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.
Maude Latour is a New York City based indie-pop artist who has had a semi-recent rise to popularity through TikTok. However, she has been releasing music since May of 2017. With her signature Maude Latour logo on all of her cover art, catchy usernames on social media (@maudelstatus) and polished sound, it seems like she was destined for this.
Recently, she came out with a single titled, “Clean,” a song detailing the difficulty of maintaining the simple mundanities of life after someone important leaves you. The hook of the chorus, laments “I’m even tryna keep my room clean / Every day, I make my bed just to get you out my head.” She explores the aftermath of a relationship, and focusing on yourself after it ends, by keeping yourself occupied and healthy. It’s everything a pop song should be: catchy, relatable, memorable and energetic.
The music video, directed by Tess Lafia and produced by Eric Barrett, is a great step forward from her other music videos. Coming from someone who doesn’t like watching music videos, “Clean” was fun, quippy, and has great visuals.
Latour also released an acoustic version of “Clean” on YouTube, which pales in comparison to the studio version, but is a more intimate experience.
On September 3, 2021, Phoebe Bridgers’ “Reunion Tour” is scheduled to kick off. The name of the tour is a joke/followup after her first tour was titled “Farewell Tour.” She announced the tour on July 12 of this year, not exactly a last minute announcement but certainly cutting it close. Bridgers is doing some of the shows with openers MUNA, an indie-pop band signed to her record label “Dead Oceans,” and Bartees Strange, an alternative musician from England. The tour has recently undergone some changes in light of COVID-19, including some indoor venues being changed to outdoor venues. On August 23, Bridgers posted on Instagram with updated information regarding the alterations.
The caption reads: “Let’s try this again… In the interest of safety, I’ve decided to only play outdoors for the upcoming tour. We are moving all previously scheduled indoor shows to outdoor venues and we’ve needed to postpone shows in a couple cities so please check the updated schedule. At my request, there are updated health and safety requirements. Entry will require proof of vaccination against COVID-19. Where that’s not permissible by law, we’ll agree to proof of vaccination OR proof of negative test result (PCR preferred/Antigen accepted) within 48 hours prior to entering those venues. And please wear a mask. I love you. See you soon.”
She stated, on “Comedy Bang Bang: The Podcast” that “I am slightly terrified [for tour], to be real, because I did it for three years straight really before the pandemic, and I got really good at it.”
Phoebe Bridgers is making her way to the Carolinas about halfway through her stops, coming to Charlotte and Raleigh, on September 19 and 21 respectively. Both of the venues were changed: the Charlotte concert was once going to be at The Fillmore and will now be held at Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheater, and the Raleigh show was going to be at The Ritz and will now be held at Red Hat Amphitheater. Both shows will have MUNA as an opener.
Kanye’s career has been living on borrowed time for more than a decade now. He’s one of the most famous, and least sympathetic musicians on earth, so much so that many critics have assumed no number of scandals, public gaffes, or bad press could ever tank the man’s career. There was a time I would have agreed with that statement but looking at the release of his 10th studio album Donda, I might have to walk back that assessment.
Kanye West probably needs no introduction at this point. His music has captured the public consciousness for two decades, and his public persona has done much the same, just in a more negative light. Each public disaster has been met with equally rapturous critical and public praise. For all the Grammy rants, political forays, and questionable public statements, his albums “My beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” “Yeezus,” and “Kids See Ghosts,” each earned glowing reviews from at least one major indie outlet, be it Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, or The Needle Drop respectively.
However, in recent years Kanye’s public antics and private fame have started to eclipse his actual musical success. His endorsement of Donald Trump, disparaging comments towards black women, and divorce from wife Kim Kardashian have all cost him public support. His 2019 religious album “Jesus Is King,” garnered confused reactions from secular critics, and little to no interest from a religious audience, and while his 2018 series of short projects and production jobs were well received as whole, no one project was universally acclaimed according to Allmusic and Metacritic aggregates.
However, with the release of his most recent album “Donda,” a switch seems to have been flipped both within his fanbase and within the wider world. For the first time in a long time, Kanye seems to have entirely lost the public’s interest. The extensive delays garnered backlash on his subreddit, critics that once adored him like Pitchfork and the Independent have given reviews that range from lukewarm to outright panning. But most damning is that just a day after the release, at a time where Kanye alleges the label released his album without consent, and plagiarism allegations over the album cover are riding high in the headlines, and a feud with Drake looms large, Kanye is nowhere to be found in the top 15 trending topics on Twitter. For such a famous artist to have a release so mired in drama, with more than 5 unresolved news stories around him, to not be the #1 trending topic is a failure, much less to not even make this list.
I don’t want to belabor the point any further, because frankly I feel confident in saying that, for once, nobody cares. However, I do want to speculate that perhaps this bodes poorly for the future of other rappers mired in baggage. The likes of Drake, 6×9, Eminem, and Chris Brown have all claimed a niche in the rap game despite (or in some cases because of) public scandal and attempted cancellation. But perhaps, with Donda, Twitter has finally found the most lethal weapon for an artist’s career: to simply ignore.
Okay, this topic is a little bit of a landmine, but you may have noticed that Courtney Love has been floating around in the news lately. We here at WKNC aren’t usually much for covering straight-up celebrity gossip, but the history of Love’s public image is personally fascinating to me, and the topic seems to be floating back into relevance for the first time in decades. We’ll try to keep things mostly above board.
Let’s start with the story that got this article rolling. Olivia Rodrigo, pop princess extraordinaire, has a concert film coming up, and for the promotional image, she recreated Love’s classic “Live Through This,” album art. That is a pretty cool callback, Rodrigo’s music is a teeny-bopper version of Love’s in a lot of ways, especially “Good 4 U,” and it’s nice to see her promoting a classic album by a pioneer of female-led rock.
Courtney Love did not agree with that assessment.
Yes, Love took to Instagram, remarking that it was rude for her and the photographer to not be consulted, and despite Rodrigo vocally stanning her, was generally dismissive and unhappy with her. This is, at least arguably, defensible, at least in the abstract, but reading what Love actually wrote left me confused. In fact, everything on Love’s social media left me kinda confused and put off. So, let’s talk about Courtney Love, and the past, present and future of her public image.
Big Red Machine, a duo composed of Aaron Dessner of The National and Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, has announced an album coming at the end of this summer. The album is named “How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last?” and will contain features from Fleet Foxes, Taylor Swift, Anaïs Mitchell, Sharon Van Etten and more. In fact, nine tracks on this 15 track project will contain features. This will be the indie-folk-rock duo’s sophomore album and will be released under the labels Jagjaguwar and 37d03d.
Upon teasing the release of this album, Swift fans almost immediately recognized that she would be involved with the project due to her particular handwriting. This was also suspected due to her past work with both Dessner and Vernon on her two most recent albums, “folklore” and “evermore.” Dessner also assisted in the production of “Fearless (Taylor’s Version).” Swift has two features on the album, on tracks “Birch” and “Renegade.”
Two singles off of the album have already been released, “Latter Days (feat. Anaïs Mitchell)” and “The Ghost of Cincinnati.”
Carly Bogie is a TikToker, Spotify playlist curator, and music lover. I first stumbled across Carly on TikTok (@hahakcoolgtgbye), where she was showing her audience a playlist she had made. I’ve been following her for months as her following has increased and so has her quality of content. Carly has amassed over 66 thousand followers on TikTok, and her Spotify closely follows that number, clocking in at over 65 thousand followers. With over 200 public playlists, some with thousands of followers, encapsulating themes from Harry Potter houses, colors and enneagram placements, Carly has perfected the art of making playlists.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Carly and talking about all things music.
What inspired you to start making music TikToks? And what came first: your TikTok or your music Instagram?
I’ve always been someone who really loves music and I love talking about music and finding new artists… and sharing new music with my friends. And it kind of got to the point where I was like, I’m talking to my friends so much about music, like, they’re probably getting so annoyed, it’d be fun to have an outlet where I can… do that. And me and one of my friends were kind of joking around and being like, oh, like, let’s see, like, who can get famous on TikTok first, but then I started posting stuff about music and a few of them… kind of took off a little bit. And I was like, oh, there’s a place for this… I can start doing this more and people are… interested in what I have to say… So that was really cool. It kind of just came out of nowhere, like I wasn’t really expecting anything to come out of it. But it’s been…a super cool experience. […] And then yeah, my music Instagram kind of came… a few months into it. I think I just wanted… a place where I could talk more about it. And I think it was around the time where like, people were like, “Oh is TikTok going to be like taking down?…” And so I.. decided that like, the next step could be a music Instagram. And that’s been super nice. Because, like, I don’t know, I’d also been getting a lot of DMs from artists or people like you, who wanted to talk about music and stuff. So it’s nice to have a place on Instagram to do that.
I follow another music TikToker who has a Patreon, where you can pay to have her make a playlist for you. Would that be something you ever are interested in doing? Or has there been any other opportunities that have come from this that you haven’t expected? Or are you mainly just doing it for fun?
I guess the things that I’ve done that are more like, people ask me to do stuff… is more like promoting people’s music or… adding it to my playlist or talking about it on TikTok or Instagram or stuff like that. So yeah, that’s all been stuff I never expected… to come into. I’ve been approached by some record labels… who have asked to work with me. Like, that’s all been stuff I never expected. I never expected to be a part of the music industry in that way. It’s been a super cool experience.
So you go to college right, and what’s your major, is it related to the stuff you’re doing with music and TikTok?
I’m actually a chemical engineering major. So like, my major is completely outside of what I do with music and stuff. I guess music and making playlists, especially at first, was just kind of … a creative outlet. In high school, I did a lot more art along with the science and stuff. But in college, I hadn’t been able to do that as much. Making playlists is a way to like, have that creative outlet that I could do while still focusing on school and stuff. So it’s, yeah, it’s very much a separate part of what I’m studying. But now that I’ve gotten more into it, I have started to consider, like, career wise, this is something I could do. I have some opportunities within the music industry. Yeah, we’ll see.
Your Tik Tok blew up before your Spotify. Did you gain a lot of Spotify followers from this?
Yeah, I guess they kind of blew up around the same time. Like, from my TikTok people went straight to my Spotify because like that’s what it was all about.
Which of your own playlists do you like to listen to the most? I feel like a lot of what you do is you’re making things for like other people but what’s the one that you personally gravitate to more?
It really depends. I go through phases of liking different things. I have the main emoji ones (see below) which are ones I’ll normally turn on if I just, like, want something easy to listen to in the car or whatever. My playlist “song of the day” that’s not as much a curated playlist it’s more just the songs I really like at the moment. […] I really like to have ones that are for the specific moods I’m feeling.
Do you have any music like guilty pleasures?
I am a huge One Direction fan. Like, probably way too much. And it always makes me laugh because like, I … have like thousands of followers on Spotify who can see what I’m listening to… and I’m supposed to be like this cool indie music person. But I feel like half of the time I just shuffle One Direction.
How much time do you spend making TikToks and Spotify playlists?
It really depends. So normally, I just listen to music throughout the day. So, I’m constantly updating playlists, and listening to new stuff. So that’s the kind of stuff I do like, while I’m working at school or studying. And then I try to do TikTok stuff or Instagram stuff for about an hour. …Yeah, it really depends. On weekends I have more time to do stuff like that.
Your favorite band is Hippo Campus, what is your favorite song by them? I know there’s so many to choose from but are there any that stick out to you?
Yeah, the one I normally say is “Bambi.” I love that song a lot. The lyrics are just so good. And I have a lot of good memories associated with it. That’s probably my favorite. But I also like “Baseball” and “Golden” on occasion. Like sometimes I’ll say those but like, I feel like “Bambi” is the one that sticks with me the most.
I’ll be the first to admit it; I am not a big Jasiah listener. That being said, I love Denzel Curry and can get behind a lot of Rico Nasty’s discography, so when “Art of War” dropped on June 4th, I was intrigued. After listening many times and looking more into Jasiah’s other popular songs, I’ve formed my complete take on this track.
Simply put, everyone on this track goes in. “Art of War” is truly hard and the ZillaKami influence is clearly present. As a whole, the song brings a high power alarm-based beat with supporting instrumentals, many lyrics that pack a punch (or something a bit more serious), and the expected yelling from Jasiah.
Curry’s verse is perhaps my favorite on the track. From religious mythology to Dragon Ball, his references are bountiful. His signature fast-paced flow is clean and smooth and he was certainly the right choice for Verse One.
Rico Nasty plays a downright hater on her verse and she fully executes the role. She brings high energy, high vocals, and pure talent that really round out the song.
Jasiah is responsible for the intro with Curry, the pre-chorus, and the chorus. All three are enjoyable, though I do wish he’d had an additional verse to tack on after Curry and Rico’s verses. What is present on the song, however, is seamless and fun.
“Art of War” is a driving song, party track or generally hype play. Jasiah, Curry and Rico are a trio that fit well together and I look forward to the potential of hearing more from them. I’ll have to listen to more solo Jasiah, too.
Eurovision is an annual “American Idol” style song competition where each European country submits a song to fight for the yearly crown. It brought us Abba, an Israeli woman bucking like a chicken, a C-rate male Adele, and an endless supply of memes. There are 40 songs per year, which is far too many to cover in a single article, so I’ll hit the highlights for you here. These are my opinions, so check the songs out and come to your own conclusions.
Italy: This was the official winner. The rare rock victor, this band sounds like if Limp Biskit were a ’70s glam rock band, and also good. They have officially been cleared of drug use during the competition, which is kind of disappointing.
Ireland: This year’s Irish competitor suffered from a camera malfunction during the performance, which sucks considering that a queer woman representing Ireland of all countries is a milestone. I promise you she doesn’t sound like Sinead O’Conner
Malta: This is probably the most fun entry from this year. The artist, Destiny, has more energy in her than France, Switzerland, Spain, and Britain combined. The song feels like it could have used a second pass, but the singer more than makes up for it.
Latvia: This song is objectively awful, and I love it. It’s the kind of loud, incredibly weird, shameless pop music you expect from Eurovision.
United Kingdom: Britain qualifies for the finals automatically because they’re one of the big five music markets in Europe. That is the only reason this song qualified. Props to the continent for giving this zero points, which is exactly what it deserved.
Switzerland: Falsetto singing is really hit or miss. A good singer can sound like an absolute train wreck if they don’t have enough breaths or hit the note a little off. On a related note, I really didn’t like Switzerland this year.
France: How did this get second place? It’s so boring I accidentally changed the song at the halfway point just to make it stop.
Germany: Ostensibly a song about trans acceptance, any positive messaging is overwritten by the painfully insincere lyrics and horrifying performance by Jake and Logan Paul’s long-lost younger brother. It’s really bad y’all.
San Marino: Sorry Europe, Flo Rida is your problem now.
Bri from Crumb had a conversation with DJ Psyched about Crumb’s second full-length record “Ice Melt.” The independent psychedelic rock band Crumb says this record is their “Come back down to Earth” as Bri says. They share how the record came together conceptually and how the current state of the pandemic shaped the recording process. Bri also shares their favorite moments on the record and some behind the scenes on how the it came together.