Vocab Lesson

Here’s why Chappell Roan is the opposite of an industry plant

Chappell Roan is many things: A rising pop princess. A lesbian icon. Your favorite artist’s favorite artist. But one thing she is not is an industry plant — regardless of what some folks on the internet may believe.

The discourse started with a viral post with a screenshot of Roan’s album The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess. “We can all agree she’s the clearest example of an industry plant right?” wrote the user, immediately catching the attention of Roan’s fandom (and anyone who knows what the term “industry plant” actually means).

Let’s break down what an industry plant is, so we can be clear on what it isn’t. There’s no concrete definition, but generally, Industry plants are people who seemingly become celebrities out of nowhere thanks to their connections, wealth, or being arbitrarily chosen by industry executives. The most important aspect of industry planthood, though, is that their popularity is artificial. They’re pushed on the public for reasons beyond their talent, propelling them to instant fame without any real effort.

Does Chappell Roan fit the bill? No, not even a little bit.

Roan’s been grinding at her musical career for a decade now, beginning with YouTube videos under her original stage name Kayleigh Rose (which got a shoutout from Troye Sivan back in 2014). Since then, she’s consistently released singles and an EP leading up to her debut album in 2023, and even then, she didn’t blow up in popularity until this year’s breakout hit “Good Luck, Babe!” and her standout performances at Coachella, NPR’s Tiny Desk, and Olivia Rodrigo’s Guts World Tour.

Beyond her career trajectory, Roan’s backstory, values, and identity just don’t fit the bill of an industry plant, either. She’s politically outspoken, openly a lesbian, a massive supporter of drag and queer history, and a self-proclaimed midwest princess hailing from Missouri — all things that the music industry doesn’t look kindly on. If an industry plant’s whole deal is marketability, someone like Roan simply wouldn’t be a music executive’s first choice.

Besides all that, she’s a wildly talented vocalist and stellar live performer, both of which show her natural progression to her current level of fame. She wasn’t randomly thrust into the spotlight; she worked hard for it, and she more than deserves it.

It’s only the latest controversy around Roan to take over the internet, from critiques of her choice to perform in red states to straight-men-at-Pride discourse stemming from a video filmed at her concert. What she’s done to stir up so much negative conversation — besides dare to be gay, famous, and outspoken — is anyone’s guess. To borrow a phrase from meme queen Cara Cunningham, leave Chappell alone!

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