Sunday, May 06, 2012

HEAR THIS: Kimbra wants a 'Cameo Lover'

As Gotye's "Somebody That I Used To Know" continues to soar with radio airplay here in the US (his career beyond that of a one-hit-wonder remains questionable, but that's another thought for another day), another star seems on meteoric rise thanks to helping hand she recieved via a featured tag with the Australian Sting(-sound-alike).

Kimbra, the quirky poptart from New Zealand who surprise the female vocal counterpoint to Gotye's big hit, has put her American career in the driving seat of the folks at Warner Music Group. Her debut album, Vows, was released in late summer last year down under in her homeland and in Australia, and is set for a May 22nd releases here in the States, featuring all three of her major single releases in "Settle Down", "Cameo Lover" & "Good Intent."

In my opinion, Kimbra is laying the ground work right -- coming into American counciousness through associations with the likes of out-of-left-field Gotye & her collab with Foster the People frontman Mark Foster and DJ A-Trak via the one-off "Warrior". The American public tends to enjoy putting their popstars in boxes, with those boxes usually being marketed to a specific niche. To be a female popstar in the US, you're almost expected to be beautiful with blatant sex appeal with a straight ahead, singable, almost familiar pop sound. The formula works for Rihanna, for Katy Perry, etc.

Kimbra is exciting because she doesn't quite fit into those molds and yet still is very much pop. If anything, she'd stand more along the lines of a Bjork, a Fiest, a Florence + the Machine, than a Katy Perry. And with the success of "Somebody That I Used To Know" on the Hot 100, Kimbra's potential success could open the door for more mainstream success for other artists like her.

My favorite of her past singles, "Cameo Lover", seems to lend itself best to American radio, complete with a grandiose, almost Motown-esque feel to the drumkit bassline (boom. boom boom. KICK.) and the excessive use of tambourine. The chorus is instantaneously memorable ("Open up your heart/Open up your heart/Open up your heart and let me pull you out of here!"). Sure, she rocks the pink babydoll dress with an "irreverent" hairstyle with a vivid array for a makeup palette, but to me, she feels much more like Kylie Minogue than Katy Perry. The focus is on the pop being a confetti party crescendo, a mere visual component of a great song rather than a visual that walks hand in hand with the song itself like Perry's "California Gurls" or "Teenage Dream". Even still, an female pop artist that attempts to launch herself in the States needs to steel herself for the comparisons, and Katy Perry appears to be the most common go-to.

Fingers crossed America will embrace Kimbra for her uniqueness, rather than simply a Kiwi import of what we already know and love.

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