Jennifer Paige, Our ’90s ‘Crush,’ Unveils New Synth-Pop Track ‘Devil’s in the Details’
We’ve had a (pop)crush on Jennifer Paige ever since her breathy breakout hit, “Crush,” flirted with the top of the charts—and our portable CD players—in 1998.
With its melodic, surfy guitar riff, ethereally layered vocals and instantly catchy, not-that-innocent hook, the captivating pop tune remains one of the most iconic, dazzling pre-bubblegum bops of the ’90s, sitting alongside Natalie Imbruglia’s soul-baring “Torn” and Donna Lewis’ saccharine “I Love You Always Forever.”
But Paige is no one-hit wonder: After dropping her debut self-titled album in ’98, the singer-songwriter dabbled with sunny early ’00s pop on Positively Somewhere (2001), upbeat pop-rock on Best Kept Secret (2008) and even released a holiday album in 2012. (Versatile!)
Nearly two decades after first breaking onto radio, Paige is primed to make her proper return with a fully independent record—and she’s going back to her pop roots with Starflower, an emotive album brimming with twinkling, fizzy synth-pop, including its skittering mid-tempo lead track, “Devil’s in the Details.”
Below, listen to the exclusive premiere of her ultra-relatable new single and catch up with the artist via our Q&A, where we chat about crafting music independently, overcoming family tragedy and returning to the song that kick-started her career.
Can you tell us the story behind “Devil’s in the Details”?
This song speaks to the sometimes exhausting grind that troubles even the happiest of couples. Sometimes we just aren’t connecting, and it doesn’t have to be some over the top reason. It can be something so simple that begins to break us down. On first listen, this may seem like a break-up song, but it’s more a song about finding your way back when times get super tough.
Your upcoming album will be your first fully independent release. Can you take us through the pros and cons of making the jump?
This is a juicy convo that I’d love to share in more detail. But, for now, my biggest takeaway is that to be indie, you must be really well-rounded. You are no longer simply the face and the artist. You are the runner, the hair stylist, make-up artist, art designer, strategist… the list goes on and on. Sometimes my head wants to burst! But I love my new album and I am completely gratified that I took the leap into indie-dom. Best decision I’ve ever made in my music career.
What inspired the synth-pop sound on the record?
My plan was to create a simple acoustic-type album, but I discovered, once a pop girl, always a pop girl! Gimme that beat and all those synths over an acoustic guitar any day!
Over the past few years you’ve experienced some pretty major struggles and trauma in your life, from your parents’ passing to battling cancer, but you have come out the other end stronger. Were you able to harness these experiences in your songwriting for Starflower?
Yes, totally. I believe life throws at you only as much as you can take, and I’m definitely stronger now. To be a good songwriter, compassion and awareness are key. So I think I’m a better songwriter because I’ve felt so much emotion, from the high-highs to low-lows. I think the listener can hear when you are telling the truth.
What was it like returning to your big 1998 hit, “Crush,” nearly two decades later to record a new version?
You can imagine, I’ve been asked a million times to re-record it for campaigns and opportunities throughout the years, but it never felt right until recently. I can’t say why, other than it was an experiment that landed itself right on my album. I think it’s totally fresh and new, so I’m happy to tip my hat to what has brought me here today.
What do you want listeners, and longtime fans, to know about what Jennifer Paige has to say in 2017?
I’d like for my voice to be a voice of hope in this crazy world. We can accomplish anything we put our minds to, and I’d like to be living proof of that.
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Then & Now: ’90s Music Stars