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Loving the Alien: Doja Cat kicks into interstellar overdrive on ‘Need to Know’

Need to Know‘ is the second single from the second Doja Cat album Planet Her. In April, SZA collaboration ‘Kiss Me More‘ dealt with innocent romantic fantasy. ‘Need to Know’ is the adult version. Taking advantage of the freedom from censorship pop lyrics enjoy in the streaming era, Doja Cat gets explicit much like Ariana Grande did with successful Positions single ‘34+35‘.

Doja Cat poses in Martain green makeup for the cover of ‘Need to Know.’

Doja Cat is versatile

Since breaking out in 2019 Doja Cat has proven a versatile pop star who can meet the public’s needs. In this sense, she fills the void left by Katy Perry, whose candy-coated fantasy image captured the public imagination with 2010’s Teenage Dream (before struggling to reclaim this initial momentum). Like Perry, Doja Cat is a generational pop idol closely associated with eminent, and potentially problematic, hitmaker Dr. Luke. As with Perry, each of her releases is a surprise.

Doja Cat is lighthearted, inoffensively pushes sexual boundaries, and occasionally drifts into melancholy moments. And, as Planet Her‘s David LaChapelle-shot cover suggests, her new album is the music industry players are banking on. Doja Cat’s popularity, especially on TikTok, suggests the album will live up to her reputation.

As to whether she has staying power? What can be said to her credit is that she does have one of the most versatile voices in the pop arena. With each release, she shifts effortlessly between R&B, bubblegum pop, hip hop, and trap deliveries. As with the LA star’s blockbuster debut Hot Pink, the forthcoming Planet Her continues to hop between styles to best suit the needs of the material at hand.

The cover of Planet Her, a likely nod to Tom Kelly‘s famous ‘Red Velvet’ nude photo series of Marilyn Monroe

Doja Cat dominates modern pop

Doja Cat presents herself in the classic archetype of a sexually adult yet emotionally vulnerable woman. It is an image pop audiences love. Yet as Marilyn Monroes tragic end shows us this persona can lead to spiritual destruction. What is more, Katy Perry illustrates that while playing up to the cliche can create a path to fame it can be hard to push outward from the cliches such a restrictive identity imposes.

Planet Her album artwork by David LaChapelle.

Loving the Alien

As Doja Cat’s recent fascination with cosmic and sci-fi iconography shows, she is adept at adjusting her sails to pop culture trends. She is adept at meeting the needs of the moment. Often her music searches for satisfaction in the outside world. Rarely does it look inward.

Can she evolve into a more permanent pop culture presence? ‘Need to Know’ glows with energy and excitement. In lacking any great lyrical depth though it does not offer a ready answer. We may have to wait until she breaks away from Dr. Luke to know who she really is for sure.

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