2019 single by Rina Sawayama

Rina Sawayama - STFU! (official single cover).png
Single by Rina Sawayama
from the album Sawayama
Released22 November 2019
  • Nu metal
  • heavy metal
  • hard rock
  • pop
  • avant-pop
LabelDirty Hit
  • Adam Crisp
  • Rina Sawayama
Producer(s)Clarence Clarity
Rina Sawayama singles chronology
"Comme des Garçons (Like the Boys)"
Music video
"STFU!" on YouTube

"STFU!" (an abbreviation for "shut the fuck up") is a song by Japanese-British singer-songwriter Rina Sawayama. It was released as the lead single off of her debut studio album, Sawayama on 22 November 2019 for digital download and streaming. It is a nu metal, heavy metal, hard rock, pop and avant-pop track which criticizes microaggressions against Asian people. It received positive reviews from music critics, who praised its aggressive tone and the shift in genre and direction. Rolling Stone listed "STFU!" as the 20th best song of 2020.[1]


According to Sawayama, the track was inspired by "early 2000s pop-rock and nu-metal; [...] No Doubt, Limp Bizkit, t.A.T.u. and Evanescence".[2] She also added that she "was really itching to do something that was inspired by like N.E.R.D. or Evanescence or like t.A.T.u., or some of the heavier Britney stuff"[3] and that her goal with the track was to "shock people because [she]'d been away for a while"[4]

Composition and lyrical themes

"STFU!" was noted by critics as a departure from the 2000s-inspired pop and R&B sound of Sawayama's previous works. Sonically, it's an "aggressive",[5] "riotous" blend of nu metal,[6][7][8][9] heavy metal,[10] hard rock,[11] "sugary" pop[7] and avant-pop[12] with instrumentation consisting of "screeching",[7] "frantic" guitars, "thrashing" drums, and a "headbanging" beat.[13] According to Rolling Stone's Rob Sheffield, it combines "two totally different strains of Y2K-era radio — Britney-Backstreet teen disco and Korn-esque nu metal".[14] Lyrically, it is a "riposte to racism"[5] which "confronts the fetishized stereotypes Asian women are subjected to everyday".[15]

Music video

Release and synopsis

The music video for the song premiered on 21 November 2019.[16] Directed by Sawayama and Alesandra "Ali" Kurr,[17] it was inspired by the artist's experiences with stereotypes of Asian people.[18] It begins with Sawayama on a date with a man (played by British comedian Ben Ashenden) having a conversation. The man asks Sawayama numerous questions, including whether or not she had visited the Wagamama restaurant at Heathrow Airport, why she sings in English and doesn't make J-pop music, as well as compares her to Sandra Oh and Lucy Liu and reveals that he's working on a "new-age Memoirs of a Geisha".[19][20]

Release history

Region Date Format Label Ref.
Various 22 November 2019 Dirty Hit [21][22]


  1. ^ "Year in Review: The 50 Best Songs of 2020". Rolling Stone. 7 December 2020. Archived from the original on 25 January 2021. Retrieved 7 February 2021.
  2. ^ Lasoye, Sara (23 November 2019). "'STFU!': Rina Sawayama talks raging against microaggressions". gal-dem. Retrieved 6 May 2020.
  3. ^ Mylrea, Hannah (22 November 2019). "Rina Sawayama: "We can't just normalise using Japanese culture in the way that we've been doing"". NME. Retrieved 6 May 2020.
  4. ^ "SAWAYAMA by Rina Sawayama on Apple Music". Apple Music. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  5. ^ a b Bray, Elisa (16 April 2020). "Rina Sawayama – SAWAYAMA review: An audacious album from one of the boldest voices in pop". The Independent. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  6. ^ Maicki, Salvatore (2 March 2020). "Hear Rina Sawayama skewer late capitalism on her new single "XS"". The Fader. Retrieved 5 May 2020. ...from the nu-metal of "STFU," [...]
  7. ^ a b c Zheng, Jenny (21 November 2019). "Rina Sawayama Wants You to 'STFU'". Paper. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  8. ^ Hosken, Patrick (21 November 2019). "Rina Sawayama Unleashes An Attack On Microaggressions On Bombastic 'STFU!'". MTV News. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  9. ^ "10 modern day nu metal bangers you need to hear right now". 25 March 2022.
  10. ^ Hall, Jake (31 March 2020). "Rina Sawayama Says Shut the Fuck Up". Highsnobiety. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  11. ^ Daw, Stephen (21 April 2020). "How Rina Sawayama Fused Early 2000s Pop & Nu-Metal to 'Break the Chain' of Familial Discord". Billboard. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
  12. ^ Spanos, Brittany (17 April 2020). "Rina Sawayama Is the Pop Moment on Her Debut Album, 'Sawayama'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  13. ^ Chu, Li-Wei (21 November 2019). "Rina Sawayama pops off against microaggressors in her unrestrained new song, "STFU!"". From the Intercom. Retrieved 6 May 2020.
  14. ^ Sheffield, Rob (13 September 2022). "Rina Sawayama Breaks Stuff and Builds Back Better on 'Hold the Girl'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 14 September 2022.
  15. ^ Yu, Eda (17 April 2020). "Our Favorite Genre Is Rina Sawayama". Paper. Retrieved 6 May 2020.
  16. ^ Rina Sawayama (21 November 2019). "Rina Sawayama - STFU!". Retrieved 6 May 2020 – via YouTube.
  17. ^ Sugawara, Maari (2 December 2019). "Rina Sawayama releases hard AF single 'STFU' and she's cooler than ever". Japan in Canada. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  18. ^ Riddell, Rose (22 November 2019). "Rina Sawayama shares new single 'STFU!' on Dirty Hit". Coup De Main Magazine. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  19. ^ Cooper, Carol (25 November 2019). "Rina Sawayama's brilliant bad-date promo slams casual racism". shots. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  20. ^ Megarry, Daniel (25 November 2019). "Rina Sawayama goes hard on explosive new single STFU!". Gay Times. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  21. ^ "STFU! – Single by Rina Sawayama on Apple Music". Apple Music. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  22. ^ "STFU! by Rina Sawayama on Spotify". Spotify. 22 November 2019. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
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