The RX is Uproxx Music’s stamp of approval for the best albums, songs, and music stories throughout the year. Inclusion in this category is the highest distinction we can bestow, and signals the most important music being released throughout the year. The RX is the music you need, right now.
All you need to know about Kim Petras is that when AstroPoets tags her as a quintessential example of a Virgo — “I’m sad but down to f*ck” (lyrics from the track “Personal Hell) — she retweets it. Sure, most emerging pop stars are *extremely online* in 2019, but Petras uses her Twitter and Instagram to share memes and interact with fans in a way that feels decidedly personal, even for a millennial star. While her online presence and status as an often hilarious internet personality is part of the appeal, Petras is also beloved for her pliable voice, ear for melody, and an uncanny ability to incorporate anxiety, desire, and euphoria into her music. Relatable much?
It only took one song to turn me into a Kim Petras fan. In early 2018 the bouncy, ‘80s-inspired feel of “Heart To Break” — with its surreal video to boot — was instantly catchy and smart, just the right balance between vulnerable and coy. Though it’s rarely the case with fledgling pop stars, nearly everything she’s put out since has been even more impressive. Late last year she released the Turn Off The Lights Vol. 1 Halloween EP, a campy and playful project that still contained plenty of undeniable bops. And though a themed project is great for the holidays, Kim was still known more for her singles than anything else.
That is, up until several weeks ago, when she began to unleash a slew of new music that would make up a full release. Styled as her first full body of work (Halloween EP be damned, apparently), song after song landed upon fans in quick succession, until Petras finally announced the cohesive project, Clarity, would come out at the end of June. And the whole cycle perfectly coincided with Pride, aka the entirety of June, the month that has become specifically earmarked for celebrating queer identity tied back to the historic Stonewall Riots.
Pride has been an interesting moment for Petras, an openly transgender woman who transitioned a decade ago and doesn’t necessarily make her queer identity the focus of her stardom. As the album release cycle ramped up alongside the cultural conversation around Pride, she used her social media in another way — to talk openly about her experience as a trans woman. “I’m hella proud of being transgender and I’m constatntly [sic] inspired by my trans, gay, lesbian, bi or whatever tf beautiful friends,” she wrote on Twitter at the beginning of June. “Happy pride month !!! y’all r my family and I’m so proud of us.”
About a week later, she apparently fielded enough confusion and comments from fans to address it again: “Duh I’m trans,” she wrote, following it up: “Errrbody actin surprised n sh*t lol.” This past weekend, shortly after Clarity was officially out in the world, she broached the subject again: “Ppl always told me a trans girl could never be an actual popstar ? and I still have a long way to go but thx 4 believing in me.”
When she transitioned at the age of 16, Petras was one of the youngest people to undergo gender-reassignment surgery, and made headlines for it at the time. Ten years later, now 26, mainstream culture is finally beginning to understand and acknowledge the experience of transgender people like Kim — and the queer community at large — with a lot more nuance. In that light, the rise of Kim Petras feels like an overwhelmingly positive thing that will help more people educate themselves about issues of gender identity, transition, and the fluidity of gender and sexuality.