How Sabrina Carpenter's Espresso helped her (finally) rise to the top

Who can't resist a hit of caffeine?
sabrina carpenter espresso feature

Can't relate to desperation? Neither can Sabrina Carpenter, who has just scored the biggest hit of her career (so far) with Espresso, a frothy and decidedly unbothered banger that's quickly on its way to becoming the soundtrack to summer.

Espresso's massive success - debuting in both the Top 10 of the UK's Official Singles Chart and the Billboard Hot 100 in Sabrina's native US - has certainly been a long-time coming for the multi-hyphenate singer, songwriter, actress and all-around icon.

With sun-kissed nu-disco track currently leading the charge to replace Taylor Swift at Number 1 on the Official Singles Chart this week, we think it's high time to dive further into why this moment has turned into the moment for Sabrina, and how all the hard work (and bops) she's put in for all these years has finally come to caffeinated fruition. 

That is the power of the me Espresso!

Espresso's breakthrough was laid down by several viral singles beforehand

Sabrina's path to her first UK Top 10 single was by no means smooth or quick (her first album, released when she was just 16, dropped in 2015). But what she has done is consistently release music - emails i can't send, her last record, was her fifth studio album in just under eight years. 

But while Sabrina has released some excellent, forward-thinking pop singles in the past, there were three really key tracks that have lead to her rise to the Top 10 in the UK.

The first was Skin, the first single by Sabrina to ever chart in the UK Top 40, an intelligent and emotionally complex song that can be enjoyed outside of the headline-grabbing controversies it was born through, which don't bear repeating here. 

Skin's straight-out-of-the-gate success lead to the release of emails i can't send the following year, which moved Sabrina's sound into a more mature and varied place. Nonsense, an energetic R&B influenced track, became that album's biggest success and something of a calling card for its artists versatility - it's now tradition for Sabrina to freestyle the ending of the song, suited to wherever she's performing, be that Coachella or...uh...Leeds?

This was followed by the light and breezy disco cut feather, which was Sabrina's highest-charting single until Espresso, reaching Number 19 in the UK. 

It's the right song at (finally) the right time

Coming after Nonsense and feather bolstered both Sabrina's representation outside her core fan circles and her chart stats, Espresso was precisely the right song at the right time. 

Sabrina's artist persona has also undergone something of an evolution since Nonsense debuted; she's fun, she's flirty and always on the right side of an innuendo. Espresso, with its laissez-faire approach to lyricism (why does she Mountain Dew it for you? What does that even mean? Who cares!) fits the brief perfectly and feels like the next logical step in Sabrina's career, as well as the most confident she's sounded leading a track. 

For those who have been in the new, Sabrina's career has been ongoing for what is now nearly 10 years. The last few years have proved vital in helping her move past the label of a 'child star' and into an artist in her own right - Skin's controversial subject matter introduced her to audiences who probably would never have heard of her before, while Nonsense and feather's domination of sites like TikTok solidified her as one of the only Gen Z pop girlies who are actually releasing pop music - no frills, no gimmicks. 

Of course, that support slot on Taylor Swift's Eras Tour has certainly helped too...

Sometimes, an artist has exactly the right sort of song to meet the moment, and this is most definitely Sabrina Carpenter's moment. 

Want more? Here are our essential Sabrina Carpenter tracks

Thumbs (the avante-garde electropop one)

What were you doing when you were 17? Not releasing a forward-thinking pop single like this, that's for sure!

Paris (the mature and alluring one)

Seductive and, dare we say it, even a little bit sexy, Paris sounds like what would happen if Lana Del Rey met Daft Punk in a smoke-filled alleyway behind the Eiffel Tower.

Almost Love (the let's go to the club one)

With a hair-raising, EDM beat Almost Love was the exciting first peak into Sabrina: future superstar.

Pushing 20 (the fun, Rihanna-esque one)

Everyone should have at least one party track that, in an alternate universe, was bought by Rihanna.

Skin (the headline-grabbing one)

When they go high, go low! Inspiring stuff. 

Espresso is out now via Island/Polydor (UK).

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