“See me holding up my middle finger to the world… ’cause I’m not just a pretty girl.”
Maggie Lindemann refuses to be defined by her statistics, though they certainly don’t hurt her case. After building her career as a social media influencer – the songstress has over 2 million Instagram followers and 433,000 Twitter followers – Lindemann moved to Los Angeles and threw herself into the world of music making. Between her established fan base and her irresistibly poppy music, the success in numbers has followed. Currently, her Spotify boasts over 14 million monthly listeners. Her music video for the Cheat Codes and Cade remix of her single “Pretty Girl” has well over half a million views after dropping just two weeks ago and over 97 million streams on Spotify.
Put that aside, though, and consider her as an artist – as a person. Lindemann was born in Dallas, Texas where she sang in church choirs and school musicals. At age 16, she threw caution to the wind and moved to Los Angeles. That was two years ago, and now the 18-year-old is doing takeovers of the Billboard Instagram account and getting her songs included in Apple Music “Songs of the Summer” playlists. She spends her days bouncing between the studio, her friends, and traveling. In an interview with Popdust, she reflected on how her career has grown. “It used to be a lot of vocal work and piano lessons and that kind of stuff, and dance and stuff like that, and now it’s more rehearsals and getting up and leaving all the time and traveling.”
Her 2015 debut single “Knocking On Your Heart” is a sentimental dance ballad, where lyrics like “I always try to tell myself that I’ll fall in love with someone else, but oh, my stubborn heart is set on you” are gently crooned over deep bass beats and the chorus is paired with clanging bells and vocal reverb that echoes through listeners’ souls. It’s no happy tween-pop banger, but a very serious entrance into a career where her audience brushes her off at their own loss.
Later that year, “Couple of Kids” goes even deeper into the ballad vibe, with swelling piano and string accompaniments underneath lines like “We’re just a couple of kids, sneaking away for a kiss.” “Things” followed shortly in 2016 and brought out more of the dance-pop sound that Lindemann excels at. Her voice is still soft and perfectly on pitch, but studio-styled snaps create the beat over samples of a voice going “ba na na na na na na” and everything is as effortlessly engineered as any Ariana Grande single. (Lindemann’s thoughts on the track: “The production on that sounds amazing, I love the production on it.”)
“Pretty Girl” is technically her most recent single, though there are now four official versions of it – the original, and three remixes by Ye, Taylor Wise, and Cheat Codes x Cade respectively. The most recent has received by far the most acclaim and attention, but it’s been a steady grind of work to get there. The lyrics are defiant and aggressive; she sings “Some days I’m broke, some days I’m rich. Some days I’m nice, some days I can be a bitch” and “See me holding up my middle finger to the world – fuck your ribbons, fuck your pearls, ’cause I’m not just a pretty girl.” It’s both a great musical middle finger to everyone who tries to write her off as just some Instagram star – “being a social media person isn’t taken as seriously or looked very highly upon. So it was and still is very hard to branch away from that title” – and a highly personal song that works as a typical pop tune and a totally dance-able track. (Of the remixes, Lindemann said “I like how they made it so you can dance to it and have a good time, and it’s something you could hear at the club.”
Looking forward, Lindemann is working on putting together a more concrete collection of songs – “we haven’t really decided what that’s gonna be yet, but we’re definitely working on something” – and growing herself as a musician and a person. Her most recent tweet (at time of writing) puts it pretty succinctly:
I’m only gettin cuter!
— Maggie Lindemann (@MaggieLindemann) June 7, 2017