Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Katy B – Katy on a Mission

In case you’re wondering, this isn’t Katy Red of “Melpamene Block Party” New Orleans sissy bounce fame…


Chuck Eddy: I was confused and thinking this was going to be Katy Red, of “Melpamene Block Party” New Orleans sissy bounce fame. But nope. Just some vague down-the-drain dance chick of no notable distinction. Don’t mind the dubby parts, but it sure doesn’t sound like she’s on much of a “mission” to me.

David Raposa: Giving herself a shout-out in the song title might be a bit much for a lass that’s just two years removed from being able to legally drink in the clubs she’s now prepped to rule, but the way Katy B just latches onto this beat and casually glides across its grime-y facade, I’ll gladly forgive this prideful indiscretion. And if (as her Wiki page claims) she is working on Ms. Dynamite’s next album, then she can big-up herself until she’s hoarse.

Cecily Nowell-Smith: Club night as hall of mirrors: Katy B’s crystalline voice trailing bright echoes behind, dark doubles below. She sings about being trapped by music, taken over, fighting to keep yourself lost in the sound, and moulds herself so neatly against Benga’s instrumental it’s like it couldn’t have existed without her. The whole song’s like that shake in the air in front of a speaker, like a heat haze, a moment you can just feel but can’t hold in your hands. Near perfection.

Anthony Easton: What is the vocal effect that she uses on those double oo sounds? It’s new and exciting, and makes me shake my ass a little bit.

Martin Skidmore: I like dubstep producer Benga, and this is interestingly jagged. The awkward rhythms perhaps do Katy no favours, meaning her vocal is often rather stilted. Oddly if I think of it as Benga ft. Katy B, I rather like it, but as a Katy B single I am far less keen. I think she’s a talented singer, but she doesn’t often get to make a line flow here, let alone to really open up.

Alex Macpherson: The mutual suspicion with which the British underground and mainstream regard each other means that landmark pop moments such as this are a lot rarer than they should be, but feel all the more special when they do come along. It’s notable for many reasons — the first release on newly-legit former pirate station Rinse FM, the launch of a female singer’s career from a scene that has traditionally emphasised the auteurship of producers and MCs, the first dubstep single to crash the top 5 in its own right. It’s also important that Katy B has cut her teeth on some of the finest UK funky cuts of recent years, such as DJ NG’s “Tell Me”, Rinse FM boss Geeneus’ “As I”: she can represent the UK underground because she’s been immersed in it. That said, “Katy on a Mission” transcends any particular scene: it slots neatly into a lineage of dance classics whose greatness lies in their startlingly accurate depiction of the clubbing experience, a lifestyle you feel Katy B knows well and loves. She captures that out-of-body detachment you feel moving around a venue; those brief, momentary encounters with other ravers that you’re never sure are hostile or flirtatious; the jouissance of the drop; the odd feeling of security that comes with being perfectly at home in a situation; the dread of the night ending you try to push to the back of your mind. Every second line is an evocative flash of recognition — “elevating higher as my body’s moving lower”, “when we erupt into the room”. Those nights stick with you even a few days later, when you’re ostensibly going about your quotidian life — which is where the excellent B-side “Louder” comes in — and hearing them documented with such precision is the next best thing to actually being there.

Jonathan Bogart: At first I misheard her as a sort of halfway point between the Lily Allen wing of “quirky” female singer-songwriters and the Sophie Ellis-Bextor wing of “icy” electro divas, and I still like that pop (not pop) reading. But apparently this is UK funky; if so, I guess I like UK funky. Because I definitely like this.

8 Responses to “Katy B – Katy on a Mission”

  1. Damn — was hoping this’d crack the Top 10. Way to go, Chuck!

  2. Why would you be confused by Katy B not being a different artist with a different name?

    (Though, talking of NO bounce, I do hope we cover Kourtney Heart’s “My Boy” soon.)

  3. David R, glad to be of service.

    Lex, maybe ’cause I never heard of Katy B before? And ’cause I’ve only heard Katy Red a couple times, ten years or so ago? (Actually, turns out she spells it “Katey.” And “Melpomene.” And my “fame” was sarcastic.) And because they have similar names? Honestly, though, I’m not kidding — I figured maybe all the hype lately (NY Times mag, Vice, wherever) had finally broken Katey in the UK, or among hip young indie blog kidz, or somewhere. I was excited about the opportunity to hear and grade a hot new single by her! Then I got mediocrity instead.

  4. Katy is not exactly a rare name though, and in any case “B” is not the same as “Red”, so it’s a bit like being confused that Cortney Tidwell doesn’t turn out to be the same as Courtney Love. I mean, I’d heard of Katey Red as well, but didn’t really draw the connection.

  5. “B” and “Red” are both, uh, short words. And Courtney Love is famous (and has a one-syllable last name, to Tidwell’s two. Never heard of her, either.) Anyway, I’m willing to concede I “shouldn’t” have been confused, but who cares. Point is, I was. Nobody ever said that you were, Lex. I get that. Then again, you thought Lady Antebellum were an emo band.

  6. Yeah, I didn’t hear much of anything going on in this one either, and I’m a fan of Katy B’s guest appearances (the handful I’ve heard, at least). Disappointing.

  7. A Cortney Tidwell / Courtney Love collaboration would be amazing, by the way.

  8. More importantly, this song is awesome and I wish the sound on my computer wasn’t broken so I could have given it another 9.