PLAYING SEATTLE: Parisalexa Lets Anger Burn Bright on New Single “Hothead”

(Photo by Victoria Holt)

On Feb. 4, Seattle singer-songwriter-producer Parisalexa dropped a blistering new single, “Hothead.” The track, both defiantly relevant and subtly creative, takes the confidence Parisalexa had on display with her last two releases to new heights.

“Hothead” is perhaps one of Parisalexa’s most straight-forward pop releases. Rihanna and Ariana Grande come to mind upon listening—as Parisalexa mixes up something that’s a little-bit trap, a little-bit Erykah Badu—with lyrics that point toward a larger conversation about the injustices in today’s world.

As the single starts, Parisalexa sings, “I don’t really give a fuck/Feeling like I had enough/You don’t wanna start that shit with me,” and as she sings silkily, “you got me so hot,” the subject seems like an object of sexual desire. After all, both anger and sex are equated with passion, and Parisalexa’s vocal delivery teases at that dual meaning.

But, then we arrive at the chorus: “I feel like I’m/ Pissed off/ Shadow boxing.” This part seems to introduce another invisible, elusive challenger, and as her synth-y beat escalates, it feels much greater than a single individual. And when a snare beat repeats like rapid gunfire in rapper Laza’s verse, it seems to imply her eyes are looking to broader themes.

In this way, Parisalexa joins the larger national conversation in pop music about anger—at sexism, racism, facism, or just plain old ugliness in the world—which has been a more palpable undercurrent in recent hits from top pop artists like Kendrick Lamar, Beyonce, Justin Bieber, and Solange. (The song “Mad” from her smash 2016 album A Seat at the Table, couldn’t be a better example).

But Parisalexa said that when she looks back, she can’t remember what made her so furious.

“The process of writing ‘Hothead’ was pretty spontaneous,” she said. “My producer, Elan, and I were in the studio and I’d come in a bit irritated that day, so we decided to write about it. I started the first line with ‘I don’t really give a fuck’ and from there, I just let the words kind of spill out. Almost all the lyrics just came out in the moment from the pure emotion of being pissed off. Now, I actually don’t even remember why I was so mad. But I just knew how perfectly the explosiveness of the beat at the hook would lend itself to the song’s overall sentiment.”

Sure enough, “Hothead” ebbs and flows with Parisalexa’s slow-burning rage—and it’s intoxicating. It’s a space for listeners to finally release any heat of their own.