Posted by Shamir Lee on 07/02 at 12:52 PM
You might remember her as rapper Verbalicious from her moderate UK hit “Don’t Play Nice.” Or maybe when she went by Verbz and released songs as an unsigned artist, such as “Shopaholic” and “Swaggerific.” She had a short stint going by the name Verse, but that didn’t stick, and shortly after that, she decided to use the name Natalia Cappuccini (Cappuccini being her grandmother’s maiden name) and released an extended play, Wommanequin, with the single “Real Woman.” It was made popular by blogger Perez Hilton, and soon Natalia was receiving offers from different labels, even being contacted by will.i.am.
Her career never seemed to take off, though, and for a while Natalia seemed to be nonexistent. Maybe all the name changes caused her to lose her initial audience. Whatever the case, in 2010 Natalia reemerged under the new title, Natalia Kills, which is her current stage name. She ditched the rap vocals and switched to singing, adopting a dark, mysterious style with her first release from her new album, Perfectionist. She even had an accompanying mini series (that was never completed, by the way. Hmmmmm…). Her single, “Mirrors,” became a hit overseas, and ever since then, she’s been releasing songs that all try to follow the dark and twisted vibe that matches her name. Her song “Wonderland” from the same album was featured in the (terrible) 2011 film Beastly. The video featured heavy purposeful censorship and a beheading, just to give you an idea how dark Kills (attempts) to be. She was also featured on Far East Movement’s single “2 is Better.” I’ll let you know now, it’s not worth listening to, but if you insist.
Critics have penned her style as dark pop and “electro-gothic,” and “Problem,” her most recent single from her soon-to-be-released album Trouble, holds up to this categorization. The booming beats, muffled voice, and barking/chanting in the background as Kills repeats “that girl is a problem” continuously throughout the chorus pretty much force the listener to say “alright, already! You’re a problem! What else do you want me to say?!” The song’s alright. It does sound somewhat unique compared to what else is out right now, and I like the beat. Not so much the lyrics, though. But overall, “Problem” resembles Kills’ work so far, which can all be summed up as trying too hard. Check out the video here:
I’ve tried to like Kills’ music for many years now. I always thought she was pretty, and I admired her style. When I was in high school, when she had a more colorful, street style, I tried to dress like her. Let’s just say, I failed. But I could never really get into her music. I liked her song “Body Body Language,” and there was a time when I would sing “Real Woman” so much that my mom told me to be quiet. But her rapping style just didn’t flow well, and the constant name changes were annoying.
When she came out with “Zombie,” her style change confused me. This was during the time when being dark and murderous in mainstream pop was cool, thanks to artists like Lady Gaga. That’s when I realized her whole image was a gimmick. Now you might be thinking “you just realized this? All pop stars are a gimmick!” But I was younger, and I thought Natalia was cool. I thought she was at least somewhat different, especially when singing along to the lyrics of “Real Woman,” discussing how women are expected to live up to a certain standard of perfection. No one in pop was really singing about that.
Finally, everything started to make sense. When she stopped rapping, I realized she was only rapping because UK rapper Lady Sovereign was popular at that time. When she started dressing in bondage-like clothing, I realized it was only because everyone in pop was doing it. When she started releasing electro-pop tracks, I realized it was only because everyone else was. What makes it worse is that, even though she’s doing what everyone else is doing, she has this attitude like she’s so unique, like she’s doing something fresh and new. In the lyrics and video for “Problem,” her over-sexualized, I-don’t-care attitude is what’s ‘in’ right now. Rihanna’s doing it. Miley Cyrus is doing it. Everyone’s doing it, in mainstream pop that is. Jon O’Brien of AllMusic described her perfectly when he wrote, “there’s something a little too calculated” about her Perfectionist album. I’m going even further and saying there’s something a little too calculated about her entire image. Even in her interviews she comes off as trying too hard.
With all this said, I still find myself looking her up every so often to see if she’s doing anything new. I’m still drawn to her, and I can’t deny I like her. Maybe it’s nostalgia. Maybe it’s because she’s so pretty. Maybe I’m waiting for her to actually do something worth listening to that actually is different from what everyone else is doing. I don’t know. But so far, her career still hasn’t taken off, and I think it’s because people can tell she’s trying too hard. What do you think about her?
By the way, if you want to look our for her new album Trouble, it should be released sometime in September.
Author: Shamir Lee
Bio: Shamir Lee is a senior majoring in Advertising. She’s a writer for Penn State’s CRITIQUE, a student-run business magazine. Additionally, she has created ads and flyers for One Heart, an organization fighting against child sexual abuse. She’s interested in looking at cats, doing ballet, exercising, and ending animal cruelty. In her free time, she enjoys watching horror movies, some of her favorites being Satoshi Kon’s Perfect Blue and the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre ("sorry, I just really like the cinematography"). Music is a big part of her life, as she plays piano, a little bit of guitar, and used to play saxophone. Some of her favorite musicians are Jason Becker, BUCK-TICK, Megadeth, Aivi Tran, Missing Persons, Nina Hagen, Prince, and Koji Kondo.
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