Cellophane (FKA Twigs song)

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FKA Twigs - Cellophane.png
Single by FKA Twigs
from the album Magdalene
Released24 April 2019 (2019-04-24)
LabelYoung Turks
  • FKA Twigs
  • Kleinman
  • Uzowuru
FKA Twigs singles chronology
"Fukk Sleep"
"Holy Terrain"
Music video
"Cellophane" on YouTube

"Cellophane" (stylised as cellophane) is a song by English singer FKA Twigs, released as the lead single from her second studio album Magdalene (2019).[3] The song was released on 24 April 2019 through Young Turks.[4] It was her first single in three years.[5] Its music video was also released on 24 April.[6] "Cellophane" was met with widespread critical acclaim, with FKA Twigs' vocal performance drawing significant praise.

Background and recording[edit]

After the release of her debut album LP1 in 2014, FKA Twigs (real name Tahliah Debrett Barnett) began dating and eventually became engaged to English actor Robert Pattinson.[7] Their relationship faced significant internet and tabloid attention, and Barnett became subject to racist abuse and hostility from some fans of The Twilight Saga, in which Pattinson played one of the main characters (Edward Cullen), who hoped the actor would recommence his relationship with his Twilight co-star Kristen Stewart.[8][9] It was reported by The Sun in October 2017 that the two had ended their engagement.[10] Several publications consider or speculate that "Cellophane"'s subject matter was inspired by this relationship.[7][8][11]

In an interview with Double J in June 2019, Barnett revealed that she had begun writing "Cellophane" a little over a year from then, although "the feeling for the song maybe started a year before that," during a period of isolation away from friends and family in Los Angeles. She developed an interest in medieval-inspired Gunne Sax dresses from the 1970s, purchasing a large number of them, and consequently would spend a significant amount of time "just wandering around in these medieval dresses." During this period, she began recording a number of songs for an album, including "Cellophane".[12]

Composition and lyrics[edit]

"Cellophane" was written and produced by Barnett alongside Jeff Kleinman and Michael Uzowuru.[6] It is set in common time with a tempo of 107 beats per minute and is composed in the key of D Major, with Barnett's vocals spanning a range of F#3 to F#5.[13] The song has been characterised by critics as a piano ballad with additional strings, synths and a minimal beatboxed rhythm.[14][15][16] However, at the 2:42 mark, "the piano stops and this visceral, metallic-y reverb throws the entire track into free fall before the drum swoops in to lock the tempo back down," as noted by Danielle Cohen of GQ.[17] The A.V. Club's Randall Colburn considered the song to be "all about texture, with round, rippling beats underscoring sharp, shadowy loops and Twigs' crystalline vocals."[18]

The song's lyrics focus on a breakup, where FKA Twigs sings of her unrequited love, desperately trying to salvage her relationship despite public disapproval and the lack of reciprocation from her lover.[8][19] "Cellophane" has been noted for FKA Twigs' breathy soprano and falsetto vocals,[20][15][7] and the singer's technique ranges from "breathy devastation to high notes of carefully controlled keening."[21] Sasha Geffen of Vulture wrote that the singer's voice "cracks and groans and breaks, as if it's dragging more weight than it can bear."[7] Other publications have highlighted how the song's sparse background serves to bring her vocals to its forefront.[22][8][23]


FKA Twigs mailed out physical copies of the artwork to various fans with a handwritten note that read: "You are one of my more loyal supporters, so I wanted to write to you directly to let you know — it's time. FKA twigs."[5] Tower Records in Shinjuku, Japan tweeted that they would be distributing copies of the artwork that was mailed to fans from 26 April.[24]

The music video was available as a countdown for several hours on 23 April before being taken down; the information in the description listed its director as Andrew Thomas Huang and production company as Object & Animal.[25] FKA Twigs later formally announced its release for 24 April.[26]

Critical reception[edit]

"Cellophane" received widespread acclaim from music critics upon its release, with many directing their praise at FKA Twigs' vocal performance. Pitchfork awarded it Best New Track and named it the best song of 2019,[27] with writer Michelle Kim praising its minimalist and stripped-back production for bringing FKA Twigs' "delicate" and "impossibly moving" voice to the forefront.[15] Raisa Bruner of Time called it a "softly unsettling, devastating tune,"[28] while The Guardian's Sam Wolfson described it as "vulnerable, honest and apparently not flogging anything."[29] In his review for NME, Tom Connick dubbed it "a raw-as-you-like taste of FKA Twigs' singular talent"; he also noted the lack of studio manipulation of Twigs' vocals found in her earlier work, which he considered refreshing.[30] Danielle Cohen, writing for GQ, applauded the unpredictability of track, stating that "when you think you get the gist of its sound, it morphs into something totally new." She further praised its ability to turn its lyrical theme of vulnerability "into something dynamic and textured, not to mention simply stunning."[17]

The 405 named "Cellophane" the day's best track, with Rob Hakimian expressing both surprise and approval at the lack of "erratic beats and bass that has characterised her work thus far" in favour of a "skeletal piano ballad," allowing Twigs to "show off her stunning vocal abilities."[22] Sasha Geffen of Vulture said that "if she sounded aloof on previous records, she sheds that protective layer here," summarising that "this is Twigs at her slowest, most serene, and most painful."[7] Consequence of Sound's Brad Dountz opined that "so much emotional weight haunts every chord of FKA twigs’ return single," adding that the singer "shines brightly when she transforms her past into a sharp and self-aware marvel."[31] Philip Cosores of Uproxx praised Twigs' songwriting and singing ability on display on the track, writing that "the dramatic piano-driven piece is as vulnerable as it gets, with her voice quivering with emotional outpouring as the song expands into technicolor."[32]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Organization Award Result Ref.
2019 MTV Video Music Awards Best Direction Nominated [33]
Best Visual Effects Nominated
Best Choreography Nominated
UK Music Video Awards Best Alternative Video - UK Won [34]
Best Choreography in a Video Nominated
Best Cinematography in a Video Won
Best Editing in a Video Won
Best Visual Effects in a Video Won
2020 62nd Annual Grammy Awards Best Music Video Nominated [35]

Music video[edit]

In May 2018, Barnett disclosed in an Instagram post that she had undergone laparoscopic surgery to have six fibroid tumours removed from her uterus. She described them as "a fruit bowl of pain every day", revealing that her nurse "said that the weight and size was like being six months pregnant". This was accompanied with a video of her practicing pole dancing; she wrote that her "confidence as a woman was knocked" and wondered if her body "would ever feel the same again", but while practicing her dancing at the time of the post, she "felt like [her] strong self again for the first time in a while and it was magical."[36] Until the single's release, she posted more videos displaying her progress in pole dancing in between clips of martial arts training.[15]

In a statement accompanying the release of the "Cellophane", Barnett revealed that she expressly learned to pole dance over a year before the music video was shot in order to realise her vision for it.[37] The video was directed by Andrew Thomas Huang and was released on 24 April 2019 via her YouTube channel. It depicts Twigs pole dancing in front of an unseen audience, climbing the pole to meet a large flying insect which wears her face, falling into an "underworld",[38] and then being covered in clay by two female creatures.[6] Huang described the video as "imagery of her ascending and then falling through an image of herself."[38] It was named the best music video of 2019 by Pitchfork.[39]



Chart (2019) Peak
New Zealand Hot Singles (RMNZ)[40] 30
UK Indie (OCC)[41] 46

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format Label Ref.
Various 24 April 2019 Digital download Young Turks [42]


  1. ^ https://fourthree.staging-web.boilerroom.tv/film/fka-twigs-cellophane
  2. ^ https://wiux.org/read/fka-twigs-stuns-with-a-long-awaited-new-release-of-cellophane/
  3. ^ Dunn, Frankie (2 September 2019). "How Losing Everything Saved FKA Twigs". I-D. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  4. ^ Maicki, Salvatore (23 April 2019). "FKA twigs announces new single 'Cellophane'". The Fader. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  5. ^ a b Skinner, Tom (23 April 2019). "'It's time': FKA twigs set to release comeback single 'Cellophane' this week". NME. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  6. ^ a b c Sodomsky, Sam (24 April 2019). "FKA twigs Returns With New Song and Video 'Cellophane': Watch". Pitchfork. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
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  8. ^ a b c d "The 5 Best Songs Of The Week". Stereogum. 26 April 2019. Retrieved 5 August 2019.
  9. ^ Beaumont-Thomas, Ben; Snapes, Laura (8 May 2019). "50 great tracks for May from FKA twigs, Sunn O))), Stormzy and more". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 August 2019.
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  11. ^ "The Spinoff Music's songs of the month: April". The Spinoff. 30 April 2019. Retrieved 6 August 2019.
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  13. ^ "FKA twigs "Cellophane" Sheet Music in D Major (transposable)". musicnotes.com. Retrieved 4 August 2019.
  14. ^ Burks, Tosten (24 April 2019). "FKA Twigs – "Cellophane"". Spin. Retrieved 5 August 2019.
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  16. ^ Pareles, Jon; Caramanica, Jon; Ganz, Caryn; Russonello, Giovanni (26 April 2019). "The Playlist: Taylor Swift Wants to Start Over, and 7 More New Songs". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 August 2019.
  17. ^ a b "The 4.5 Songs You Need to Hear Right Now". GQ. 25 April 2019. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
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  19. ^ "The 50 Best Songs of 2019 (So Far): Staff Picks". Billboard. 4 June 2019. Retrieved 5 August 2019.
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  24. ^ Tower Records [@TOWER_Shinjuku] (23 April 2019). "【#fkatwigs】4月26日(金)から新宿店洋楽フロア9Fインフォメーションカウンターにて、新世代のアイコン、FKA Twigsのポスターを無料配布致します。 ※先着順につきお一人様一枚まで、電話等での取り置き不可とさせていただきます。 無くなり次第終了致します。是非お立ち寄り下さいませ〜!#ROCK" [【#fkatwigs】April 26 at the information desk of the Shinjuku Western on floor 9F, a poster of the new album art from FKA Twigs will be distributed free of charge. ※ You can't reserve by phone. One poster per person on a first-come, first-served basis. Get it quickly while supplies last! #ROCK] (Tweet) (in Japanese) – via Twitter.
  25. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkLjqFpBh84; https://pbs.twimg.com/media/D42YtSkWsAYgr79.jpg
  26. ^ "throughout my life I've practiced my way to being the best I could be, it didn't work this time. I had to tear down every process I'd ever relied on. go deeper. rebuild. start again. cellophane is coming, tomorrow 7:30pm bst / 11:30am pacific / 2:30pm eastern". 23 April 2019. Retrieved 24 April 2019 – via Twitter.
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  28. ^ Bruner, Raisa (26 April 2019). "The 5 Songs You Need to Listen to This Weekend". Time. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  29. ^ Wolfson, Sam (3 May 2019). "Tracks of the week reviewed: FKA twigs, Bruce Springsteen, Stormzy". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  30. ^ Connick, Tom (25 April 2019). "FKA Twigs' stripped-back new single presents the cyber-pop star at her most human". NME. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  31. ^ Dzubay, Laura; Dountz, Brad; Reed, Parker (27 April 2019). "Song of the Week: Lizzo Is Her Own Role Model on "Like a Girl"". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  32. ^ Cosores, Philip (30 April 2019). "All The Best New Indie Music From This Week". Uproxx. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  33. ^ Swift, Andy (23 July 2019). "VMA Nominations: Taylor Swift vs. Ariana Grande and More — Full List". TVLine. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  34. ^ "UK Music Video Awards 2019: all the nominations! | News | Promonews". Promonewstv.
  35. ^ "2020 GRAMMY Awards: Complete Nominees List". GRAMMY.com. 18 November 2019. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  36. ^ Khomami, Nadia (3 May 2018). "FKA twigs says uterus surgery 'knocked my confidence as a woman'". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
  37. ^ Rossignol, Derrick (24 April 2018). "FKA Twigs Shows Off Her Pole Dancing Skills In Her Supernatural And Striking Video For 'Cellophane'". Uproxx. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
  38. ^ a b Benjamin, Jess (8 May 2019). "We talk to the genius behind the FKA twigs 'Cellophane' video". Evening Standard. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  39. ^ "The 20 Best Music Videos of 2019". Pitchfork. 17 December 2019. Retrieved 8 June 2020.
  40. ^ "NZ Hot Singles Chart". Recorded Music NZ. 6 May 2019. Retrieved 3 May 2019.
  41. ^ "Official Independent Singles Chart Top 50". Official Charts Company. Retrieved May 23, 2020.
  42. ^ "Cellophane - Single by FKA twigs on Apple Music". Apple Music. Retrieved 5 August 2019.