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Music / Rina Sawayama

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"Have you ever thought about taping your big mouth shut? 'Cause I have, many times."
— "STFU!"

Rina Sawayama (Japanese: リナ サワヤマ; born 16 August 1990) is a Japanese-British singer-songwriter, actress and model. Born in Niigata, Japan, she was raised from a young age in London, where she currently resides.

Sawayama's music, usually categorized as pop but known for its versatility (often delving into pop variants like art pop and electropop) and variety of influences (mainly rock and R&B), is widely influenced by 1990s and 2000s music and often features production from Clarence Clarity. This lends itself to a sound that is simultaneously modern in presentation and centered around nostalgic pop conventions.

In addition to her music career, Sawayama has modeled in several fashion campaigns and will make her film acting debut in John Wick: Chapter 4.

Sawayama came out in 2018, identifying as both bisexual and pansexual before stating in 2020 that she's more comfortable with the label of "pansexual".

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Albums/extended plays

  • RINA (2017)
  • SAWAYAMA (2020)
  • Hold the Girl (2022)


  • "Sleeping in Waking" (2013)
  • "Where U Are" (2016)
  • "This Time Last Year" (2016)
  • "Cyber Stockholm Syndrome" (2017)
  • "Alterlife" (2017)
  • "Tunnel Vision" ft. Shamir (2017)
  • "Valentine (What's It Gonna Be)" (2018)
  • "Cherry" (2018)
  • "Flicker" (2018)
  • "STFU!" (2019)
  • "Comme des Garçons (Like the Boys)" (2020)
  • "XS" (2020)
  • "Chosen Family" (2020)
  • "Bad Friend" (2020)
  • "Lucid" (2020)
  • "This Hell" (2022)
  • "Catch Me in the Air" (2022)
  • "Hold the Girl" (2022)
  • "Phantom" (2022)
  • "Hurricanes" (2022)


    General tropes 

    Tropes that apply to her music 

  • Broken Record: The Cluster F-Bomb hook of "STFU!", which goes as follows:
    Shut the fuck up, shut the fuck up, shut the fuck up, shut the fuck up...
  • Capitalism Is Bad: The theme of "XS." Specifically, it mocks Conspicuous Consumption, though the video puts a genuine invokedNightmare Fuel spin.
  • Closet Key: "Cherry" is about meeting a girl that made her realize she's pansexual.
  • Dancing Royalty: The final third of the music video of "This Hell" has Rina and her wife and husband put the dance floor on fire by dancing a combination of Country Music, Pop, and Rock. Hell, they even make their guests act as their backstage dancers and cause a couple of their detractors to change their minds and join the party.
  • Double-Meaning Title: SAWAYAMA is a subtle one: on the surface it's a Self-Titled Album, but since it features a recurring theme of family and identity it could also be interpreted as being about her parentage — the Sawayama family.
  • Genre Roulette: Her songs can switch from smooth, honey-voiced pop to messy, angry metal.
  • Genre Throwback: Mostly plucks inspiration from "diverse" 2000s music.
  • Heel Realization: Realizing that she was the bad friend in a friendship that fell apart inspired "Bad Friend"
  • Japanese Politeness: "Tokyo Love Hotel" is about how she sees western tourists to Japan as being inconsiderate to the incredibly polite locals, treating them like one-night stands that happen at the titular hotels without ever getting to appreciate them for their kindness.
  • Metal Scream: One features in her Nu-Metal song "STFU!"
  • Multilingual Song: "Akasaka Sad" includes a verse in Japanese.
  • New Sound Album: Hold the Girl showcases Rina extinguishing the metallic influences off her last album in favor of much stronger pop rock, dance and adult contemporary styles. Downplayed, though, because the aesthetic remains a love letter to the noughties.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: "Fuck this world" which expresses her frustration about environmental devastation.
  • Self-Titled Album: Two. Her first EP RINA, followed by her first album SAWAYAMA.
  • Shout-Out:
    • From "Bad Friend":
      Singing our hearts out to Carly
  • Take That!:
    • Parts of "XS" reference Calabasas, famous residence of the Kardashians. Clearer in the Genius notes to the song.
      "Given that we all know global climate change is accelerating and [we might go extinct,] it seemed hilarious to me that [...] public figures were doing a gigantic house tour of their gated property in Calabasas in the same week as doing a ‘sad about Australian wildfires’ Instagram post."
    • "Tokyo Love Hotel" to Occidental Otakus and to her frustration of feeling like Japanese culture had been done to death by artists like Ariana Grande and Shawn Mendes.
      I guess this is just another song 'bout Tokyo
  • Telephone Song: Heavily subverted with "Cyber Stockholm Syndrome", where the protagonist is addicted to her phone rather than real life.
    And she said "I'm not here for love tonight
    The way you touch just don't feel right
    Used to feeling things so cold
    Minimizing windows"
  • Testosterone Poisoning: "Commes des Garçons" lampoons toxic masculine confidence. The music video reflects the theme.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: "XS" note 

    Tropes that apply to her music videos