Review:'Bazan, Kristina' 'The Devil (Acoustic Version)'
- Genre: 'Pop'
Change is inevitable, whether for better or worse, but we do live in increasingly strange times. We’re now well into a generation who don’t know anything different, but the arrival of an email announcing the arrival of a new music video by ‘Instagram superstar Kristina Bazan’, is something I find perplexing. She’s famous for posting photographs on a social media site on the Internet?
Apparently – and pardon my ignorance – this is partly true, as ‘Kristina Bazan is a 24 year old multi-faced talent. From multilingual international fashion girl to author and singer, she is widely considered as one of the most famous digital influencers in the world…. Among her numerous achievements and awards, Kristina wrote history by becoming the face of L’Oréal Paris and was ranked by Forbes as one of the most influential ‘30 under 30’ personalities of 2016. She has also signed with Yves Saint Laurent as their first "beauty-music talent" and has racked up over 2.2 million Instagram followers’.
Reportedly worth $1M already, there’s a part of me that thinks it’s easy to launch a music career, complete with slick videos and all the rest with that kind of financial buffer and a ready-made audience. And while she’s suggested she’s weary of fashion blogging and all the rest and is ready to commit to her first love – music – and commentators have noted how she’s embracing her darker side, it all feels reasonably safe. That isn’t to say her lyrics aren’t dark, and that the videos which accompany some of her songs aren’t visually striking and a shade outré, but then again, it’s very much exemplary of noire in the mode of the zeitgeist: stylized, pristinely shot, aesthetically striking but somehow muted by digital clinicality.
There’s an ersatz-vintage quality about her music, not only her touchstones of choice which include, according to her website bio, ‘bands like Goldfrapp with their “Strict Machine”, Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” or even the melancholic yet sweet first few notes of Chris Isaac’s “Wicked Games”’ but a hefty dose of Lana Del Rey with her sense of epic, of grandeur, and of doomed anguish. The pain and beauty of suffering made art…. The video which accompanies this minimal, intimate acoustic rendition of EP cut and fan favourite ‘The Devil’ is all the artiness, all the Instagram filters, all the mood.
And so I’m torn. Success doesn’t equate to fulfilment or joy, and while Bazan seemingly has it all, it would be a mistake to dismiss her art on the basis of her previous achievements as an – ahem – ‘digital influencer’. Just because she broke through in a mainstream environment probably isn’t an indicator of a lack of depth. Most artists have dayjobs, and I’m not about to slate Pissed Jeans for working in offices or whatever.
She writes her own material, and there’s an artfulness in both the execution and presentation – not to mention the fact she does have a good voice – that makes it difficult to begrudge anything, whether or not it’s entirely authentic.
And so it is that Bazan’s new twist on her EP a stop-gap before her forthcoming debut album has obvious commercial appeal, but is also pretty good.