fter half a year of dating, virtual influencer Lil Miquela and her boyfriend, L.A. model Nick Killian, called it quits—and she’s here to tell you all about it in her new single, “Speak Up”.
Following an inevitable Unconscious Coupling post about her breakup, Miquela spent the majority of the next week with her head down in the studio. No, not crying—she was hard at work honing her emotions into a 3 minute expression of self. Along the way, she kept her 'Miqaliens' on the hook by balancing her usual lighthearted positivity to newfound, public breakup vulnerability, all while teasing the new track. “Speak Up” marks her first single of 2020 (aside from R3HAB’s remix of “Money”), and it comes with a surprise—a second track, the slower-building and slightly-more-scathing, “Call Me When You're Not High”.
On the surface, “Speak Up” resembles a cut and dry version of a girl agonizing over a gut feeling her boyfriend wants to end things, wishing he would just get on with it. However, multiple lyrics indicate Miquela may actually be singing this song to herself, pairing a poppy melody with an inner, urging monologue to, well, speak up.
Commendably, Lil Miquela leans away from a trope typical of breakup songs from the female perspective: attempted empowerment of the singer via attacking the ex’s character and painting all fault on the other person. She opts out of this blame game and, rather, takes full ownership for her emotions in the end, a message consistent with her social media posts about the breakup so far. Further, she expresses unrelenting honesty in saying no one thing caused her and Nick to split. See here as she opens up about falling "in like" with Nick, but not always speaking up:
If you’re going through a breakup, this song is for you. Throughout the second verse, Lil Miquela reflects familiarly on how she could’ve been better to Nick, revealing not only that she was “too cold with you instead of real with you,” but she consciously chose to keep her thoughts to herself rather than voice concerns. Further, in singing “Can I just say it?/ ‘Cause even if it’s just in my mind, mind/ My heart is still hurting…”, Miquela expresses how she doesn’t want the relationship to end while acknowledging it must. Many of us have been there.
Structurally, the song starts off pretty strong, though the first verse, the pre-chorus, and the chorus hazily blend together, flowing through awkward transitions from one portion to the next. The song builds for the first minute, then reaches a plateau and coasts along for the remainder. Personally, this experience broke the immersion, leaving me with the slightly disorienting feeling when a song builds momentum, then doesn’t actually drop or take you anywhere truly fulfilling.
With the chorus looping four times into the end, “Speak Up” simply goes on too long—the song’s most unfortunate flaw. Other than one instance during these repetitions, in which the music is stripped away leaving Miquela’s voice singing the chorus, there are no variations or even slight lyrical changes. A deceleration paired with a fade out right at 2:18 would prevent this track from dragging on, transforming it into the crisp, consumable breakup bop it deserves to be. In short (no pun intended), you’ll find yourself incorrectly thinking “oh, it’s over now” more than once.
“Speak Up” is most palatable when paired with fraternal twin “Call Me When You're Not High”. The two songs feel like opposite sides of a coin, specifically designed to help people decipher how they feel on any given post-breakup day. This widely anticipated single is fast-paced and forgiving, however “CMWYNH” leaves the lighthearted tone of it's twin far behind. In saying “the truth is on your breath, I see it in your eyes/ The truth is I don’t buy any of your lies,” among other direct lyrics, Miquela jabs at Nick about his marijuana use, revealing his high lies hindered their ability to communicate.
Lil Miquela’s new release and surprise B-Side show how honest, post break emotions don’t fit cleanly into any one box and cannot be captured in just one song, felt with one mood, or attributed to one event. Equally as much as “Speak Up” weighs the anxiety, sadness, and confusion a breakup may cause, “CMWYNH” explores the feelings of anger, resentment, and blame. While Lil Miquela may, as she tells us on social media, have made these songs for herself, she gives fans a look at her complex emotions while validating others who may be in similar, emotional situations.
Equally as much as “Speak Up” weighs the anxiety, sadness, and confusion a breakup may cause, “CMWYNH” explores the feelings of anger, resentment, and blame.
"Speak Up" was enjoyable, meaningful, and deserves a spot on your breakup playlist, but inherently lacks the edge necessary to reach breakaway earworm status. I'm holding Miquela to it when she says "so much music is on the way," as I'm eager to hear what else she has in store through this breakup, and beyond.
Stream “Speak Up” everywhere today: https://miquela.ffm.to/speakup