Megan Slankard's 'California' Is a Breakup Anthem for the Whole State

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Megan Slankard.  (Photo: Laura Kudritzki; illustration: Kelly Heigert. )

Welcome to Pass the Aux, where KQED Arts & Culture brings you our favorite new tracks by Bay Area artists. Check out past entries and submit a song for future coverage.

There are three ingredients necessary to make a perfect breakup anthem.

  1. Bitterness with a soupçon of rage
  2. Sharp jabs directed at the ex, and
  3. A catchy goddamn chorus.

When the sufficiently pissed off songwriter brews these three together correctly, a special alchemy takes place and lightning strikes. (See: "You Outta Know" by Alanis Morissette, "F--k You" by CeeLo Green, Fleetwood Mac's "Go Your Own Way," etc.)

Enter San Francisco's own Megan Slankard and her new single "California"—a soaring breakup track that Slankard says should act as a “gentle reminder of why it might not be the best idea to date a songwriter." It's a song that checks all the breakup anthem boxes, sneaks up on you, then gets stuck in your head for days.

Within the first verse, Slankard is berating her ex for being a mama's boy and running away from his issues. A single drumbeat runs underneath it all, hitting sporadically like closed fist punches. Then comes a dismissal—"You do what you've gotta, you take what you wanna"—followed by a firm demand. "You'd better leave me with California," Slankard seethes.  The whole thing takes off in Tom Petty-esque guitar flourishes, soulful excoriations and even some "na-na-na"s to yell along with in a live setting.


The video is a love letter to San Francisco, with all its (literal) ups and downs.

"California" is the first new music Slankard has released since the pandemic. The single is available on all platforms now and will also be on Slankard's upcoming album California and Other Stories, dropping Oct. 28. In the meantime, you can catch Slankard at Menlo Park's Guild Theater on Sept. 16 if you'd like do some cathartic singing along in person.