So it seems that Willow Smith’s done with all that hater-shaking hair-whipping (for now at least). Last night, the precocious daughter of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith unveiled a new track that samples Radiohead’s ‘King of Limbs’ standout Codex. Given the nature of the 12 year-old’s recent pop efforts – screechy anthem 21st Century Girl and the torturous Fireball, her new single is quite the style switch-up and, surprisingly, well worth a listen.
Over a backdrop of dark piano keys, it’s the lyrics that are most attention-grabbing. Less “jus’ whip it” and more an adolescent cry for help, Willow’s words are haunting and downright disturbing – “I sat in front of the TV screen, society’s always screaming at me / they wanna puncture me and then wonder why I bleed.” Yet there’s a maturity to her soft vocals, which seem to reveal an essence of how it must feel to constantly occupy the spotlight; “I try to be sugar and spice / but I’m melancholy and can’t do anything right”. For a girl who’s not yet a teenager, growing up in the harsh glare of the media must be quite emotionally draining, and it’s fitting to see this song as a product of that.
Pop has experienced some questionable sampling in recent years – for instance, Hilary Duff manhandling Depeche Mode’s Personal Jesus and Lady Sovereign rugby-tackling Close To Me by the Cure. Now who’s ready to see Cheryl Cole sample Aphex Twin?
Listen to Willow’s track via her Soundcloud which is – in emo fashion – named “arbre mort” (that’s “dead tree” in French).