In the winter of 2020, the 20-year-old Penelope Scott found mainstream success in her music career with her song “Rät.“ The song is a love-hate story about everything to do with the internet and technology, and our generation’s fascination with the two, and often the disappointing destinations both lead us to.
Penelope Scott teased a short clip of “Rät” on TikTok and was originally titled “Elongated Muskrat.” Sounds very similar to the name of Elon Musk? Because it is meant to be. The song is pretty much a love-hate letter to the tech pioneer and business mogul, Elon Musk.
Elon Musk has been the face of ‘taking mankind to the next stage of evolution.’ Although he is delivering on this promise, it seems to take time, and he has become a billionaire in the process (on route to becoming even the first trillionaire in the world). While this might be a by-product of the mission to save humanity, a lot of people seem to have an issue with this. Elon Musk has been inducted into the group of untouchable, tax-avoiding elitists of the world.
Listen to “Rät” by Penelope Scott
Penelope Scott “Rät” Lyrics Meaning and Song Review
Penelope Scott gives us an introduction to herself. Much like any kid born after 2000s, she is also born into a world of technological miracles.
I come from scientists and atheists and white men who kill God
The world is moving towards a technological bliss. The room for faith and beliefs are slowly giving way for facts and proof and research. In this context, spiritual aspects of humanity such as religion and gods are having less and less space. When humanity cannot prove the existence of god or heaven above or hell below, they seem to turn away from these ideas and turn towards more tangible products.
In this day and age, children grow up with technological products such as smartphones, laptops, iPads, the Internet, YouTube, and what not. Parents have found an easy out of looking after children thanks to these addictive products. Naturally, children can grow up disconnected with their parents. Penelope Scott refers the infamous ‘daddy issues’ to highlight this idea. ‘Daddy issues’ usually mean a behavioural type where usually a girl seeks to find the warmth and affection they did not receive from their father from other men. In this song, Penelope’s daddy issues were fulfilled by the technological miracles and the men who pioneered them.
God damn, I fell for you, your flamethrowers, your tunnels, and your tech
All three references above are of Elon Musk. He infamously developed a flamethrower through his company, The Boring Company. The same company also dug tunnels for SpaceX’s office. Elon Musk’s name is synonymous with tech now — rocket ships, self-driving cars, neurotech, digital currency, etc.
Penelope Scott says she studies computer coding so she could be just like Elon Musk and help change the world. But the reality is that nothing is as they seem. They say don’t meet your idols because you get to peek behind the scenes and behind the scenes are not as pretty and glamorous as what you see on the screen.
Penelope Scott has no filter in these lyrics of “Rät.” In the beginning of the song, she mentioned that she was part of the movement that killed god. She thought it was an accomplishment to be proven right about things she wanted to believe in. Religion is not something that can be proved (which is not the point of religion, anyway). However, in the pre-chorus of the song, Penelope Scott seems to admit that her clan is as flawed as the institutions she thought she had beat.
But we’ve been f*ckin’ mеan, we’re elitist, we’re as flawed as any church
Throughout the history of religion, people have plundered, murdered and raped in the name of religion. Monarchs and religious institutions have grown riches beyond imagination. However, nothing is different from these institutions and big tech companies. Some steal and sell private information of people to make money.
Penelope Scott continues to fuse the themes of religion and technology in these lyrics; “I bit the apple ’cause I trusted you, it tastes like Thomas Malthus.” Biting the apple is a popular reference to the Biblical story of Adam and Eve and their Original Sin of eating the Forbidden Fruit. Thomas Malthus is an English economist and demographer who is best known for his theory that population growth will always tend to outrun the food supply and that betterment of humankind is impossible without stern limits on reproduction.
Penelope Scott also references Selmers, a character from ‘Night in the Woods’ video game, where Selmers writes a poem about escaping from her town to Silicon Valley. Penelope’s “Rät” is also largely a song about the disappointment that is Silicon Valley.
Disappointment or disatisfaction or hatred towards Silicon Valley and what it stands for, Penelope Scott sings;
I loved you, I loved you, I loved you, it’s true
I wanted to be you and do what you do
She loved everything Silicon Valley stood for – a miracle garden that promised to change the world we live in. Penelope Scott has been gazing at them all her childhood until now and the plot has been quite the let down.
I feel so stupid, and so used
I feel so used
Penelope Scott goes to her roots where her fascination with technology began. She was the loner girl sitting in her science class. She fell in love with circuit boards, computer languages, robots, and rockets. Elon Musk was at the forefront of all of these. So it is only natural that she developed a crush towards him.
On Tiktok, Penelope made a video explaining this lyric, where she stated: “When I refer to myself as the ‘hot girl in your comp-sci class’ (…) I was not, as many of you seem to think, referring to myself as hot because I think it’s an obvious fact, or because I’m vain. I was actually trying to reference the pressure that a lot of women feel in a male dominated profession or study, to perform their femininity kind of to an extreme in attempt to not lose their gender identity in the work that they’re doing. I also had in mind the ‘gamer girl’ aesthetic that a lot of us go through a kind of phase with, in an attempt to appeal not just to guys, but like, ‘techy guys’ specifically. So I was trying to refer to something a little bit deeper.”
In the last part of the second verse, the singer says how let down she has been of the uses of the technological advances mankind has made in the past decade. Business magnates such as Jeff Bezos, Sir Richard Branson, and Elon Musk have begun to commercialize space travel with space tourism — a far less noble use of scarce resources on Earth!
Penelope Scott seems to lose faith in the promise that technology will be the savior of mankind! Technology was supposed to give humanity another chance at life on another planet when we undoubtedly destroy planet Earth. Instead, technology is being used for private endeavour.
So… Penelope Scott is done with Elon Musk and his rockets and his cars and his flamethrowers and again, his cars!
You promised you’d be Tesla, but you’re just another Edison
Penelope Scott brings up the age-old rivalry of Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison. While both men are giants in the field of electrical engineering, the popular claim is that Edison stole Tesla’s ideas and glory. Unironically, Elon Musk also probably ‘stole’ the name ‘Tesla’ from Nikola Tesla for his car company. Cleverl parallels.
The Nikola-Edison fued tore humanity into two factions to argue who was the better genius and who should be credited for all the electrical marvels that we see today. Elon Musk did no such thing. But as a business magnate, it is natural that he wants his electric car competition to be minimum. He has Tesla sales targets to hit. We will never be able to tell where his true intentions lie — saving the planet or business mogul!
“Eat the rich” has been a popular slogan of late as an outcry against the elite billionaires who seem to get away with anything — from taxes to certain laws. Penelope realizes that she does not want these people to just go away, but rather change their motives?!
Penelope cleverly separates herself from these elitists by saying that her education is paid for by blood. By this she means that her parents had to pour blood, sweat, and tears to make a living. None of them were born into money. But money is the last thing on her mind right now.
Let me level with you, man, as someone guilty of the game
I took the help, I took the cash, I would’ve taken your last name
The singer was committed to the technology game. She had big hopes of saving humanity. She would have loved to become the next Penelope Musk! She was part of the game known as capitalism. She took the money where she could get it and she used it to advance herself in the field of tech. But now she feels betrayed by the same game she was part of it. She feels used by her idols and heroes. She has one final remark for the Elon Musks out there; “you’re a d*ck.”
How do you feel about what Penelope Scott has to say about the Silicon Valley promise? Let us hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Check out the complete lyrics on Genius.