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#RSBreakout: Singer-Producer Chelsea Collins Makes Freedom Her Winning Formula

Watch the music video for the Los Angeles-based artist’s latest single “WISH U HELL”

Amit Vaidya Jan 21, 2022

Los Angeles-based artist Chelsea Collins. Photo: Ben Allen

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Every month, Rolling Stone India will cast the spotlight on an artist ready to “break out” from the pack and take their music to the next level.

CHELSEA COLLINS

While the name Chelsea Collins may not instantly sound recognizable, just remember, it’s only been a year since Olivia Rodrigo became a household name with the release of “Drivers License” and we know what kind of year that became for her! Not since the early 2000s have we seen such a resurgence of the female pop-rock sound. While some may try to copycat Rodrigo’s success (and there are many!), there are artists who have slowly but steadily been building their momentum, waiting for the perfect moment to shine, or perhaps say IDGAF!

Chelsea Collins, the 23-year-old San Francisco-born, L.A.-based singer-songwriter is the real deal. The self-taught producer and multi-instrumentalist caught the eye of HITCO Founder and CEO L.A. Reid back in 2019. In the short three years since, she’s gone from one bold single to the next. From “Tobacco and Tears” to “07 Britney” to her collabs with 24kGoldn on “Water Run Dry” and Swae Lee on “Hotel Bed,” Collins has been expanding her sonic range – as we’d expect to hear from any young artist. But while those songs felt like the safer opening bets, Collins has now officially (perhaps completely) reached her Rodrigo moment with her latest single, the angst-ridden (if there ever was one!) “WISH U HELL”.

The single harkens back to the time of early aughts but there’s a freshness here that makes the song feel familiar but current. With powerhouse vocals, distorted guitars and a hook that gets you from the go, “WISH U HELL” is a slick production by Nicki Adamsson (Charli XCX, Clara Mae, Tove Lo) and Collins. What additionally works in favor of the song are the lyrics that are cheeky, cynical and as punk rock as 2022 will allow. Co-written with her brother Nico Collins, Lilian Caputo and Skylar Mones (BoA, Dua Lipa), the lyrics narrate the story of a young woman who is getting herself back after ending an extremely toxic relationship.   

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Sample lines like:

“I hope you walk in on your girlfriend with your dad

Lose all your money in a 1-800 scam

I hope our sex tape ends up on the internet

So the whole world can pour a drink a have a laugh”

This isn’t your everyday kind of angst.

While the pandemic has certainly brought on the rage, it’s empowering to hear Collins as unapologetically badass here without remorse for owning what’s rightfully hers. It’s also a welcome change that the single manages to cleverly utilize words as the ultimate weapon — often the lesser played but more potent tool we have at our disposal. Kudos to Collins for making sure her songwriting and producing skills are showcased here. We often fail to give credit to younger female artists who self-produce and know how to get behind the mixing desk. There is a cohesive and unique vibe here that fantastically puts front and center that Collins knew what she wanted us to hear and we’re here for it.

Collins tells us, “I just know how much I’ve found myself as a person and an artist through production. The biggest thing I’ve noticed when it comes to women who want to produce — it’s not that they can’t do it — it’s that those surrounding them convince them otherwise. I want to inspire every little girl out there to know that they can do it, because girls are iconic and should take over the world anyways. Also, as a little girl, I wish I knew that when life gave me lemons, being able to escape on my computer and make a cute little beat is the best serotonin booster.”

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The music video perfectly complements the attitude of the single and the artist herself. Directed by L.A.-based creative Ben Allen, the video finds Collins fighting against the pain, supported by a group of animal-masked figures who rally behind her to keep the negativity away as she literally breaks free from those toxic thoughts and way of life and finds her way back to freedom.

In this day and age, freedom is the winning formula. What’s most exciting about Collins is the diversity she’s already put forward sonically as she finds her own niche in the pop world. With Gayle’s late 2021 sleeper hit “ABCDEFU” topping the charts at the moment, “WISH U HELL” is a welcome (and even stronger) contender to not only become as big a hit this year, but for Collins to also become a truly gifted breakout.

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