Natalia Kills has tended toward bad girl posturing with songs like “Problem” and “Controversy,” but there’s a beating heart at the core of her latest single, “Saturday Night,” that makes it the best thing she’s done this era, as she gears up for the release of her sophomore LP Trouble this September. In fact, it’s probably the first truly great song of her career.
(It’s worth noting that I first heard “Saturday Night” performed live at a showcase a few weeks ago, and thought then that it sounded better than anything I’d heard from her before, so I’d been eagerly awaiting the song’s release.)
“Saturday Night” was produced by Jeff Bhasker, probably my personal favorite producer working right now; he helmed much of Kills’ first album Perfectionist, but his work on her debut didn’t feel as strikingly original as some of his contributions for other artists. There’s a texture to many of his songs (fun.‘s “We Are Young,” Taylor Swift‘s “Holy Ground,” Beyonce‘s “I Care,” Kanye West‘s “Power,” Alicia Keys‘ “Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart,” among others) that’s tough to describe — something about the mix of hollow, tribal drums and synths with a tempo that lends his songs an unusual urgency. The common thread in those very different tracks is something weirdly propulsive — they sound modern and contemporary and radio likes them, but they aren’t four-on-the-floor dance songs.
Whatever it is, “Saturday Night” has that, and a lot of other things, too:
1. An ominous Nancy Sinatra guitar twang open, with an effect that sounds like helicopters overhead
2. Vocal production that makes her sound a little bit like Lana Del Rey
3. Brilliant lyric #1: “Go kiss the liquor off his laugh / Another suitcase full of cash”
4. Brilliant lyric #2: “We shine like small-town stars / Through the best days of our lives”
5. The chorus, which is just so wonderful
6. The layers of “Whoa-ohs” on the chorus
7. Brilliant lyric #3: “The boys I kissed don’t know my name / The tears I cry all taste of blame”
8. Brilliant lyric #4: “I’m a fucking teenage tragedy”
9. Her mad yelp at 2:40 (and again at 2:51)
10. Brilliant lyric #5: “Pills fall like diamonds from my purse / Right out the hole in my fur coat”
11. Brilliant lyric #6: “Give me just one night and I’ll be almost fine / Remind me one more time it’s the best days of my life.” Oof. That one cuts deep.
So “Saturday Night” is a sad song, about squandered youth and disenchantment, but it’s a pretty awesome one. Call it summer’s most wistful anthem. It’s not going to get much better than this.
The song hits iTunes on July 2 — buy it there and give the girl a hit, would you?
Natalia Kills — Saturday Night