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Culture > Entertainment

Chappell Roan is My New Queer Idol

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Emerson chapter.

Red hair bouncing as she jumps around the TD Garden stage, 26-year-old Chappell Roan proudly sings about self-love, alienation, and nights out on the town. With four million monthly listeners (and rising) through only her debut album The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess and a few other songs, Roan is gaining more and more listeners with every performance she gives.

Adorned in neon, sparkles, and bright drag makeup, Roan has definitely made an impression on the industry. And where could this camp new artist have come from other than the Midwest?

As a queer woman from Missouri, music became her escape. She ended up creating a drag persona “Chappell Roan” to take to the stage with her self written synth-pop music. Born Kayleigh Rose Amstutz in Springfield, Roan told Cherwell Magazine that she chose her stage name in honor of her late grandfather “Dennis K. Chappell” and his favorite song “Strawberry Roan.” Her stage persona was meant to be an homage to him as well as an outlet for herself.

Armed with her music, sparkly bright outfits, and drag makeup, Chappell Roan gains more fans by the day. Her song “HOT TO GO!” has sixteen million streams on Spotify and a fun follow-along dance that happens at her concerts and is now all over social media. The song unapologetically preaches self-love and acceptance. She shot the music video in her hometown, and her grandparents are even featured in it doing the dance. 

As she told The Washington Post last year, her fun Lady Gaga-esque pop takes the “real stories” of her life and makes them into “something more campy.” She ties in her midwestern upbringing, full of religion and isolation, and mixes in her experience with queer joy after leaving. Her songs explore the magic of getting to be yourself, as well as the paradox of being stuck between missing home and happiness in leaving. Her hope is to make a safe space for people who have had a similar upbringing or experience, at the end of the day, she just wants her fans to celebrate being hot and queer!

Other songs on the album include the ballad “Pink Pony Club” about her first time going out in Hollywood as a queer woman. The rough time she experienced being queer growing up in the Midwest has definitely influenced the lyrics and perspective of her songs. Despite that, it’s still full of quirky camp themes and drag queens galore. The album also features fan favorites like “Red Wine Supernova” and “Femininomenon;” both with electric passion and fun lyrics.

Roan is taking on her biggest concerts yet. Since February 23, 2024, she has spent her nights opening for Olivia Rodrigo on the GUTS World Tour. Her final performance was just last week in Boston on April 2nd at a sold-out TD Garden stadium for around 20,000 screaming fans. Two weeks ago she did a Tiny Desk Concert with NPR and she has been in publications such as Rolling Stone, The Washington Post, Variety, The Guardian, and more. 

All this high energy can be a lot for her though. In The Washington Post, she says that her drag stage persona can be a “double-edged sword” — it does wonders for her music career and allows her to celebrate her queer identity, but at the same time, it’s a big energy commitment when it comes to concerts, fans, and her outward personality. She’s entirely grateful for all all the fame she has gained from The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess, as she tells Variety over the phone, it’s everything she’s ever wanted. 

“It’s a dream come true,” she says. “Like, I always dreamed of being able to feel this feeling, and I just happen to be able to sing and it came out in music. I think it would have come out of me one way or another, in some art form, but thank God it’s music because it’s so fun.” 

Writing, Literature, and Publishing major at Emerson College. Callie is an avid reader, music listener, and art enthusiast. Her favorite movies are Little Women, Ladybird, and Rocketman