GAYLE’s abcdefu was an international hit that took the internet by storm and gave just about everyone the perfect outlet for their frustrations in life. It’s one of those rare tracks that becomes an instant hit because of how relatable and universal it is. In this article, we’ll look at the massive success story that is abcdefu and take a look at both the inspiration and meaning behind the song.
The Success Of “abcdefu” By GAYLE
The track abcdefu was the major-label debut from GAYLE, and it instantly took off. Radio edits of the song would be released under the title ABC to avoid censor issues, but it took away nothing from the success and meaning of the track.
It served as the lead single for her debut EP A Study Of The Human Experience Volume One in 2021. Very quickly, she and the record label found out that a hit single had been produced.
The song abcdefu would shoot to the top of the charts, rising to the number-one position of the Global 200 and peaking at number three on the US Billboard Hot 100. An international success, the song would top the charts in 12 separate countries and would be nominated for Song of the Year at the 2022 Grammy Awards.
Its chart success was bolstered by the track becoming a viral sound on apps like TikTok. I was around the app during that time, and it was quite literally impossible to get away from it. Live renditions of the song by GAYLE would further boost its popularity.
The Meaning Behind “abcdefu”
The song abcdefu uses a bit of clever wordplay to form its hook. “FU” is a common short-form way to write “f*ck you,” and backing it with the beginning of the alphabet gives it a bit of clever wordplay to fit it into a track seamlessly.
A bad breakup was the inspiration for the song, and GAYLE definitely comes off as a woman scorned with her fiery response to the way things ended. The specific person the track was written about hasn’t been revealed, but I have no doubt that they know it’s about them and were absolutely destroyed by it.
In an interview, she described her mental state after the breakup. She had been writing a lot of sad, self-deprecating songs in the aftermath and her friends were not having it. The feelings of guilt over the breakup led to her trying to stay involved in his life and put herself in an awful place.
All of that changed very quickly. She found out that he had been badmouthing her through some mutual friends and became enraged that all of the effort she put into the relationship was leading to such a negative place. That anger became the fuel for her to write abcdefu.
This is a cathartic song. It serves as a massive release of emotions for GAYLE that went after not only the man who had pissed her off but everything about and around him. His mom, his car, and his job, nothing was off-limits except for his dog. This makes perfect sense; dogs are never at fault in any situation. A look at the lyrics in the track tells a pretty clear story of what happened without actually naming any names.
I swear I meant to mean the best when it ended
Even tried to bite my tongue when you start shit
Here, GAYLE goes over how she tried to keep things civil and actually put effort into the relationship, including after it ended. She feels like she kept her mouth shut, even when he was trying to egg her on. Recounting examples like this not only gives her credibility, but it makes it completely understandable when she seems to break with the chorus.
I was into you, but I’m over it now
And I was tryna be nice
But nothing’s getting through, so let me spell it out
A-B-C-D-E, F you
This section is the hook that leads into the chorus where GAYLE does nothing but say she’s over everything but the man’s dog. And it’s honestly hard to blame her. While we don’t have the full story, if events happened the way they do in the song, she’s totally in the right to pen this track to obliterate his terrible attitude and actions.
Interestingly, she is also incredibly self-aware of the potential reactions of listeners. She recognizes that writing and singing this might make her come off as the bad guy, especially to anyone who listens to it without context. All of those thoughts get headed off by her in the second verse of the song.
You said you just needed space and so I gave it…
Told everyone I’m a bitch, so I became it
The first line there describes how she tried to give him what he needed. When he asked for space and wanted some time to figure things out, she was more than willing to give it to him. This included her avoiding saying anything bad about him after their romantic involvement ended.
The second line there is the more powerful one. Apparently, in talking badly about her to their mutual friends, the man in question called GAYLE a “bitch” on more than one occasion. Instead of coming off like one, she simply became what he thought of her as.
In the end, abcdefu was a relatable, cathartic song for millions of listeners that just needed an outlet for their emotions. Regardless of the situation they were involved in, regardless of who it was directed towards, the track is something of an outlet. And it was that good of an outlet—that lets you pour out feelings towards your exes, bosses, parents, and whoever else—made the song so powerful and popular.
As a contributing writer for Music Grotto, Dakotah writes and produces professional music/media content. He works closely with editorial staff to meet editorial standards and create
quality content for the Music Grotto website. Dakotah is passionate about music in a wide variety of genres, from hip-hop to country and lo-fi to metal, and he enjoys creating music pieces for Music Grotto.