VV Brown Spearheads Britain’s Post-Winehouse Pop Economy

Apr 13th, 2009 // 10 Comments

Much current British pop seems a reaction to Amy Winehouse‘s success, seeking to capture the qualities that made her popular without the self-destructive issues that make her personal popularity unsustainable. Adele, for instance, was a clear ploy to work the retro side of the Winehouse equation without the crazy drug addict stuff, while Lady Gaga’s somewhat inexplicable larger popularity on that side of the pond indicates that she successfully triggers a latent affection in the British public for eccentric exhibitionists. Can’t anyone manage to combine the two?

Well, you could not be faulted for thinking that’s the cynical strategy behind VV Brown. A British singer/songwriter, Brown’s style is, like Winehouse’s, retro in a ’40s/’50s/’60s way, with her outfits recalling the Andrews Sisters or early-’60s girl groups and her music recalling rockabilly. Moreover, the song above is called “Crying Blood,” a title (and hook) that would seem to channel a certain craziness.

But while Brown may certainly be inflected toward Winehouse, her actual music and image lean a different way. The particular area of style Winehouse slumps toward is a trashy B-movie kind of louche, cheaply artificial and liable to come apart at any moment. Her music reflects this emphasis on messiness, all analog soul and feeling, loose and old, lived-in, worn. Brown, on the other hand, pulls a Kenley without the twitchy desperation, calm and collected and very neat, while her music pressgangs the B-movie sounds of rockabilly into a modern sharpness and precision, speeding everything up and surrounding it with electronics and making it tight. Where Winehouse exudes a romantic unpredictability, Brown channels firm confidence and a kind of power that’s very compelling.

Winehouse, for all her faults, seems like one of those odd accidents that pop needs every once in a while to move things forward. It’s not that everyone should be copying the Dap-Kings’ sound, but by bringing in a new and rich set of stylistic reference points, she seems to open the door for some interesting things to be done.

VV Brown – Crying Blood [YouTube]
VV Brown [Official site]


  1. joshservo

    Is anyone else getting a Fatboy Slim vibe off of the production?

  2. Nunya B

    I adore VV Brown. She’s actually kind of flopping commercially over in the UK- two singles have completely failed to chart- but I like everything I’ve heard of hers. “Leave!” is one of my favorite songs of this year.

  3. Rob Murphy

    I approve.

  4. dippinkind

    @joshservo: yeah… if the pipettes reduced their current # of singers to one and then got a fatboy slim remix it would sound like this.

  5. bcapirigi

    Leave! is okay. I actually liked both songs but the appeal only lasts for a few listens, I think.

    I just wish somebody would hurry up and sign Elouise.

  6. brasstax

    @bcapirigi: “but the appeal only lasts for a few listens”

    Yeah, VV Brown is a like a Skittle or something, where you can only suck on it for so long before you want to eat it and move on to the next flavor.

  7. GBirdii


    More like the Monster Mash.

  8. Anonymous

    did they not market test solange first?

  9. brasstax

    @menyc: Yeah, why was that? It was a pretty good LP, and especially the single.

  10. Anonymous

    I like it.

    The real crime was passing over Candie Payne’s I Wish I Could Have Loved You More. That was one of the best singles of 2007, pity she bombed majorly.

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