"Grapefruit" is about the bulimia Tove Lo battled for many of her teenage years. The Swede started developing her eating disorder aged 15 after she was told she needed to lose weight by a New York modeling agency. She's been free of her condition for a long time but it's only now she feels ready to share the toll it took on her. "I've tried to write this song for over 10 years," said the singer. "I know I haven't talked about it a lot in interviews or even in my music, which is my most honest place. I guess I had to find the right way to share the feelings and the vicious circle of behavior I was stuck in."
During the first verse, Lo shares how all-consuming her bulimia was for her.
Countin' while I run the tap
I'm on my knees
Chokin' on my hands all night
In my sleep
On the pre-chorus, Lo compares herself to ballet dancers who need to restrict their eating.
The swans of ballet
Their skin and their bones, that's not me
The grapefruit is a popular food for those looking to lose weight because it's nutritious and contains fat-burning enzymes. For Tove Lo, it became the symbol of her obsession with her body.
One, two, grapefruit
How am I back here again?
Three, four, lose more
I know my mirrors are lyin'
By the time we get to the bridge, Lo has seen a way out of her abusive cycle. Her body is the only she's got, so she needs to accept it rather than harming it.
I'm learnin' every time I feel out of place
That you are all I've got
In 2021, Lo had a starring role in the Swedish film The Emigrants. Before filming started, the director asked her to lose four or five kilos over a fortnight for the role. She went on a diet for the first time in a decade, which triggered memories of the torment her teenage-self endured. "The obsession, the anxiety, being hungry all the time," she recalled to Apple Music.
Lo feared returning to old habits but everything turned out fine. "To me, it felt like validation that I'd healed," she said. "So I started writing about that."
Tove Lo put her experiences down on paper and the end result was "Grapefruit." When she played the song for her friends, they were surprised because she's "so much about body positivity." Lo told them she's like that because of her teenage eating order.
Tove Lo dropped "Grapefruit" as the fifth single from Dirt Femme on October 12, 2022, two days before the album's release. The Swedish singer said the album is about her relationship with her femininity. "This album reflects the various ways my feminine side has both helped and hurt me," she explained.
Tove Lo wrote "Grapefruit" with her longtime producer Ludvig "A Strut" Söderberg ("Cool Girl
," "Glad He's Gone
") and TimFromTheHouse. Californian musician TimFromTheHouse produced three other tracks on Dirt Femme
. He's also credited as an additional producer on 5 Seconds Of Summer's "Complete Mess
Tove Lo described the infectious synth-driven song to Apple Music as a "sad banger dance track, but with this sort of really quite dark, intense lyrics."
The Lisette Donkersloot-directed and Toogie-choreographed video finds Tove Lo visualizing her past struggles with her eating disorder. We see her counting calories in an empty kitchen floor as she metaphorically references the feeling of being trapped in her own skin. "One of the many feelings I remember is needing to crawl out of my own skin," said the singer. "I felt so trapped in a body I hated. I wanted a video that portrayed that, and Lisette and Toogie knew exactly how to create that with me. It was honestly really hard putting myself back in that headspace but it was necessary for me."