“WHO CARES?”: the album you should care about

Rex Orange County’s album “WHO CARES?” shines light on singer Alex O’Connor’s issues with intimate relationships.


Photo courtesy of npr.org

Rex Orange County performing in 2019

Roman Pallotto, Arts & Culture Writer

Rex Orange County’s fourth studio album came out on March 11 ending his almost three year hiatus.

The album consists of 11 songs, three of which being released prior to the official release date of the album. Each song has its own individual characteristics with some being more upbeat and some having a sadder tone.

Rex’s use of instrumentation throughout the album sort of deflects the emotions felt behind the lyrics of the songs however he manages to combine them in a really interesting way. Every song has some sort of piano or strings accompaniment and is followed with perkier beats and rhythms.

“Overall I think the album is alright,” said junior Hetvi Patel. “My favorite song is ‘ONE IN A MILLION’ because of the upbeat mood and the beats. I don’t have any particular dislikes but I think all the songs got better after the fourth track.”

Regarding the meaning behind the album, the first track starts out with a more hopeful mood compared to the tracks of the album. In the first song “KEEP IT UP,” also being the first single of the album, Rex sings about self-respect. He repeatedly tells himself to “keep it up and go on” and asks himself why he doesn’t give himself self-respect. This song seems to be a transition from him giving up on himself to working on his self mentality. 

In the next couple of tracks Rex seeks out the help of others. In the second track called “OPEN A WINDOW” which features popular rapper, Tyler, The Creator, Rex seems to be split between the opinions of someone close to him and the opinions of other people. The person close to him seems to not change causing him not wanting to change while the other people in his life are telling him to change. His reliance on other people’s opinions causes him to feel stuck no matter what he does. 

In the fourth and fifth tracks of the album called “AMAZING” and “ONE IN A MILLION” Rex Orange County expresses his admiration for a certain girl. In “AMAZING” he labels her amazing and says how she is his savior. In the next track he conveys how exactly she is “one in a million” and how she drives his heart crazy. The instrumentation in this song expresses the switch from falling in love to being almost crazily in love. The girl in this song almost renders his mind completely useless as he cannot think of anyone else like her. 

In the next track called “IF YOU WANT IT” it is almost as if he is starting to plead for her to love him. This represents the final switch from being in love to the beginning of their breakup. Lyrics such as “come back and just give me a call” and “let’s just believe that we belong” signify the separation between Rex and his ex-girlfriend. 

The next few tracks of the album represent Rex’s recovery period after the breakup. It seems as if he is going through a few stages of grief as he is looking back at his regrets of his past relationship in “THE SHADE” while also pondering on what he is doing to better himself and questions if it is worth it in the song “7AM.” 

In the last track of the album he finally starts to look back at what he used to do and begins to accept himself for who he is. In the first pre-chorus he asks “so you wanna be happy too?” and by the second pre-chorus he finally sings “I wanna be happy too.” This album puts both Rex and the audience through a journey of self-acceptance and love. The breakup puts him through various instances of depression and self-discovery. He starts out the album by asking the audience for advice through life, then seeks out a relationship which ends in a breakup and finally ends by asking “who cares” meaning that others’ opinions do not matter. 

Personally this album really speaks out to me in a way where I can understand Rex’s journey of self-acceptance. It is easy to understand the hardships he went through because of the amazing storytelling through his lyrics. Even though the meaning behind the lyrics can be on the sadder side, the rhythms, beats and instrumentations of the album convey almost the opposite tone. Many tracks have groovy and upbeat rhythms while the lyrics add to the depth of the tracks. However, even though the lyrics and instrumentations seem like polar opposites, Rex is somehow able to make it seem as though the song can convey a happy or sad mood depending on how the listener feels.

“I was intrigued by this album because some of my friends are fans of his and I was looking to expand my music taste,” said Patel. “However I don’t think I will find myself listening to his music in the future. Not because it’s bad but because I don’t really vibe with the genre of music that he falls under. It is just not something I would listen to on a daily basis.”

Personally, I really enjoyed listening to this album and figuring out Rex’s journey through self-acceptance and if you’re someone who enjoys complex songs that get you up and moving then this album is definitely for you. 

Personal Ranking: 

  3. 7AM 
  5. OPEN A WINDOW (feat. Tyler, The Creator) 
  6. KEEP IT UP 
  7. WHO CARES? 
  8. WORTH IT