Through the Manufactured Pop, I’m Rooting For Sigrid

Sounds Like Now takes a look at the current soundscape that shapes our modern sound. What will this year sound like in the future? Ruth Cronin  takes a look at Norwegian pop sensation Sigrid

There is a formula that the up-and-coming pop-star follows in order to achieve success. Once discovered and signed to a label, they enter a developmental period, and write demos with the best producers until their management feel that they are ready to release. Their debut single is carefully crafted to blend in with the ‘Global Top 50’ charts on Spotify. Whether you like it or not, this debut single suddenly appears on your Spotify playlists, and it features in the TV ads in between the latest Game of Thrones episodes.

The artist starts to pop up on your news feed, and they crop up in the ‘recommended for you’ suggestions on YouTube. It’s an efficient modus operandi that has been proven to work time and time again. A few months ago, I became disillusioned with this formula and what it produced, disenchanted with these processed artists’ carefully constructed aesthetics. Bah, humbug. My mother habitually complains that new music ‘all sounds the same’ and that new singers ‘all look the same’. Usually, I dismiss such ill-informed comments, and cite several modern contrasting musicians in a counter argument. For the first time, however, I found myself nodding in agreement with her. Go on, call me a cynic. I was world-weary, despondent. This was until I discovered Sigrid.

Sigrid Raabe, more commonly known by her first and stage name Sigrid, is a Norwegian pop sensation on the brink of blowing up. A number of months ago, her name began to frequent my Facebook and Twitter news feeds. My outlook on the up-and-coming pop artist was still very much a cynical one, and I took ignorant pride in resisting the temptation to click on her profile and listen to her music. Another processed pop-star, I grunted. However, after a number of weeks of reading words of praise and high approval of Sigrid, my curiosity got the better of me. I succumbed, and watched a live Vevo Discovr video of the Norwegian performing her hit single Don’t Kill My Vibe. Wow. I watched in silent, open mouthed awe as Sigrid bounced around the stage with a lightness that could break a ballerina’s heart.

Even on screen, her charismatic personality was apparent and my toe tapped involuntarily in time with the infectious rhythm. During the verses of the song, Sigrid appeared vulnerable and mellow, her voice soft and her composure ill imposing. She lit up in in the explosive chorus’ and sang with aggression and conviction far beyond her years. Her vocal gymnastics are impressive (she’s probably proficient at physical gymnastics too, given the fluidity in her movements). I was hooked. I immediately embarked on a Sigrid-binge and swallowed up everything I could find about her online. I fell in love with her a little more with every song I heard. She is fresh-faced and wide-eyed, she wears minimal make up and has long, straight chestnut hair. She dons white runners on stage with varying combinations of colourful trousers and t-shirts. These outfits are consistently complimented by a smile, her up-beat personality evident in all of her press photos.

The 20 year old grew up in Ålesund, Norway, and signed to Island Records 2 years ago. In interviews she is calm and collected. Originally, she wanted to become a teacher or a lawyer, as she felt that the life of a musician was too much of a precarious one. This percipient side of Sigrid’s personality is particularly apparent in an interview she did at SXSW earlier this year, during which she spoke about her song ‘Dynamite’, “you’re as safe as a mountain, but know that I am dynamite”. She is aware that this whole career could collapse at any stage, and in a cool and poised manner, admitted that she still had apprehensions about following her dream. Rarely do we hear such introspective words from such a young artist, not to mind one who is on the brink of worldwide success. An old head on young shoulders.

Sigrid’s debut EP saw release last May, and its aforementioned lead single Don’t Kill My Vibe catapulted her into spotlight. The song gained recognition and approval from music industry elite, including Elton John and Lorde. ‘Fake Friends’ and ‘Plot Twist’, both champion failed friendships and lost love. Sigrid’s infectious personality cuts through in these songs, and makes these usually prosaic themes seem fresh and new. Underneath, catchy melodies and bright Juno synths, these songs both possess an undercurrent of indignation and hurt. Her live performances certainly juxtapose these sentiments; she pirouettes around the stage while laughing candidly with her band. As an observer, you’re jealous that you’re not in on the joke. You want to be her friend. Sigrid packs a punch, and she stands out from the plethora of up-and-coming artists that populate my news feed by a mile. I’m rooting for Sigrid. 

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