Sure, 2017 may have been a burning pile of trash but stop for a moment and think of the abundance of repeat-worthy pop songs it has graced us with – we’ve been busy thinkin’ bout Boys, having Wild (wild wild) Thoughts, wanting that Green Light and cutting to the feeling all year. And right up there with these all- conquering hits is 21-year-old Norwegian Sigrid’s first single, ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’.
You won’t have found it in the charts (unless you’re an avid watcher of the top 75) but it’s currently sitting at 25 million streams on Spotify and was near inescapable this summer. An anthem for people sick of being patronised, it was inspired by a writing session with some old white dudes who basically acted like Sigrid wasn’t there – and if there’s a better way to get back at a couple of know-it-all songwriters than with a huge, scathing chill-pop hit about them, we’d like to hear it.
“People have been so nice to me though!” she exclaims, insisting that she didn’t intend to start a beef before listing all the kind, decent people she’s worked with and making us wonder if she regrets telling the song’s origin story in the first place. “I was really worried about telling the story, but I showed the song to a friend and he was like, is this about a guy? No, it’s not about a guy! Women are capable of saying more than, ‘ooh, I just got hurt by this guy’. That’s why I wanted to tell it.”
Anyway, you don’t get 25 million streams out of songs about nice people – and it turns out you don’t write a song like ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’ without an inkling that it’s special. “I knew it was different to other stuff I’d been writing,” she says. The way that the cool, controlled verses give way to reverb-dipped stadium drums and righteous gang vocals is pure pop mastery. “I think it has a really good message to it too, and that is to speak up – you can never get tired of hearing that because we should all speak up. It helps!” She seems grateful but not surprised that the song took off, or that she’s played Glastonbury and Roskilde and been on TV with James Corden this year. Perhaps she’s just been patiently waiting for all this, having been in line for a record deal since she was discovered through Norway’s equivalent of BBC Introducing while still in school.
“Writing is a rollercoaster. Sometimes you have a dip and you feel it’s not so good”
Despite being influenced by the social and political turbulence of the year (“We were in the studio on the day of #metoo and I found it really hard to say something about it, so we wrote a song about it instead,” she says of the recent inescapable tsunami of sexual harassment allegations), not every Sigrid song is a call to arms. ‘Fake Friends’ and ‘Plot Twist’, also on the Don’t Kill My Vibe EP, are more energetic but less resonant tunes dealing with friendships and love. Her most recent single, ‘Strangers’, is a huge dancefloor filler about the surprisingly long time it can take to realise that real life relationships are nothing like those on the silver screen. It laments the disintegration of a something that seemed perfect but didn’t survive beyond the credits rolling. “You and I, not like in the movies”, she sings, “Our story’s after the end.” Its contemplative lovelorn verses are underpinned by a muted, pulsing ‘Dancing On My Own’ riff that clicks into sharp relief in the banging chorus. There are hints of Lorde, dashes of Haim, the odd Taylor Swift slurred woop and a big flashing arrow pointing at Sigrid that reads ‘popstar’.
With an album currently in progress that she hopes to release in 2018 she’s been writing feverishly all year, recording voice memos on tour and collaborating with the likes of Noonie Bao and Oscar Holter (who together co-wrote ‘Run Away With Me’ with Carly Rae Jepsen) and longtime collaborator Martin Sjølie. “Writing is a rollercoaster. Sometimes you have a dip and you feel it’s not so good, and then something happens – you meet someone or you end things with someone – that can trigger a lot of cool stuff.” For pop music’s sake, let’s hope that Sigrid has plenty of fruitful encounters ahead of her.
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