Music / Kimbra
Kimbra (born Kimbra Lee Johnson on March 27th, 1990) is a singer from New Zealand
, although she has moved to Australia
and then to the The United States
. Her main genre was initially soul, though she has since branched out into R&B, funk, and electronic music. Her breakthrough came when she was featured in Gotye
's "Somebody That I Used to Know" in 2012; aside from that, she's released three albums: Vows
(2010/2012), which got two separate releases internationally and in the United States, and The Golden Echo
(2014), which was released internationally, as well as Primal Heart
- Settle Down EP (2011)
- Vows (2012)
- The Golden Echo (2014)
- Primal Heart (2018)
Tropes in her songs include:
- '20s Bob Haircut: She had this hairstyle, often with Quirky Curls, early in her career. Since then she's grown her hair longer so it resembles a Hime Cut.
- Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder: The song "Old Flame" seems to be about a lover from back in the day who doesn't share the feelings she still has for him.
- Action Girl: Really. In the video for "Warrior", where she beats up a crime lord and finishes him off with a Roundhouse Kick. (She regretted that she didn't get to do that last move herself but a stunt double did.)
- Affectionate Parody: Both the song and video of "90s Music".
- Album Title Drop: In "Settle Down":
Let's make our vows...
Got a heart that's primal...
- Almost Kiss: In the video for "Good Intent".
- Anti-Climax: "The Build Up", a very quiet and surreal song at the end of Vows, could be seen as the musical equivalent of this. Also qualifies as a Non-Indicative Name, though this is explained in the lyrics: "I wanted love without the build up."
- Anti-Love Song: "Settle Down".
- Bedlam House: The video for "Come Into My Head" has her as a patient in an old-fashioned mental hospital with apparently very lax security while The Shrink (type 2) tries to calm her down, but doesn't have much luck.
- "Madhouse" also uses this trope as a metaphor for a chaotic relationship.
- Bilingual Bonus: In the video for "90s Music".
- Kimbra's dance moves include quotes from the song's lyrics in Australian Sign Language that was choreographed by a Deaf fan. (Note that Left Eye of the band TLC (who is mentioned in the song) was known for using sign language in their videos.)
- In the background some lyrics from the song also appear in Japanese, like 日常 "everyday", リスニング "listening", and 音楽 "music".
- Body Paint: Used on the cover of Vows.
- Also in the video of "Somebody That I Used to Know".
- Call-Back: An untitled interlude heard at the end of "Limbo" (or "Posse" on the international version of Vows) reprises the "Star so light, star so bright" melody from "Settle Down".
- The intro to "Goldmine" is a brief snippet from the end of "Cameo Lover", from four years before it.
- The Chanteuse: Her role in the music video of "Good Intent".
- Counterpoint Duet: The most famous example is definitely "Somebody That I Used to Know", but other songs of hers have done it as well, such as "Wandering Limbs" and "Everlovin' Ya".
- Darker and Edgier:
- The alternate version of the video for "Everybody Knows". The original, while a little somber, is Kimbra dancing in a field; the remix is a PSA about domestic violence.
- According to Kimbra herself, she intended for her cover of the song "I'm Wishing" from Snow White to be darker than the original.
- Deliberately Monochrome: The video for "Human", and "Goldmine" (which also has gold foil as a Splash of Colour).
- "Come Into My Head" has the Limited Palette variation, with almost everything (including Kimbra herself) being white and black with some red here and there.
- Denser and Wackier: The Golden Echo, which was no easy task, considering the already sophisticated pop/R&B style heard on Vows.
- Differently Dressed Duplicates: In the videos for "Good Intent" (also counts as Colour-Coded for Your Convenience) and "Human".
- Dramatic Wind: The first video for "Everybody Knows" is shot in a field with her, a white sheet, and plenty of this.
- Fading into the Next Song: "Two Way Street" into "Old Flame".
- This is done quite a bit on The Golden Echo, with the sounds of children playing, birds chirping, etc. filling in the gaps where there would normally be silence between songs.
- Fake-Out Fade-Out:
- Seems to happen twice near the end of "Love in High Places".
- The Stop and Go variant happens on "Nobody But You", which stops abruptly and then restarts as a funky remix of itself before fading out for real.
- Inverted on "Teen Heat", which stops quite suddenly where you would expect the final chorus to continue all the way through.
- Fashionable Asymmetry: Around the time of The Golden Echo, she often wore a crucifix earring in one ear. She wears various mismatched earrings in the video for "90s Music". Also, in her videos from the Primal Heart era it can be seen she has a tattoo on her right forearm (she explained the significance of it on her blog).
- Foreshadowing: The melody from "Carolina" briefly sneaks into the end of "90's Music".
- Girlish Pigtails: In the "90s Music" video.
- Girly Skirt Twirl: In the videos for "Cameo Lover" and "Miracle".
- Gladiator Revolt: The plot to "Warrior" is this but with Masked Luchador wrestlers and Kimbra being held captive as the singer for a mariachi band.
- Happy Flashback: The extremely dark video for "Everybody Knows", which depicts a couple in a dysfunctional relationship where the man is a Domestic Abuser and the woman may be cheating, shows a Falling-in-Love Montage after showing them fighting and being violent with each other.
- Genre Roulette: Over the course of both of her albums, she puts her own twist on modern dance and indie pop as well as incorporating vintage jazz and soul sounds, and even covering Nina Simone.
- Genre Throwback: Many songs of hers, e.g. "Miracle" and disco; "Past Love" and doo-wop; "90s Music" and, well, 90s R&B.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Her apparent aversion to "hard" swears is discussed briefly in "Posse":
You cuss and curse
So they think that you're rough and tough
And I find "dammit" heavy enough
- Hidden Track: "Somebody Please" in Vows. Some copies of the international edition feature "Wandering Limbs" as a hidden track instead, which was cut from the main track listing.
- Hipster: "Posse" is about her resistance to becoming one and joining a cool Girl Posse.
- Hopeless Suitor: "Plain Gold Ring". She wants a guy, but he's already engaged/married.
- Housewife: Kimbra's "ambition" in "Settle Down".
- Intercourse with You: "Teen Heat" is about the struggle to resist giving into this too soon.
- "Sweet Relief" is blatantly this trope.
- "I Want" Song: "Settle Down".
- Little Black Dress: Kimbra's costume in the music video of "Settle Down".
- Meta Casting: Many fans have commented that she would be great cast as Snow White because of her resemblance to her (pale skin, dark hair, often wearing vintage dresses and sometimes even a hair bow). In the Disney tribute video "Kimbra's Wish", she was finally cast as Snow White.
- Modesty Shorts: In the video for "Cameo Lover", though averted in "Miracle".
- Narcissist: "Top Of the World" is written from the perspective of someone with grandiose delusions, including hints of A God Am I.
- The title of The Golden Echo was inspired by a book she read about the Greek myth of Narcissus, so it seems she has a fascination with this trope.
- New Sound Album: Each of her albums sound very different, with Vows being pop with heavy blues and soul influences, The Golden Echo being more R&B and funk, and Primal Heart being electropop.
- Noir Episode: The music video for "Good Intent" has shades of this trope, though it's in color.
- Obsession Song: "Settle Down", due to Word of God stating that the song was written to be ironic, thus the song leaning toward more of the "aggressive" type.
- Odango Hair: One of her several hairstyles in the video for "90s Music" and also one she has worn in real life before.
- Other Common Music Video Concepts:
- Backwards Action in the second video for "Everybody Knows"
- Dance Hall Daze in "Good Intent"
- Dancing in the Street in "Miracle"
- Junkyard/Construction Site appears in "Like They Do On the TV"
- Monochrome Backdrop in "Cameo Lover"
- Parking Garage: The video for "Human", where she confronts her Shadow Archetype in one and defeats her ... with a Dance Off?
- Pimped-Out Dress: Many of them, such as in the video for "Miracle", and on the cover of The Golden Echo. Some have Giant Poofy Sleeves
- Power Walk: She, Mark Foster and A-Trak do one at the end of the video for "Warrior".
- Rainbow Motif: The blindfolded men in the "Cameo Lover" video.
- Also, the jogging women in the "Miracle" video.
- Reference Overdosed: The video for "90s Music"; some of the most obvious references can be found below under Shout-Out but there are several articles online analyzing all of them.
- Ruins for Ruins' Sake: The setting of the video for "Top Of the World" with its mysterious tall stone pillars.
- Rhyming with Itself: "Goldmine" does this with two different meanings of the word "mine".
- Self-Backing Vocalist: Used extensively in a lot of her songs, to the point of being a part of her Signature Style. For example, the hook of "Settle Down".
- Singing Voice Dissonance: Her speaking voice is relatively low compared to singing voice in most of her music. A few songs, particularly some earlier ones, are closer to her speaking range.
- Shout-Out: "90s Music" name-drops several of the decade's hitmakers in its hook, though the vocals are obscured to the point where it's not obvious at first.
- The Japanese captions in the video for "90s Music" are also a reference to the video for the Music/Aqua song "Barbie Girl".
- According to her the name of the song "Teen Heat" was taken from a song by The Blood Brothers.
- "Posse" includes a Shout-Out to Shakespeare as well as Morrissey, Joy Division and The Bible.
- Sugar Bowl: Some of her videos have a very bright and cheerful setting, like "Cameo Lover", "Miracle" and "90s Music" (bizarre as it is).
- Summon Backup Dancers: In several of her videos such as "Settle Down", "Cameo Lover", "Good Intent", "90s Music", and "Miracle"
- Surreal Music Video: Many of them, most notably "90s Music" (an intentional throwback to the strange and colourful videos of that decade), and "Sweet Relief" (which is pure CGI and looks like the Vaporwave aesthetic). Only a few of them aren't surreal in any way.
- Their First Time: The subject of "Teen Heat" is exactly what it sounds like.
- Unlimited Wardrobe: The sheer number of dresses and other outfits she wears in her videos (and in real life) is absurd. In some videos such as "Miracle" and "Top Of the World", her whole outfit changes between shots.
- Watching the Sunset: The video for "Version of Me" is a whole shot of her sitting on a rock by the seaside doing this.
- Who Wears Short Shorts?: In the video for "Miracle", along with many of her backup dancers.