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Who is Gayle? All the Facts You Need to Know About the “ABCDEFU” Singer

Gayle holding a video camera and riding a red car
Photo from the Gayle Facebook page.

There’s a good chance that you recently opened TikTok and wondered: “who sings “ABCDEFU,” that insanely catchy, alphabet-themed breakup song everyone is dancing to?”

Well, you’ve come to the right place, my friend. Here’s everything you need to know about 17-year-old viral star Gayle and her infectious breakout hit “ABCDEFU.”

Who is Gayle and where is she from?

Rising pop sensation Gayle (her real name is Taylor Gayle Rutherford) was born in Dallas, Texas on July 8, 2004.

Although she was born in Dallas, she relocated to Nashville at a young age. Gayle lives in Nashville currently, although she travels to places like Los Angeles and New York to collaborate with other songwriters and further her fast-rising singing and songwriting careers.

Gayle’s Early Life, Influences, and Discovery

Impressively, Gayle began singing when she was only seven years old. 

Gayle’s influences include soul legend and Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame member Aretha Franklin, jazz icon Ella Fitzgerald, Maggie Rogers, Olivia Rodrigo, and Lorde. Her first concert was Aretha Franklin, who she describes as “my top…literally the reason why I do music.”

Who discovered Gayle? Well, the answer might surprise you. Kara DioGuardi, American Idol judge and CEO of Arthouse Music Publishing, discovered Gayle at a songwriting pop-up event in Nashville. “She has this presence and poise that I’ve never seen from a 14-year-old,” she says. “I was struck by everything…she imprinted on me.”

Gayle was recently signed to Atlantic Records.

What does Gayle’s music sound like?

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by GAYLE (@gayle)

Gayle’s songs combine pop, rock, indie, R & B, and more. If you love any of those genres, you’ll definitely love her.

This is how Gayle describes her music: “My goal in the pop writing rooms is to be the alternative leaning person, but in the alternative rooms being the pop leaning person that can still hang…I love a lot of pop music… but there’s different things that inspire it at the time…soulful influences in music, other times more of an indie rock inspiration comes from it.”

As she simply states, “I’m trying to do a good combo of all of it into this pop thing.” 

What songs did Gayle release before “ABCDEFU”? 

Gayle is certainly not an overnight sensation. Even before her breakout hit “ABCDEFU” she had over five million streams on popular music platforms like Spotify and Apple Music as an independent artist.

Here’s a rundown of Gayle’s songs.

“Dumbass”

The version of Gayle’s “Dumbass” streaming on Spotify and Apple Music begins with her producer asking “are you ready?” and her chuckling as she answers simply, “no.”

It perfectly sets the tone for “Dumbass,” Gayle’s song that explores self-doubt in a real way. Melodically, the chorus is reminiscent of Adele, but lyrically it is much more universally relatable, something Gayle is especially gifted at.

Who, after all, hasn’t at one point thought “God forbid I have my own opinion”?

“Z”

The song Gayle released before “ABCDEFU” that shows her talent the most is “Z,” a clever takedown of the vapid qualities of Gen Z. Snapchat, cell phones, and relationship issues are all on the table.

It’s a big, catchy pop song, but the lyrics are what stands out: “We glorify our problems/but we never solve ’em/we’re too busy actin’ like we know too much.”

“Happy for You”

Gayle’s simplest, most straightforward song is “Happy for You.” Adorned mostly just with an acoustic guitar and layers of vocals, the breakup song is tinged with sadness and regret.

Once again, how relatable Gayle’s lyrics are shines through: “I’m happy for you/but I’m sad for us.”

“Orange Peel”

When you think of Gayle, the first thing that comes to your mind may not be esoteric analogies, but “Orange Peel” will force you to think differently.

The dreamy song, which features a cool, spacey electric piano, is partially about wishing you could relate to the world better, but is also a love song.

Check out the wild first verse:

 I’m slick and sweet, I’m a treat
Vitamin C you dose to me, straight dopamine
Hypotheses, you’ll part the sea to be with me
Sellin’ me like I’m a summer breeze

It’s almost like rap, amiright?

The chorus features even more literate wordplay, and combines self-reflection and romantic feelings in a clever way:

Wish that I could take this off
Like an orange peel of all my thoughts
Hide away, hide away
Take my feelings and just take a break, take a break
Wish that I was orange juice
Take a sip of me and you
Bittersweet, bittersweet
On cavities, cavities
 

My favorite part of the video for “Orange Peel” is that, at approximately 1:09, she is reading the same bulky version of Songwriters on Songwriting that I’ve spent years poring over.

Gayle can be seen reading this book at 1:09 of her video for “Orange Peel.” Pictured above is article author Erik Ritland’s copy at his home studio, Brentwood Station, in Nashville, Tennessee. Photo by Erik Ritland

Everything you need to know about Gayle’s viral Tik Tok sensation “ABCDEFU”

Now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for: all the cool facts about Gayle’s major label debut on Atlantic Records, top charting Billboard Hot 100 viral sensation “ABCDEFU.”

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by GAYLE (@gayle)

 

Who wrote “ABCDEFU”?

Not surprisingly, Gayle wrote “ABCDEFU,” along with collaborators Sara Davies and David Pittenger. It was produced by Peter Nappi, who has also worked with Ke$ha, Madison Beer, Anne Marie, and others.

When did “ABCDEFU” come out?

Gayle’s “ABCDEFU” was released on August 13, 2021.

What genre is “ABCDEFU”?

“ABCDEFU” is a pop song, though it has elements of indie rock and pop punk.

What is “ABCDEFU” about? 

On its most basic level, “ABCDEFU” is a breakup song, perhaps one of the best breakup songs in a long time, which is why it’s gone so viral on Tik Tok.

It’s funny, it’s authentic, and it gets to the heart of the angry feelings and resentment that can result as the fallout of a breakup.

What is the story behind “ABCDEFU”? As Gayle explained in a recent interview, “I was going through a breakup and I was writing really self-deprecating songs…then I heard through a mutual friends that he [her ex] was talking shit about me and all my suppressed emotions came RUSHING in.”

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by GAYLE (@gayle)

“ABCDEFU” lyrics, meaning and more

One thing that sets Gayle apart from other rising pop stars is how clever, funny, and authentic her lyrics are. The “ABCDEFU” lyrics don’t disappoint.

The money shot of the “ABCDEFU” lyrics are its infectious chorus. It is a great singalong song, and is obviously also easy to set a Tik Tok dance to. Who can’t relate to feeling this way about a break up?

The expletive-led chorus, which is both serious and funny, finds Gayle listing the things that, shall we say, she won’t miss about her ex: his family, job, friends, car, and even his “Craigslist couch.”

The only thing of her ex’s that gets a pass? His dog, of course.

My favorite line is when she makes fun of her ex for creating “that shit you call art.” It’s hilarious, and as a musician, I’ve known many girls who bite their tongue and pretend to like the terrible art that their partner shows them.

Full disclosure: I’ve most certainly been that boyfriend, too. I can imagine a couple of my ex-girlfriends relating to Gayle’s sentiment.

“ABCDEFU” versions

Atlantic Records has released multiple versions of Gayle’s “ABCDEFU”: a “nicer” version that replaces the “f-word” with “forget you,” a version that’s somehow angrier, an acoustic version, the original single, and a remix featuring American singer songwriter Royal and the Serpent.  

Check out all the different versions on YouTube

“ABCDEFU” video

Part of the “ABCDEFU” phenomenon is its fun, playful video, in which Gayle and some friends trash a replica of her ex-boyfriend’s apartment.

Spoiler alert: the cake fighting scene is the best part.

“ABCDEFU” TikTok

Gayle’s “ABCDEFU” skyrocketed into the public consciousness when it became a viral Tik Tok sensation.

Most videos on the trend-setting site using #ABCDEFU are similar, with users spelling out the letters and doing typical Tik Tok dances.

One particularly overused move is pretending like you’re holding a steering wheel during the line “and your broke ass car.” Mix it up a bit, folks.

These videos get kind of repetitive, but it seems like good therapy for someone going through a breakup or any other particular sort of hard time.

A trend of people breaking things during their dances – usually plates – to emphasize their emotions led to #ABCDEFU being accompanied by a warning that you shouldn’t endanger yourself when creating videos. Oi vey.

“ABCDEFU” On the Charts

To call this song a sensation is kind of selling it short. “ABCDEFU” was released on August 13, 2021, and debuted at #51 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It also topped the Emerging Artists chart not long after its release.

In mid-January 2022, “ABCDEFU” reached #1 on the US iTunes Top Songs chart, the UK Billboard Hot 100, the Billboard Global 200, and the Billboard Global Excl U.S. charts.

It even knocked Adele’s obnoxious “Easy on Me” out of the #1 spot on both the UK Billboard chart and the US iTunes Top Songs chart. #Winning.

Jimmy Fallon and “ABCDEFU”

Gayle made her television debut on Jimmy Fallon’s late-night TV show on January 5, 2022.

The popular comedian had some glowing words: “I remember hearing it for the first time on the radio. I go, ‘This is a massive song.'”

“ABCDEFU” controversy?

The original Tik Tok video of Gayle first performing “ABCDEFU” has garnered some controversy.

In the video, it appears as though she created the song after a fan requested her to write “a breakup song using the alphabet.” It was eventually revealed that the “fan” works for Gayle’s label, Atlantic Records.

As far as I’m concerned, it was so obvious in the first place that this was a marketing ploy – with its oddly specific request and ridiculously forced emojis – that if it fooled you, that’s a you problem.

@danielswall

Reply to @.daltonisdaddy Did You Know That You Were Lied to About This Song? #singer #songwriter #singersongwriter #abcdefu #learnsomethingnew #marketing #musicmarketing #music #recordlabel #artistsoftiktok #visionboard #musicproducer #entrepreneur #tiktokers #viral #trending

♬ abcdefu – GAYLE

 

 

 

Written by Erik Ritland

Erik Ritland is a songwriter, musician, journalist, and podcaster based in Nashville, Tennessee. He’s released over a dozen albums since 2002, most recently Old Dog Almost Gone (2021), the first-ever multimedia album, and his latest collection of all original material, A Scientific Search (2020). During his 15+ years as a music journalist, Erik has written hundreds of articles for Music in Minnesota, Something Else Reviews, his own blog Rambling On, and more. In addition to continuing his music career, Erik currently runs The Cosmic American, a music journalism website, and is the editor of Music in Minnesota.

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