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The official artwork for Sawayama, the debut album by Japanese-British singer-songwriter Rina Sawayama. Alternate versions of the cover do not feature text.
Studio album by
Released17 April 2020 (2020-04-17)
LabelDirty Hit
  • Clarence Clarity
  • Chris Lyon
  • Valley Girl
  • Bram Inscore
  • Danny L Harle
  • Rina Sawayama
  • Jonathan Gilmore
  • Kyle Shearer
Rina Sawayama chronology
Singles from Sawayama
  1. "STFU!"
    Released: 22 November 2019
  2. "Comme Des Garçons (Like the Boys)"
    Released: 17 January 2020
  3. "XS"
    Released: 2 March 2020
  4. "Chosen Family"
    Released: 3 April 2020
  5. "Bad Friend"
    Released: 15 April 2020[1]

Sawayama (stylised in all caps) is the debut studio album by Japanese-British singer-songwriter Rina Sawayama,[2] released on 17 April 2020.[3] It is a follow up to her independently released debut mini album Rina. The album received widespread acclaim from music critics, achieving an aggregate score of 89/100 on Metacritic.[4]

Background and promotion[edit]

Sawayama was recorded in London and Los Angeles.[5] The artist herself stated in a press release that the album "is about family and identity. It's about understanding yourself in the context of two opposing cultures (for me British and Japanese), what "belonging" means when home is an evolving concept, figuring out where you sit comfortably within and awkwardly outside of stereotypes, and ultimately trying to be ok with just being you, warts and all."[3]


"STFU!" was released as the lead single to the then-unannounced album on 21 November 2019.[6] It is a nu metal track and represents a change in direction for Sawayama.[7] The song premiered alongside the music video, which was co-directed by Ali Kurr and Sawayama herself.[8] The single was met with critical acclaim, achieving a score of 82 on the website Album Of The Year (based on both Critic and User reviews).[9]

"Comme Des Garçons (Like the Boys)" was released as the second single to the album, along with the album pre-order,[10] on 17 January 2020. It is a dance track written about female empowerment and the "rejection of traditional masculinity" by gay men.[10] A remix of the track was released a month later, on 21 February 2020, featuring Brazilian drag queen Pabllo Vittar and a new mix by Brabo.[11] A music video featuring the original mix of the song was released to YouTube on 26 February 2020.[12]

"XS" was released as the album's third official single on 2 March 2020.[13] Sawayama stated that the track "is a song that mocks capitalism in a sinking world. Given that we all know global climate change is accelerating and human extinction is a very real possibility within our lifetime it seemed hilarious to me that brands were still coming out with new makeup palettes every month and public figures were doing a gigantic house tour of their gated property in Calabasas in the same week as doing a 'sad about Australian wildfires' Instagram post."[14] This song received positive reviews, with Sofia Meyers of Euphoria stating that "if this is the direction she is going in, we're all in for what's next."[15] A music video for the track was released on 17 April 2020.[16]

"Chosen Family" was the fourth single to be released from the album, on 3 April 2020.[17] A week and a half before the official release date of the single,[18] Sawayama leaked the chords and the lyrics to the track so that fans create their own versions of the track.[19] The day after the single released, a video was uploaded to her official YouTube account featuring her favorite fan made versions of the track, and a tutorial of how to play the song on the guitar.[20]

"Bad Friend" was released as the fifth single from the record on 15 April 2020, two days before the album's release.[21] It was released following its debut on BBC Radio 1 the same day.[22] Sawayama herself has described the track as her favorite from the album and stated that it was written after she found out through social media that her formerly close friend had just had a baby.[21] A karaoke video for the track was released to YouTube on the same day as the release.[23] The music video was released on May 20. The song topped on the Tokio Hot 100.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Album of the Year83/100
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[25]
Consequence of SoundA−[27]
DIY4/5 stars[28]
The Independent4/5 stars[29]
The Line of Best Fit9/10[30]
NME5/5 stars[31]
Q5/5 stars[33]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[34]

Upon release, Sawayama received widespread acclaim from music critics. Aggregator Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 based on reviews from mainstream critics, the album received a score of 89 out of 100, based on reviews from 14 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[4] The album was rated an 8.2 out of 10 on aggregator AnyDecentMusic?.[24]

The Line of Best Fit writer Erin Bashford called it a "deftly intelligent record [that] takes personal and musical themes, and presents them in a way that doesn't feel like it's ever been done before". She also praised Sawayama's "strong and emotional vocals" and "tak[ing] motifs and styles from every genre and era and curat[ing] something that feels futuristic", summing up her review by stating "Rina Sawayama is one-of-a-kind, and her debut album certainly isn't going to be quiet about that".[30] NME complimented Sawayama for being "an exciting first step from an artist unafraid to push pop into new realms".[35] Writing for Pitchfork, Katherine St. Asaph described Sawayama as "a Y2K flashback that’s as reverent of Evanescence and Korn as it is of Britney and Christina."[32]

Track listing[edit]

Sawayama track listing
  • Sawayama
  • Chris Lyon
  • Kyle Shearer
  • Nate Campany
  • Shearer
  • Sawayama
  • Crisp
4."Comme Des Garçons (Like the Boys)"
5."Akasaka Sad"
  • Sawayama
  • Crisp
  • Sawayama
  • Crisp
7."Love Me 4 Me"
  • Sawayama
  • Inscore
  • Morier
8."Bad Friend"
  • Sawayama
  • Shearer
  • Gilmore
9."Fuck This World (Interlude)"
  • Sawayama
  • Crisp
10."Who's Gonna Save U Now?"
  • Sawayama
  • Lattimer
  • Richard Cooper
11."Tokyo Love Hotel"
12."Chosen Family"Sawayama4:08
  • Sawayama
  • Crisp
  • Lattimer
Total length:43:34
Sawayama – Japanese edition (bonus track)
14."Tokyo Takeover"
  • Justin Tailor
  • Sawayama
Total length:47:01


Chart (2020) Peak
Japan Download Albums (Billboard Japan)[36] 65
Scottish Albums (OCC)[37] 67
UK Digital Albums (OCC)[38] 30
UK Independent Albums (OCC)[39] 8
UK Independent Album Breakers (OCC)[40] 2

Release history[edit]

Release formats for Sawayama
Country Date Format Version Label Ref.
Various April 17, 2020 Standard Dirty Hit [41][42][43]


  1. ^ Kenneally, Cerys (15 April 2020). "Rina Sawayama to release new single "Bad Friend" tonight". The Line of Best Fit. Retrieved 15 April 2020.
  2. ^ "Rina Sawayama on Her Wildly Eclectic and Disarmingly Personal Debut Album". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2020-04-14.
  3. ^ a b "SAWAYAMA by Rina Sawayama". Genius. Retrieved 2020-04-14.
  4. ^ a b c "Sawayama by Rina Sawayama Reviews and Tracks". Metacritic. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  5. ^ Strauss, Matthew (17 January 2020). "Rina Sawayama Announces Tour and Debut Album, Shares New Song: Listen". Pitchfork. Retrieved 15 April 2020.
  6. ^ Rina Sawayama – STFU!, retrieved 2020-04-15
  7. ^ Pykeren, Sam Van. "Rina Sawayama wants us to "STFU!" and it's probably best we listen". Mother Jones. Retrieved 2020-04-15.
  8. ^ Kurr, Ali and Rina Sawayama, directors. STFU! YouTube, Dirty Hit , 21 November 2019,
  9. ^ "Rina Sawayama - STFU!". Album of The Year. Retrieved 2020-04-15.
  10. ^ a b Shaffer, Claire (2020-01-17). "Rina Sawayama Announces Debut Album, Shares Pulsing Club Track 'Comme Des Garçons'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2020-04-15.
  11. ^ Rina Sawayama (Ft. Pabllo Vittar) – Comme des Garçons (Like the Boys) [Brabo Remix], retrieved 2020-04-15
  12. ^ Comme Des Garcons (Like The Boys). (2020).
  13. ^ Rina Sawayama – XS, retrieved 2020-04-16
  14. ^ Hussey, Allison. "Listen to Rina Sawayama's New Song 'XS'". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2020-04-16.
  15. ^ "Track review: Rina Sawayama drops new single "XS"". EUPH. 2020-03-05. Retrieved 2020-04-16.
  16. ^ Rina Sawayama (17 April 2020). "Rina Sawayama - XS (Official Video)". YouTube. Retrieved 17 April 2020.
  17. ^ Rina Sawayama – Chosen Family, retrieved 2020-04-16
  18. ^ "Rina Sawayama on Instagram: "👭🏻CHOSEN FAMILY👬🏻 💥GET INVOLVED IN MY NEXT SINGLE CHOSEN FAMILY OUT APRIL 3RD 💥 I decided to LEAK my own lyrics and chords to Chosen…"". Instagram. Retrieved 2020-04-16.
  19. ^ "Rina Sawayama asks fans to interpret her next single 'Chosen Family' and shares chords online | NME". NME Music News, Reviews, Videos, Galleries, Tickets and Blogs | NME.COM. 2020-03-24. Retrieved 2020-04-16.
  20. ^ "Pop Artist REACTS to Fan Covers Chosen Family GUITAR TUTORIAL (Easy) | Rina Sawayama #WithMe." Youtube, Dirty Hit, 4 Apr. 2020,
  21. ^ a b "Rina Sawayama – Bad Friend". Retrieved 2020-04-15.
  22. ^ "Rina Sawayama on Instagram: "the final song before the album drop BAD FRIEND, one of my absolute faves from the record 😭😭😭, is dropping TONIGHT on @anniemac as the…"". Instagram. Retrieved 2020-04-15.
  23. ^ "Bad Friend". YouTube, Dirty Hit, 15 April 2020,
  24. ^ a b "SAWAYAMA by Rina Sawayama reviews". AnyDecentMusic?. Retrieved 16 April 2020.
  25. ^ Yeung, Neil Z. "Sawayama – Rina Sawayama". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  26. ^ Copley, Laura (15 April 2020). "Rina Sawayama – Sawayama". Clash. Retrieved 16 April 2020.
  27. ^ Irving, Jennifer (21 April 2020). "Rina Sawayama Reimagines Modern Pop on Debut SAWAYAMA". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 21 April 2020.
  28. ^ Siregar, Cady (16 April 2020). "Rina Sawayama – SAWAYAMA". DIY. Retrieved 16 April 2020.
  29. ^ Bray, Elisa (16 April 2020). "Rina Sawayama – SAWAYAMA review: An audacious album from one of the boldest voices in pop". The Independent. Retrieved 16 April 2020.
  30. ^ a b Bashford, Erin (13 April 2020). "Rina Sawayama explores her heritage on a deft debut filled with experimentation". The Line of Best Fit. Retrieved 15 April 2020.
  31. ^ Mylrea, Hannah (17 April 2020). "Rina Sawayama – 'SAWAYAMA' review: deeply personal self-portrait lays waste to genre constraints". NME. Retrieved 17 April 2020.
  32. ^ a b St. Asaph, Katherine (20 April 2020). "Rina Sawayama: SAWAYAMA Album Review". Pitchfork. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  33. ^ Aroesti, Rachel (June 2020). "Future Visions". Q. No. 411. p. 98.
  34. ^ Spanos, Brittany (April 17, 2020). "Rina Sawayama Is the Pop Moment on Her Debut Album, 'Sawayama'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
  35. ^ "Win Rina Sawayama 'SAWAYAMA' album!". NME. Retrieved 15 April 2020.
  36. ^ "Billboard Japan Download Albums– April 27, 2020". Billboard Japan (in Japanese). Retrieved April 24, 2020.
  37. ^ "Official Scottish Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 24 April 2020.
  38. ^ "Official Album Downloads Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 24 April 2020.
  39. ^ "Official Independent Albums Chart Top 50". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 24 April 2020.
  40. ^ "Official Independent Album Breakers Chart Top 20". Official Charts Company. Retrieved April 24, 2020.
  41. ^ "SAWAYAMA". Spotify. Retrieved May 9, 2020.
  42. ^ "SAWAYAMA Gold LP". Dirty Hit. Retrieved 2020-05-09.
  43. ^ "SAWAYAMA CD". Dirty Hit. Retrieved May 9, 2020.