“Who Cares?” is “Worth It”

Ella Kharrazi

Releasing his fourth album on March 11, 2022, Alex O’Connor, more commonly known as Rex Orange County (ROC), presents a new, positive side of himself as he follows the album title’s theme, “Who Cares?” Despite references to normal young adult hardships sprinkled into the lyrics of the 11 tracks on the album, the overall tone is hopeful, contrasting previous albums in which songs called “Stressed Out” and “Never Enough” were featured.

Released on March 11, Rex Orange County’s new album encapsulates the feeling of summer with his easy, flowing sound and uncomplicated lyrics. Photo Courtesy of Tidal

The English singer and songwriter spoke about the album with New Musical Express (NME) magazine, saying, “I want the music to sound and feel free because I feel free in a sense … I’m not worrying about what I’m saying and how it’s being construed by people.” His carefree spirit is clearly depicted in “Who Cares?”

Opening with a calming melody of string instruments, ROC sets the tone for the album in the first song, “Keep It Up.” He enters an upbeat tune early in the song, reflecting on telling himself to “keep it up and go on” when feeling “stressed and depressed,” a message young listeners often need to hear. His “Who Cares?” mentality is effectively conveyed in the song. ROC sings about “no longer owing the strangers,” portraying his discovery that he can pursue his desires rather than worrying about the judgment of others. The simple yet relatable lyrics resonate with an audience of teenagers and young adults, providing the ideal album to listen to when seeking relaxation.  

The second song on the album, “Open a Window,” features Grammy-nominated artist Tyler, the Creator. The pair previously collaborated on Tyler, the Creator’s album “Flower Boy,” with ROC contributing to two songs. As Tyler, the Creator raps a verse in “Open a Window,” a unique blend of rap and indie music allows this song to be enjoyed by various music tastes. The soothing violin mixed with a variety of percussion instruments also forms an irresistible sound, reminiscent of summer days spent basking in the sun. Following the style of most of his other songs, the blatant, easy-to-follow lyrics transport you to a time when your mind was not bombarded with Shakespeare’s complicated iambs, and analyzing essays for Advanced Placement Language and Composition was not a constant source of anxiety. 

“I want the music to sound and feel free because I feel free in a sense … I’m more independent in my life and in a better place,” Rex Orange County said to New Musical Express magazine about his new album, “Who Cares?” Photo Courtesy of New Musical Express magazine

ROC finishes the album with the title song, “Who Cares?” In an effortless humming melody at the beginning of the song, the artist brings the listener into his untroubled state early on. Although he concedes he holds self-doubts, ROC repeats the phrase “Who cares?” throughout the song. “There’s really no point in living in fear,” he sings, urging his listeners to join him in his carefree approach to life.

“I cared for a long, long time about what people would think about me, and I found it a bit difficult to know who I was,” ROC told NME. “I’m definitely more comfortable with who I am now and it just took time and growing up.” 

ROC’s growth is reflected throughout the album. With a positive message and summer-like feel, “Who Cares?” will no doubt put you in a happy, easy-going state of mind. Limited lyrics and extended instrumental sections in several of the songs of the album also create a mellow atmosphere if looking for a melody to play as background music. Whether embarking on your own journey of self-discovery or simply seeking a laid-back album, you can find ROC’s “Who Cares?” on Spotify or Apple Music.

Song Rankings:

  1. “Keep It Up” – 4/5 stars
  2. “Open a Window” – 3.5/5 stars
  3. “Worth It” – 4/5 stars
  4. “Amazing” – 5/5 stars
  5. “One in a Million” – 4.5/5 stars
  6. “If You Want It” – 2.5/5 stars
  7. “7am” – 3/5 stars
  8. “The Shade” – 4/5 stars
  9. “Making Time” – 3/5 stars
  10. “Shoot Me Down” – 4.5/5 stars
  11. “Who Cares?” – 3.5/5 stars