iamamiwhoami has had a stellar couple of years. Since Jonna Lee and Robin Kempe-Bergman’s audio-visual project began back in 2010, they have been creating unique visual and sonic landscapes for us to explore, with the rather suggestive video for “y” even garnering north of 15 million views on YouTube. Finally getting around to playing concerts, 2012’s kin proved to be one of the year’s best albums, and all of the project’s earlier work was housed in last year’s compilation album bounty. In a very short time, iamamiwhoami has created one of the most forward-thinking discographies in recent memory, giving us thrills we haven’t had since Björk was in her prime.
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Coldplay was pretty happy with 2011’s Mylo Xyloto, an album that for all intensive purposes served as an expansion pack to the far-superior stylistic reset they did with 2008’s Viva La Vida, turning piano recitals into multi-colored, heavily textured new sounds that still kept their warm pop aesthetic right in the forefront. Although Mylo produced hits, none of ‘em were as big as Viva‘s world conquering epics, and despite selling out arenas, the hushed critical response to Chris Martin’s wildly-varying lyric quality no doubt wore on the band.
I remember February of 2012 very well, thanks to two seemingly unrelated songs. Though I didn’t know it at the time, these songs were signs of big things to come. Big, groovy things to come. Or, to be more specific, come back.
The first song was “Share My Love”, by R. Kelly. The song, melodically, lyrically, and sonically, could have easily been mistaken for a 1974 Barry White song if it weren’t for Kellz’s distinctive tenor. It’s disco through-and-through. But after 2010’s Love Letter, an album dedicated to recreating Motown and early soul music, this dip into ‘70s disco from R. Kelly wasn’t too surprising. The album which followed, Write Me Back, continued the disco of “Share My Love” and also included ‘70s soul and rock ‘n’ roll elements, but surely this was a novelty. It was R. Kelly making a ‘70s record, mostly because he could. It wasn’t a call to arms for every pop, R&B, and indie artist to start making disco, was it?
It’s not news that Arctic Monkeys have gone through a great metamorphosis since their boom in the UK music scene back in 2005. When they released Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not—a title that reflected adolescence’s rebelliousness—they seemed to be young boys just like any of us. With their ordinary clothes and electrifying riffs, nobody would have expected that they would someday become real rock stars.
Oh it’s a catfight, ladies and gents.
Much like Blur vs. Oasis, Kanye vs. 50 Cent, and Justin Bieber vs. common sense, the media is more than ready to hype up a battle of the pop divas, as Katy Perry’s remarkably hackneyed sing-by-numbers anthem “Roar” was unleashed to radio just days before Lady Gaga decided to debut “Applause”, both of them lead singles from their hugely anticipated albums.