María Isabel | We’ve All Been The Antagonist

The Queens-based singer releases new single and accompanying video: “I Drove U Crazy”

Written by

Annie Bush

Photographed by

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Styled by

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Photographed by Alfred Marroquín

Whether or not we’re willing to admit it to ourselves, we’ve all been The Bad Guy in the relationship. We’ve all been The Enemy; The Antagonist. María Isabel isn’t ashamed to admit these things to herself– in fact, she draws power from her culpability. The Queens, NY native’s new single, “I Drove U Crazy" along with accompanying music video, explores the ways in which Isabel leverages and acknowledges that power.

Produced by Grammy winner Illangelo, “I Drove U Crazy” eschews the idea that personal vindication is a means of “winning” a relationship– for María Isabel, understanding the end of the relationship means acknowledging the worst parts of herself: "Sometimes it's easier to blame the other person when things don't work out, but the further I get from past relationships, the easier I find it to take accountability for my role in them and accept that sometimes two people just don't belong together,” she says.

María Isabel has a voice like molasses. The single, stretching lines like: “I drive you insane, I know, accidents happen,” over bars of lowkey drums and twinkly keys, is a muddy river in the highest of summer heats; slow, lazy, poisonous, but oh-so tempting to jump inside. Isabel’s voice has a singular ability to communicate textured emotion: she doesn’t need ostentatious instrumentation to convey the sorrow, the vanity, the guilt, and the freedom that inevitably wash over one in the midst of a breakup.

The music video, directed by another Dominican-American, New-York-based creative Olivia De Camps, possesses the same quiet starpower imbued in the vocals themselves: set simply in and around a New York City apartment, the singer writhes on a mattress, poses on a motorcycle in the middle of a living room, yanks a gold chain off her neck in a local pawn shop. The visuals are imbued with that uniquely poisonous satisfaction and gentle sorrow understood only when the breakup is just right. “Fine, I can be the bad guy, let's talk about it," Isabel says of the single. And when someone with a voice with that particular cadence and honeyed timbre wants to talk about being the Bad Guy, one is left with no choice but to listen.

This single marks the singer's  first release following her 2021 EP, i hope you're very unhappy without me, in which the singer slides seamlessly between English and Spanish, exploring her background growing up in New York as well as her Dominican-American heritage. After a brief hiatus, María Isabel’s “I Drove U Crazy” promises a new creative era for the singer, teasing a deeper exploration into the nuances of interpersonal relationships as well as reinforcing her love for the city from which she came.

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Music, María Isabel, Annie Bush