Rock Star Rams: Melissa Joy Releases New EP

Joy’s “light pollution” shows you don’t need to see the stars to be one



Joy leans into the challenges of moving to Manhattan and creating during a pandemic in her new EP.


Despite the uniqueness of the 2020-21 school year, talent can be seen, particularly online, among the first-year students. While there are many singers among the Fordham community, I recently spoke to Melissa LoPiccolo, Fordham College at Lincoln Center ’24, better known by her stage name, Melissa Joy. I talked with Joy about her discography, including her recently released EP “light pollution,” which came out on Feb. 5.

Joy explained that she chose to use Joy, her middle name, for privacy reasons, since she started writing as a minor. She also thinks her real last name is a mouthful. 

Currently studying digital technologies and emerging media, Joy believes that anyone can be an artist no matter what they study. Joy said she didn’t even consider herself to be a musician, “just a girl in her freshman dorms with headphones and a laptop.”

Early Inspirations

Joy grew up on Long Island and spent a lot of time in the city over the years, but she said that actually moving to New York was a big deal for her. The name of the EP, “light pollution,” reflects her move to Manhattan. When Joy was younger, she always liked looking at stars and dreamed about living in Manhattan. While great things have happened to her since coming to the city in the fall, she said that the light pollution is intense and can make her feel “foggy-brained.” 

I used the imagery of looking up at the sky/stars as a symbol for trying to reconnect to my surroundings and self.” Melissa Joy, FCLC ’24

Joy released her first song, “I Don’t Mind,” in 2019. She said it was inspired by a night out at a diner with her friends from high school. When she tried to say something to her friends, people were talking over her and she felt detached from the moment. Joy evokes that feeling by including inaudible conversation in the middle of the song.

The theme of detachment appears throughout Joy’s discography and she uses the imagery of stars in “light pollution” to evoke powerful emotions. “I used the imagery of looking up at the sky/stars as a symbol for trying to reconnect to my surroundings and self,” she said. 

Three out of five songs on the EP mention stars. “There’s a lot of meaning behind feeling compelled to find some relief in the sky. In “light pollution,” I talk about how I continuously try to find sanctuary in looking at the stars.”

While “Metropolitan” is Joy’s most streamed song on Spotify, she said it is actually her least favorite song that she has made. It was made in two days during a time where she was struggling with writer’s block. However, Joy decided to share it during quarantine on her TikTok. The TikTok “blew up,” getting around 130,000 views.

Working with Other Musicians

Beyond these songs, Joy has also collaborated with other artists. The single “Ocean Park,” was created alongside fellow Fordham musician Pineapple Island, also known as Tommy Pallai, Fordham College at Rose Hill ’22. Pineapple Island and Joy connected as they were from the same hometown. Joy said the song was a challenge to make, but she was happy with how it came out.

“I am naturally drawn to write acoustic music with lyrics that take a lot of breaking down to understand,” Joy said. “When Tommy sent me the demo for ‘Ocean Park’ the overall electronic sound called for something that required more straightforward in terms of melody and lyrics. I tried to keep as much imagery as I could in the lyrics though, which isn’t found too much in the EDM/Pop genre.”

Joy’s second collaboration, “‘headlights,” was created in tandem with Joy’s friend and fellow musician, Frank Leibman. “He helped me write the guitar part for ‘headlights,’” Joy said. 

It is the longest of her songs, and it was released on New Year’s Day of this year. The lyrics in the song are more forward-facing than her previous work, such as “Wondering if he’s ever gonna try to make a move” or “I’m feeling tension in the air tonight.” She shared that she wrote it in December to celebrate 2021 after all the hardships of 2020. The song also served as “a new beginning” since she procrastinated at times in 2020.

Joy said she didn’t even consider herself to be a musician, “just a girl in her freshman dorms with headphones and a laptop.”

“light pollution,” the song, is more focused on the present than her older work. Joy said that was intentional, as “light pollution” “captures a moment while it is happening.”

Later songs on the EP like “armageddon” and “unrequited,” on the other hand, are more nostalgic and have acoustic instrumentals. They both have similar messages of looking back on lost love, which can be seen as “sappy” according to Joy. 

The next song on the EP, “unrequited,” was also released as a single last year. Interestingly, “unrequited” was not written from her point of view; instead, it was inspired by an unhealthy relationship she was in, and the song is about obsession with other people instead of romance. 

Writing in Quarantine

“armageddon” and its lyrics are apocalyptic in nature. Joy said the song was written the day her high school was shut down and senior play canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. The song was supposed to be hypothetical since she thought things would be back to normal in two weeks, but now it’s the song of 2020.

Joy said the pandemic has inspired lots of music. The pandemic has given her the free time to take music seriously and devote herself to songwriting; it offered opportunity for self-discovery. However, she’s also looking forward to sharing the musical experience with others in person, post-pandemic.  

The final song on the EP, “while I was looking up,” is all four previous songs worked into one. A lot is happening in it at once, and lines from previous songs are present, so it serves as a bookend. Joy said it was the most complex track she ever made, and it was entirely self-produced. 

Joy gave advice for aspiring creatives, stating that everyone should try to work on their artistic passion whether it be writing, drawing or even athletics. She encourages utilizing the free time we may find ourselves having during this period of quarantine and isolation because we never know how all of our time spent will pay off. Joy is immensely happy with how her musical efforts in “light pollution” have turned out.