There are myriad pop stars who have floated along the blogosphere in the past five years, inciting a brief panic of overexcitement and hyperbolic praise (I’ve certainly been a culprit once or twice), only to spiral downward—a result of unmet expectations and subpar follow-ups—and eventually fade into obscurity.
Betty Who, however, is the real deal.
“Who?” you’ll ask, thinking you’re quite funny.
Take the emotional dance floor wallop of Robyn at her finest, the massive, yelping hooks and underlying nostalgia of Katy Perry at her teenage dreamiest, the ’80’s synth-pop sheen of Empire Of The Sun at their New Wave-iest, a bit of the euphoria of Madonna at her earliest, and stick that all in an industrial-sized blender: You’ve got one hell of a pop star concoction, right?
That’s Betty Who.
Earlier this month, the Sydney-raised, Boston-schooled indie-pop songstress released her debut (free!) EP The Movement, an unbelievably rock solid slice of ’80’s electro-encrusted pop perfection spread across 4 tracks, which PopJustice declared to be “2013’s the best proper EP so far.” It’s true. Let’s dig in, yes?
“Somebody Loves You,” the EP’s lead single, is so maddeningly euphoric—so unbelievably instant, it’s almost mind-boggling to believe that the song’s not already skyrocketing up on Top 40 radio: “Somebody misses you when you’re away/They wanna wake up with you every day/Somebody wants to hear you say…oooh, somebody loves you!” It’s a stone cold 1980’s classic that never was, at moments evoking Whitney‘s almighty “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” (In fact, the track was actually penned to honor the superstar, according to Betty.)
“You’re In Love” is as big and catchy as “Somebody,” yet deceivingly a bit agitated underneath the bright pop sheen. Set on top of a springy, playful beat and a solid bright piano melody, the track’s armed with seductively crooned verses, and perhaps the biggest, most sing-along ready (or, really, shout-along) chorus on the entire EP: “You’re in love every other day/’Cause you smile at me like you’re dying to say/That your heart beat stops when I’m walking away/So don’t walk away…You’re in love!” Watch for this one to drop as the next single in a few weeks.
“Right Here,” the EP’s only slow moment, is a shiver-inducing electro-ballad filled with tender, echoey vocals and dreamy ripples of electronica, which sort of feels like Frankmusik‘s “Run Away From Trouble” or Ellie Goulding‘s “Fighter Plane.” It’s haunting and understated—the kind of production that’ll stick with you long after it finishes playing.
“High Society” rounds out the collection; a glittering, New Wave-tinged dedication to the life of luxury—or, at least, playing pretend: “Run away to a little place with me, where everybody thinks they’re royalty/Think of how easy life could be!” Betty happily urges. It’s that kind of dreamy, us-against-the-world anthem that makes Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” such a complete masterpiece.
And there you have it, The Movement: 15+ minutes of undeniably infectious synth-pop bliss. It’s a collection of songs that just feels right—it’s effortless, which is all the more unbelievable considering this is her very first release. (It’s worth noting, too, that the EP’s producer Peter Thomas is a rising star in his own right, having just signed a publishing deal with Check Your Pulse, home of Bonnie McKee, Dallas Austin and Oligee.)
Last night, Betty made her NYC debut at Pianos. Given the fact that she’s only just begun (having her fun), one would assume that the show would be a little stilted and awkward—if not amateur.
Nope: She absolutely slayed, like any other seasoned pop vet would in that kind of intimate setting. She and the band, decked out in adorable red cardigans with massive “BW” varsity lettering, jammed out to about 8 songs in total, including every track from the EP, as well as some new tunes that are just as amazing as the EP’s offerings, including “Giving Me Away” and “Fire With Fire” (the first two songs in the video above), as well as a tender ballad crooned at the piano. The statuesque songstress worked, twerked and playfully flirted with the crowd like a pro—all the more incredible considering last night was the second time she performed, ever. (!!!)
Moreover, there was something happening onstage that I haven’t felt in months at a concert, probably not since I last saw Robyn: She was absolutely effusive—cheeky, uninhibited, genuine and overwhelmingly joyous—exactly what a pop star should be. The crowd quickly fell in love from the get-go, especially during the final crashing moments of “Somebody Loves You,” as everyone danced, cheered and loudly sang along. Betty certainly looked like she was having the time of her life. So were we.
If any rising pop star deserves to break into the big time, it’s Betty Who.
So Betty, don’t forget the tried-and-true formula: First the Brazilians, then the gays, then the girls, and then, the world. Also: What is a Betty Who stan called? Are we Whos? Do we live in Whoville? I can deal with that.
I snagged a physical copy of The Movement EP last night, so I figured: Let’s do a MuuMuse giveaway to boot!
To win a copy of The Movement EP, just tweet me with the following phrase: “I want to join the Betty Who movement with @MuuMuse!”
One winner will be selected and notified via DM on Monday, May 6. Good luck!
The Movement EP was released for free in April. (Download)