Kimbra: Style + Substance = Pop Role-Model
By Laura T.
Kimbra’s music is hard to define. She’s harsh yet gentle, alluring yet abrasive. There’s a little Michael Jackson in her, a little Bjork, a little sass and a lot of contrast.
Her new video for Two Way Street showcases this beautifully.
Her outward persona (re: fashion sense) is also a little retro, a little quirky, and a little glam. She’s known for wearing her own brand of dresses with bouncy tutu skirts, usually in bright colors, coupled with her signature red, red lips and short black hair.
She actually reminds one a little of Katy Perry.
But what separates Kimbra from Katy is her complete refusal to be sexualized and to create music that sexualizes her. And this, coupled with a decidedly introspective, intelligent, and anti-dirty-pop approach to pop song writing, is what makes Kimbra the ideal pop role-model.
I would go so far as to argue that even the American public doesn’t buy that Katy Perry is the pop role model her managers are trying to make her out to be.
Kimbra arrived on the scene with Gotye in his video for Somebody That I Used to Know, and in this visual age, we’re bound to tie an artist’s music inextricably to their visual presence and sense of style.
In contrast to Colette Carr, a dirty-pop icon whose video I snubbed recently, Kimbra takes charge of her sexuality in a very beautiful way. The opening moment of her new video for Two Way Street shows her spraying on perfume in her boudoir in the woods. She then ventures out into the world to find, presumably, love, in the form of a man in a suit, but without throwing herself on him and stripping down to her unmentionables. Kimbra’s not pulling off her clothes in a mad rage like Rihanna does in most of her videos.
She is simply being who she is, nothing more and nothing less.
She has this funky style about her, a jazzy style that makes you think more of Billie Holiday than Britney Spears. Everything about her makes her fresh, new, exciting, young, beautiful and easy on the ears.
The debut album, Vows, contains a myriad of songs mostly centered around relationships and how one finds someone to “settle down” with. It’s a relevant, decidedly “female” topic that she addresses with intelligence and passion.
There is, as I mentioned some months ago, something very Kate Bush about Kimbra. (Oh my God, why are all the brunette songstresses “K” names? Is there some cosmic link? Re: the Bane conspiracy.) And when I really think about it, what I see as the “Kate Bush” in her is exactly what isn’t. Kimbra is her own person, and Kate is her own person. And really, Gotye is his own person too even if I think he’s the next-big-Sting.
Artists like Carr and Perry and Spears and Rihanna and Minaj… they’re using their deeply-sexualized femininity to support themselves on songs that lack substance. Kimbra is using her body and her fashion to enhance the quirky, fun, passionate messages that are already present in her songs. Her body and her style is a form of expression, not a cesspool to dump painful sexual fantasies into.
The fact is that Kimbra isn’t sexualizing herself like all the other pop icons out there (at least, not yet) is just so comforting. Dare I say that Kimbra is one of the only female artists out there today that I can deem a true role-model for women.
Perhaps she should be getting her own movie instead of Katy Perry.