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New Giant Step contributor Lily Kane ruminates on the worldwide pop star Uffie. Expect more from Lily in the future...
A new guilty pleasure in my life is Uffie, the American-born, Hong-Kong raised, cute-as-a-button electro chick. But the more I learn about her (she's been working with Steve Aoki and Ed Banger Records' crew for a minute now), the less guilty I feel. Hell, I'm proud of it. I'd wear a hot neon Uffie T-shirt. Wanna fight about it?
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The first time I heard Uffie, it was a while ago in some iPod DJ mix (I wanna say Girl Talk. Either that, or my cousin's mix, it doesn't matter.) The mix contained a bit of Uffie's song "Hot Chick" with these fuck-off lyrics: 'I'm like, hot chick that you can't even touch / I'm like this cold-ass bitch and I ain't ready to suck'. So obviously I loved this girl immediately. They're questionable lyrics and I soon found out, as you will, that Uffie is just bursting with questionable lyrics. I would say this is a Level 1 on her personal Offensiveness Scale of 1-10. The lyrics, while always entertaining to me, are mostly idiotic, but the songs are perfect party anthems.
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Fast-forward to present day, Uffie has released a song featuring Pharrell. "ADD SUV" is produced by Ed Banger and I just can't get enough. Pharrell has reliably idiotic lyrics too: "can't help if I see everything in neon" makes me thankful for my world of blue and grey. But I got more Uffie. I found her iTunes EP Pop the Glock with remixes galore, a lovely Mike D remix of a track called "MCs Can Kiss" and by then, I had total faith in The Uff. So much that I am now calling her The Uff.
Then I realized that I've been even more obsessed with Uffie than I was aware of. Google finally led me to the realization that she is the voice on "The Party" by Justice. So I had been memorizing those lyrics too, apparently by The Uff. The track was another one of those on-repeat tracks that works on me like a shot of adrenaline: 'Rocking high tops and saying No to stilletos / 'cause I might get drunk off my ass and I don't wanna fall'
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I have no defense for the sexist-industry-puppet image that Uffie participates in, along with every single other female pop artist, except that it's the only way for these girls to get what they really want. One valid reason Uffie is greater than the other ubiquitous sexist-industry-puppets is that she made good use of autotune ("ADD SUV") and I'm pretty sure that she has much more control of her voice than it seems. I saw about some Twitter chatter about 'Uffie copying Kesha', but then her highness M.I.A. stepped in to defend Uffie. When M.I.A. arrived on the scene, I remember hearing that she was 'vocally trained' by Cat Power. At the time, that made no sense to me. I always loved Cat but let's face it, there's no strong vocal timbre making Cat Power a natural-born singer.
But now with Uffie in the mix, it does make sense. It's all about inflection and control. Female artists don't have to have sweet nightingale voices, or power-soul Aretha Franklin voices in order to make some great music, even as singers. If they're creative enough. Just sayin: have you ever tried to sing along with "The Party"? It sounds like Uffie's just talking at first, but really she's creating a crazyass melody with her pitch-bending and squeaking, whining, other noises...
Also in "ADD SUV," there's a line where you just know Uffie was grinning while she recorded it and that makes me happy. Jill Scott definitely has studio moments like that too, and plenty of other singers do it. It's just an undeniably smiley sound. For Uffie, it's in the background, a doubled track, the last line of the chorus which goes: "hand held [[GRIN]] set recorder!!" So it makes me not only hyper, but also super happy for no reason. It's another part of the inflection-control situation happening with some of the better indie girl singers and I love it.
Uffie's album has been released in the rest of the world, but here in the US, we have to wait til June 8th for her debut, Sex Dreams and Denim Jeans.
Lily Kane is a New Yorker who enjoys music, [adult swim] and unicorns. She uses a walkie-talkie instead of a cell phone but holds her iPod close at all times. When she has time for her music & migraine blog, Soul P, it's totally awesome.