Conan Gray was one of the biggest indie-pop artists of 2021, and he’s been gearing up for the release of his sophomore album and preparing for his world tour. Conan tapped pop star Julia Michaels to help write the track “Telepath.” The playful lyricism matches Michael’s work, as well as aspects of ILYA and Caroline Ailin’s writing, who collaborated with Gray on the song.
Ilya Salmanzadeh is a producing collaborator of Max Martin’s. He has produced and worked on Ariana Grande’s Sweetener and Thank U, Next albums, songs with The Lonely Island, Fifth Harmony, Labrinth, as well as “Bang Bang” by Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj. He also made the Kendrick Lamar version of Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood,” which went number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and is multi-Platinum in multiple countries. ILYA has been nominated for three Grammys.
Ailin co-wrote Dua Lipa’s pop-defining track “New Rules,” as well as “Don’t Start Now.” She has also written hits with Katy Petty, Zedd, Selena Gomez, Ella Mai, H.E.R., Clean Banditt, Louis The Child, Ellie Goulding, Rita Ora, Demi Lovato, Fletcher, JoJo, Lennon Stella, Zara Larson, Rachel Platten, Andy Grammer, Julie Bergen, Olivia Holt, Olly Murs and Conan collaborator Lauv.
The high-quality production and songwriting on this track help to amplify some of the more repetitive elements of Conan’s work. This is immediately one of his most poppy songs to date, which provides a contrast to his previous single “People Watching” (read more here).
Rumbling and rising instrumentals open the track before it sharply cuts off with Conan directing, “Don’t even finish that sentence, babe.”
The striking percussion begins, along with bouncy guitar, “Already know how this ends/You say, ‘We’re breakin’ up,’ what a shame/Don’t even wanna stay friends/God.”
The inclusion of Conan scoffing, “God,” is also a divestment from the more religious influence on his art in his teen years. This is clearly a conversational song, directed at the person who led Conan on for many singles, EPs and albums-worth of music.
“It’s just so you, you’re just so predictable/Won’t you try something original?/Old news, reused, that’s why I don’t cry,” the percussion stops, creating a dramatic pause before the chorus.
These lyrics are similar to “Lookalike” and “The Cut That Always Bleeds,” though this is much more sarcastic and pop-focused than those emotional tracks.
The chorus is full of pep despite Conan’s frustrations. The music has the sound of an ‘80s jazzercise routine, which creates a more playful feeling as he sings.
“’Cause I got a feelin’/You’re comin’ back just like you have in the past/Yeah, I got a feelin’/You’ll be sendin’ me trash you shoulda left in the drafts/Yeah, I got a feelin’/You’ll see me moving on and hate that I’m gone,” Conan sounds extra sarcastic and mocking as he predicts the person returning.
The use of the term “telepath” is part of that teasing, as he is merely referencing the distinct pattern of their relationship.
Conan ends the chorus, “I can see it, you’re comin’ back/Call me a telepath.”
“Now’s about the time the boredom hits/(Oh, look)/There you are at my door/Drunk and asking me for a kiss/When yesterday you said that you hate my guts/Now you’re back in love?”
This prediction is similar to “Wish You Were Sober” (read more here). Both songs depict (likely) the same person appearing at his doorstep, drunk and looking for attention. He’s clearly grown tired of this cycle since “Wish You Were Sober,” as he no longer longs for them to return sober — now he just wants them to stop coming back entirely.
“Telepath” is a sardonic ‘80s-infused pop hit from Conan Gray that continues his newer pattern of rewriting his feelings for the former focus his infatuation and songs of his youth. “Telepath” is someone bursting into a sharp laugh mid-argument. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice…
You can stream “Telepath” everywhere now!