Pop Goes The World: Meet Little Nikki, Tove Lo, Suvi, Laurel & Lorde
Oh, hello there! Welcome to the inaugural edition of Pop Goes the World, where we’ll be highlighting the best and brightest emerging acts from all over the place — because globalization is real and terrifying, and the only upside is that we get to hear some exhilaratingly great things coming out of Australia or Sweden or Korea or space or wherever. Today, we’re talking about solo female artists, mostly ones with interesting names, because that’s just how this happened to come together. Don’t fight it. It’s a good thing.
Climb aboard this jet plane: We’re going all around the world.
Little Nikki — “Where I’m Coming From”
Say hello to British songbird Little Nikki, real name Nicole Shortland, and her debut single “Where I’m Coming From.” Pop geeks and Anglophiles will recognize Nikki as one-third of the legitimately-pretty-great teen group SoundGirl, who made some buzz a few years back, but Little Nikki is a much stronger and more dynamic identity for her — and she’s working with an absurdly exciting roster of producers on her upcoming Columbia Records debut (MNEK, Lucas Secon, Karen Poole, Dimitri Tikovoi). “Where I’m Coming From” is radio-friendly drum-and-bass that positions Nikki as a less #ratchet teen Rihanna with the vocal stylings of Katy B, and the track’s monster singalong chorus certainly doesn’t hurt. Also, isn’t she just the most likable little thing you’ve ever seen? We love Little Nikki. You will, too.
Tove Lo — “Habits”
Few songs have been on rotation recently quite as much as “Habits,” the first song from Swedish singer-songwriter Tove Lo, which has a little of the texture of Ke$ha‘s no-fucks-given party-girl pop but with the languorous sadness of Robyn . But in this song, it’s the details the shine, and they’re all about indulgence, debauchery and excess in the dreariest way: “You’re gone and I gotta stay high all the time / To keep you off my mind,” she sings after verses detailing exploits at sex clubs and binging on Twinkies. It’ll get stuck in your head, which is right where it deserves to be.
Suvi — “Bleeding For Your Love”
Finland-by-way-of-Stockholm artist Suvi hasn’t made much buzz yet (are we the only people in the world who are obsessed with this song? It kinda feels that way) but her recent single “Bleeding For Your Love” deserves to be heard in a big way. Its rattling, ambient production feels more conventional than her first single, the luminous “Clovers,” but it’s much more unsettling, especially when that surging chorus catches you off guard with those grand horns and high, haunting vocals. Shades of Lykke Li abound; it’s so rich and textured you’d think she had a whole orchestra.
Laurel — “Blue Blood”
There’s no way that English singer-songwriter Laurel can release a song and video like “Blue Blood” without inviting comparisons to Lana Del Rey, and that’s fine — they’re certainly earned — but there’s a quality to Laurel’s voice that’s emotive in a way that Del Rey can rarely push through the affect to crack, and the spare production (by Laurel herself) isn’t as bombastic as her contemporary. In the demo for “Blue Blood,” for which Laurel just premiered a video, she sounds less girlish and more tortured, and the sinister strings and trippy vocal effects create a mood that’s hard (impossible) to ignore. There’s star wattage here, for sure.
Lorde — “Royals”
Everyone’s talking about Lorde right now, and with good reason: The New Zealand-based 16-year-old’s debut single, “Royals,” is phenomenally self-possessed, all fingersnaps and toe-tapping bass and lyrics that turn the aspirationalism of hip-hop culture on its head — “But every song’s like gold teeth, Grey Goose, trippin’ in the bathroom / Blood stains, ball gowns, trashin’ the hotel room / We don’t care, we’re driving Cadillacs in our dreams” — and then has the balls to lurch forward with a hooky, soaring chorus. She sings, she writes, she’s as exciting as Grimes and she’s probably going to be a global alt-pop superstar pretty soon. Get on it.