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A Cautionary Tale on "Rebranding": The Case of Camilla Cabello's I Luv It

The early signs of rebranding come in all shapes and forms: Deleting previous social media posts, trying to create new catchphrases around your name, dropping cryptic dates, and the most important one, the textbook classic, hitting the reset button by dyeing your hair blonde.

Even though it's not exactly my cup of tea, I've heard Cabello's previous songs on the radio, not necessarily asking my mom to switch the station or turn it off (though, it might also be because I'm not a pop-despising Rock-Dad and I like having fun). They might lack the "Oh, shit!" factor, but it would be far-fetched to call them bad. Her music is catchy and would cater to a large group of people, the songs seamlessly finding their way into a lot of "Getting Ready with the Girls" playlists. So, when I stumbled upon the tidal wave of online discourse swirling around this song, I figured it was probably just another case of exaggerated hate, amplified by those looking for an excuse to hate women. I mean, how bad could a track from a seasoned pop star really be? Right? ... Right?

Cabello teased her new "hyperpop" rebranding with a video she released on her social media profiles, singing a snippet of her then-upcoming song "I Luv It". The reception wasn't warm, to say the least, which wasn't surprising. Whenever an artist tries to expand beyond what initially made them garner attention and liking in the public eye, they're met with scrutiny and inevitable comparisons to their past selves and other artists. For Cabello, it was the Charli XCX comparisons that shadowed her release cycle. When a comparison like this occurs, especially between two successful women, fans take sides like war dogs, trying to take the other person down in classic Stan Twitter fashion. Charli comparisons were bound to hit, as she has been a household name when it came to pixelated and glitchy pop sounds, the name and chorus resemblance being the cherry on top.

Still haven't heard the song by then, I thought it must be a cool track if it draws inspiration from hyperpop. I was eager to maintain that thought after giving it a listen. Hell, I went into it with open arms, ready appreciate what everybody was hating, soon to log on Twitter to fight with people and calling them women hating pieces of shit who can't appreciate anything without comparing it with something else. I hoped to say that Camila had delivered a unique and provocative piece of work, showcasing her growth and experimental tendencies as an artist. She didn't, though.

The song clocks in at just 2.54 minutes, yet still feels too long for what it offers. The initial snippet shared, as it turns out, is more than enough to assess the song. Cabello described it as "a genuinely chaotic slice of fast and fuzzy digitized pop that whooshes past you like a Miami sports car." Well, it is indeed chaotic, but for all the wrong reasons, executed with the wrong inspirations. If it's meant to whoosh past you like a Miami sports car, it's because it's magnificently forgettable, even with the attempt at creating a memorable chorus where Cabello repeats, you guessed it: "I luv it, I luv it, I luv it, I luv it."

The said "experimental" quirks of the song don't extend beyond sounding like a bit, feeling like disconnected fragments with no clear destination other than trying to appear cool and edgy. It comes off as overly performative, a sentiment echoed in the music video. At first glance, it seems like a "cool" video, but upon closer inspection, it feels like a randomly made collage of what Camila and her team deemed trendy, lacking depth.

The reason this rebranding falls flat isn't its resemblance to hyperpop, as most would assume, but rather the evident lack of understanding of the genre. The attempt at subversion is lost amidst multiple ill-fitting elements. When music emanates from a genuine place, it's felt and often heard. However, in "I Luv It," you can't look beyond the -very- poorly written lyrics and the disjointed beats that imitate something... well, something.

The initial snippet of the song hinted at something more promising and eclectic, sparking genuine excitement about her new sonic direction. Sadly, it misses the mark, leaving the song hanging in the air like a shiny but hollow prop, failing to deliver on its initial promise.


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