Willow Smith shows a different side of herself in her new angst-driven rock single “Transparent Soul” in collaboration with Blink-182’s drummer Travis Barker.
Although, while her new work is distinctly different from her past projects, she’s been known to experiment with her music before, so I can’t say it’s too unbelievable she turned punk. From her experimental pop, alt R&B debut album Ardipithecus to the acoustic sounds on The 1st to the psychedelic folk influences on her self-titled album Willow, she shows that she has the drive and range to incorporate a variety of sounds into her music.
Each new project she has works on she reinvents herself and this time is no different.
In the music video for “Transparent Soul,” she’s gone full punk– chains, spikes, studs, heavy eyeliner, platform boots, and everything else you’d associate with the classic punk look.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Smith says that the pandemic gave her the opportunity to experiment with her music and try out this new sound she’d been eyeing for a while.
“When I first started doing my own music, and my parents got me a vocal coach, we only did pop and R&B kind of vibes, and so for my entire life, I didn’t think I had the voice to sing this kind of music or sing rock in general.”
Smith explained that her newest sound was inspired by several artists including Canadian pop punk singer Avril Lavigne and emo bands like My Chemical Romance. You can definitely hear the 90s and early 2000s punk rock groups like Paramore and Blink-182. Her experience of touring with her mother as a child also contributed to her interest in rock music since she occasionally toured with heavy metal bands and other such groups.
She says the song itself and the idea of “Transparent Soul” was inspired by a quote by Radhanath Swami, a Hindu guru:
“It is said that a saintly person is so pure that he or she acts like a spotless mirror. When we come in the presence of such a mirror-like soul, we can see both the beauty and ugliness of our inner life.”
For a song inspired advice from a Hindu guru, it’s pretty angsty. In the song, she addresses the fake people in her life who’ve tried to use her from the suck ups to the snakes. Overtime, she’s gotten the ability to see right through all the people who try to deceive her, their deeper intentions are all clear to her now.
While the angsty lyrics and overall message is rather shallow — which isn’t out of place for a lot of punk music to be fair — this newest work of Smith’s expands her career by showing she’s not afraid to dip outside of people’s expectations for her and her music.