Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

Sophie Beem – Skyline

Protege #1: “More than just your average New York City Alpha girl, 16 year old Sophie Beem has no qualms about delivering hard hitting rhymes that strafe her U.E.S. turf…”


Katherine St Asaph: Under-reported, because certain people would rather wank to the mountaintops about just how much Panda Bear contributed to Lemonade, is Beyonce’s cohort, via Parkwood Entertainment, of female protegees like Chloe and Halle, rapper Ingrid and Sophie Beem. It’s largely business, of course, and Beyonce isn’t exactly plucking them out of obscurity — Chloe and Halle were YouTube stars, Ingrid was a childhood friend and Beem was one of those 13-year-old X Factor auditionees the year’s judges usually send off to the training grounds of… TED talks? And she sounds every bit the ice-bucket-acquainted Upper East Sider groomed for 2016 pop stardom: She’s gotten massed harmonies and performative confidence from Beyonce, disillusionment from Lorde, luxe scene-setting and pop language from Katy Perry and Rihanna, vocal showmanship from Tori Kelly (a condensed, even less charitable equation: Tori Kelly minus TashBed), synth thuds from nu-house and, from the market, a patina of “alt” over even all this. And yet, it turns out the 2016 pop training gantlet produces pretty good results, even getting to a sort of dark honesty that some artists would just elide to talk about how much they need a ginger ale.

Will Adams: “Party woes” is tricky subject matter for pop, as it inevitably references other songs, often to subvert them while indulging in the same tropes of pro-party songs, like thumping bass and signifiers of luxury. A line like “What’s a penthouse view to me when I’m walking on the skyline?” might appear to fall into the same trap, until you realize the metaphor isn’t positive. The fantastical, almost hallucinatory image is intentional, as the second verse reveals the haze our narrator and her friends drink themselves to: winding up on a stretcher, getting “trashed until you’re treasured.” There’s no posturing here, no aspirations to cool, simply a study on the anxiety underpinning youth party culture.

Alfred Soto: “I ain’t even here right now,” she sings over an arrangement cribbing the rest of nu-house and Mike WILL Made It, and although young she sings as if she’s only too acquainted with private elevators and ice buckets. 

Cassy Gress: I came back to this song three or four times, trying to figure out a good way to say that “I ain’t even here right now” describes large swaths of my everyday life, but completely not in this context. I guess I feel a little affinity to this song just for that, and for the great imagery about melted ice buckets and locking the elevator and diamonds in the sky.

Brad Shoup: Between the goopy pitched-down voices, the litany of party complaints, and Beem’s apparent depiction of a mind fraying as the night drags on, this song is legitimately giving me a panic attack, and I can’t imagine when I would be able to hear it again.

Gaya Sundaram: There is a youthfulness to the rest of Beem’s eponymous EP that is abandoned in “Skyline;” when she sings “I ain’t even here right now” I believe it. 

Juana Giaimo: Sophie Beem’s edgy voice and the minimalistic production give a somber vibe to “Skyline” and complement the lyrics. I just hope the mentions of “teenage dream,” “chandelier” and “diamonds in the sky” aren’t just casual choices of words, because she’s exploring the degradation of the emotions of those three hit singles. The teenage dream isn’t a perfect love but one where you sleep forever once the diamonds have weathered. Sia explored the downsides of a party life, but in her song, swinging from a chandelier is total freedom. Instead, Sophie Beem realizes that a chandelier and penthouses doesn’t mean anything when you are forever caught between a city you don’t find magic anymore and a sky you’ll never reach.

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One Response to “Sophie Beem – Skyline”

  1. Love this song. She’s got a lot of starpower and an amazing voice.

    “You get trashed until you’re treasure” is one of my favourite lyrics of the year.