Meet LA’s dirty little secret, singer-songwriter Sky Ferreira. On her resume? Her singing made Michael Jackson tear up, she’s worked with Linda Perry and Dallas Austin, and she corresponds with ch-ch-ch-cherrybomb / ex-Runaway Cherie Currie. Oh, and she turned 18 last month.
The Los Angeles lolita has been making Internet waves for a few years now, and it looks like she’s finally catching up with the hype. Her grandmother was a hair dresser for the King of Pop, who encouraged her to develop her voice; she sang gospel and opera from an early age. At 15, she reached out to the producers behind Miike Snow (and Britney Spears’ “Toxic”), Swedish duo Bloodshy & Avant. With no money but a promise of being “better than Britney,” the producers agreed to work with her. One of their first collaborations is her single “One,” a slice of futurist, robotic pop. (The song was given the luvstep treatment by BAR9.)
Her closest comparison is to Lily Allen, as she precociously mixes innocent pop melodies with dark and dirty lyrics. Unlike her frenemy Katy Perry, though, this isn’t focus-group tested, “good girl gone bad” bullshit. There is an honesty and maturity absent from most of her stateside peers, with a better sense of pop and celebrity than UK counterparts like Ellie Goulding and Marina and the Diamonds.
Speaking of Marina, Ferreira’s “17” hits the mark better than Ms. Diamandis’ “Seventeen;” the video does Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok” better and more realistically, as well. The chorus is very glam, and the verses reveal her lyrical talent, painting an accurate picture of teen girls living beyond their years: “We don’t know what to do with her / shes from a different world / and its apparent now this girl is hiding / something in the way she gives a confident excuse.”
While she was born in 1992 (!), she has a reverence for musical icons of the past. She names David Bowie, the Runaways, Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot among her influences, and her cover of “Happiness is a Warm Gun” is superb (especially when mixed with “Still DRE” by Skeet Skeet).
For American pop stars, it seems as if the dialectic is between Ke$has and non-Ke$has, Gagas and non-Gagas. Sky Ferreira is proof that you can do both.