Madeline Merlo Reveals The Meaningful Story Behind ‘Makeup,’ Her Most Personal Song Yet

“I felt like I really needed a song like this,” Merlo told Country Now.

By

Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

January 19, 2024

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Madeline Merlo uncovers layers of vulnerability in her new song, “Makeup.” Drawing from her upbringing while intertwining traits and lessons commonly passed down from generation to generation, the rising country star satisfies her hunger for speaking the truth in what can be considered her most personal song to date. 

Part of a role as a parent is to pass down traditions like beliefs, good values, and tools for their kids to best navigate their own lives. However sometimes along the way, as those children grow up to be adults, they realize that they’ve also carried down some unintentional trauma that they have to try and untangle later on. For example, as a child of divorced parents, Merlo found herself situated with hesitancy and fear when her wedding date was approaching nearly a year ago because she feared she could end up reliving her parents’ fate. 

So she started to ask herself questions and explore these emotions when her therapist shared an eye-opening statement that led her to want to open up the conversation to her listeners. 

The Song Was Inspired By A Conversation With Her Therapist

“I was explaining to my therapist that I was nervous about getting married because my parents had a really messy divorce, and I didn’t have a great example of that growing up. I was just saying I was scared I was going to fail and was having all these emotions,” Merlo told Country Now. “My therapist said something to me that just kind of changed a lot of thoughts in my head. She was like, ‘You know, you’re going to be passed down and handed a lot of things in your life. It doesn’t mean you need to take them.’ And that was this light bulb moment in my head.”

Madeline Merlo - Makeup
Madeline Merlo – Makeup

A Powerful Message

From there, she explored the realization that “Some things feel like they’re destined to be yours, but they don’t have to be.” In other words, her compelling new song poses a new question – do we have the ability to break the cycle of generational flaws and trauma?

Merlo started with how the concept of love is passed down differently for everyone, then moved into other ideas of things that can also be carried from generation to generation, like a father’s temper or how one’s body image is sculpted around how their mother sees herself.

“Do I hate my body ‘cause my mother hated hers/ Bet I can’t control my temper ‘cause my daddy never learned / Could I make love last forever if my parents never could/ Will I ever know the difference between good enough and good/ Can you change the way you’re made up/ If you scrub it hard enough, can you ever wash off/ What’s in your makeup, what’s in your makeup,” Madeline Merlo delivers on the tender chorus. 

The title, “Makeup,” refers to the challenge of trying to erase innate traits and actions and cover them up instead of finding the root of the cause. Merlo admits she has been holding onto this song for about a year, and now that it’s finally available, she hopes listeners will find the courage to embrace who they are while understanding that they hold the power to change what makes them unhappy. 

“After I finished it, it was just a no-brainer, like this song is special, and I just wanted to find the right time to put it out and make sure that it’s done in the right way because it means so much to me, and I think that it could make people feel heard that have felt like I felt…I’m really excited for it to finally be out in the world.”

How Are Fans Reacting?

The reaction from fans who have already heard the authenticity-fueled tune in Merlo’s live shows has been both heartwarming and surprising in some ways, leading her to confidently see that this song truly has something for everyone to relate to. 

“Every single time I’ve played it, I’ve had a big reaction and a ton of men have really felt the song speak to them, which is really interesting and really awesome,” Merlo admitted. “I wasn’t totally expecting that. And the last time I played at like a writer’s round, there was a older gentleman and his wife that came up to me after and he was in tears and he said, ‘my dad was so angry growing up and I promised I wouldn’t be an angry dad like him. Thank you for the song.’ So it was really interesting. I think that there’s something in a lot of the lyrics that potentially somebody could find themselves in.”

Music Video

YouTube video

Accompanying the new song drop is a music video that captures the unwavering freedom of the narrative. Prior to its official release, Merlo described what fans can expect, sharing that starts off with her in a makeup chair, going through the glam process for a photoshoot. As it goes through the editing stages before being displayed on the giant billboards, viewers see her waist being broadened and her eyes made bigger to match the current standard for beauty.

“It’s just kind of the process of painting this face on and not wanting to deal with the real parts of you and a little metaphorical and stuff playing on the title, ‘Makeup.’ So, it’s pretty cool and I feel like it’s a good message to have out there,” she shared.

A “Bigger Project” Will Follow

“Makeup” serves as a follow-up to the Songland winner’s 2023 releases, “Same Car,” “Take A Broken Heart,” “You’ll Think of Me” and her top-charting hit on Canadian Country Radio, “Tim + Faith.” With her collection of new songs building, Merlo says she is on her way to a “bigger project.”

We’ve got a few songs kind of lined up and I think together we’ll make up a bigger project,” she hinted. “I’m still kind of sketching out what exactly that’s going to look like. I want it to feel like a theme or a story and really make it something really special. So it’s still on the drawing board, but we’ve got some really great music in the pipeline as well that would complete the project.”

To find out where Madeline Merlo will be performing next, visit her official website HERE

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Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.