I’m in love.
Her name is Lykke Li, and she’s a Swedish beauty with tousled hair and black-rimmed eyes who lives the life I wish I did.
Seriously, could her life BE any more great? She’s singing duets with Bon Iver, casting Stellan Skarsgard in her music videos, covering Lil Wayne at her live shows, and generally living the life of a bohemian while making incredible music. There’s nothing this songbird can’t do. If it sounds like I’m a silly fangirl, it’s because I am. Falling in love with Lykke’s music two years ago has opened up the doors for me to truly fall in love with all kinds of modern female music being produced today.
I admit that for many years I wasn’t terribly fond of female music. It wasn’t that I was discriminating; it was just that I couldn’t seem to find anything out there that spoke to me. I respect Lady Gaga, but I don’t relate to her. I can appreciate the female pop, r&b, and country stars of today, but they don’t strike a chord. I just felt more comfortable with male artists. There was nobody out there that really stuck with me, other than the obvious powerhouse female musicians of my childhood and teen years, like Tori Amos, Patti Smith and the like. There was just nobody in modern music that made me feel anything solid. Until Lykke Li.
Lykke was born Li Lykke Timotej Zachrisson on March 18th, 1986, in Sweden, to a photographer mother and a musician father. Her early years were spent in Stockholm, before the family took her around the globe, living in Portugal, Nepal, India and Morocco. She also spent a few months in NYC as a teenager. I imagine that kind of nomadic lifestyle had a lot of influence on her free spirit and the worldly influences in her music.
Lykke began working on her first album when she was 21, and released Youth Novels in 2008. She immediately became a darling of the indie music scene, and began to work with notable musicians in the industry, among them Kanye West, Kings of Leon and more. Youth Novels, to me, is like cotton candy dipped in dark chocolate – it is at times wispy and sweet, interspersed with moments of bitter darkness. Her voice is melodic and mesmerizing, her lyrics wise beyond her years. Supposedly inspired by a bad breakup, Youth Novels is a great female-driven album to brood over and fall in love with. It combines elements of rock, folk, pop, ballad and techno all in one.
I first heard her a couple of years ago on Last.fm, as a song recommendation – one of those, “If you like x, you might like y” type deals. I think I skipped over her song “Let it Fall” about five or six times before I finally decided to sit back and listen to it. And I loved it. I loved her unique singing style, and how her lyrics spoke about how crying can be a freeing experience, and not all together sad. Pretty soon after I’d acquired her album Youth Novels, and was falling in love with songs like “I’m Good I’m Gone,” “Breaking It Up,” and “Dance Dance Dance,” which is my personal anthem to myself whenever I’m feeling down and out and giving myself a hard time.
In 2009, Lykke’s song “Possibility” was featured on the Twilight: New Moon soundtrack, and she was suddenly thrust into the limelight with a whole new group of young fans to sing her praises. Underrated indie artist no more!
Lykke released her second album, Wounded Rhymes, in 2011. It was met with high praise and further thrust Miss Li into the limelight – this year alone I’ve seen one of her songs covered on Glee, heard her mentioned by Randy Jackson on American Idol as an artist female contestants should study up on, one of her singles featured on a Victoria’s Secret commercial, and she’s made countless appearances on late night shows.
The album Wounded Rhymes is even better than the first – she’s grown as a person and as a woman, and the lyrics reflect it. Cotton candy no more, Lykke’s second album has a depth and nuance to it that makes it a joy to listen to. She still sings about heartbreak and sadness, sure – but there is a wisdom and a joy in it.
I love Lykke Li because she is a breath of fresh air in a world of mundane music. In recent years I had grown so very tired of the usual pop tartlets and their particular brand of synthesized, autotuned, generic bubblegum. Artists like Lykke Li push the envelope with unique melodies, abstract concepts, awesome music videos, and an energy that hasn’t been seen in the music business in quite a long time. I find her refreshing, fun, self-confident and awesome. She’s my pixie dreamboat.
I found that once I really got into this new, awesome female artist, I was suddenly discovering all kinds of incredible female talent. My iPod now boasts way more female musicians than male artists. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
All that said, I just really love the fact that she recorded a video in a bathroom stall, using spoons and a well-timed flush for sound effects. Could she be any more adorable? I think not.
image courtesy LykkeLi.com