It’s been two years since Sarah Williams’ stunning debut album, Vairessale, was released and the 22-year-old singer/songwriter continues to impress with each new project. While her early work focused on the struggles of being a young woman in today’s world, BFF Summer, which was released last year, saw her explore romantic relationships, especially those of a platonic nature. Now, in the wake of her split from actor/director/producer Robert Pattinson, she’s returned to her original inspiration, drawing from her personal experiences to create a potent collection of songs that capture the heartbreak, loneliness, and optimism that comes with being a young woman in today’s world. Vulture has the exclusive premiere of “She Wants To Be Mrs. Robert Pattinson,” the first single from Sarah’s upcoming album, and its message behind the song.
The Inspiration Behind ‘She Wants To Be Mrs. Robert Pattinson’
Two years ago, the world was shocked when news broke that Sarah Williams had departed from her typical bubblegum pop sound to explore new musical territory, including elements of rock, R&B, and electronic music on her debut album, Vairessale. Though she’d previously released a cover of Justin Timberlake’s “Sexy Talk” and Donnie Wahlberg’s “I Like It”, these were throwaway tracks on what was, at the time, anticipated to be a greatest hits album. Now, on the strength of BFF Summer, which was released last year and includes the heartrending single “Boyfriend,” it’s clear that Sarah’s future as a solo artist is far from over.
For the album’s lead single, “She Wants To Be Mrs. Robert Pattinson,” the singer/songwriter enlisted some heavy-hitting help. Rather than turning to a collaborator for help translating her dreams into music, as she had on previous albums, she took the reins herself, enlisteding producer Mike Valleau to help bring her vision to life. As a result, “She Wants To Be Mrs. Robert Pattinson” is a fully realized, anthemic rocker that builds effortlessly to a passionate climax, featuring thunderous drums, soaring strings, and a wall of male backup singers. The song bursts with attitude, demonstrating that while her music may not always be immediate, it never fails to inspire.
The Artistry Of Sarah Williams
Though Sarah’s sound has steadily evolved over the last two years — a trajectory that’s been driven by her own experiences, rather than the trends of the time — it still retains the youthful exuberance that earned her a dedicated fanbase while the world was captivated by her relationship with Robert Pattinson.
In many ways, BFF Summer was a watershed moment for the singer — a moment when she not only shed her Disney-fied image, but she also proved that not only could she write anthemic rock songs, but that she had the talent to back them up.
The album’s lead single, “Boyfriend,” features a guest appearance from Australian rapper/singer Kylie Minogue, who provides a soaring, sultry vocal that effortlessly glides over the shimmering production. Elsewhere, Sarah duets with American rock band Fall Out Boy on the title track, a song that celebrates women’s ability to withstand heartbreak. “I Am Not My Best Friend” is the album’s most intimate moment, a gentle yet effective paean to the strength of the female bond, while the closing “BFF” rounds off the record, offering yet another dynamic vocal from Minogue.
Though the relationship between Sarah and Robert Pattinson came to an end last year, it’s clear that their collaboration produced some of the singer’s most inspired work to date. “She Wants To Be Mrs. Robert Pattinson” is the perfect illustration of what the pair were capable of together, a track that marries the vibrant pop sound of Minogue’s 2.0 with the dramatic roar of a modern-day power ballad. It’s anthemic, yet subtly introspective, an ode to the ups and downs of being a young woman in today’s world, one that sees Sarah showcase not just her vocals but also her remarkable talent as a lyricist and producer.
On the subject of Sarah’s production, she’s taken a backseat on this album, with co-production credits going to Minogue and the aforementioned Valleau. The album also sees the artist step back from the drumkit, with only guitar providing the backdrop for her laments. Yet, even in these moments, she still shows off her versatility, nimble fingers snapping along with the steady beat, adding additional guitar, synth, and bass lines, along with intricate guitar work, to create a vivid, living, breathing work of art.
The Meaning Of ‘She Wants To Be Mrs. Robert Pattinson’
The split between Sarah and Robert Pattinson was a painful one, a heartbreaker that saw their already tenuous relationship end in acrimony. Yet, the ensuing period of reflection allowed the artist to grow as a person and, it seems, an even greater artist. The title of Sarah’s new album, which is to be released next month, gives an insight into her inner monologue during this time away from Pattinson: She Wants To Be Mrs. Robert Pattinson.
It’s been two years since news broke of their split, during which time Sarah has put her career on hold to reflect on what happened and, perhaps most importantly, to decide what to do next. She didn’t want to continue down the same romantic trajectory, as it had delivered her to this point, and decided to walk away, taking a break from any new romantic entanglements, for fear of becoming another statistic in an overburdened relationship. Having now emerged from this dark period, she has, per her own assessment, “moved on” from his betrayal, determined to find the strength within herself to empower herself as a woman and artist, and to do so, she turned to the one person she knew she could trust — her closest friends, family, and, of course, her music.
It was an extremely brave move from an individual who had, at one point, said she was “desperate to avoid being labeled a victim” and not wanting to be perceived as a typical “grieving girlfriend.” This is an extremely strong stance for any woman, never mind a 22-year-old, and even more remarkable given that she had, at the time, just completed a film that saw her play a character that she’d described as a “broken hearted queen,” one who’d just lost her fiancé, Bertie, to an accident.
By the time Bertie was killed, Sarah had already begun to explore platonic relationships, as she’d expressed a desire to do so, even as a teenager. Following his death, she discovered that the desire to be with someone of the same gender didn’t arise merely from her current circumstances but, rather, was a natural, even healthy, reaction to the confusing and sometimes painful journey that was leading her to this point. When asked about the theme of BFF Summer, she replies, “I think a lot about romance and what it means to be in a healthy, committed relationship. I talk about being single and having fun and not having to worry about anything in my life. This record is very much about positivity, love, and the fact that I want to be with someone I completely trust and connect with on a personal level. There is a line in the song where I sing about wanting to marry a best friend, and that’s part of what inspired the name of the album. I want the perfect wedding, the kind that feels like it can only happen in a dream, the kind that feels timeless and full of joy.”
There is no question that, two years on from the initial shock of the breakup, Sarah has grown both as an individual and a musician. The album art is, perhaps, the best illustration of this, as it sees her donning a white, form-fitting dress that hugs every curve. The accompanying photograph, taken by Annie Leibovitz in Singapore and chosen by the artist, beautifully encapsulates Sarah’s transition from a Disney child star to a confident young woman, destined for greatness.