The year may be in the books, but Headline Planet’s recap of 2020 releases that should have been pop hits continues:
Selection Six: FLETCHER & Kito’s “Bitter”
Brutally honest songwriting seems appealing in theory. We want artists to feel encouraged to share their unfiltered feelings and reveal their undeniable truths.
There is just one problem: the truth is not always rosy. For most people, life is not an endless loop of lavish parties, fancy car purchases, candlelit dinners with soulmates, flawless makeup, and infinite adoration. It involves self-doubt, betrayals, failed relationships, missed opportunities, and painful heartache. As a result, the same pop fans and industry gatekeepers who say they crave honesty end up gravitating toward hollow, all-is-well “empowerment” jams.
A few artists, however, have proven capable of connecting on their terms – with their legitimate truths. FLETCHER is one such artist.
The brilliance of her approach — and key to her resonance — is that she recognizes that vulnerability and strength are not mutually exclusive concepts. By instead finding strength in vulnerability, she can turn stories of heartbreak into soaring anthems. Rather than surviving by masking the pain of breakups, insecurity, or misfortune, she thrives by confronting the feelings head-on.
Thanks to this mindset, FLETCHER listeners do not simply appreciate her willingness to speak candidly. They treat her sincerity as motivation to confidently accept (and ultimately overcome) their own challenges and reservations.
For anecdotal proof: her fans loudly (and gleefully) chanted the line “I say I’m doing fine, but I’m fucking lying” when she performed “All Love” on tour in 2019.
FLETCHER’s willingness to embrace hardship also yields another benefit: catchy, mainstream-friendly music. Elevated by her powerhouse voice and commanding presence, her songs are as magnetic as anything available on the radio. They just happen to be confronting real topics while communicating real feelings.
No song better demonstrates her unique ability than “Bitter,” her early 2020 collaboration with Kito.
Bitterness may not be an admirable quality, but it is an inevitable, decidedly human one. No one likes to think about their ex doing well with a new partner. As a result, FLETCHER does not have to hide her spite and resentment. Knowing that everyone has been there, she can trumpet her bitterness in the form of a broadly accessible pop jam.
Since her debut, FLETCHER has excelled at this “real pop” framework. “Bitter,” however, takes the effort to the next level. Her lyrics are as pointed and memorable as ever. Her delivery is as charismatic and attitude-rich as ever.
Kito’s magnetic production then amplifies the effort, giving the song its vital anthemic “punch.” The result is superb: a song that simultaneously communicates FLETCHER’s distinct persona and demonstrates infinitely accessible pop sensibility.
In terms of sound and spirit, “Bitter” by far ranks as the most commercially viable release of either artist’s career. It unsurprisingly became their highest-peaking song on the iTunes sales chart, while generating meaningful TikTok interest months after its release.
It even seems more inherently radio-friendly than “Undrunk,” FLETCHER’s major label debut that actually became a Top 15 pop hit. A remix with chart-topping artist Trevor Daniel gave the song another facet of appeal, and the song has occasionally received one-off spins and shout-outs from radio influencers.
Given all its strengths and all these realities, the song’s absence from major radio rotation is therefore disappointing. FLETCHER has long proven immensely capable of cultivating fans and buzz without help from traditional channels, but an artist (and a song) this good should not have to do so. “Bitter” should have been a major pop hit in 2020.