Kimbra, the Mad Scientist Of Pop
By Shannon Carlin
Love it or hate it, just don’t tell Kimbra you’re on the fence about her music.
“There’s nothing worse to me than people having a mediocre reaction to something,” she told Radio.com over the phone from Los Angeles. “Like, ‘I guess, I don’t know, it’s okay.’ No. Love it or hate it, nothing in-between.”
Kimbra (full name Kimbra Lee Johnson) must be quite happy then with the very mixed, but very extreme reaction her latest single, “90’s Music” has received over the past four months.
Look through the over 1,700 comments for that song’s video and you’ll find that while some people are very sure Kimbra is a member of the Illuminati, most others are struggling to decide whether the track is a “Lady Gaga rip-off” or a “manic feast of frenzy for the senses” or “an overproduced POS.” But the most common opinion from those who choose to publicly voice theirs is that they like the track, it just took some time to come to that conclusion.
“It’s definitely a polarizing song for a lot of people,” Kimbra said laughing. “But I think it finds its way under the skin.”
With shout-outs to Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, R. Kelly, Nirvana, TLC and Aaliyah, the track’s lyrics focus on that not-so-bygone era we all seem to have a particular fondness for, but the sound is something from the future with Kimbra’s staccato delivery sounding almost alien as she questions nostalgia and its place in our memory.
“That’s the deeper side of that song,” she explained. “We change and we grow and we remember time, but we remember it completely differently, you know? We look back and it comes back slightly skewed and therefore we are changed by it and feel differently about things in our past.”
Kimbra says she chose the track as the first single off her upcoming album, The Golden Echo, because it sets up this record as one that’s not necessarily going to follow all the rules. “I wanted to introduce the idea of playfulness,” she explained. “I think of it as a statement song.”