Story Behind the Song: Lily Rose, ‘Villain’
Lily Rose loves an uptempo, happy song as much as the next person -- but "Villain," her breakout single, is not that. The song examines what it's like to be painted as the villain after a romantic relationship ends, though as the singer has discovered, listeners have found it to be more widely applicable.
"Villain" is a literal overnight success story: It quickly took off on the short-form video platform TikTok in late 2020, earning Rose a legion of new fans, not to mention a record deal. And as it reached that wide audience, Rose recalls, listeners began sharing how the song's lyrics were reminding them of non-romantic relationships, too.
Below, Rose shares the story behind "Villain," which she co-wrote with Kyle Clark and Mackenzie Carpenter.
We've all had exes or parents or friends or anything that don't always take the situation and run with the amicable thing you agreed upon, you know?
I walked into the room that day, and I'd had the title in my phone for a while. I thought it was just a really strong, cold title, you know? I was intrigued by that.
I got to talking with my co-writers ... I was dealing with a year out from a breakup where reputation was questioned and things were put on the line, and we all were kind of like, "Wow, we've been through that."
We wrote the song in about an hour and a half; it was one of those ones that was real quick ... And then bringing it to my producer, Matt Morrisey, is where it really exploded. The lyric and the melody is great and impressive, but with Matt, what he did to make it this superhero, Marvel-meets-Sam Hunt, Keith Urban country -- it still blows me away. I still hear it and am like, "What the heck, dude?" ...
[It's been cool] seeing all the people talk about how they've felt that with their mom, they've felt that with their sister, all of this stuff, but the romantic aspect of the song, just right in the beginning ... I feel like those [lyrics] are kind of the three main bullet points when you break up with somebody, if they're trying to taint your reputation, those are the things they go after, and I feel like we really nailed that down ...
I love a good, uptempo, high-energy banger for sure ... but, yeah, this one's just been really cool to see everyone feel so close to it ... All three of the writers, we're all in super-happy relationships, too, so that's been a really fun thing of just being able to tell a story that hits so close to home that we're not even feeling this right now and we were able to still put this much into it.