From New Zealand to America No Time to “Settle Down”

The music scene today is often considered to be swamped with excessive glam and not always a lot of depth. Don’t get me wrong, I have the utmost respect for flamboyant singers such as Rihanna and Nicki Minaj. Not to mention my closet obsession with Lady Gaga. It is their extravagance and glamour which truly sets them apart in the eyes of the public. Yet amidst all the glitter and theatrics there comes an artist who’s not afraid to wander in her own direction. With her refreshingly subtle and melodic voice, upcoming artist Kimbra marries sounds both old and new, playful and aggressive. A New Zealand native, she signed first with independent label Forum 5 and then with renowned Warner Bros. Records in 2011. Though she released her first single Settle Down in 2010, it wasn’t until recently, after she collaborated with Gotye on his song Somebody That I Used to Know this year, that her name became a popular YouTube search. The track peaked at number 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and launched the 22 year old songstress to fame.

What have we been missing?

Not only does her music have an upbeat and lighthearted sound, but her music videos are controversial! Who doesn’t appreciate the irony in that? While Kimbra’s first, and now most popular, song Settle Down sounds whimsical, starting out with nothing more than handclaps and beatboxing, its lyrics describe a not so happily ever after. It tackles the uncomfortable topic of marriage in 2010…or should I say divorce. In an interview with Bark + Bite, Kimbra explained how her song capitalizes on “the danger of expecting perfection in something external and rushing too quickly towards that ideal.” We tend to put so much importance on the ideas of commitment and stability that in reality most marriages cannot live up to such high expectations. Kimbra’s song embraces this fault in the human condition by contrasting it with the image of youth–a young girl and her dolls. In her music video she uses a young girl as the image for adolescence and naiveté. She contrasts this with the image of an inanimate husband, a much older man in his late 20’s, who ultimately has an affair with another little girl. Through out the video Kimbra is shown standing in front of a large shelf filled with dolls. In the final scene she is joined by the two little girls and the dolls catch on fire as all three of them dance together. Representing women’s childhood expectations, which date back to the days of playing house, the dolls are destroyed. This idea of the perfect marriage is ingrained in our minds since we are old enough for tea parties with imaginary friends. Not trying be cynical, because I for one have witnessed many a happy marriage, I agree with Kimbra’s message: that this is an issue which pervades society today.

Kimbra’s album Vows, already released in New Zealand and Australia, comes out today in the US and Canada!

Follow her @kimbramusic

And please peruse this one at your own leisure. You’ll be glad you did.

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