Emei Shares the Disappointment in Malibu That Led to Her Hit Song 'That Girl'

We haven't taken Emei's cool yet chaotic "That Girl" off repeat since it dropped last summer, and today, we've fallen in love with it all over again with the release of its thrilling new music video.

The singer-songwriter captures something truly special on the viral track, blending rock with alt-pop to craft smooth and collected verses describing the "that girl" she aspires to be, juxtaposed by a bombastic chorus that betrays who she truly is. It's no surprise, then, that the song has been streamed more than 2.5 million times, and the music video directed by Zay Mirigian flawlessly portrays both types of energy. Shot in a one-take style, it also features her live band, Them Fantasies, reflecting the vibrance of an in-person performance. To celebrate, we had the opportunity to chat with Emei to reflect on the track and the true story that inspired it. Read our interview with her below.

The Story Behind 'That Girl'

Emei: I moved to L.A. about a year ago and this was a session that occurred after the first time I drove to Malibu. I brought a poetry book and my journal, thinking I would have this beautiful day with the sun on my skin and a smoothie in hand. It ended up being so cold and I spent the entire two hours on the beach on my phone. When I walked into my session the next day, I ended up spending the day venting in song form about that day and how I try so hard to be "that girl" but fail consistently.


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What 'That Girl' Means

Emei: I love the energy shift from describing "That Girl" in the verse and pre-chorus and then the utter absolute chaos of the chorus. It reflects what music would sound like in the head of someone who I want to be versus what it sounds like in my chaotic brain. And honestly, my favorite part is the chaos, and I think that's what the song is about: that it's okay to be just "that girl" who tries like way too damn hard. That's what I want it to mean to my listeners too! I want it to be a song you can scream to when you're over-comparing yourself to this idealistic concept of "that girl."

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Emei's Favorite Lyric

Emei: My favorite lyric is hands down the punchline of "I'm just that girl who tries like way too damn hard." It's ridiculous, it's silly, but it nails the meaning of the song right on the head. It also was one of those lines that accidentally came to be. We wanted to say "I'm that girl who tries too hard," but the syllables wouldn't work. Normally, I hate adding "filler" words to a song, so when we first wrote that line as it is now, I was skeptical. Once I sang it out loud, I realized the "like way too damn hard" actually emphasized what I wanted to say even more and I ended up loving it the most!

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For more of our favorite new music from the week, click HERE to read our interview with Rebecca Black on her stunning new single, "Sick to My Stomach."