Conan Gray’s singles are stunning works of art that embody his personal style


Sometimes, I find that songs sound exactly like the artist that sings them; their sounds embody their being. Conan Gray, both a singer and Youtuber, has a unique sound that matches his unique style.

I first discovered Conan on Youtube and was instantly entranced by his clothes, which isn’t weird. I hope. He has such a distinct wardrobe that is bursting at the seams with primary colors, thrifted polo shirts, and windbreakers that it’s hard not to look at what he’s wearing.

And it’s hard not to see that while listening to his music.

Conan released his first single, “Idle Town,” in March of 2017 as a tribute to his senior year. It’s a simple song with simple beats; it has a microscopic focus on the lyrics rather than the instrumentals or the background harmonies. I can’t possibly know what it feels like to be in the midst of my senior year, but this song sheds a little light on what I know so many people are going through right now. While this song doesn’t distinctly pull back the curtain to reveal Conan’s style, it has meaningful lyrics that so many can relate to. I don’t see Conan through this song, but I love how he poured his heart into it for his senior year.  

“Idle Town” was originally released on his Youtube channel, which is how I found it. A year later, it’s on Spotify along with his three other singles. On top of that, he’s produced merch and is on tour. A year ago, if I were to look up “Idle Town” on Google, Conan’s self-made music video would pop up after typing in the whole title. Now, when I type “Idle,” “Idle Town Lyrics,” “Chords,” and “Shirt” pop up as well. It’s crazy how fast someone can grow.

The first line in his next song, “Grow,” immediately made me think of his thrifted, 80s style. “I look about seventy years older,” struck a chord instantly for me. But after listening to that line and the lines afterward, I realized that he wasn’t talking about his style. He was talking about his mental and emotional journey from his senior year until this point in his life. He felt older, wiser, exhausted, and excited all at the same time. “Idle Town” encompassed a big, long year in his life and “Grow” had a light feel to it, like a breath of fresh air after a long swim. I just pictured Conan dancing in his blue bomber jacket whenever the beat hit.

“Generation Why” not only had me dancing, but it also had me scribbling down really impactful lyrics. Every word was importantly strung to the next; Conan has a knack for poetically producing powerful phrases. In this song, he was almost dragging himself as a millennial (even though he is a few years short of actually being one). “Walking in the street with no light inside our eyes / we are the worthless, cursed with too much time / we get in trouble and lose our minds / something that I’ve heard a million times in my life.” I’m three years younger than Conan, but the lyrics still hit home.

“Crush Culture” is Conan’s latest release, and this one might be my favorite. The opening harmonizations are absolutely beautiful and are the perfect opener to the song; each chord paves a path for the easy-to-sing lyrics and the steady beat to come. The chorus of this song is really easy to learn and pick up on, making it even easier to sing really loud when it comes on. That, paired with the prominent beat, makes it the perfect song to dance and sing to.

It’s very obvious that Conan puts a lot of thought and meaning into every song he produces. The lyrics are poetic, not just filler for a steady beat. Every word and beat is of the utmost importance. His attention to detail not only shows in his music but in the cover artwork as well.

The cover art for “Idle Town” and “Grow” both have a little tribute to his friends, family, and his senior year written in yellow text. “Idle Town” is just a simple picture of Conan casually holding a plastic water bottle, but it just looks cool. The artwork for “Grow” is similar because of the font and the tribute, but Conan is seen in a cape. He looks confident and like he could rule the world, which is how the upbeat song sounded. 

The art for “Generation Why” is simple. The title of the song is hidden in small, red font on the blue bike Conan is sitting by on vibrantly green grass. It’s a simple picture of a very meaningful song. Finally, the artwork for “Crush Culture” sums up in a picture why that song is my favorite and why I can really hear Conan in his songs. Conan is pictured in primary colors, holding red heart balloons and surrounded by other pink and white ones. He’s just chilling in the middle of a gym, surrounded by various balloons. I don’t know how he looks so cool doing absolutely nothing.

Conan Gray is art himself. The art he produces is stunning and perfect, and I will always be waiting for more music from him. For now, though, I will be playing “Crush Culture” on repeat.