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Hear Rina Sawayama’s New Song, Inspired by a Teacher Who ‘Butchered’ Her Surname

“Flicker” is Japan-born, London-raised pop star’s third single this year

Newcomer Rina Sawayama released her third new single, “Flicker.” The song is about empowering people whose identities can often be oppressed, diminished or misunderstood. “When the people on TV/They all look the same/I know I can/I can do/Better than them,” she sings on the pre-chorus.

In a statement, the Japan-born Sawayama recalled a childhood memory that inspired the song’s message. “The first day of reception year at school my teacher totally butchered my surname while calling out the register. I remember crying so hard and that was the first time I realized that I was different to all the others in class,” she recalled. Her family had relocated to London when she was five-years-old.

“When I was writing ‘Flicker’ I was thinking how our name shapes our experience in life and identities in a deeper way than we realize. Whether it’s a name that no one can say, or the frustration of being misgendered, or quite simply being misunderstood for who you truly are — this is a song for you.”

Sawayama has been releasing music over the last five years. Her self-titled, self-released debut EP came out last October. Though this is the third non-EP single to be released this year, the pop star and model has yet to reveal plans for a follow-up EP or full-length album. Over September and October, she embarked on a short Ordinary Superstar tour across North America and London.

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