What does it mean to be a pop songwriter in 2023? Part of the job is what it has always been: coming up with catchy melodies, terse lyrics and instrumental hooks; creating crisply defined verses and choruses; capturing short attention spans while tapping into broadly shared experiences.
“Pop structure is always happening in my songs,” said Hannah Jadagu, 20, whose debut album, “Aperture,” will be released on Friday. In a video chat from her dorm room at New York University, she added, “I love a good hook or a good chorus. I love a good banger. I love a pop hit.”
Jadagu’s dorm room is spartan. One otherwise bare wall is decorated with a poster of a fierce-looking woman’s face, origin unknown; Jadagu rescued it from a discard pile. Another displays a few posters and passes from her recent tours; Jadagu paused her college education in 2022 to tour and write her album. Her room is now primarily a musician’s work space, with her computer, a MIDI keyboard and three guitars close at hand. When she came to N.Y.U., where she’s now in her third year, she contemplated becoming a music supervisor and leaned into studies of music as a business, but soon she began to focus on her own songs.
Jadagu has a distinct visual presence — a cascade of long, blond braids frames her face — and a contagious smile, particularly noticeable when she’s citing musicians she’s learned from, famous and less so. She mentioned Charli XCX, Frank Ocean, SZA, Haim, Billie Eilish, Tame Impala, the Beatles, Ellie Goulding, CeeLo Green, Clairo, beabadoobee, Vampire Weekend, Steve Lacy, Snail Mail, M.I.A., Grouplove, Winnetka Bowling League, Ritt Momney, the Japanese House, Kevin Abstract and more. Many of them, she freely admits, have had an immediate influence on whatever song she was working on when she heard them.