Mary Lambert is a Seattle-based spoken-word poet and singer-songwriter who is best known for her vocal contribution to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' hit tune "Same Love
." This song was released on July 15, 2014 as the lead single from her debut major-label album, Heart on My Sleeve
Lambert co-penned this plea for self-acceptance with MoZella, whose other writing credits include Miley Cyrus' #1 single "Wrecking Ball
" and the Bangerz
album tracks "FU
" and "Someone Else
The song was produced by:
Eric Rosse, who is best known for his work with singer Tori Amos.
Benny Cassette, who is signed to Kanye West's Very GOOD Beats as a producer and songwriter and worked on his label boss' Yeezus album.
Lambert told Billboard magazine the story of the song: "We were in the studio - Eric Rosse, who is executive-producing the album, [and] Benny Cassette and Mozella -- and Eric's like, 'Let's just do a song where it has a really fun line melodically.' I thought about how awesome it would be to have an empowerment song that put the lens on oneself rather than asking it of the audience."
"It's just a really great way to extend vulnerability by showing rather than telling. I'm like, 'This might be the fun song, guys.'"
The song is more upbeat than most of Lambert's other material. She explained to Billboard: "I wrote my first two EPs when I was really sad. My debut album, Heart on My Sleeve, is indicative of where I am at this moment. This year I went through a breakup, sang at the Grammys and met the woman of my dreams. I experienced immense joy, and 'Secrets' is a beautiful pinpoint of where my joy is."
B.o.B contributed his own verse to the remix. His rhymes about stuttering and growing up poor tie in with the song's message of acceptance and self-empowerment.
The genesis of the song was one melodic line that Eric Rosse wrote on the piano. "I loved that quirkiness. It reminded me of Regina Spektor," Lambert told American Songwriter magazine. "And Benny added these really fun claps and beat to it," she continued. "And I was in my head, grooving to that. And I wanted to do an empowerment song, about loving yourself in a different way. Because I felt a lot of the empowerment songs were often tied up in this bow that is kind of unfair. You're talking about empowerment, but in such a polished way that it felt alienating. So I wanted to put the lens on myself, so hopefully have this song be an invitation to self-acceptance and to self-love, and to rid yourself of guilt and shame."
And Marie said, 'We'll call it 'Secrets'!,' Lambert added. "She came up with that chorus and that hook melody, and it was so perfect, I hugged her."
Halfway through the song there is an unexpected section where Lambert sings like an opera snger. She explained to American Songwriter magazine: "I composed the string section in the middle, and said, 'Let's do this ridiculous string section,' because we can. I was thinking of the Beach Boys on Pet Sounds, when suddenly they have that fugue section that comes out of f---ing nowhere. And I love that element of surprise, and thought, why not? And that was the plan, and I started singing opera with it, and it sounded so perfect, I improvised that, and it fit right in there."
"I wanted to be an opera singer," Lambert continued. "Then I realized you had to shape your whole life around being an opera singer, and you couldn't drink whiskey or smoke cigarettes, and I couldn't sing jazz if I wanted to. So I kept it as a fun hobby, an element of surprise."
Mary Lambert said of the song during an American Express Unstaged's Artist in Residency performance: "I was like, what if I start a song by telling everyone I'm bi-polar? How freeing would that be for me to let all of these stigmas go and try to dismantle that within pop music?"