“Pink Noise” by Zoe Ko is filled to the brim with anger and attitude, a strong musical expression of female rage.
Starting off simple, a repetitive guitar melody is in the background of the first verse as Zoe begins to define what “pink noise” means to her and where it comes from. Zoe’s vocals immediately have immense personality and she is ready to state her facts clearly. She describes how she “blacks out in the mirror” from spending so much time putting on makeup to show the world a prettier, more socially accepted side of her that people will listen to. Listeners of Olivia Rodrigo may see some thematic similarities, especially in this instance, of her “GUTS” b-side “pretty isn’t pretty” in “Pink Noise.” Zoe speaks for many women when she states how it is a “pretty little prison to be a girl and have opinions,” emphasizing a patriarchal pressure placed on women: to be valuable is to have aesthetic beauty. Obviously, this is quite infuriating for her and most other women (“under glitter there’s rage”), and as this expression of rage builds, so does the instrumental, a drum kit kicking in during the pre-chorus. Abruptly so, the punchy-chorus garners the attention of the listener, and the previously plucky, reserved guitar becomes aggressive and spacious.
Like many before her, Zoe references the musical “Carrie” and prom aesthetics lyrically in the second verse as well as in the high-school classroom setting for the music video–an infamous example of when one pushes a seemingly non intimidating girl too far. The MV visually adds onto many of her lyrical points: A group of women students come closer together, bonding over the systems that put them against each other, hallways grow to be cluttered and chaotically messy as they showcase their anger, Zoe recreates the prom scene in “Carrie”, and, pink is seen everywhere.
The bridge details how painful and upsetting many of the sacrifices women make to be seen, like smiling “until it hurts my [their] teeth” and wearing form-fitting clothes to a painful extent. At some point, Zoe meets her width’s end, and the final chorus is a musical representation of hitting that brink. Rather than repeating formally stated lyrics, Zoe changes it up by using “na”; there is no longer an explanation to be given. Frustration has officially reached the max and the song closes just as boldly as it began.