On November 17, 22-year-old alt-pop artist Caroline Romano released her explosive single “Girl in a China Shop”. Inspired by the complex emotions and relationships that one inevitably stumbles through during their twenties, Romano has written a rebellious pop-punk inspired track that is as explosive as it is healing.
The Nashville-based artist is no stranger to exploring her feelings, as Romano has been songwriting since she was about 12 years old. Singing her diary entries along to her guitar was how she first dipped her toes into writing music, and Romano immediately fell in love with the catharsis of expressing herself. For her birthday that year, Romano asked her parents to take her to Nashville, and soon the 13-year-old was singing her diary entries on stage in Nashville dive bars.
“I've had very few moments of such sure clarity in my life, but back then, it was the surest thing I've ever known,” Romano says. “I'm supposed to do this.”
Taking inspiration from a range of musicians, Romano’s music is influenced by artists from Taylor Swift and Phoebe Bridgers to Yungblud and Sleep Token. The extremes of both genres produced by these artists are clearly conveyed in Romano’s alternative pop sound. However, Romano didn’t always write edgy pop music. Initially making her debut as a pop artist in 2017, it wasn’t until the release of her 2021 single “PDA of the Mainstream” that Romano went down a more alternative route in her music.
“I feel like I've always not been a naturally upbeat, peppy person,” Romano says. “I've always just had that little bit more of [a] sadder side to my mind I guess, and alternative music is definitely inherently not sad, but it's just something that I think when I discovered it, I felt really seen and I think that's the whole point of that kind of music. It brought out the side of me that I didn't know I had.”
Romano says that, at 19, “PDA of the Mainstream” reflected the point she was at in her life where she wanted to experiment in her music and embrace a sound that reflected her energetic stage presence and who she really was.
“Being a 22-year-old girl is frustrating and angry and upsetting sometimes, and I make music that reflects that. And I think that kind of sound definitely helps,” Romano says.
On “Girl in a China Shop”, as well as Romano’s most recent single “Tell Her I Said Hi”, she continues to embrace this angrier edge to her music. Romano says that the former song is inspired by the past year of her life. Just after turning 22, Romano realized that while she feels she’s been growing up, she doesn’t really feel like she’s been growing up at all.
“My life has felt messier and more chaotic than it ever has recently, and that just felt like, ‘okay, this isn't supposed to be happening,.’” Romano says. “I’m just in this place where everything I do, everything I touch, kind of shatters emotionally. Whether it's with my career or with my emotions or relationships or anything, I feel like I'm not very good at keeping things alive.”
Although it’s a sad song at heart, “Girl in a China Shop” is inspiring by addressing these complex emotions. Listeners can feel like they aren’t alone in the messy journey that we call our twenties. While Romano said the song was cathartic to write, she’s been surprised by the response the song has received.
“I selfishly went into writing this song,” Romano says. “It was very much a ‘I need to say this and I want to put it out’ and…the reaction I've seen has been way out of my expectations, which has been really cool. It's made me feel less alone, that's for sure, and it's been very reassuring in that…everyone kind of feels like they're doing everything wrong all the time. So maybe it's really not that bad.”
“Girl in a China Shop” is an incredibly vulnerable and honest song, and one may think that a song like this would be difficult to release into the world. However, Romano says that it’s the uncomfortable and emotionally raw songs that she ends up being the most proud of. They’re also the ones that fans tend to react to the strongest. According to her, feeling nervous about releasing a song is how you know you’re doing something right.
The single’s composition reflects its lyrical content; the back and forth emotions one feels as a young woman are expressed through a balance of soft, acoustic verses and heavy crashing choruses. Romano’s delicate voice through the opening verse pairs effortlessly with her powerful range sung throughout the chorus. Soon, both extremes are combined in a melodic yet heavy bridge.
While writing this song with producer Todd Kran, both he and Romano decided that this song needed the alternating compositions and complexity. Sitting in the studio while writing songs and sharing your feelings with other people feels like a therapy session, according to Romano.
Although she has pursued an artistic career that requires her to be extroverted, Romano says she is an introvert through and through. Her Spotify bio describes her as “the loudest sort of introvert”, and despite her shyness Romano knows that music is a vessel for her expressive emotions.
“I like to be home by myself and I'm very anxious in my own thoughts and speaking out loud is very nerve wracking for me,” Romano says. “But there's a side of me, and I think it's kind of the realist side of me, [and] she peeks through in the moments she's supposed to. And for me, that's music. I had this need to be loud and something that is heard, but…it's not a vocal loudness. It's just, you want to do something and you want to say something. You can do that in different ways and I think for me, as an introvert, songwriting and performing on stage is where I find my voice. And I like to make a splash out of it when I do.”
Listen to “Girl in a China Shop” HERE