s “Ghostin” or Billie Eilish’s “Listen Before I Go,” which both spotlight the more vulnerable sides of these otherwise high energy, upbeat, artists. These tracks serve as emotional dumping grounds for those loud thoughts that are terrifying to verbalize. It is these tracks so many of the rising generation identify themselves with. These delicate, universal inner truths laid out bare shows that even the biggest of stars feel the same exact things the average young adult does. No matter who you are, navigating this extended-adolescent limbo is a complicated, emotionally taxing feat which no one should have to face alone.
Following her first release “VCR” only last year, which now has over a million streams on Spotify, Rose went through a self-evaluation about what kind of artist she wanted to be. Considering her career is only beginning, it is impressive this epiphany came so early. But what an important one to have, as it had led to release after release of wonderfully introspective and personal singles like “Priority” and “Seventeen,” all divulging the inner musings of a rising and growing generation. She prides herself in being able to share those vulnerable sides of herself through her music. And how rewarding it is for her listeners to hear Rose sing about the same feelings and thoughts that they have.
In addition to this emotional reevaluation, Rose has explained that her initial journey as following a more singer-songwriter path, but after being inspired by contemporaries, she switched to pop. For someone still finding her way, genre-hopping can be tricky, trying to navigate a completely different soundscape. However, Rose has proven to fit right in alternative indie pop, dropping releases so grounded in the genre, they sound like she has been doing it for years.
To top it all off, what I find the most attractive about Rose’s music, and “Number One” in particular, is that even though her music dwells on possibly negative subjects such as coming-of-age and the actual fear of missing out, it never feels negative. She seems to focus on the positive, though perhaps not at all times directly stating it. Nevertheless, her tracks at their core feel full of life and hope. They do not feel like the sentiments of someone who has already given up. But rather, someone who is wishing and hoping to achieve something better. Something we need more of in this world. With regard to “Number One,” her wish echoes in our ears, and the last thing we hear as the track ends:
“Just wanna be the first one someone thinks of.”
Don’t we all, Chey. Don’t we all.