Chappell Roan’s Tiny Desk Concert Is Here and It’s Peak Femme Camp

Chappell Roan has graced NPR’s legendary Tiny Desk, and her appearance was, to borrow a turn of phrase, a “femininomenon.”

In a video released on Thursday, the singer took to that famous corner of NPR’s office for a stripped-down performance, although that might be a misleading description. The Tiny Desk format does force musicians to rearrange their songs to fit the space, and Roan’s setup may have been acoustic, but it maintained that maximalist edge for which she’s become known.

The drag-inspired pop artist was accompanied by a seven-piece band, many of whom were clad in pink button-downs. Roan herself wore a frilly fuchsia dress, with a red wig piled high atop her head and a silver tiara. She looks, in a word, snatched.

But closer shots of the singer reveal some quirky details. There are silver butterflies tucked into her hair, but there’s also what appears to be cigarette butts, too. And though her lipstick is perfectly applied, you can see some pink stains on her teeth; her makeup appears to be a riff on the drag queen Divine’s look in Pink Flamingos, with thin brows and a blue cut crease. Her band members also sported smeared makeup of their own, though not quite as elaborate. The group’s outfits could be read as a reference to But I’m a Cheerleader; the singer’s dress resembles a slightly more exaggerated version of the pink dress that Natasha Lyonne wears, and the band’s button-downs recall the shirts that they’re forced to wear in conversion therapy camp.

Chappell Roan’s whole pop persona is very much an exercise in femme camp, and her Tiny Desk performance is the perfect encapsulation of that, at once elaborately constructed and deeply unserious. After opening with “Casual,” an ode to lesbian situationships, she thanks the audience and then apropos of nothing, says, “I didn’t really watch the Super Bowl last night… I don’t care. Who fucking cares? This is my Super Bowl,” to the raucous applause of the crowd.

In between “Pink Pony Club” and “Picture You,” she takes out a feathered pale pink fan and complains about how hot it is. “Also this wig, though it looks like it’s all my hair, it’s a wig, so that’s how we got it so big,” she says, before taking out a bejeweled flip phone and appearing to send a text before launching into the next song.

Then, before the penultimate performance of “Red Wine Supernova,” she calls to the audience, “Be bimbos, ladies, be bimbos!” Long live the sapphic pop boom, and its new Gen Z leaders.

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