Conan Gray dominated the indie pop game in 2020, releasing his debut album, dropping multiple TikTok famous songs, scoring Taylor Swift’s praise and working on his first official collaboration since signing with a label. Now Conan is back with his first single since his Kid Krow album, “Overdrive.”
Rising siren noises and distant electric swells open the track, slams of percussion are introduced as sparkling electric sounds swirl. A pulsing beat backs Conan up as he begins to sing, “Only met on the weekend Said I’m not catching feelings/Oh, I guess I lied…”. His voice is higher and stronger in a newer style from the artist. He sings about slipping into a casual relationship with someone and enjoying rushing into things.
The slamming pulse sounds is reminiscent of feet pounding the pavement, either strutting in high heels or sprinting into the night. Conan sounds free as the positively electric beats creates an irresistibly fun atmosphere during the chorus, “Barrelin’ down the street no left-right, left-right/I don’t wanna see no red light, red light,” he sings about not wanting to stop, “Fast lane on a beat go ten five, ten five/You right next to me, feel the heat going overdrive/Going overdrive, yeah.”
This is a song made for dancing and large performances. With Conan’s fanbase exploding and his popularity increasing tenfold internationally, it is likely his next round of touring will feature much larger venues and shows, fit for tracks like “Overdrive.”
Most of Conan’s songs have centered around one person. Almost everything he’s made in the past has been all about someone who continued to lead him on and keep him in a relationship without the reward. On this song he’s singing about the joy of not knowing someone, as he simply lives for the future and the fleeting joy, “Yeah, I know you’re a stranger/But I’m liking the danger…Throw the dice on the table…” He also references the fact he has not wanted to explicitly label his sexuality, as he references a desire to not label a relationship or himself, “Don’t give a f**k about labels…”
The bridge and chorus repeats, with new layers of Conan doing vocal runs. The lulls in the music before serious surges feels like a pair exchanging glances before fulling falling into something with each other — like they’re grabbing hands and running off, wind whipping through their hair. They’ve jumped in a getaway car and they’re not stopping.
While Conan has dabbled with pure pop on songs like “Wish You Were Sober” and “Maniac,” this has more of a dance-pop focus and feel. This is arguably his “Shake It Off” moment — his first single where he fully plunges into a pop era. The producers have a clear influence on this, with the lead engineers on the track including The Monsters & Strangerz, who have worked on smash hits with Dua Lipa, 5 Seconds of Summer, Miley Cyrus, Fifth Harmony, Liam Payne, Pitbull, Nick Jonas, Why Don’t We, A R I Z O N A, Little Mix, Justin Beiber, Selena Gomez, Charli XCXand Hey Violet. One of the other producers was Tobias Jesso Jr., who has pulled hits from artists such as Niall Horan, King Princess, LANY, Ruel, Shawn Mendes and Charlie Puth. The more radio-heavy influences play a role, though Conan hasn’t lost his unique edge.
new song. four days. pic.twitter.com/AESwU6dy16
— conan gray (@conangray) February 15, 2021
A rarity from Conan, “Overdrive” is a variation of a love song — He may not be in love with the subject of the song, but he’s certainly in love with the moment. The track is dark silver, neon and sparkly city magic. It fully divests from the heartbroken style that Conan has explored through his music for almost half a decade. “Overdrive” is power and pop.
“Overdrive” is flashing lights and blaring music streaming out of speakers, as lyrics are screamed by people who have raw voices and the knowledge that tomorrow doesn’t matter as much as the current beautiful night.