Free and legal MP3: Kate Miller-Heidke (cheeky, theatrical, Australian)

“Politics in Space” – Kate Miller-Heidke

This has nothing to do with NYC, and maybe little to do with Planet Earth. A classically trained soprano, Australia’s Miller-Heidke took a left turn out of the conservatory and didn’t look back; she traces her musical lineage not geographically but aesthetically, and maybe even psychologically. Artists like Lene Lovich and Kate Bush and Björk come to mind once Miller-Heidke turns herself loose, and the process of singing becomes intertwined with something resembling performance art.

But the cool thing is none of this is remotely ponderous–wacky, humorous, and cheeky, yes, but not ponderous. (Listen to how she briefly puts her “conservatory voice” to use—around 1:04—and you’ll see how cheeky.) Musically, the song hues to a deliberate beat, with relatively austere accompaniment—there’s a rubbery bass, a deep drum beat, a simply strummed acoustic guitar, hand claps, and not much else—except, that is, for the backing vocals. Turns out this song is all about the backing vocals, pretty much. (“Pretty much.”) Follow them all the way through and you’re in for a smile or two.

Miller-Heidke has had hit records in Australia, and also reaped praise last year for her performance in Sydney of Jerry Springer: The Opera. Previously featured on Fingertips in 2005, she has not had any music released in the U.S., until now. (Although some may know her from the live-recorded song “R U Fucking Kidding Me? [The Facebook Song],” which has had some viral success on the social media circuit.) Curiouser, an album originally released in Australia in October ’08 (and actually recorded in Los Angeles), will be released here this month on SIN/Sony Australia. Thanks very much to Victoria, at Muruch, for the lead. MP3 originally from somewhere else but remains online courtesy of Art Nouveau magazine.

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