Pick of the Week: Rainbow Kitten Surprise “Superstar”

Graphics of a wind-up ballerina box, on a brown wooden table, with a pink wall behind. Grey text reads "Superstar, Rainbow Kitten Surprise." A blue guitar pick in the top right corner reads "WERS 88.9 FM Pick of the Week"
Graphics by Sarah Tarlin

By Nora Onanian, Web Services Coordinator

Between their triumphant return to music some six years since their last album as well as an apparent rebrand, Rainbow Kitten Surprise have recently lived up to the surprise portion of their name. 

The Boone, North Carolina-formed band announced a forthcoming studio album in March, alongside the release of a new single, “Superstar.” 

Glamorous in production and in styling, almost gloating in tone, and their most pop-leaning track to date, “Superstar” feels like everything that the band’s 2015 hit “Devil Like Me” isn’t.   

The new direction has some longtime fans split in opinion. But what’s undeniable is the band’s continued effort to carve out their own space in the music scene, transcendent of genres and other conventions.  



“Superstar” comes from a long lineage of songs with the same name… 

Most recently, Beach House put out an ethereal, dream pop song of remembering the goodness someone brought to a relationship. Then, there’s Jamelia’s iconic take from the early 2000s. The lyrics to the chorus go: “I don't know who you are. But you must be some kind of superstar, 'Cause you got all eyes on you. No matter where you are.” And even earlier — 1971 — , the Carpenters released a devotion of love amid loneliness that they titled “Superstar.” 

Of course you could argue that these songs have little in common with one another apart from the title. But it feels notable when looking at the aesthetic and body language shown by Rainbow Kitten Surprise’s lead singer Ela Melo and the lyrics of the song — clear nods to the pre-existing image of what those before them have made the “Superstar” image out to be. 



In the video, Melo appears in heavy glam and a shiny outfit, dancing and jumping around a pink tiled hallway. The image is of a frontwoman reveling in her success, both creative and personal. Most of the song sees Ela remind an ex of how highly they once thought of her. She questions how that superstar light they once saw her in could be gone. The chorus goes:  

You told me you loved mе, baby. I'm your superstar again. I was always gonna win. I was so above the rеst. In your eyes, in your mind, in your heart, in your head. I'm your superstar, I'm your superstar. I can't be nothing less”

Later, though, we see a flash of something else. Ela and the band sit on the floor, all wearing black. They are huddled, working together to strum an acoustic guitar, while Melo sings the more emotional lyrics: “Oh, won't you say it out loud? Won't you say you're damn proud, of me just when I'm down? Someday when it counts, I'm gonna beat the buzzer, babe.” 

Melo has been open about her mental health struggles, something that also seems to be referenced through these lyrics. In April, the band posted to Instagram: “Next month [May] is Mental Health Awareness month, and it also happens to be the month we head out on tour and release an album. This never would have been possible if it weren’t for the support of healthcare professionals, friends, and family.” They also previously cited mental health being the reason for their hiatus, and the sudden cancellation of their last tour. 

Ultimately, “Superstar” isn’t just a declaration of Ela’s worth for just her ex, or even for her listeners, it also feels like a personally-beneficial declaration of persevering and coming out on top of her struggles. 


Rainbow Kitten Surprise’s fourth album, Love Hate Music Box, is set to come out later this week on Friday, May 10th. With rawer vocals and overtly introspective lyrics, more recently released singles “SVO” and “Overtime” — the latter which features Kacey Musgraves — may give ‘oldschool’ RKS listeners more of a taste of what they were hoping for. Only time will tell what the rest of the album and their upcoming tour have in store, but for now, the released singles — “Superstar” included — are showing promise that it will be one of this year’s most exciting releases … 


Every Monday, our music staff brings you a new Pick of The Week, detailing some of our favorite songs. Check out our previous Picks of the Week here, and make sure to tune in to WERS 88.9FM!

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