Doja wish you were her: Sultry ‘Planet Her’ proves that Doja Cat has stars in her eyes

photo of Doja Cat album cover
Kemosabe Records/Courtesy

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Grade: 3.5/5.0

Doja Cat lives by her own rules. In 2020, her vibrant album Hot Pink blazed a fiery trail through the pop landscape, seeping into “For You” pages with its passionate, infectious energy. On Doja’s third LP Planet Her, bubbliness fizzes out in exchange for something more concrete — a sincerity thinly veiled in transient, celestial aesthetics. Though it lulls in more than a few areas, Planet Her holds an otherworldly mesmerism that proves the star is here to stay.

Doja swims in divine feminine energy on her latest discography addition, delivering an expectantly sex-positive, rather lavish record. Smeared lipstick suffuses the fluttery “Kiss Me More” featuring a captivating verse from SZA, and galactic fantasies come true on “Need To Know,” which boasts two intoxicating rap verses that reflect the artist’s signature hypnotizing flair. Doja refines a striking balance between composure and temerity, rapping with a steady hand and a smirk. During her casual fling detailed on “Options,” she unambiguously reminds collaborator JID that “You can count on me/ To never count on you” without batting an eye.

While it’s clear she’s had quite a few fun times in bedroom closets and on kitchen islands, her album is beyond reiterating horniness: It attempts to relay a more full, flush image of her embraced womanhood, which is most evidently portrayed with the record’s spirited opener “Woman.” The striking afrobeats song stomps out misogyny and traces the constellations of Doja’s femininity: Planet Her orbits around Doja first and foremost, its success stemming from her feverish, magnetic pull.

Unfortunately, Doja’s radiant energy can only hold up for so long. Too extensive for Doja to landscape all at once, Planet Her is less a full-fledged world and more a bustling city of potential. Beneath a glossy veneer of pure lust, Doja’s gravitation toward a deeper, sweeter yearning often leaves her struggling in the deep end. In the shadow of Ariana Grande’s outstanding vocals, Doja feels more like the featured artist on her own track “I Don’t Do Drugs,” a faulty venture into mainstream pop with a derivative love-is-a-drug metaphor. Later, in the smooth but too-mechanical The Weeknd collaboration “You Right,” Doja finds herself stuck in a dead-end relationship trying to hide affections for someone else.

Straying from love and sex, the album’s most pedestrian songs swivel to focusing on fame and fortune: The trite, elongated “Yeah” hook overstays its welcome on Young Thug collaboration “Payday,” and the tacky sound of flashing cameras is the final nail in the coffin for (the rather ironically titled) “Imagine.” Despite these few insipid songs, Planet Her still triumphs due to the overwhelmingly successful displays of Doja’s versatility.

The album demonstrates Doja’s sensational control of her rapping idiosyncrasies, with the most subtle inflections in her voice shifting a song’s mood entirely. On her hype track “Get Into It (Yuh),” she chokes out a squeaky staccato rap similar to Young Thug’s style in his Megan Thee Stallion’s “Don’t Stop” verse. It’s stilted and whiny, yet somehow flirty and fun along with its ensemble choruses. And later, it’s not difficult to picture Doja rolling her eyes while singing “Ain’t Shit,” a hit laced with exasperation, sorrow and anger that leaves Billie Eilish’s “Lost Cause” in the dust. Doja sneers “Go get a fuckin’ job!” at her ex, followed by a shriek that’s equal parts bitter laugh and distressed cry.

As demonstrated by the wonderfully spiteful “Ain’t Shit,” Doja excels when she explores her desire’s more emotional complexities. “Love To Dream,” a rare and beautiful ballad from Doja, feels like a graceful fall from the heavens, and the guitar-driven “Alone” is a contemplative, solemn discovery of self worth. These more emotional songs may come less naturally to the rapper, but on Planet Her, they succeed as truly stellar illustrations of her mesmerizing genre-fluid talent.

The cosmos functions as Doja’s musical playground on her latest record, a dazzling realm existing beyond the height of her TikTok fame. Though not without its fair share of ennui, Planet Her thrills enough to exhibit the expanding, astronomical domain of Doja’s stardom: an invigorating, if imperfect, supernova.

Contact Taila Lee at [email protected].