Sabrina Carpenter Is This Summer's Pop Princess

Picture this: It's the summer of 2014. You've curated the perfect playlist of pop songs (the options seem to be endless) to set the vibes for going shopping with your besties while sipping on sweet frappuccinos. Life is good.

By Meghan Dillon3 min read
Getty/Frazer Harrison

While we can't (yet) time travel back to those days, 25-year-old pop princess Sabrina Carpenter is bringing back the summer pop hits that we collectively took for granted a decade ago.

Her sixth studio album, Short n’ Sweet, is set to release August 23, but singles like “Espresso” and “Please Please Please” have already taken pop culture by storm. Both songs are all over social media and pop radio as the soundtrack of summer 2024.

From Child Actor to Pop Star

Born in Pennsylvania in 1999, Carpenter got her start in the entertainment industry by posting YouTube videos of her singing. In 2009, she placed third in The Next Miley Cyrus Project competition. She began her acting career at age 12 in 2011, with her first role being a guest spot on Law and Order: SVU. She had a couple more guest roles on television before she booked her big break on Disney Channel's Boy Meets World spinoff, Girl Meets World. Carpenter played Maya, the sassy best friend of the main character Riley (Rowan Blanchard), Cory and Topanga's adolescent daughter. Carpenter remained on the cast for all three seasons of the show before it wrapped in 2017. 

Disney Enterprises Inc/Ron Tom/Girl Meets World/2014
Disney Enterprises Inc/Ron Tom/Girl Meets World/2014

Since the end of Girl Meets World, she's had roles in movies like The Hate U Give, Tall Girl, Work It, and Clouds. She also played the iconic role of Cady Heron in the Broadway production of Mean Girls in 2020.

Outside her acting career, she's released five albums from ‌2015 to 2022. Her music was relatively popular during this time, but she didn't explode onto the music scene until she opened for Taylor Swift on the Eras Tour during the tour's shows in Latin America, Australia, and Singapore in late 2023 and early 2024. This contributed to her rise in popularity, which landed her a spot as a headliner at Coachella 2024.

Sabrina Carpenter’s Summer Pop Hits

Before her stint on the Eras Tour, her most popular album was Emails I Can't Send, which was released in the summer of 2022. Popular singles include “Nonsense” and “Feather,” the latter song peaking at 21 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album is the type of fun summer pop music that made Ariana Grande a household name in the early 2010s, but Carpenter reached pop princess status when she released the single “Espresso” in April 2024.

To say that the song was a hit would be the understatement of the year. With its fun beat and catchy lyrics (we can't choose between “I can't relate to desperation” and “I'm working late ‘cause I'm a singer” as our favorite), it's the perfect summer song. Its music video features the aesthetic of a glamorous retro summer at the beach that manages to capture the classic fun summer vibes of both Mamma Mia! and Barbie. The song peaked at third place on the Billboard Hot 100, but it was only the start of the summer of Sabrina Carpenter.

Carpenter followed “Espresso” with “Please Please Please,” which just reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 (impressively topping Post Malone and Morgan Wallen's hit, “I Had Some Help”). With lyrics like “heartbreak is one thing, my ego’s another, I beg you don't embarrass me motherf***er,” it was destined to become a viral hit.

One of the many things that makes this song amazing is how Carpenter has brought back the lost art of the music video. It starts where the “Espresso” video ends, with Carpenter being released from jail, only to become infatuated with an incoming prisoner. This man is her IRL boyfriend and Saltburn actor Barry Keoghan, and the video gives serious Thelma and Louise and Natural Born Killers vibes. She falls in love with him after a visit and bails him out of jail, only to see what landed him there in the first place.

He appears to be a member of a gang and beats up multiple men, kidnaps one, and robs a bank at gunpoint, which gets him arrested again. Carpenter begs him to stop proving critics of their relationship right by being a bad guy, something every girl who's ever fallen for a bad boy can relate to.

The song and video are hilarious, campy, and essentially summer pop gold. Sabrina Carpenter is bringing back the summer pop vibes that Katy Perry and Ariana Grande popularized in the early 2010s, and we can't get enough of her.

What Makes Sabrina Carpenter Stand Out

From Billie Elish to Olivia Rodrigo, there are plenty of female pop stars in 2024 who aren't named Taylor Swift. While we love Billie’s and Olivia's music, they primarily make more emotional music. As much as we love sad girl anthems like “What Was I Made For” and “Driver's License,” we prefer more fun and upbeat songs for the summer.

Remember in the early 2010s when Rihanna, Katy Perry, Selena Gomez, and Ariana Grande dominated pop music? Wasn't that so much fun? Carpenter's music echoes similar vibes. Like her peers, she has a unique sense of style that is feminine yet retro yet modern. She's bringing the pop princess back, and we love her for it.

TikTok user @tarotreimagined sums it up perfectly, saying, “Part of the reason why Sabrina Carpenter is so popular is ‘cause she's giving up what Ariana Grande stopped giving us in 2020, which is a perfect reminder that you gotta give the people what they want.”

Last summer, women around the world learned how to embrace feminine joy through pop culture phenomenons like Taylor Swift's Eras Tour and the Barbie movie. It helped many let go of the idea that fun and feminine things are frivolous. Sabrina Carpenter continues this through her music and her flirty and feminine image.

Carpenter isn't the only pop princess making headlines this summer – Chappell Roan and Charli XCX are also experiencing an increase in popularity. However, what separates Carpenter from her peers is that her music appeals to a broad audience. Both Chappell Roan and Charli XCX cater to a more alternative audience while Carpenter appears to be the next Ariana Grande. Grande was successful in her prime because she appealed to young girls, teens, and adults of different backgrounds. Carpenter is doing the same thing, and we can't wait to see where it takes her.

Closing Thoughts

Even ahead of her new album release, it's clear that it's the summer of Sabrina Carpenter. Pop princess, Carpenter, has made music upbeat and fun again and we all owe our nostalgic, sunny jam sessions this season to her.

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