It’s a loaded word, and lots of us have been called it — in good contexts and bad. Lennon Stella inverts, twists and wields it on expert levels with her new single “BITCH (takes one to know one).”
Along with her sister Maisy, Stella is one-half of the musical duo Lennon & Maisy, but the past couple of years have seen her refocusing on her own solo projects. Her newest single opens with a boyfriend jokingly calling his girlfriend the derogatory word, forcing her into a position of weakness: “You sent me down the river to see if I would float away.” But she doesn’t float away: She speaks the word aloud in the chorus and turns it on its heel, proclaiming, “It takes a bitch to know a bitch.”
It’s a masterful move to affirm your own position and put down your horrible boyfriend in the fell swoop of a single world, but that’s what Stella does. It’s a concept she returns to time and time again — most notably in the bridge lyric, “You should hear the way you talk to me.” She’s literally making him hear it. But “BITCH (takes one to know one)” is a head-turning song even beyond its lyrical cleverness, boasting a catchy hook and a chorus that sounds jubilant, fun and just the right amount of gloating. It’s Ariana Grande-style pop, too even-handed to be a rant, vocally melodic in a way that elevates Stella miles above the level of the man she’s addressing. She’s in touch with the betrayal and hurt that she feels, but also with her own authority and ability to dictate the relationship she’s in. The real triumph in the song is that these emotions all come through on equal levels, each one validated and accounted for.