Why Anthony Fantano Gave Chappell Roan’s Album a Mixed Review

Chappell Roan's The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess may be taking the music world by storm, but at least one critic isn't sold. Reviewing the "Good Luck, Babe!" singer's 2023 debut album on his TheNeedleDrop YouTube channel, music critic and internet personality Anthony Fantano mostly gave it mixed reviews, stating that the album isn't "the most standout" and expressing hope "to hear something more distinct" on Roan's next project.

Fantano began his review by noting that The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess, "has been turning heads." Fantano said the album is "very on trend" and "has touches" of other artists, including Lana Del Rey, Taylor Swift, Caroline Polacheck, and Olicia Rodrigo, as well as "light, groovy pop throwbacks" with songs like "After Midnight," Super Graphic Ultra Modern Girl," and "HOT TO GO," which he said "has almost a kind of Cyndi Laupner vibe to it." However, Fantano said he "can't say I'm surprised to hear these similarities," as Dan Nigro, Rodrigo's main producer, is also attached to The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess.

"As a result, the aesthetics of this album aren't the most standout in my opinion. So, in a sense, you could argue that she's still finding her sound a little bit," Fantano continued. "But I wouldn't necessarily say that stops the album from being enjoyable. There are a lot of sharp and well-written pop tunes on this thing, passionate vocal performances abound, and lyrically, she's more unhinged and hilarious than a lot of the artists I just mentioned. I guess I just remain hopeful to hear something more distinct on her next LP."

Released through Amusement Record on September 22, 2023, the 14-track album contains hits like "Femininomenon," "Red Wine Supernova," "Casual," "HOT TO GO," "My Kink Is Karma," and "Pink Pony Club." The album is heavily influenced by queer performance art such as drag and Roan's own personal experiences leaving her hometown in Missouri for Los Angeles and her journey of self-discovery and embracing her queer identity.

Roan's debut has mostly been met with widespread acclaim, critics praising the album's "campy" pop sound. Olivia Horn called the album "a bold and uproarious introduction, buoyed by sturdy songcraft and steely indifference to good taste" in their review for Pitchfork.

Although the album has been dubbed a "sleeper hit" now that it is gaining traction in 2024 after Roan opened on Rodrigo's Guts World Tour and following her Coachella performance, The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess has risen greatly in popularity. The album reached No. 6 on the latest Billboard 200 albums chart (dated July 6), coming ahead of other albums like Ariana Grande's Eternal Sunshine and Charli XCX's Brat, with many of the tracks also charting and going viral on social media platforms like TikTok.