Maddie Zahm Breaks Down Every Track of Her You Might Not Like Her EP

Maddie Zahm's stunning You Might Not Like Her may be the most impressive debut EP of 2022.

It's clear the 24-year-old singer-songwriter has come a long way from her time on American Idol. Her songs "Funny Fat Friend" and the title track "You Might Not Like Her" are already viral hits, but all five of the EP's songs soar, with Maddie's deeply vulnerable true storytelling propelling them to great heights while making us confront our own inner pains. With songs about discovering and embracing her sexual and personal identity outside of the church to learning to be comfortable in her body, You Might Not Like Her is an emotional coming-of-age tale from start to finish, and we were honored to get the chance to have Maddie break down the EP, its tracks and all of her favorite lyrics with us.

You Might Not Like Her

Maddie Zahm: You Might Not Like Her means a great deal to me! This was the first song written off of the EP and ended up becoming the conclusion of the project. Truthfully, this song was the easiest to write as it doesn't quite have anything other than past experiences into a chorus of things I had learned through them. Most of that session I was silently typing in my notes thinking, "Oh s***, I can't actually have that in the song, can I?!" But truthfully, it was necessary for me to be quite brutal and detailed in order for me to acknowledge the past year and the changes I've gone through in such a small amount of time. I wanted this song to be the title as it created this theme for the EP surrounding a conversation I wish I could have with my younger self. The intro to the project was the last song written (which I find quite funny) as I seemed to process backwards. The intro "Pocket Bible" poses a lot of the questions I answer in the final song and really encompasses the chaos I felt.

When I realized I had a project on my hands, I panicked because I knew that meant I had to come out to my parents. This project truly made me own up to pieces of myself I didn't think I would ever be able to love. I've come to this crazy conclusion that no matter how big or small this artist project is, it's helped me find myself. And although I am excited and terrified for it to be out in the world, it feels selfish to keep it for just me. If this finds one 20-something-year-old in a small hometown wondering if there's more and watering themselves down for people who love them conditionally—and helps them start this journey I am on—it will have been worth it.

The four main pillars that have changed in my life include my sexuality, spirituality, physicality and relationship with how I view love. Each song has a purpose and reason for being placed on this EP.


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'Pocket Bible'

MZ: "Pocket Bible" serves as an index for each of the four pillars. I only wanted that song to be under two minutes and extremely chaotic, as those are the feelings I felt when I started writing this project.

I wrote "Pocket Bible" last with Ricky Manning and JT Roach. I was explaining to them how I felt like I had identified the four major changes I had made in my life and wished I was able to sum them up for myself. I used to pass out pocket bibles (mini bibles) in high school. We quickly started incorporating all of my experiences into a minute and 30-second song. I have always been a finisher of songs. I want it to be around three minutes with a conclusion, and for some reason, I could not write the rest. It was just a verse and a chorus. Eventually, JT asked if it was supposed to be a full song and I was speechless. I sent it to my producer Adam and I said, "This is when I get to do my church cry vocals," and the next day we started recording it. I knew it was the index and I knew I had a project because of it.

Maddie's Favorite Lyric: "Thought I knew how to live exactly right, but it turns out truth isn't travel-sized."


'Fat Funny Friend'

MZ: "Fat Funny Friend" touches on the emotional turmoil that comes with existing as a plus-size person even after extreme weight loss.

I wrote this song with one of my closest friends from American Idol, Catie Turner. I had this title saved in my brain called "Fat Funny Friend" that I knew could only be written with someone who had experienced it. I am pretty impulsive at times, so it was odd for me to hold that title in for as long as I did. When I started losing weight, I noticed a shift in how people treated me, and it was earth-shattering in the worst way. I remember coming home after having a man put in a new car battery for me at the auto shop just out of kindness. There's this feeling as a fat person when you start to shrink that most people that have gone through major weight loss experience. You just know that your experience would have been different at your heaviest. I cried to Catie about how much kinder the world was to me as a smaller body, and we sat and wrote this song in under half an hour. She made me promise to release it and that was the first time I had ever posted something that vulnerable.

Maddie's Favorite Lyric: "I've drawn out in sharpie where I'd take the scissors if that's what it took for me to look in the mirror."


Also read about: Catie Turner's 'Nothing' Is the Perfect Ode to Procrastinating Self-Help


'If It's Not God'

MZ: "If It's Not God" follows "Fat Funny Friend" and breaks down my recent deconstruction of some of the painful things I learned in the church. It also praises whatever voice told me to leave the toxicity of the church I was raised in as a child, whether it was God or myself.

This song was kind of a shock for me to write. I was at a session with my friend Brian Brundage and we had tried so hard to write about a girl I had been talking to but nothing was coming to my mind. I am stubborn, and usually if it takes more than an hour to write a song, I don't think it's supposed to be on my project. It hit hour five and I was about to give up and so we just had a closing chat about our lives. We touched on the topic of religion and I started hearing a single note on the piano and Brian started playing it. We talked about our deconstruction and it was truly so incredible to finally be able to talk to someone safe about my experiences in the church. I left that session and sent it to my best friend Shawnee, who had left the church a bit later than I had. I remember the reaction from both her and my publisher made me realize how special the song was. I was worried it seemed anti-church/God but the more I have sat with it, the more I realize it leaves so much room and space for me to believe in whatever I want.

Maddie's Favorite Lyric: "And if it was God then I don't have to worry. He'll know why I left, why I ran in a hurry."


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MZ: "Inevitable" is next, and although this song feels as though it doesn't fit with the rest, the song was at the very beginning of my move to L.A. I had developed feelings for someone I had over-romanticized and truly believed in my heart it was going to work out. This is the only song I kept the old vocals and skipped redoing them with my newfound voice because I wanted listeners to hear the naivety and pureness in my voice as a barely just been kissed 23-year-old who assumed if I saw the best in someone that meant they were innately good to me.

Working with Adam Yaron has been truly one of the biggest pleasures of my life. I knew we had something special when we wrote the chorus to this song and he hit the post-chorus notes immediately after. It's an odd thing as a songwriter to hear things in your head and not fully have the capability to personify them. That was the first time someone matched exactly what I heard in my head without even asking. We wanted this song to feel naive, because I was at the time. This song really helped me see how important it is to have someone on your side like Adam. Adam is the first person musically that I trust more than my own brain.

Maddie's Favorite Lyric: "This has more push than it ever had pull."


'You Might Not Like Her'

MZ: Following this track is "You Might Not Like Her," which answers the questions I posed in "Pocket Bible." It wraps up the journey I had been on in such a chef's kiss way. I hope people take away from this that I was simply a 23-year-old figuring her s*** out and terrified of her own brain and the world. I hope people are able to identify with parts while also getting to know me as an artist. I wish I could wrap this project up for 12-year-old me, and this was the closest way to do that.

I wanted this song to feel like a worship song. I wanted to use every ounce of power I used to allow the church to use for their agenda for this song. I wanted the emotional release that I never seemed to get with worship music. This song needed to be an anthem that meant power. This song should make you feel the way church does while also allowing people to be exactly who they're meant to be!

Maddie's Favorite Lyric: "They'll love you, not despite, but regardless."


For even more on Maddie, click HERE to find out all of the reasons she was our latest Woman Crush Wednesday.