Rewind That Please! – Katy B’s “Louder”

Always running late
I know I should not procrastinate
It should be all hard work – I play
But sometimes hard work has to wait
There’s always somewhere new to go
And I can never say no (Say no)
I’ve been awake for a day now
24 hours yet still I want it louder
Darkness can’t get me to sleep yet
I’m not that weak yet

–          Katy B “Louder” from her forthcoming debut LP

The latest sound from London-town is dubstep and an underground singer-songwriter helping to bring the music to the mainstream bears a streaking resemblance to True Blood’s Oscar-winning Anna Paquin.

While Paquin hones her acting chops, her British look-a-like may be the next biggest crossover act to continue the a second “British Invasion” that some hoped the Spice Girls would spark – but failed to do – in the 1990s. Subsequent British acts (Billie Piper, Mis-teeq, Dizzee Rascal, Sugababes, Trickey, All Saints…) who followed in their wake barely registered on the U.S. Billboard charts, much less anybody’s iPod Most-Played Songs playlist (outside of my “freak-quency” folks).

Katie Brien, alias “Katy B”, is a South London singer and a graduate of BRIT School for performing arts where nearly every significant contemporary British talent attended – Amy Winehouse, Adele, Marsha Ambrosious, among the more well-known alums.

Even as a b-side of her major label single, “Louder” allowed 21-years-old Katy B to break into the Top 20 of the UK Charts.  The lead single, “Katy on a Mission,” from her debut album fared even better: The song hit number one on both the UK Dance and Indie charts.

Both songs were produced by Benga, a pioneering producer of a dubstep, a style of music that’s equal parts the pulsating 2-step/garage of Craig David’s heyday in the early 2000s (remember “Fill Me In”?) with a dash of the echoing effect dominant in reggae dub. And their other collaboration ,“Perfect Stranger”,  is a six-minute ode to a “beautiful stranger” who lefts Katy B off of her feet (à la Stevie Wonder). The magic of  her expressive voice over  the latest Benga production easily draws comparisons to the musical chemistry between R&B chanteuses from the late 1990s who acted as the muse for their respective producer (e.g. Teddy Riley & Brandy, the late Aaliyah & Timbaland/Missy Elliot and Kelis & The Neptunes). With a track record of guaranteed “ear candy,” listeners will hope that her collaboration with Benga will continue.

And the “light” Katy B sings about in her latest tune with Ms. Dynamite is definitely the spotlight which will surely continue to shine brighter on her as her fame grows to match the catchiness of her songs – and her possession of an ability growing rarer among singers in the twentieth-first century: The ability to actually sing.

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