Sabrina Carpenter performed her hit “Skin” on TV for the first time Tuesday night (Feb. 9) on The Late Late Show, where she promised host James Corden that the song is not what you think it is.
The 21-year-old singer/actress — who set off rampant speculation that her emotional ballad is a Trojan horse reaction to High School Musical: The Musical: The Series star Olivia Rodrigo’s runaway smash “Drivers License” — once again denied that the lyrics have a particular target while speaking to Corden.
“If you don’t understand it, then you just go with whatever your gut tells you,” a diplomatic Carpenter told Corden when he asked her to explain what he deemed was the swirling “controversy” about the song. “I genuinely was coming from a place as a 21-year-old that is navigating her feelings and has been going through a lot in my personal life and the reoccurring theme was that I was allowing people to get under my skin,” said Carpenter, adding that she simply wrote from a place of understanding that people will get to you if you allow them to. There, she said it (again).
When James pushed a little bit more, suggesting that Sabrina was “skirting around” the controversy, she politely responded, “People will make a narrative out of something always. And I think this was a really interesting song for people to kind of misinterpret and make it into something that it wasn’t really supposed to be in the first place.”
Corden also told Carpenter that he was gutted that the Girl Meets World star made her Broadway debut in the Mean Girls musical last March and only got two performances under her belt before the COVID-19 pandemic caused Broadway’s now nearly year-long shutdown.
“Yeah, you know it’s a bummer,” Carpenter said. “I rehearsed for about three months and it was obviously my debut and something I was so, so, so excited about, but I would have been so bummed if I didn’t get to do any. So, you know, I really gave my heart into those two shows.”
Seated at a white baby grand piano inside a sun-splashed, empty warehouse for her “Skin” performance, Carpenter started out at the keys before crooning the emotional track to an audience of none as a torrential indoor rainstorm soaked her to the bone. She ended back on the bench, singing the haunting refrain, “I wish that you knew that even you/ Can’t get under my skin if I don’t let you” in a whisper.
Watch Carpenter talk about the song and perform “Skin” on The Late Late Show below.