Kim Petras isn’t the first person you think of when you think musical victims of the pandemic but she’s definitely on the list. The singer was scheduled for an event release in 2020 on a major label, but her touring-centric business model put those plans on hold. Well, with the pandemic as over as it’s ever going to be, Petras has seen fit to release her major label debut, a single with the rather on the nose title “Future Starts Now.”
If you’ve literally any Kim Petras song before, you have an idea of what to expect. She’s a indie pop artist with mainstream ambitions, making her contemporaries with a whole host of women including Rina Sawayama, Jessie Ware, Charli XCX, and Carly Rae Jepsen. It’s a hard market to break into as electropop fans (translated: teenage gay boys on Instagram) are spoiled for choice in the genre.
What makes Petras stand out is curiously absent on her newest single, which while good, lacks the songwriting chops that made her independent pop. She’s certainly no stranger to dance oriented tracks with little lyrical substance, but her songwriting ability has always been what’s set her apart from her more beat driven contemporaries. Her most popular and best tracks “I Don’t Want It All,” and “Heart to Break,” were driven by her forceful and jaw dropping vocal ability combined with unusually smart lyrics. Her newest single, while danceable and pleasant to listen to, is just another nu-disco house fusion with an eight word chorus. It’s not bad, but it is unambiguously the safe choice.
I don’t know if Kim Petras has Top 40 potential. She has a lot going for her, but there are some serious marketability roadblocks. She would be the only trans musician in the mainstream at the moment, making notoriously risk-averse record companies nervous about promoting her. Her music is also unapologetically campy and unserious, a far cry from the ‘respectable’ and social issue oriented pop mainstream of Billie Eilish, Lizzo, and Olivia Rodrigo. If Petras does make it through to the top 40 charts, it be from sheer force of personality and talent, things she definitely has, but aren’t on display in “Future Starts Now.” Here’s hoping to a riskeir second single.