For this month’s issue of Parvati Magazine, our regular music columnist, Kupid’s Play Records CEO Rishi Deva, is away. In his absence, I scoped out some of the latest music videos to be released this fall to let you know a few faves.
First off, Lolo’s “Shine”. A Tennessee native, Lolo tried New York City on for size, but found herself miserable and depressed. Her decision to return to Tennessee and pursue life and music on her own terms is chronicled in her latest album, “In Loving Memory of When I Gave A Shit”. Originally written as a letter to herself during a depressive low, the words of “Shine” are well placed in the mouths of a fiercely diverse and loving cast of characters, creating the effect of an intervention set to a catchy piano ballad. If you haven’t heard of Lolo yet, think a more underground, vulnerable P!nk, with a velvety edge to the voice and a sound that’s touched with the warmth of the Tennessee sun. Watch the video, soak in the message, and then get out there and shine.
Kolaj’s recent offering “Into You” is an intriguing fusion of K-Pop, featuring the breathy voice of Eric Nam, with Kolaj’s more tropical house vibe, and a saxophone lick that fits right in as though it happens every day. In the video, a heavy-banged adolescent goddess, subject of a young boy’s affection, sits in the stands at a junior high basketball game when her admirer (“Fresh Off The Boat”’s Ian Chen) takes the stage at halftime, dancing and singing his heart out to her. He’s adorably nerdy, complete with a little purple bowtie, but just when you’ve resigned yourself to his rhythmic-gymnastics ribbon stylings, he pops a toque on his head and suddenly starts b-boying. Eric Nam is rumoured to be a crossover star in the making, with a strong following in South Korea and a number of North American collaborations to his credit this summer before this, his first official English video release. So far, he hasn’t broken out quite the way his compatriot PSY has, but there’s more to life (and Nam has way more heart) than Gangnam Style. I think the best is still to come for this sweet-voiced youngster.
Another collaboration that caught my eye was that of Duran Duran and Kiesza for their song “Last Night in the City”. Yes, Duran Duran is still at it. Their Mark Ronson-produced album Paper Gods issued last year cracked the top 10 on Billboard and top 5 in three countries. Kiesza, whose musical stylings have often given the sense she was born 20 years too late, is easily in her element among these 80s pop gods who still know how to throw down a scintillating, impressionistic new wave track to get you dancing. She rocks hard, literally toe to toe at one point with Simon Le Bon, on a stage filled with all the angular, flashing lights you remember from the 80s, in the high definition of the 2010s. If you’re a Generation X who’s forgotten why Duran Duran dominated the pop scene when you were a kid (or a Millennial who never knew), check out the chemistry they still bring, from Le Bon’s stage presence to Nick Rhodes’s sullenly opulent smoldering at the keyboard to the understated yet always well-placed beats from Roger Taylor’s drumset.
But hands down my favorite video this month is the self-affirming anthem “Soy Yo” from Colombian electro-cumbia band Bomba Estéreo. 11-year-old Sarai Isaura Gonzalez is a revelation as the star of this video, rocking baubled hair, oversized glasses, overalls, recorder, ring pop, colorful crocs and a blinged-up bike. As she makes her way through the city, there’s never a second she isn’t totally confident in being her full self, regardless of what anyone may think. Vocalist Liliana Saumet lays down a patter-fast delivery, with richly rolled r’s, of the message, “Don’t worry if someone doesn’t approve of you. When they criticize you, you just say, I AM.” Gonzalez delivers a completely devastating side-eye to a pair of white girls who had started to snicker at her, fearlessly takes over a basketball court until she decides she’s had enough fun, and stares down a cluster of young men dancing before breaking out her own unapologetic rhythms. The song has been out for a year or two, but the Torben Kjelstrop-directed video just dropped on September 7, to international media attention. Simon Meija, the founder and music producer of Bomba Estereo, told NPR, “We’re trying to empower people to feel that it doesn’t matter if you’re different or if you’re from one country or the other or you’re black or you’re white or you’re gay. What’s important is what’s inside of you, and you have to fight for that. I think the video brings this message along.”
Pranada McBurnie got a degree in music before realizing she was better at communications than at singing opera. Her art song translations are still in demand on the lieder.net database. She is the Managing Editor of Parvati Magazine, and the Communications Manager for Kupid’s Play Records. In addition, she is the editor for Parvati’s forthcoming books “Confessions of a Former Yoga Junkie” and “Aonani and the Emissary of the Blue Star”.