What does it mean to be a pop songwriter in 2023? Part of the job is what it always has been: coming up with catchy melodies, pithy lyrics and instrumental hooks; create sharply defined verses and choruses; capturing short attention spans while leveraging widely shared experiences.
“Pop texture is always in my songs,” says 20-year-old Hannah Jadagu, whose debut album “Aperture” is due out Friday. In a video chat from her dorm room at New York University, she added, “I like a good hook or a good chorus. I like a good banger. I like a pop hit.”
Jadagu’s dormitory is spartan. An otherwise bare wall is decorated with a poster of a fierce-looking woman’s face, provenance unknown; Jadagu saved it from a discard pile. Another shows a few posters and passes from her recent tours; Jadagu interrupted her college education in 2022 to tour and write her album. Her room is now mostly a musician’s workspace, with her computer, a MIDI keyboard and three guitars within reach. When she came to NYU, where she is now in her third year, she considered becoming a music supervisor and leaned into music studies as a business, but soon began to focus on her own songs.
Jadagu has a clear visual presence – a cascade of long, blond braids framing her face – and an infectious smile, which is especially noticeable when she quotes musicians from whom she has learned, famous and lesser. She mentioned Charli XCX, Frank Ocean, SZA, Haim, Billie Eilish, Tame Impala, the Beatles, Ellie Goulding, CeeLo Green, Clairo, beabadoobee, Vampire Weekend, Steve Lacy, Snail Mail, MIA, Grouplove, Winnetka Bowling League, Ritt Momney , the Japanese house, Kevin Abstract and more. Many of them, she openly admits, had an immediate impact on the song she was working on when she heard them.