Annie – American Cars (single)
We’re usually concerned more with breaking indie artists here but from time to time it’s good to include a genuine superstar to show them how to do it.
Norway’s Annie (Anne Lilia Berge Strand) first came to the world’s attention with her 2000 anthem ‘Greatest Hit’, which channelled Madonna’s fantasy disco, later breaking into UK charts, grasping Pitchfork’s No.1 Single of the year with ‘Heartbeat’, and even calling in Girls Aloud for backing vocal duties. Her style was ‘pop with strange edges’ - catchy, melodic, fun but with an off kilter feel.
Her music appeared on everything from ‘CSI’ to ‘The Sims’ game to the movie ‘Sex and The City 2’.
Then she tired of the business for a while following a fall out with her label. Leaving hometown Bergen to move to East Berlin, Annie started writing again, working with Röyksøpp, singing with the Finnish Motorhead- Space-Trance band K-X-P, and also writing the music for the film ‘The Night Within.’ She’s also collaborated with Blackpool’s own Little Boots.
She’s still working in the film industry as well as spinning discs as a DJ and mixing.
Now she returns to live action with a new single 'American Cars' which is described as the soundtrack to blacked-out skylines, abandoned downtown city districts and empty highways. Think Detroit. Or Salford. She says it was partly inspired by the David Cronenberg film ‘Crash’. “It was 2pm and the only other people in the cinema were two old men, a mum and her screaming baby, and sixteen-year-old me. It was quite a strange experience. The film is about pushing it to the edge. When you’re looking for something dark you don’t necessarily know why you’re doing it. But you’re pushing the boundaries. You can fall, or almost fall, but you climb back.”
Actually, it isn’t all that dark. It sounds like it was written by someone who is used to DJ-ing internationally with a mix of pop and techno, which is what she does. It’s atmospheric though, but the critical point is that it’s nice and straightforward with a memorable riff that is there from the word go, with the vocal coming back again and again to focus on ‘American Cars’. The bridge is sufficiently differentiated that it could be from another song entirely. It helps if you can sing as well of course, and she has no problems in that department.
Reminds me too of SoLBLoMMa’s (Sweden) ‘She said nothing’, which has a similar theme running through it.
Even if this electro-pop genre isn’t your thing you’ll like this, I’m sure. And that, kids, is how to do it. Simples.