On Friday morning, Marshmello released “Spotlight,” the first Lil Peep song since the emo rapper passed away of an accidental overdose in 2017. On paper, the collaboration shouldn’t work: Here you have Lil Peep, who was known for his pop-punk sensibilities, and Marshmello, the masked EDM bro-turned-pop producer. Peep’s introspective lyrics and passionate vocals should run counter to the aggressive impulses of Marshmello’s in-your-face EDM. And yet, “Spotlight” proves sometimes the best collaborations are the ones that people least expect.
“Spotlight” is an unrelenting pop-punk song. It opens with a plucky guitar riff—which might not seem like a big deal, but Marshmello receives top billing at major EDM festivals, so the stylistic choice shows that the two collaborators were on the same wave while recording.
Then, Peep’s lo-fi vocals—which even on his best songs always sounded like they could’ve been done slightly better—are really put on display here. “Loving you is like a fairy tale / I just can’t pick up the phone again / This time I’ll be on my own my friend / One more time I’m all alone again,” he sings at the song’s open, perhaps some of the sweetest words the rapper ever wrote.
This isn’t the first time that Marshmello has pivoted to pop-punk. Last year, the producer released “You & Me,” a fairly straightforward imitation pop-punk track. It wasn’t great, but it was an earnest exploration for a new style for him. Looking back, if Marshmello needed to get “You & Me” out of his system in order to produce “Spotlight,” then it was well worth it.
Pitchfork also published a statement that Marshmello wrote about “Spotilight” and the time he got to spend working with Lil Peep:
Peep brought an excitement to music that was unparalleled to anybody I’ve ever met. We started an idea together, that unfortunately we were never able to officially finish together. When I listen to this track now I get chills wishing he could hear it. This record is dedicated to Peep’s mother, family, friends and his fans. Gus will live forever through his music and that is something we should all be extremely thankful for.