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The Evolution of Sabrina Carpenter’s Music Career

The Evolution of Sabrina Carpenter’s Music Career

Her No-Nonsense Mind Has Led To Her Success

Anyone with access to a radio, TikTok, or social media has surely heard the words “That’s that me espresso” within the past month. Ahead of her debut Coachella performance on April 12th, Sabrina Carpenter released her widely popular single, “Espresso.” Carpenter has received widespread praise and critical acclaim for “Espresso,” with many fans describing it as the “Song of the summer.” For those who have been fans of Carpenter since her debut album Eyes Wide Open, it comes as no surprise that the general public has fallen in love with Carpenter and her voice. For new fans who are just now discovering who Sabrina Carpenter is, many wonder where she came from and how she got her start as one of the most successful pop singers. 

Disney Channel Era

One of the most fascinating and versatile aspects about Carpenter is that she is not only a musician but also an actress. Arguably, her claim to fame came when she was cast as Maya Hart in the Disney Channel series Girl Meets World in 2013. Although Carpenter had been cast in a few roles prior to GMW, her role as Maya Hart enabled her to gain a loyal following for both her acting and music career. 

During her time on Disney, Carpenter managed to successfully launch her music career, releasing two albums, along with many successful singles. In 2014, Carpenter signed with Hollywood Records and released her first single, “Can’t Blame a Girl for Trying.” The success of this single, followed by her next, “We’ll Be the Stars,” led to the eventual release of her debut album, Eyes Wide Open, in 2015. According to Apple Music, “This confident, peppy debut from Girl Meets World’s Sabrina Carpenter lays out the Disney star’s sweetly tart voice atop gentle pop production and upbeat acoustic strum.” Eyes Wide Open debuted at number 43 on the US billboard 200. For a debut album from a sixteen-year-old girl, many would call this release a success. 

Carpenter continued to hit the ground running, with her release of “Smoke and Fire” in 2016, followed by the release of her second studio album, Evolution, at the end of the year. Carpenter’s second studio album was met with even more success than Eyes Wide Open. Evolution debuted at number 28 on the US Billboard 200. This album was led by singles “On Purpose” and “Thumbs,” the latter arguably being one of her first songs to differentiate her music from the atypical “Disney” sound. The success of “Thumbs” enabled her to have opportunities such as performing on The Today Show and The Late Late Show with James Corden. The release of Evolution also marked the first time Carpenter was able to have her own headlining tour. Carpenter’s growth from Eyes Wide Open to Evolution marked an important transition in her sound as well as where she was going to take her career. 

Bye Bye Disney!

2017 and 2018 marked a formative time in Carpenter’s career. After being done with Girl Meets World, Carpenter went on to release many successful singles, such as “Why” and “First Love,” the latter marking her first ever feature on a song. Although she was seeing success with her music, Carpenter was still not breaking out into the mainstream success that she has seen today. In November 2018, Carpenter released her third album, Singular Act I. This body of work showed her voice maturity and growth in her writing abilities. The most successful songs from this album, “Sue Me,” and “Almost Love” were massive hits on the radio, and both reached number one on the US Dance Club Songs chart. 

In 2019, Carpenter went on her second headlining tour for Singular Act I, whose conclusion was quickly followed by the release of her fourth studio album, Singular Act II. Similar to her previous album, Singular Act II was met with positive praise from her fans. Carpenter’s decision to split Singular into two acts was a genius marketing strategy, as fans were clearly able to distinguish the differences and growth between the two albums. Carpenter has always had the ability to produce both massive pop hits and emotional ballads, and that sentiment was really shone through in Singular Act II with songs such as “Exhale” and “Pushing 20.”

In 2020, Carpenter was set to embark on one of the biggest achievements in her career, but was unfortunately deterred due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. Carpenter was set to star as Cady Heron in the Mean Girls stage adaptation in NYC. She was only able to perform in the show for two nights before it was shut down due to the pandemic. Once again, Carpenter’s multi-talented abilities allow her to take on roles that many other actors cannot embark on, ones that require excellent singing abilities and quality acting skills. Carpenter’s ability to balance both her acting career and music career is commendable in today’s age, where most artists tend to focus on one medium in order to gain mainstream success.

2021 Onward

2021 is arguably the year where Carpenter became immensely more well-known. After being caught up in a Hollywood narrative with fellow musicians Olivia Rodrigo and Joshua Bassett, Carpenter suddenly became the center of everyone’s attention. Musically, 2021 saw the release of Carpenter’s single “Skin,” which many view as her own response to the Hollywood drama she got caught up in. The song became her first ever single to chart in the Billboard Hot 100, clearly showcasing how much this narrative had an impact on her career. 

The album that truly changed it all for Sabrina Carpenter was Emails I Can’t Send. With its official release in July 2022, with preceding singles “Fast Times” and “Skinny Dipping,” Emails I Can’t Send is Carpenter’s most well-known piece of work to date and launched her career into an entirely different atmosphere. The album appeared at number 23 on the Billboard 200, making it her highest entry on the chart to date. Another song from the album, “Nonsense,” gained immense popularity across all social media platforms during Carpenter’s worldwide tour for Emails I Can’t Send. Known for its hilarious song outros that Carpenter changed at every venue, fans love the upbeat and pop vibes that a song like “Nonsense” brought to the table. 

Carpenter continued to ride off the success of Emails I Can’t Send with the release of the deluxe version in March of 2023. This version saw the release of songs such as “Opposite” and “Feather” absolutely blow up. After the initial release of “Feather” in 2023, the song was so successful that it ended up being her highest charting song to date. 2023 continued to be a showstopping year for Carpenter, as she not only continued her worldwide tour but was also announced to be one of the opening acts for Taylor Swift’s Eras’ Tour for multiple overseas dates. This collaboration was a huge honor for Carpenter, as Swift is currently one of the biggest pop stars in the world. 

2024 certainly saw no down time from Carpenter, as she has once again hit the ground running. Just within the first half of this year, Carpenter has performed at her first Coachella festival, made her SNL debut, and released the song of the summer, “Espresso.” According to Billboard, the release of “Espresso” marked Carpenter’s first Hot 100 top 10, with “Espresso” debuting at number seven. 

What Makes Carpenter Stand Out?

The combination of Carpenter’s fantastic vocals, iconic feminine style, and eye-catching lyrics have resulted in a recipe for success. There is no denying that Carpenter is at the peak of her career. She has worked endlessly ever since her music and acting career began to achieve this amount of success, and her fans could not be more excited to see what she does next.

“Espresso” Official Sabrina Carpenter Music Video

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Hanna Zabski is a current undergraduate student at Marist College majoring in Media Studies and Production with a concentration in Film and Television. She is incredibly passionate about the entertainment industry and storytelling, and hopes to one day pursue a career in this field.

Cailen Fienemann is a current student at Le Moyne College pursuing her BA in English and Communications with a film studies minor and a creative writing concentration.  Though uncertain about her career end-goals, any job that allows her to write is a cherished one indeed.