Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

Kerli – Walking on Air

Estonian pop princess makes inroads into the rest of Europe…


Dave Moore: Open on a haunted dollhouse cartoon from which Kerli recounts a lame ghost story that maybe freaked you out a little when you were nine, then pretends it’s really about how if you can dream it anything is possible, just in time for a semi-soaring life-affirming teenpop chorus and a Bjork bridge thrown in later for the hell of it. Reminds me a little of underrated 2002 meta horror movie May, which more accurately could have been called My Funny Frankenstein.

Keane Tzong: The discrete parts of this song are all really interesting. Kerli’s voice, which is a full octave lower than I’d expect it to be, is lightly accented and capable of great creepiness — a positive, because she reminds us over and over (and over and over) in the first verse alone that that’s her goal. Here, it seems to do battle with a squelchy, Neptunes-styled minimalistic arrangement, which in turn gives way to a totally perplexing middle section with insistent strings and ominous beats. Unfortunately, though, all of those elements never seem to cohere into a proper song.

Edward Okulicz: Bjork takes on “They” by Jem and maybe “Heaven Sent” by Esthero. With adequacy! Cool atmosphere, but Kerli’s unimaginatively ESL lyrics evoke nothing in particular, which is a pity as musically this has three times more good ideas than the average post-trip-hop excursion. The arrangement and production is spectacular, tricksy and original, and almost seems wasted.

Martin Kavka: There’s nothing prima facie wrong with this, but this isn’t any qualitatively better (or worse) than anything else in the genre of Songs Sung By Quirky European Women.

David Raposa: This not-so-creepy not-so-little girl betrays her northern European roots when she starts bjelting, but she mostly sticks to a smoky (or disinterested) lolita-pop coo to navigate this tune, which is, let’s say, “idiosyncratic.” The goth-musicbox twinkling is at odds with the rinky-dink R&B production flourishes, and the lyrical fairy-tale shenanigans happening between choruses isn’t really jiving with the uplifting stringy grandeur the rest of the song’s trying to sell. Maybe this square peg will eventually find a proper round hole to call her own, but this sure ain’t it.

Martin Skidmore: What distinguishes her from the other post-Bjork disasters is that she can actually sing and knows how to deliver a song — she almost gives us an acting job, in fact. The backing is pretty quirky, though polished with it, and she is mostly a little too coolly restrained for my tastes, but this subgenre usually rubs me up very much the wrong way, whereas I quite like this.

Hillary Brown: This is rather too long, but the skittery, sleeting quality of the production fascinates. It’s sort of like being caught in a gentle hailstorm of pop rocks, and it overcomes the silly lyrics, which are easily ignorable anyway.

Tom Ewing: The lyrics to this are basically “Blue” by Eiffel 65 redone to get some post-Knife crit action, no? Not saying that’s a BAD thing, obviously. I can’t imagine many people listening to this in preference to its obvious sources, but it also does those sources no disgrace, and comes with the welcome free gift of a big synth-rock chorus.

Ian Mathers: I am an absolute sucker for beats that sounds like massed, muted handclaps, and the rest of the production on “Walking on Air” is very pretty. The verse lyrics are kind of lame, but Kerli’s voice is nice, and I quite liked this song before I watched the video, which is a bit too goth/’quirky’ for me. Still, the Bjork-ish middle eight makes up for some bad design choices, and as long as you stick to the song itself it’s still worthwhile.

4 Responses to “Kerli – Walking on Air”

  1. Here’s hoping the Tricky / The-Dream co-production rumors for Kerli #2 are true! Or not!

  2. Neologism envy: props for “bjelting.”

  3. Much obliged!

  4. Her 2004 song to represent Estonia at Eurovision (it didn’t win) was a really great epic cheesy ballad thing! Youtube it, it’s called “Beautiful Inside”.