GAYLE talks MTV VMA nominations, reflections on 'abcdefu''s success, new single

·4 min read

An extreme dislike of everything about an ex-boyfriend except his canine companion has led MTV PUSH artist GAYLE -- an 18-year-old Nashville resident -- to be listed alongside the likes of Drake, Billie Eilish, Lil Nas X, Harry Styles, Taylor Swift, and The Weeknd as a leading nominee for 2022's MTV Video Music Awards, being broadcast August 28.

A year has elapsed since the release of Billboard No. 1 hit "abcdefu," a rocking, trap-pop song penned by the young artist and two other songwriters, 20-year-old Sara Davis and country/pop songwriter Dave Pittenger. The song is perhaps best described in the way she noted her grandmother did in a March 2022 Tennessean interview:

"You get to say all the things that I never got to at 18."

The engaging and talkative teen performer notes that she fell back asleep when told by her mother of her two nominations (for Best New Artist and Performance of the Year). "That was a nice dream, I thought. But then it wasn't. It's all so unbelievable."

GAYLE candidly notes that being among a group of 26 first-time nominees at the event attests as much to the spiraling growth of social media-viral music as pop hits as it does to the effervescent joy of discovery attached to teenagers discovering other teenagers being empowered by the internet as a space for musical expression.

"All of us girls, especially, going through the same issues, simultaneously, on such a wide scale, are having a moment. So when I succeed, it means more than just having a hit song. It means that we support and understand each other."

Global touring to support the song's achievement of No. 1 status throughout Europe has also been eye-opening for the singer-songwriter. Recent dates in Ireland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom have felt "crazy," as people from different upbringings and social backgrounds singing "abcdefu" are being unified by "beautiful, positive experiences" associated with her music.

"Beautiful, positive experiences" associated with a song that drops a pointed, aggressive expletive every 18 seconds is ironic but accurate. Notably, the breakup anthem curses a laundry list of people and things associated with her ex-boyfriend:

  • his immediate family

  • his automobile

  • his "art"

  • his voice

  • his couch purchased from Craigslist

However, there's one thing the song -- and GAYLE, as the song comes from a true story -- still adores: Her ex-boyfriend's dog, a Shih Tzu named Kayla.

When asked what saved Kayla from her vitriol, she exclaims, "What did his dog do to anyone?!?!? It's so soft, cuddly, and sweet -- it couldn't do me wrong!" GAYLE adds, "The dog didn't raise this person or enable them to be the kind of person who didn't know how to treat me better. His parents treated him like s***, so he treated me like s***."

Gayle, 17-year-old Nashville-based singer and songwriter, poses for a picture in Nashville, Friday, Feb. 25, 2022. Gayle's hit single  "abcdefu" reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the Spotify Global chart. She is signed to Atlantic/Arthouse.
Gayle, 17-year-old Nashville-based singer and songwriter, poses for a picture in Nashville, Friday, Feb. 25, 2022. Gayle's hit single "abcdefu" reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the Spotify Global chart. She is signed to Atlantic/Arthouse.

"I write better songs when I'm not in love," GAYLE continues when asked about her songwriting process moving forward. "My anxiety is intimidating. I'm always thinking, 'I love you, but I'm scared to lose you.'"

Instead, in her next single -- the loping, funk-rock jam "indieedgycool" -- she's aiming at navigating the internet as a churning opinion machine about her art and craft.

She offers that it's best regarded as a sarcastic send-up of Generation Z detractors. "They're always the ones quick to use musical stereotypes to tear me [and other creatives] down. We can yell until our faces turn blue in response to that -- I'd love it if all of my fans were my friends and we could grow together in my artistic journey. But honestly, these people with negative opinions have crossed a line. So, I wrote a song about them."

Insofar as next steps if she does or does not succeed at winning a VMA on Aug. 28, she has a solid handle on her next career steps:

"Now I know what I didn't know. I used to think there was a secret formula for [music industry] success. No, it's just hard work. That's daunting -- but at the same time, it's comforting, too."

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: GAYLE nominated for MTV VMA awards, reflects on 'abcdefu''s success