There’s something innately compelling about people with a strong sense of self.
I’m not talking about arrogant souls who think they’re god’s gift to the universe, but rather people who are comfortable in themselves and at ease with expressing it.
The five duos and artists in this post’s selection are most certainly in the latter camp, fearlessly and with great beauty and honesty, and yes danceability too at times, talking about the world as they see it.
There is a universality to their songs, as there is for all good music, and don’t be surprised if you feel a little more sure about yourself after listening to them.
“Baby I’m a Queen” by Sofi Tukker
Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern, the New York-based members of musical duo Sofi Tukker (no prizes for guessing the derivation of the band’s name!) have got gloriously-imaginative attitude to burn.
Everything from the bristlingly exuberant chutzpah of their songs to their vibrantly colourful, fun-filled videos radiate the kind of strong sense of artistic self that makes certain artists utterly unmissable.
How strong their identity is immediately obvious in the danceably-upbeat in “Baby, I’m a Queen” which Hawley-Weld describes this way:
“It’s sending a message that I’m ready to say, ‘I’m not being belittled by default in relationships.’ It’s embracing the crazy, chaotic nature of ourselves and emotions, which is really important right now.” (Variety)
The song is in-your-face fast-moving synth-dance heaven and the clip – well, if you’ve ever wondered what it would look like if a beauty pageant ended in a full-on paint fight, you now have your answer.
“The Glass Inside Your Skull” by Mr. Kitty
Forrest LeMaire, based in Austin, Texas, and known to fans as Mr. Kitty, is a man who knows his way around propulsive melodies that pick you up, hold you tight and push you forward with the kind of giddy, all-encompassing momentum that you don’t ever want to push back on.
I mean, why would you? The punchy-synth (which he describes rather creatively as “self destructive synth pop”) and Mr Kitty’s hauntingly removed vocals which still harbour a sizable amount of emotional resonance – it’s both hard, cold electronica and warmly accessible all at once – make “The Glass Inside Your Skill” one of those epically euphoric track with carries both blissfulness and profound substance.
It’s like everything you’ve heard before, say a few decades back in the ’80s, and yet nothing like it with We Are: The Guard, coming up with a description of the man and his music that’s almost as unique as the artist himself:
“Mr. Kitty’s positivity pop goth is so throwback, it’s futurist. With chiptune trance melding with casio-tone riffs that feel so of the past that they’re more or less timeless. Like someone threw these songs up into space thirty years ago and a couple aliens named Mister and Kitty got ahold of them and transformed them into what we’re listening to today. Look at that mustache! You’re telling me that’s human?”
“Wasted Time” by Max Styler and TWERL
Who doesn’t love a good holiday?
Getting one on the other hand isn’t always possible which is why tracks like “Wasted Time” from 20-year-old Californian electronic music producer Max Styler and Perth-based TWERL (Jayden Healey) with spine-tinglingly ethereal vocals by New Yorker EVAN GIAA is such a gift.
The song is laid back and epic all at once, possessing what Vents Magazine calls “creeping, cinematic buildup” which then “blooms with reverberating basslines and warbling synths, all complemented by EVAN GIIA‘s glimmering vocal performance.”
It’s a mightily impressive performance which lulls you into a gentle reverie but never really lets you rest, percolating with a compulsive dynamism that is startling arresting from start to finish.
“White Flag” by Bishop Briggs
You could forgive Sarah Grace McLaughlin aka Bishop Briggs for having a confused sense of self.
After all the UK-born, US-resident musician and singer/songwriter was born to Scottish parents, lived with her family in Tokyo and Hong Kong growing up before pulling up stakes and heading to Lalaland to find her artistic good fortune.
Find it she has with songs like “White Flag” making it clear that this is one artist with a well-defined of who she is and what she wants to say with her music.
Possessed of an epically anthemic melody and spirit, “White Flag” is a song that encapsulates every last drop, melodically and lyrically, of refusing to go silently in that good night with the artist having this to say about this fiery, empowering slice of power pop:
“White Flag is about pushing till there is sweat stinging your eyes, blood under your nails, and never giving up, no matter what the circumstances are.” (Indie Obsessive)
“Blaze of Glory” by Anna Lunoe
Anna Lunoe is a busy, multi-talented singer/songwriter/DJ/producer who now calls Los Angeles home.
The first woman to mix for Ministery of Sound Australia, Lunoe has made quite a splash at music festivals like Coachella and Lollapalooza, a run that’s likely to continue with catchy songs like “Blaze of Glory”.
Infectiously beat-driven with a hook as big as the Nullarbor powering it, the song is one of those loping pieces of electronic pop that takes you along on a chillingly jaunty (yep, the two concepts can coexist in the one song) that demands repeated listens.
There’s an attractive confidence and brio to it, that’s given even more chutzpah by Lunoe’s pitch-perfect playful vocals.
NOW THIS IS MUSIC EXTRA EXTRA!
ABBA news! We have ABBA news! Well, not the revelatory kind but Björn and Benny chatting about the group’s two new songs, the upcoming ABBAtars hologram tour, and a third song?! Did someone say a third new song?!
Carpool Karaoke is a lot of fun – we get some singing, James Corden chatting amiably with his musical guest, and in this case, impromptu ice hockey.