The question of whether Sky Ferreira is a media construct in the same way Lana Del Rey is a media construct – all great hair and rouge and cavernous pools for eyes – is not really a question at all. Society has long been aware that the people who write good music don’t usually look like Ferreira, but the ones who end up with performance credits almost always do. Almost 90% of what I have heard about Sky comes from how she looks. Whether she appreciates this or is resentful of it as we see John Hamm being when fans dedicate Tumblrs to his appendage is not really something worth dwelling on, either. Ferreira, already one aborted record deal down when she was still a teenager, is in the business of being beautiful and also in the business of making songs. These two things, as we have discussed, are typically mutually exclusive. It just so happens that this Calvin Klein model happens to have grown up around Michael Jackson and made friends with the beats behind Miike Snow while she was still in highschool. That is, if beautiful people even go to highschool anymore.
If you’re going to be a cipher for someone else’s talent, or you want to turn your back on all that silly stuff you did when you were 17 and prove to the world that you’re now a world-weary, mature 20 year-old, there are worse people to collaborate with than Dev Hynes and Ariel Rechtshaid . The former, readers will remember, is currently writing ’80s inspired, snare-driven mope-pop for everyone from Beyonce’s little sister to Sugababes (featured last week), while the latter produced Usher’s ‘Climax’ (my One Song Of the Year for 2012) and is involved in the upcoming Major Lazer album. Safe to say, with that much talent in the room, it’s unlikely Ferreira really did much other than change a few words of Hynes’ original and add her own, devastatingly sexy intonation. She was probably already writing the treatment for the New York rooftop-based video while she was in the booth. And no, it’s actually not true that anyone else could have sung this, because Ferreira’s voice, while comforting, is also somewhat unique. Her low notes are gorgeous but her upper register is piercing in a way other singers-cum-cover stars have never seemed to manage. She’s a siren, in the true sense of the word. So it helps that she just so happened to collide with The Sound Of Right Now.
I found the original of this song to be a bit tiresome in the same way I found most of Solange’s EP to be repetitive. There’s only so many ways you can slice Phil Collins drums sounds and huge synths without it getting old. Despite this, there’s no denying that there’s a brilliant melody here (something Dev is remarkably good at writing), and it gets a better look-in on this remix, handily flung my way by the web-crawler that is ROOF. Klear is a Dublin-based producer who claims to have a contemporary take on New Jack Swing, that excellent, short-lived R&B phenomenon from the early to mid’90s. You can hear that mostly in his drum treatment, which has those muted bass kicks and that ‘thwomp’ crack to the snare. But the bass lines, while very house-inspired, also have elements of genre to it. The best part is, it’s all designed as supporting material for the melody. The synths melt away into clouds in the background, or dissolve into deep sub lines that illuminate Ferriera’s voice. It’s an update that’s actually an improvement, which is pretty rare when a pop song is so good to begin with. Added layers of complexity in subsequent choruses are really, to quote every comment on the Soundcloud, lush, and it’s like the ultimate comedown to the worst and best night ever. Sky’s often said that she’s inspired by Madonna, and here more than ever, she sounds like the woman in her prime.
Sky Ferreira – ‘Everything Is Embarrassing’ (Krystal Klear Remix)