Body-talking cloud advocate Tove Lo continues to be generally amazing. After the omnipresence of ‘(feat. Tove Lo)’ in the pop-sphere this year, Ebba Tove Elsa ‘Tove Lo’ Nilsson is back at the helm with her new single ‘Cool Girl’, presumably from her upcoming second album.
HANG ON, I’ll get to the song soon. I can’t help but pause for a moment and feel that this is a very pivotal stage for Tove’s career.
Having started out as songwriter, she quickly gifted us many songs including this stonker and this CRIMINALLY OVERLOOKED SONG GOOD GOD. She then found herself slotting into the Max Martin production team (because of course she did, she hails from Stockholm) going on to become head songwriter of his collective Wolf Cousins. Wouldn’t it have been great if she’d kept this for herself? Ah well.
However, through writing a lot of songs for other artists, she found some difficult to give away. Whether it was part of her career plan or not, deciding to just make an album out of these songs and become a popstar is exactly one of the reasons why she’s one of the best we have. Working almost exclusively with production team The Struts for the exquisitely cohesive Queen of the Clouds, she seemingly found her signature sound right from her first album.
It’s home to sleeper hit ‘Habits (Stay High)’, a song that, whether in the remix or original form, gave Tove Lo her worldwide break. Or did it? Whilst its follow up single, ‘Talking Body’ also performed fairly well worldwide, Tove Lo still felt like a faceless artist. She’d had success in the charts, but it was a grey area when trying to figure out if there was interest in her as an artist. Despite having a fairly recognisable tone to her voice, the general public knew the songs, but not her – it was very much a shame.
However, 2016 comes round and we’re suddenly engulfed in a Tove Lo tidal wave, throwing every and anything at the wall and, thankfully, most of it stuck. We had the presence and sheer sensuality of Nick Jonas’ ‘Close’, a video that is Tove in all the right ways. Turn your head to Flume’s ‘Say It’, and Tove Lo’s command of the vocal over the wonky production is sublime in comparison to other songs-that-have-a-shitty-vocal-over-an-instrumental (I’m looking at you, ‘Alan Walker’). Move on to Years & Years’ ‘Desire’, and Tove gave us, well, actually she just gave us another version to download because it was a re-release and they wanted to cash in but there’s NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT.
Not only is she good at songwriting, good at being the rent-a-verse girl and good at literally singing, she’s also a very good performer. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing her live, or even watching a TV performance, her hypnotic manner and sex appeal are second to none. However, it’s not the kind of sex appeal that would make a soccer mom cover the eyes of her innocent teenage son. In fact, Lo’s sex appeal is so brash and unadulterated that the soccer mom herself would fall under Tove’s spell. I mean, literally go and watch the video for sadbanger ‘Moments’.
Tove is now approaching her Difficult Second Album, but it feels like she’s in the best possible position she can be. She proved herself to be a chameleon within the pop world. Yes, she’s done basic EDM, in the form of Alesso’s typographically-messy ‘Heroes (we could be)’. However, she’s also proved she can excel when doing it completely solo, in the form of ‘Scream My Name’ from the laboriously-titled The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. All in all, Tove Lo is the perfect popstar we need.
‘Cool Girl’ is an absolute banger by the way. A slick, technopop song, it’s quintessential Tove whilst simultaneously feeling like an evolution of her and her sound. Lyrically, it’s about Tove Lo wanting to form a non-monogamous relationship, describing herself as a ‘cool girl’. But, Tove, do you know how to put it romantic? “Fuck if knew how to put it romantic”, she purrs in the first verse. She then tells her love interest(s) to “not put a label on it”, urging them to “keep it fun”, because of course she does – this is the woman who gave us the lyrics “if you love me right / we fuck for life”. Queen. She also shows everyone else up for single covers this year.
Tove Lo is a great, great popstar. Whether or not she inadvertently became one, she may have just inadvertently given us the song of the summer.