I draw my inspirations from music and visuals, which is why I get excited whenever a darker, artistically autonomous figure emerges onto the pop scene with intent on experimentation and shock value. Pop music annoys the heck out of numerous genre folks I have talked music with and given the generic song writing and indistinguishable feel to songs, intent and music video clips to grace the Wonderland that is YouTube, I can see how unappealing the genre is to the people invested in originality, creativity and meaning.
Nevertheless, the field does give birth to musical and visual pioneers such as Lady Gaga, who has stated herself that she preoccupies herself with the image and the show more than with the music; a goddess of song she is not, but a goddess of show and shock value she is. Enter the European shark of darker, more mature pop, Natalia Kills and you have an artist who values both the musical and the visual in her work.
The song that has held my playlist hostage is Controversy, Kills’ latest offering and deserves a bit more attention than I think it has gained through the proper channels and YouTube. The song itself doesn’t spell lyrical genius as it follows a disconnected list of items, which have in one capacity or another served as a centre of controversy, with a repetitive chorus revolving whether the listener should or shouldn’t drink the Koolaid. Combined with reverberations and distorted vocals, layers upon layers of clapping, howls and static over a relentless beat, Kills’ lyrics paint a rather dark picture of modern society with a chorus inspired by the Jim Jones mass poisoning and what people are ready to accept without challenging it upon first hearing.
What propels the story and gives it an edge has to be the video, which relies on VHS effects and clever editing to give the viewer the idea that Kills is an accumulation of all the images, of all the controversies, that she in fact is the controversy. Given her dominating sexuality, the decision pays off, because even without lip syncing to her lyrics, skimpy outfits or anything close to choreography, Kills emotes her song through her carnal stares.
Kills reeks of sex. However, her sexuality is not the hyper sexuality of most pop singers, who are offered to viewers as a sex object. She is sex. She embodies the empowered sexuality of a woman in control of the situation, the predatory, the modern femme fatale with jaws ready to snap shut. That is why she doesn’t need a revealing outfit.
The happy ending edited in the song only signifies that she is charge and you, the listener, are her object to reach her climax.