Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM


To Obsess or Not to Obsess | “Cheerleader” by Porter Robinson

To Obsess or Not to Obsess | “Cheerleader” by Porter Robinson

The internet is full of complications. You can share your personal thoughts, feelings and deepest secrets with people you’ve never met – and may never meet – in your entire lifetime. The question that comes from this is simple but difficult to answer: Is this relationship healthy for either recipient?

Porter Robinson is a pillar of creativity in the realm of electronic music. Beginning as a producer for electro and dance music, Robinson quickly left the scene after experiencing dissatisfaction and panic attacks on stage. Feeling frustrated with the lack of emotional transparency and depth of the EDM scene, Robinson released his debut project, Worlds, in 2014.

Praised by critics and fans of the EDM scene alike for changing the industry with powerful melodies, it seemed as though Robinson was the messiah of electronic music. Unfortunately, the excessive touring and public pressure brought Robinson to a dark place, waiting nearly seven years to drop his second release, Nurture, in 2021.

Combining his electronic experience with heavenly pop arrangements allowed Robinson to breathe new life into his work, and as we gear up for his forthcoming third release, it seems Robinson is once again trying to reinvent himself.

“Cheerleader,” released March 20, 2024, follows up the therapeutic creative pursuit that was Nurture with Robinson accepting his popularity and the consequences of it. Combining hyperpop vocal effects and fast drums of angsty emo rock, Robinson creates a fictional narrative that compares the parasocial dynamic of artist and fan to cheerleaders rooting for their team — in this case, their favorite person. This fan of Robinson is described as “obsessed,” drawing raunchy artwork of him as her way to express love. He notes that her form of love doesn’t draw boundaries, an unfair dynamic that Robinson opposes.

Cheerleader /

Thought she needed me, but I need her.

Conflict arises when Robinson comes to a difficult conclusion – although he finds the parasocial dynamic to be harmful, ironically, he relies on these fans of his to keep him afloat. For Robinson to be a successful musician, he needs these cheerleaders supporting him through thick and thin.

It’s not fair /

‘Cause I knew you like the back of my hands /

Well, don’t you care? I gave you everything, ah /

Now I feel you even when you’re not there.

With the chorus bringing bright synths and clean guitar, the perspective of the singer – either Robinson as the artist or the fans who worship him – is unclear. Both sides acknowledge a codependency, feeling as though they are known deeply by the other. 

As the narrative paints the fan as living a rough life further into the song, the question of how healthy this dynamic is ends unanswered. What seems to matter to Robinson, at the very least, is becoming aware of the effects this dynamic could have and accepting it for what it is: complicated.

If you’re interested in a blend of pop and electronic music, stay tuned for the yet-to-be-announced third studio album from Robinson including “Cheerleader.” While you wait, check out his past works Nurture and Worlds.


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About the Contributor
Ryan Wilbert, Writer
Ryan Wilbert (he/him) is a freshman at MSU studying Information Science. He is usually found either playing his guitar or eating Crunch bars from the Sparty’s markets. His favorite artists include Car Seat Headrest, Radiohead and Arctic Monkeys, accounting for a good portion of his CD collection. “The ocean washed over your grave.” - Car Seat Headrest

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