Friday, September 15th, 2017

Kaliffa – Helt Seriöst

A reminder that they do (or did) have summer in Sweden too.


Nortey Dowuona: Bouncy drums buoy the sweet singsongy flow of Kaliffa as his Afropop stylings glide like water over the ears. (The sweet Congolese guitar was a nice, understated yet direct piece slipping in at the end.)

Jibril Yassin: Kaliffa is a charming presence but the thin production of “Helt Seriöst” and a soft processed vocal siphons a lot of the song’s power, making it as palpable as a dry cough. Hearing a live rendition was baffling; this could have been a lot more than boring.

Katherine St Asaph: Tropicalia from Sweden, with hashtag lyrics in Swedish (“you give them backhand/Serena Williams”) and the universal phenomenon of dudes boggling over girls’ lack of real-time IRL Photoshop — not an improvement.

Will Adams: A warm, inviting groove turned lukewarm by Kaliffa, who just can’t get enough of the fact that you don’t use Facetune or wear jewelry.

Josh Langhoff: Forthcoming conference presentation: “When Marimba Riddims Start to Play, Euro Dudes Toast OK: How Out to Sea and Speed 2: Cruise Control Formed Our World.” This phantasmagoric brain fart traces the roots of today’s musical Zeitgeist back 20 years, finding unlikely connections among Jason Patric’s waxy flesh, the rise of mutant superviruses, the Newman family film scoring empire, whatever was happening in Sweden back then, and the weird odors wafting from beneath my desk. Musical clips will include my viral mashup of 16-year-old, #99-ranked Serena Williams grunting along to “Shape of You” — a phenomenon known as “Sheerena” — along with all of Spotify’s marimba versions of “Despacito,” and (what the hell) the Modern Jazz Quartet. Key citation: Miller et al’s eye opener in the August 2000 Clinical Infectious Diseases, “Cruise Ships: High Risk Passengers and the Global Spread of New Influenza Viruses.” Inessential aside destined to be cut for time: I dig this dude’s whole “riktig riktig timing ting ting” ting.

Edward Okulicz: The easy laidback charm Kaliffa has in spades and no doubt makes him a fun, likeable presence at other times could be mistaken for sounding bored. That’s what’s making this amiable late summer jam not quite hit home for me, beyond the “riktig-tiktig” hook (very duktig), he doesn’t really sound like he’s in any way excited, he’s serious but it’s not serious fun.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: The song’s flaw is right in its title: Kaliffa is approaching this far too “seriously” to work. Even so, there’s a sense that every element in “Helt Seriöst” would be fine if they were in the hands of someone more competent. Kaliffa aims for a cool confidence but his delivery feels far more functional than impassioned, making it hard to believe what he’s saying. But what he’s saying isn’t really helping his case; Kaliffa is enamored by a woman’s natural beauty, and the shallow lyrics he employs (“No Photoshop or bling bling”) bring “Helt Seriöst” dangerously close to half-hearted parody. The tropical beat is subdued as well, meant to convey the moodiness of a night that’s heating up, but its too familiar and lifeless to do just that. Worst of all, though, is how the guitar that appears mid-song sounds like something from Congolese rumba or soukous if they were stripped of all their joy. It’s all very serious, yes, but everyone involved should have also taken their jobs more seriously.

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