In Rotation: MUNA by MUNA

In Rotation: MUNA by MUNA

MUNA is a queer, indie-pop band consisting of Katie Gavin (vocals), Naomi McPherson (rhythm guitar), and Josette (Jo) Maskin (lead guitar). The three extremely tight-knit friends met while in school together at the University of Southern California, and played around with creating and producing music during this time. The trio officially formed their band in 2013 and have been together ever since. This record deals a lot with heartbreak, both the hurt and the process of overcoming it. So, let’s get into the breakdown–


Silk Chiffon

What I Want

Runner’s High

Home By Now

Kind Of Girl

Handle Me

No Idea


Anything But Me

Loose Garment

Shooting Star


1. Silk Chiffon 

Synopsis– The first single and song on this album, which features Phoebe Bridgers, centers around the pure bliss and beauty that is love, more specifically, queer love. The speakers cannot help but to feel in pure awe of their partners and just the magic that they feel because they are so in love with them. It is important to note that queer artists are not often represented in media, and if they are, it is rarely in a positive life. On this track, MUNA expresses how much joy and excitement comes from being queer, and that it should be celebrated, just as anyone else is. 

Lyric Pullouts– 

“Sun down and I’m feeling lifted

Downtown, cherry lipstick

Watch her silk dress dancing in the wind

Watch it brush against her skin” (Verse 1)

Just the sight of her partner is one for sore eyes, everything that she does is presented as beautiful and exciting by the speaker. She is in a constant state of admiration towards her partner and every time that she sees her, she thinks that nothing could ever be more beautiful than she is at that moment. The sole existence of their relationship and the fact that things seem to be going so well for her allows the speaker to feel worry-free and relaxed in the presence of her queer-ness. This truly just shows the joy that comes from being one’s self.

Like, life’s so fun, life’s so fun

Got my mini skirt and my rollerblades on

Bag on my side ’cause I’m out ’til dawn

Keeping it light like silk chiffon” (Chorus)

Even if things aren’t going so well, the purpose of this chorus is for listeners, and the band themselves, to not sweat the small stuff and pay attention to the little details that bring joy into their lives. The speaker notes that wearing a mini skirt (likely an article of clothing that she likes and possibly one that makes her feel empowered), rollerblading down the street, and staying out for long amounts of time are all little things that she’s doing that allows her to feel happy and full of joy. Just thinking of these things allow for her brain to be free of worry and her life to be light and airy, just like silk chiffon.

MUNA’s Commentary– On the process of creating this track, Naomi said, “The song has been kicking about since the end of 2019. Katie wrote it, and at the time it was just the pre-chorus. The bridge lyrics were in the place of the chorus. It was synth-ier, but Jo and I had the instinct to make it feel like opening credits of a late-‘90s, early-aughts rom-com. We had been kicking around the idea of having someone feature on the second verse, and Phoebe came to mind—this was prior to us signing to her label. She loved the song and was so stoked to hop on it, which made us feel so, so good.” (via Apple Music)

2. What I Want 

Synopsis– The speaker of this track conveys the rage and frustration they’ve felt for much too long about their wants and true personality being restricted and having to conform to this identity of yourself when it isn’t who you truly are. Throughout the song, the speaker is reclaiming their true self and letting their wants be seen and heard because there’s no reason they should be kept secret. In addition to having to conceal all of this, they also dealt with a lot of indecisiveness in coming to terms with what they really do want, and now that they are aware of what it is, they’re going to be big about it. 

Lyric Pullouts– 

I’ve spent way too-too-too many years not knowing what

What I wanted, how to get it, how to live it and now

I’m gonna make up for it all at once

‘Cause that’s, that’s just what I want” (Pre-Chorus)

This song almost entirely depicts the queer experience of being shot down and told to bury who you truly are because of those who decide they are “uncomfortable” with other peoples’ lives. With this being the case, it is extremely hard for queer people to come to terms with their sexuality and who they truly are. All 3 members of the band are also millennials, so in their teen years, being part of the LGBTQ+ community was not widely accepted, so they weren’t able to be open with their sexualities, and therefore did not have the traditional “coming-of-age” romantic experiences that their straight friends had experienced during their teens. This is something very common throughout the community and many queer people don’t get to experience anything like that until their twenties, and sometimes even their thirties, when they have come to the conclusion that it’s “okay” to be open about who they are (although they never should have believed it to be not okay).

I want the fireworks

I want the chemistry

I want that girl right over there to wanna date me” (Chorus)

Through these lines, the speaker is expressing their want to experience all of the cliché, cheesy, romantic, movie-esque, things about relationships that everyone expects in their teens, but that they did not get to have because of their sexuality. Now that they are comfortable and okay with being out, they want to make up for everything they’ve missed. They finally see that it’s okay to have a crush on someone or find someone attractive, even if they are the same gender, because it’s not a “weird” or “disgusting” thing as everyone around them has said; it is natural and just a part of who they are.

MUNA’s Commentary– Katie talked about writing this song by saying, “This was a song that started as actually a Zoom co-write. I did it with Leland, who is an amazing songwriter and artist in his own right, and who has also done a lot of work on songs in the universe of RuPaul’s Drag Race. I had a couple beats from Naomi, and I took them into the session and we both liked that one. After the session, I sent a demo to Naomi and Jo, and I remember Naomi freaking out and knowing that it was going to be a banger and wanting to work on it. I was a little bit scared of the song initially because of how much of a banger it is. There are strings in the chorus that were very inspired by ‘Toxic’, the classic Britney song.” (via Apple Music) 

3. Runner’s High 

Synopsis– The speaker sings of getting out of a rough relationship with very little to no real reaction about its end, something very unlikely for her. She spends the duration of the song thinking about how difficult and bad for her it was to be in that position, and how she feels much better after getting out of it, but continues to question whether this lack of reaction is something that will last or if it’s just temporary and she will eventually feel those awful emotions that she does not want. 

Lyric Pullouts– 

“Since I left I’ve not been drinking or staying out late

Get up early and I meditate

Paint the walls a different color

I’ve been doing almost everything I wanted to

Shame I couldn’t do it with you” (Verse 1)

The actual act of breaking up with her partner and then attempting to get over it has turned out to be quite the trying situation for the speaker. But they’ve come to the realization that being broken up is so much healthier than being in a relationship with the person they were. They are now able to get over their bad habits and have begun adopting ones that are good and healthy for them. Despite this, though, the speaker is still stuck up on their ex and wishes that these were things that they could’ve been doing while they were still together.

“Hit me so I know I can feel something

You said I’d regret it when I was leaving

Funny how a fall could feel just like flying

When I’m waiting for it to hit me” (Outro)

Trying to guilt trip her into staying, the speaker’s partner tells her that she is going to be sorry for ending things. However, the speaker knows that is just not true and makes a joke about how what her ex said would be regretful is actually something extremely freeing. She struggled a lot with coming to the decision of breaking up with her partner, but now she sees exactly what she was missing while being in this relationship and is glad that she was able to get out of it before things got worse.

MUNA’s Commentary– Naomi mentioned in an interview, “The funny thing about this track is, I think, that the beat came about in the most peculiar way. During 2020, a friend of ours was letting us use her studio for very cheap, and we were trying to take making music very seriously. We wanted to do something where it’s like, we had no songs that we were currently working on, so we came up with a game called ‘the five-minute game’, where each of us had to make a part in a five-minute period, and then someone else adds a part on top. The start of this song came from that game. And I don’t think I’ve ever heard a song that has this specific metaphor; obviously, it is one of a kind and the song slaps. So, you can run to it. We won’t, but we hope that people do.” (via Apple Music)

4. Home By Now 

Synopsis– Reflecting on a previous unsuccessful relationship, the speaker expresses her dissatisfaction for the contents of said relationship and the reason that she decided to end things. Although she was the one who pushed the relationship into its untimely end, the speaker continues to ponder whether it was truly the correct choice or if she should’ve stuck it out for just a bit longer in hopes that it would eventually get better. She wonders if she might’ve left something that she was meant to be in and knows it will be her fault if her life begins to trend downward. 

Lyric Pullouts– 

Have you ever heard about how when a person’s in a maze

They will tend to walk in circles thinking they are going straight

They can’t see the bigger picture so they get stuck in a loop

In the end I was afraid that that’s what you and I would do (Verse 2)

The speaker feels completely trapped by this relationship that she is in, relating it to being stuck in a maze. She feels as though it is going nowhere and any sort of exhilaration or spontaneity is already gone and there is no way  to get it back. She is unable to see the relationship going further than it already has, and despite it being one that is good for her and healthy, it is one that she no longer wants to be a part of. With all of these feelings rushing through her head, she makes the executive decision to end the relationship even though there was nothing explicitly wrong with it, and she is worried that she did not choose the right path.

“What is love supposed to feel like anyway?

Why is it so hot in LA

In late October?

Said I don’t know if it’s enough to make it last

You said if I even had to ask

You had your answer” (Bridge)

Everything feels so opposite to her right now. The fact that it is extremely hot in Los Angeles with November creeping up is something that seems wrong to her because by now, it should have begun cooling down. This is just one thing that forces her to think about where she is in her life at this point in time. Does she even know what love feels like? Has she even experienced it before, or has she just experienced what she thinks it is? She told her partner that she’s unaware if there is enough emotion and dedication within their relationship for it to continue going steadily, to which her partner responded by telling her that they should end things then.

MUNA’s Commentary– When asked about the meaning behind this song, Jo answered with, “This came about in a pretty classic MUNA way. All the songs have different trajectories and paths, but this one was something that Katie wrote when we were on tour with Phoebe [Bridgers] in the fall of 2021. We sometimes find that being on the road can be pretty inspiring. When you’re away from your stuff and you don’t have the obligation to work on an album that has a pending deadline, it can take you out of your element and inspire you in a way.” (via Apple Music) 

5. Kind Of Girl 

Synopsis– This song deals with a feeling of wanting to change one’s bad patterns and become someone better, as well as the way they feel about themself. The speaker has dealt with their fair share of rough relationships and is finally on her own, and while it feels great to not be in unhealthy situations, it’s difficult to finally have that feeling of being alone kick in. However, she is eager to better herself and the attitude that she has towards herself, and this track is just one big mantra to do so. 

Lyric Pullouts– 

“I could get up tomorrow

Talk to myself real gentle

Work in the garden

Go out and meet somebody

Who actually likes me for me” (Chorus)

After a difficult streak of being used for different parts of herself, the speaker expresses how frustrated she is with this treatment and wants to finally come across somebody who truly loves her. She’s tired of being treated like she is just an accessory for whoever she’s dating to have at her side and thinks about what life would be like without this constant burden. Now that she is beginning this journey of finding self-love, all of the things she is eager to do are things that will be extremely beneficial for her, her mental health, and her wellbeing.

“I’m the kind of girl

Who owns up to all of my faults

Who’s learning to laugh at ’em all

Like I’m not a problem to solve” (Verse 2)

She is trying to knock her bad habits and by saying that she “is” this kind of girl, she is basically trying to speak it into existence. She is now understanding of the things that she has to change about herself and is trying her best to make these changes so that she can become a better person. In addition to this, she is also trying to stop feeling like a bad person. She’s always felt like a burden to others and like someone that people do not want to be around and she is doing her best now to convince herself that she is deserving of love and that she isn’t a negative in anyone’s life.

MUNA’s Commentary– Katie mentioned in an interview, “Even though it is a happy, hopeful song, I shed the most tears [on] the record in the vocal booth recording this chorus. I think there’s something very vulnerable about plainly expressing my desire to be kinder to myself and comfortable receiving love (and my desire to garden even though I kill everything I plant).” (via Stereogum)

6. Handle Me 

Synopsis– This track showcases the deep and complex emotions held by the speaker. Her want to pursue new relationships comes as almost a burden because she is quite worried about the potential “what ifs.” Despite this, she wants it to be known that she is able to be strong and take care of herself, and her partner should not have to worry about changing the way they treat her to compensate for what she’s been through. 

Lyric Pullouts– 

I am not a brand new bicycle

I am rough around the edge

I am not a flower petal (Pre-Chorus)

You can handle me” (Chorus)

Falling into the common theme of trying to bounce back from unhealthy relationships, the speaker is afraid that because she’s shown this and told her partner about what she’s experienced, they will begin to feel as though they should be more distant in hopes of not making her uncomfortable or overwhelmed. But, the speaker is trying to reassure them that she’s okay and although she may be fragile, she is not breakable and does want to put her all into this relationship.

“What got you thinking

If you love someone, it’s best to just leave them alone?

Look how you got me

You’ve got me reeling, waiting for you to come over” (Verse 2)

The speaker wants to know why her partner believes that it will be better for them to be apart in order to have a strong, healthy relationship. This does not translate well to her however and she feels hurt by the fact that they think it’s best for the two of them to be detached. It pains her to be in this position of yearning and waiting, especially after everything she’s gone through with her past relationships, and wishes that her partner would understand what she really wants.

MUNA’s Commentary– Speaking on how this track came together, Jo told an interviewer, “Katie wrote this song in January 2020. When we first did this song, Naomi and I were thinking a lot about, funny enough, 311—there’s a guitar part based on those early-2000s songs, something that would be on The O.C. Naomi felt really inspired about changing the drums and then I played the guitar part slightly differently and we tried to make it more of a lo-fi sexy track.” (via Apple Music)

7. No Idea 

Synopsis– After going through quite the string of failed relationships, the speaker is trying to get back on the dating scene but is very weary of who she may come across. She has explained what has happened to potential partners and the person that she specifically sings about has their own concerns about this and whether or not things will work out. However, the speaker wants to reassure them that they are all that she can think about and she wants to go through with this relationship despite the things that have happened to her in the past. 

Lyric Pullouts– 

You think I’m nervous and uncertain

Because I’m waiting (Verse 1) 

You seem like such a good thing, a good thing

I know that good things take time” (Pre-Chorus)

As previously established, the speaker has been in many unfortunate relationships that haven’t worked out for her. She is still very skeptical when it comes to getting into a new one so she takes her time before jumping into something. Her prospective partner sees this and just assumes that this isn’t something that she wants to go through with when in reality, she just wants to make sure that it will work out. The speaker is obviously very attracted to this person and wants for things to go well between them, but wants to take things slow so she can ensure that this is going to be a good thing.

“The things I think about you when you aren’t here

You have no idea

You have no idea

But when you find out it’s all you’re gonna hear ringing in your ears” (Chorus)

The speaker wants to show her admiration for this person but is too scared to express such a feeling because it may come across as too strong. She doesn’t want to ruin what could be between her and this person, so she just doesn’t say anything. She fears that thinking about this possible relationship might make it so that it doesn’t work out in the end, and she believes that once this person does find out about the infatuation that she holds, it’s all that they’ll be able to think about in context to her, and they’ll want to run as soon as they can.

MUNA’s Commentary– Naomi said about this track, “Katie had written the song, it was pretty finished, but there wasn’t a second verse. We had a session with Mitski; she came over to me and Jo’s apartment at the time, and we talked about disco. She thought the song was hot and fun to work on; she gave us a kick into the direction that the song found itself in.” (via Apple Music)

8. Solid 

Synopsis– This is a song in which the speaker applauds her partner for being so sure of herself and someone who cannot be burdened by others’ views on them. They are someone who is extremely strong, both with their emotions and the way that they present themselves to the people around them. These qualities are something extremely admirable in any person, but it being her partner makes her fall 10x more in love than she already is. 

Lyric Pullouts– 

“She is not a screen on which you project

She is not a scene on your movie set

She is not a mirror in which you reflect

Yeah, she is of material substance (Verse 1)

She’s so-so-so solid (She’s so solid, my baby, she’s so solid) (Chorus)

It is evident that the speaker is in a constant state of awe about her partner. She is inspired by how much of a force she is and how she does not allow people to take advantage of her. This is something that she herself has never experienced so being with someone who is so confident and strong is something extremely appealing to her. She is proud of her partner for being someone who is solid and unbreakable. The strength and self-assurance makes them come across as a force that cannot be shaken.

“She’s making a plan, she’s taking it higher

She’s using her hands, she’s pulling the levers

She’s dotting her i’s, she’s checking the levels

She’s using her mind, she’s doing it better” (Bridge)

The bridge further emphasizes the dedication and agency of this person. They are explained to be someone who is extremely determined, able to make her own plans, using her skills wisely, and turning her dreams into a reality, actively achieving her goals along the way. The speaker celebrates these qualities of her partner and is very proud of her being able to provide for herself and not have to rely on others for her success or happiness.

MUNA’s Commentary– Naomi noted, “‘Solid’ has been around since 2018, 2017, I think. It just didn’t have a place on the second record. It was in the archive for a bit and then it reappeared. It is one of my favourites. We’re always super inspired by ‘80s music. I mean, who doesn’t, that makes pop music nowadays? That artistic innovation, computerised sound, and synthesised sound. It was just fun to work on after all these years. It bops.” (via Apple Music)

9. Anything But Me 

Synopsis– The speaker recounts experiences that she once went through with a partner of hers, unsure of how she couldn’t see that they were a bad person while they were together. As time went on, she began to see the red flags and ultimately ended things. In this song, she sings of hoping that this person gets both what they want and what they deserve, and also changes to become a better person, the person that she wishes they always were. Despite her unwillingness to have stuck around while they underwent said change, she still wishes the best for them.  

Lyric Pullouts– 

“You’re gonna say that I’m on a high horse

I think that my horse is regular-sized

Did you ever think, maybe, you’re on a pony

Going in circles on a carousel ride?” (Verse 1)

Being told you’re “on a high horse” is essentially being called arrogant and almost patronizing. The speaker refers to this saying by explaining that this is something that her partner has said to her in the past, and thinks of her this way because they are not on the same level. However, the speaker rebuttals this by assuring that there is no “high horse” and that her partner is too self-conscious to realize that there is nothing wrong with how the speaker is acting. She continues to express this feeling of dissatisfaction with what her partner says about her and the way they act towards her.

“You’re gonna say I asked for the moon

I think that it’s you with your head in the sky

All that I wanted was somebody honest

Living for more than their next good time” (Verse 1)

Her partner seems to make abstract and crazy excuses for even the smallest of things. In addition to this, they find everything asked of them to be way too much for them to handle, even if it’s something extremely doable. She is tired of feeling like just a toy for her partner to use until they get tired of her. Throughout all of her relationships, all that she’s wanted was someone that just wants to be with her, just for her, with no other underlying reason.

MUNA’s Commentary– Katie explained, “I wrote this song in my car. I had my laptop, and I was eating a burrito, and I came up with the first lines of the song and I was just like, ‘That’s so stupid, but it’s stupid in a way that’s almost brilliant.’ This song is in 12/8, a really specific groove, and it has a buoyant energy. I had written the verse and the pre-chorus and had the basic groove down, and I sent it to Naomi and Jo. Naomi was like, ‘There needs to be a section after the pre-chorus where you’re doing something very like Shania [Twain] with the word “me”, holding it out and having a moment with it.’ We fleshed it out from there.” (via Apple Music)

10. Loose Garment 

Synopsis– Exploring heartbreak and constant sadness, this track fits right in with the rest of those on this album. After a failed relationship, the speaker wonders how she is going to be able to overcome the pain and hurt that she is feeling. Throughout the song, she realizes that the feelings she holds have been held by everyone else she’s encountered in one way or another and it’s best for her wellbeing if she comes to terms with this and finds ways to work around it. 

Lyric Pullouts– 

Used to wear my sadness like a choker, yeah, it had me by the throat

Tonight I feel I’m draped in it, like a loose garment

I just let it flow” (Chorus)

The sadness that the speaker has is one that she would often let take up her entire life, she’d allow it to choke her as a choker does, so tightly that she feels she cannot breathe. She would cling so tightly to it that it seemed like there never would be room for her to catch her breath, which goes to show how much it would hurt her. However, now she is acknowledging it to be a part of her. Instead of pushing it down and pretending it does not exist, she now makes it clear that it still exists, but not enough to continue to burden her as it has in the past.

I could come up with reasons I didn’t love you well enough

Shooting a second arrow into the hole where the first was

We’ve paid in painnow we’ll keep the change

The blame is for the birds (Verse 2)

While she knows that she can speak of multiple reasons as to why this relationship failed and why it was her fault, she chooses not to because she knows that will just reopen a wound that’s already begun healing. While this pain still lives on, by acknowledging its presence, she is able to find ways to get rid of it and make herself feel better. All of the pain that she’s experienced has led her to the point in her life that she is at now, a moment in which change is going to begin for her. To her, placing blame for its failure is something that does not hold any worth and should not be done in order to preserve both of their feelings.

MUNA’s Commentary– Of the song, Naomi, “[It] does feel like a little bit of a thesis statement for where we’re at with the songs and with our own personal growth at the moment, which is ultimately a very gentle way of seeing your life and your progress. Kind of holding those two truths at the same time but not wearing anything too heavily. Not drowning in your pain, having a different relationship with your own pain. That is still obviously here.” (via NPR) 

11. Shooting Star 

Synopsis– The speaker of this song is dealing with a hard choice, whether to keep or let go of her partner. This person is someone extremely special to her, so special that she is unaware of if she could even measure up. She feels that they are just too good for her and she’s worried that her flaws will get in the way of their relationship. It is obvious that she hopes for things to go well, but has no true idea of how to make sure that will happen. 

Lyric Pullouts– 

But when I see a shooting star, I stay out of its path

And that’s what you are, you’re so bright

You burn my eyes and you move too fast

So I say ‘Goodnight, make it home’ like I’m making a wish” (Chorus)

A shooting star is something extremely bright and beautiful that is also rare for one person to see. The speaker goes out of her way to avoid said “shooting star” (her partner) because she believes it’s too good for her. She finds every moment of theirs to be fleeting, happening way too quickly with not enough time to be stopped and savored. In the final line, she says that her utterance of “Goodnight, make it home” is a wish that she has, to most people it’s just a precaution that they say when they part ways with someone, but to her and about her partner, she really means it. She wants to ensure that they remain safe and okay because she cares so deeply for them.

“You, my shooting (Chorus)


Star bright

The only star I see tonight

I wish I may, and I think I might regret this either way” (Outro)

The outro of the song takes its inspiration (and almost all of its lines) from the nursery rhyme “Star Light, Star Bright,” in which the speaker changes some of the words to fit the description of her partner. Instead of her singing “First star I see tonight” as the nursery rhyme does, she instead sings “only star I see tonight” to express the fact that her partner is the only person that she thinks about, and the only one she wants to be with. She finishes the old rhyme by adding her own lyric, “and I think I might regret this either way,” to reference her nervousness and fear of the unknown when truly committing to this relationship.

MUNA’s Commentary– Katie spoke on this track and said, “This song was written literal weeks before we turned in the album. That’s very MUNA. I always write until it is pencils down. I had written this on acoustic guitar, and it was this folky bassline guitar part that really turned Josette off, and I remember I wanted it. We always intended for this to be a 10-song record…It was Naomi’s idea to have kind of this Coldplay moment at the end where the song explodes into this more cathartic beat and arrangement, and that was really, I think, a big moment for that song as well.” (via Apple Music)


While this isn’t my favorite album by MUNA, it holds my favorite song of theirs as well as 10 other extremely solid tracks. They have created a safe space for many queer and non-queer listeners alike, and have been able to bring a positive notion back to queerness in the media and queer music. This record is incredibly strong and the songwriting, primarily by Katie, is something otherworldly–sometimes so simple, yet always remaining extremely powerful. The group hasn’t released any other albums since this one, which came out almost 2 years ago, so we can hope to hear more from them soon. And finally–


1. Shooting Star

2. Silk Chiffon

3. Kind Of Girl

4. Solid

5. Anything But Me

6. Home By Now

7. Loose Garment

8. Runner’s High

9. What I Want

10. Handle Me

11. No Idea





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