Our initial coverage of Natalia Kills came as one of our biggest articles when we reviewed her debut album Perfection (read the review here). Hailed as one of 2011’s best artists, it’s a no brainer that Kills would continue exploring the realm of debauchery bound dark pop and does so with the release of the video and first song called “Controversy” off her upcoming release Trouble.
The track starts out rather, well, controversial, with a full string melody that sounds like it’s been pulled from a public domain recording and a wonderful, classy voicemail of a woman calling an individual a dumb dirty bitch, a fucking whore, and many other colorful expletives. Distorted static comes in, before a short/automated reverberation brings in the pitched down voice, repeating the words “controversy, uh” while stereo yelps and painful moans run through the background of the mix.
The song composition itself is heavy and immediate. Though simple in melodic structure, rhythmically its an extreme force to be reckoned with. A loud, compressed kick, reverberated and closely delayed, contains a hypnotic stomping effect. What’s best about this is that there aren’t many percussive elements to this track outside of the kick. At times, there’s some slapping and oddly timed claps, adding to the obscurity of this debut single from Natalia’s sophomore project.
Guitars, stuttered, distorted, bountiful background vocals, and a beautiful reverberation that lays low in the mix on the majority of the song’s length. “Online is the new reality/the internet is reality. Technology killed reality” Kills lets out during one of the standout writing aspects.
Armed with a Jim Jones inspired bridge, “drink the Koolaid/don’t drink the Koolaid” infectiously loops through four bars of doubled, layered, and distorted vocal tension, it creates a devil/angel effect. The first line is panned to the right, and the second on the left. Eventually, the angel side of this bridge begins screaming in alarming distorted panic and is pitched down at the last line in full, vocal doubled effect. This pitched down angel turned devil continues through the purposefully monotonous constructed choruses.
This approach to mixing is extremely creative in that throughout the entirety of “Controversy” there are layers upon layers of vocals that in itself help tell the story. This is more than your typical pop production, it’s a full on pop narrative: inside and out. Jeff Bhasker, who worked on Kills’ previous project produced this song. Check out the nod to Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “Niggas in Paris” near the halfway point (he’s worked with the pair before, though not on that specific track).
The end of the song? Yet another stringed production as moans fade out. A happy ending, though unsettling as can be. Another win for Natalia Kills. Knockout, if you will.
What the fuck are you looking at? Watch the VHS and artsy video. Subtle and more effective than you think.
We want more Koolaid.