Crossing a line

St. Vincent’s song about SOPHIE has the gays riled up…in a bad way

In 2021, the world was rocked when trailblazing trans music producer and songwriter SOPHIE fell to her death in Athens after climbing on a rooftop to photograph the full moon. As impactful an artist as SOPHIE was, it only makes sense that other artists would honor her in their own music. But according to SOPHIE’s fans, those tributes often cross a line — including a new song from St. Vincent.

The song, “Sweetest Fruit” off St. Vincent’s new album All Born Screaming, references SOPHIE’s death in its first verse: “My Sophie climbed the roof / To get a better view of the moon / Moon / My God, then one wrong step / Took her down to the depths / But for a minute, what a view / What a view,” St. Vincent sings.

Fans immediately took issue with the lyrics for seemingly glamorizing SOPHIE’s tragic death. They also, like many tributes to SOPHIE, seem fixated on her final moments, rather than honoring her life and her art. Plus, St. Vincent and SOPHIE never met before her passing, making it even stranger to get so personal about her death.

St. Vincent explained her intentions for the song in an interview with Rolling Stone UK. “I was a fan of SOPHIE’s from afar but we never met,” she said. “I read about the circumstances of her death and it was so tragic, but this idea that she was an artist who was always reaching for new things and taking risks, right? And this idea that she was just trying to get a better look at the moon. That moved me because there are a lot of us in human history, people looking for something on the outer reaches.”

“It’s such a fraught territory and I didn’t necessarily want to mention it was for her, because it could get twisted and turned into something ugly,” St. Vincent continued. “As artists, you can feel a camaraderie with artists if you like their work, even if you don’t know them. And I like this idea that we’re all fighting the same fight, we’re all part of the same army so when you see somebody go down, it’s very heartbreaking.”

St. Vincent isn’t the only artist to catch flak for referencing SOPHIE’s death in a tribute song. Caroline Polachek’s 2023 song “I Believe” repeats the phrase, “Look over the edge, but not too far,” and Polachek has said the song is dedicated to SOPHIE, who was her good friend before her passing. Like with St. Vincent’s song, though the lyrics are well-intentioned, fans are uncomfortable with Polachek’s emphasis on the way SOPHIE died, rather than her life.

So, are there any songs about SOPHIE that fans think are respectful to the late great artist? Some pointed to SOPHIE’s frequent collaborator Charli XCX, whose upcoming album BRAT features a track called “So I.” She performed the song at the 2024 Billboard Women In Music event last month. It references and samples SOPHIE’s song “It’s Okay to Cry”: “When I’m on stage sometimes I lie / Say that I like singing these songs you left behind / And I know you always said, ‘It’s okay to cry’ / So I know I can cry, I can cry, so I cry,” Charli sings on the chorus.

The track will be streaming along with the rest of BRAT on June 7.

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