The Never-Ending Pursuit of Perfection with Emei’s “That Girl”

Emei © 2022
Emei © 2022
Upcoming alt-pop rockstar Emei expresses her frustration at society’s inane standards of perfection within the roaring melodies of her newest single, “That Girl.”
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Stream: “That Girl” – Emei

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”

If anyone is familiar with this phenomenon, it’s breakout singer-songwriter Emei. Her newest single, “That Girl,” released on July 13, 2022, is the fiery home for unkempt, white-hot rage. Emei’s self-directed frustrations revel in bold instrumentation, as the singer-songwriter narrates her continuous efforts in trying to meet the world’s near-impossible standards of perfection in this song of jarring self-awareness.

That Girl - Emei
That Girl – Emei
She wakes up right before her alarm goes off
Takes herself on a daily walk
Seventy degrees with a light breeze
Drinks coffee black, and she leaves her phone at home
Reading poetry on the coast
Finding inner peace, yeah, I’m tryna be
That girl with the perfect hair
And that girl doesn’t really care
And somehow, everything goes right
For that girl, that girl, wanna be that girl

Not everyone is so daring as to admit their feelings of inadequacy to the entire world, but then again, not everyone is Emei. Emily Li, AKA Emei, has amassed over 345,590 monthly listeners on Spotify after releasing her debut single “Distracted” in August of 2021. Her discography comes marked by catchy, effervescent pop hooks, crisp vocals, and immensely engaging lyrics. Emei scatters everyday struggles — like being left on read and scrutinizing a crush’s every move — throughout her lyrics, winning listeners over with her spirited relatability factor.

Originally leaked in March by Emei on social media one day after she completed the song, fans waited months on end for the release of “That Girl.”

The singer-songwriter snapped after “weeks of trying to keep a habit checklist and failing miserably,” and “That Girl” emerged from the ashes. The track encapsulates Emei’s struggle in constantly comparing herself to those who seem to have it all put together. She sings: “That girl with the perfect hair / And that girl doesn’t really care / And somehow, everything goes right / For that girl, that girl, wanna be that girl,” expressing her dueling awe and envy of those who appear to have their lives figured out to a tee. She provides the imagery of the perfect girl, only to follow it with her dry and self-deprecating description of her own aptitudes that she has deemed far less than perfect: “When I’m running late I dent my car / And I’d call you but my phone’s not charged / Yeah, I’m just that girl who tries like way too damn hard.”

Emei stokes the simmering flame of her rage with a sharpened poker, with meager attempts to keep the flames at bay. The track reaches a climax as the singer explodes, realizing how truly impossible these standards are for anyone to reach. And even though she recognizes the impracticality behind these feelings, she continues to berate herself for repeatedly falling short of the standards that seem so feasible for others.

When I’m running late I dent my car
And I’d call you but my phone’s not charged
Yeah, I’m just that girl who tries like way too damn hard
And I maxed out all my credit cards
Tryna play dress-up to look the part
Now I’m just that girl who tries like way too damn hard
That girl (Na-na, na-na, na-na)
That girl (Na-na, na-na, na-na)
That girl (Na-na, na-na, na-na)
That girl, that girl, wanna be that girl
(My phone just died — No!)

Emei is not alone in this feeling of inadequacy — in the digital age, we open apps and become inundated with endless lifestyle tips and tricks that will supposedly guide us toward the fruition of our best lives. From putting cucumber in your iced water to practicing yoga at 5a.m. — bettering your life seems easier and more glamorous than ever. There isn’t anything to worry about anymore, because muted, beige Instagram feeds hold the answers to all of our first world problems.

Emei © 2022
Emei © 2022

Spoiler alert: Life isn’t beige. On the internet, all of the imperfections of life come shrouded behind a well-curated feed. Social media makes it so easy to build up an impenetrable facade to hide the reality of our lives behind. When, in reality, life is far less than perfect — even for those who project their ideal lives online for the entire world to salivate over. We owe no one perfection, not even ourselves. Human life is meant to be rife with struggles and minor inconveniences, like sleeping past an alarm and having an inconveniently dead phone. These little nuances build character and add some spice into life’s mysterious recipe. Yes, you are allowed to be frustrated with your circumstances, but there is no use in beating yourself over the head with comparison after comparison.

In writing “That Girl,” Emei unshackled herself from the cookie-cutter standards of perfection.

Liberated by the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them, Emei doesn’t have to lead an immaculate life to be happy. And while she might never be able to see herself as a role model, Emei has quickly become someone for her fans to look up to through the magnetism and authenticity found within all of her releases. There is true beauty that comes with owning your individuality, which is something that the musician can easily check off of her checklist.

And thus, Emei doesn’t have to be that girl, because being Emei is more than enough.

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Stream: “That Girl” – Emei

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That Girl - Emei

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