Could Anita Blay inherit the crown of U.K. pop?
As is often the case with superheroes, there is a tendency to preface the hero’s birth by a natural occurrence, such as a bolt of lightning, earthquake, or, of course, a meteor.
The scenario goes something like this: a meteor crashes to Earth; around the fiery crater a crowd begins to gather speaking in hushed whispers, jostling each other for a better view. Out of the crater steps a pretty young woman with a new wave haircut and a stylish dress that could best be described as the future. The crowd, enthralled with this exotic new creature, stares in wide-eyed wonder. The young space traveler stares back and the expression on her face begs the question, “What the hell are you looking at?”
Great question. What we are gawking at is a creation named “TheCocknBullKid.” Who might soon be England’s hottest new pop export; with a sound reminiscent of an era where icons such as Debbie Harry and Madonna (circa “Like a Virgin”) held court.
TheCocknBullKid is 23-year-old Anita Blay and—without one full-length album under her belt—she is already being anticipated as inheritor to the crown of U.K. pop from the current reigning queens Estelle and M.I.A.
For Blay, it’s been a long time coming, which, if it didn’t sound highly unlikely, would suggest she was singing in the womb. While that recording has yet to surface in MP3 format, a number of singles, as well as a cover of the Talking Heads “Psycho Killer,” have.
And while the throne she threatens to inherit is a familiar one, she is an interesting candidate for the monarchy, boasting a fascination with Oscar Wilde and citing the late comedian Bill Hicks as an influence. She writes her own songs and doesn’t find one thing odd about it, despite the genre she’s navigating.
“If you’re an artist, you shouldn’t be applauded for writing your own stuff, it’s just what you should do,” Blay says.
If the pop genre has a head, it is definitely spinning. And if Blay is next in line, it appears she’s up to the task: writing and recording with leviathans Peter Bjorn and John, Gonzales (the producer behind Feist), as well as developing a side project with electro crooners Metromony.
Running zigzags across Europe to do so, she may be amassing an arsenal of artfully structured laments to melt our brains and hearts; at the same time taking over the entire pop star galaxy (One could say “may” because it’s anybody’s guess as to whether or not the weapons exist, as her arsenal is rather small.)
Although music bloggers across the board are giving her rave reviews and comparing her to acts like Santigold; The-CocknBullKid seems to be an increasingly heavy name to drop. London-based performance artist Theo Adams also weighed in, giving her a grade of “Not that shit.”
And the music is, indeed, “not that shit.” With a bulletproof voice, and the tick-tick-broken-pasted-back-together-grime beats that have infiltrated almost every new London sound, Blay is writing a contemporary disco soundtrack—albeit a melancholic one. It’s fun, it pleases aesthetically; it gets caught in your head and you catch yourself dancing, pointing with one hand, an imaginary microphone in the other.
With her new EP Querelle raining down like tinsel across North America in August, TheCocknBullKid seems bent towards bright things. Let’s hope she’s invested in a saddle for her snowball and that it’s equipped with laser lights and a fog machine.
- Daniel Dehnhardt