Rina Sawayama: Sawayama (Music, Streaming)
Music has long been a revolving door, and in recent years a lot of artists seem to be revolving back to the 80’s. Which is fine. There’s another artist I will be including in my best of the year so far that borrows heavily from the 80’s and makes it feel so fresh. However, an emerging trend this year seems to be for pop artists to play around with genre. YouTube artist Poppy pretty cleverly bounced between heavy metal and several other genres with her album earlier this year, but Rina Sawayama takes it one step further.
This album manages to jump from one entirely different genre to another and still feel like an organically flowing thing. Modern day pop songs get a dash of heavy metal thrown into them. 70’s rock motifs break down into hip hop. You can go from one track that is blaring heavy guitar and screaming “Shut the fuck up!” to an 80’s pop ballad that could have been written by Whitney Houston. It should be jarring, but it works.
This album shows an artist who is both fully control of her vision and also playfully testing boundaries. I’m not sure where she is going to land down the line, but I hope she continues to take inspiration from everything. Songs like ‘Bad Friend’ show she could easily release straight forward pop tracks and knock it out of the park. Yet, albums like this feel like a risk that not enough artists are willing to take. I hope risky business is the future of Rina Sawayama.