At just 17-years-old, singer GAYLE put on a clinic on making your late night debut on Wednesday (Jan. 5) when she stormed the Tonight Show stage to play her sugar punch breakout hit “abcdefu.” And though she politely put the f-bombs in the unedited original version on the shelf for the night to appease network censors, her amped-up performance provided further proof that the Plano, Texas native is a force to be reckoned with.
Strumming the song’s intro with gusto on her lime green guitar, the singer eschewed the four-letter-word-larded first verse and dove straight into the second, singing, “I swear I meant to mean the best when it ended/ Even tried to bite my tongue when you startin’/ Now you’re textin’ all my friends asking questions/ They never even liked you in the first place.”
The up-and-comer who began building a modest following by releasing a handful of indie singles over the past few years — including “Dumbass” and “Orange Peel” — hit No. 1 on Billboard‘s Emerging Artists chart dated Dec. 4 with “abcdefu.” Speaking to Billboard recently, GAYLE explained that she’s thrilled the song in which she unapologetically flips the bird to an ex has resonated with so many fans.
“I feel an overwhelming amount of gratitude for people [relating to] the story of when I was really hurt and angry, [but] didn’t even know I was allowed to be angry,” she said. “[I’m] trying to give people a safe space to be angry and process their own emotions — I want to create a more accepting culture and more allowance for your feelings.” A debut EP is set to arrive in the spring with such equally cheeky tracks as “ur just horny.”
Host Jimmy Fallon had a bit of fun with GAYLE in a promo for her appearance, in which casually strolled backstage staring at his phone as the message “when someone says they don’t like dogs” popped on the screen, prompting him to join the teen for an angsty lip synch to the chorus. The singer also sat down with Fallon to describe how the x-ray on the cover of the single is her actual finger — which was injured in a dog-walking incident — and how she freaked out the first time she heard the song on the radio.
Check out Gayle’s performance and the promo below.