What determines the fashion, attitudes, or music of an era? It often isn’t until years later that the defining characteristics of a given generation are identified, but if you look closely, you can see them materializing before your very eyes. One individual who both understands and is helping to delineate the zeitgeist is KOOLKID.
“Only You Now” is the latest single from this Scottish singer/songwriter. The track is produced by Lewis Gardener (formerly of Prides). It demonstrates a musical minimalism that allows the listener to lock into the lyrics. After being greeted by some clean harmonic overtones, we’re introduced to the quality of KOOLKID’s voice. It calls to mind Darren Hayes of Savage Garden—whose magnetic vocals captivated us during the late 90s. That said, it’s not just the sound of his voice that defines the song—it’s what he chooses to do with it melodically. The way it works with the music to build layers is what drives the tune. The descending melody before the pre-chorus essentially upgrades the last two chords in the repeating progression to a minor ninth and a major ninth. The Am9 chord carries with it a moody sound and no need for resolution. The final Fmaj9 chord is huge—a perfect choice right before moving into the next section. It’s decisions like these that make the song interesting.
Above all, KOOLKID’s newest hit offers our imagination the opportunity to step outside during the lockdown. Its sonic motifs illuminate you with bright, neon lights—the colors that reflect on your windows as you cruise through the city at nighttime.
For many, 2020 has been bedlam, but KOOLKID’s stayed focused on his work—making this his fourth single of the year. He comes from Glasgow, but is making his mark all over the world. He’s opened Wembley Stadium for CapitalFM’s Summertime Ball in the U.K. but has also contributed to the success of global phenomenon BTS. Here in the U.S., they were the first K-Pop group in history to top the charts. KOOLKID is the writer behind both their “Mikrokosmos” and “Inner Child.” The global appeal of his solo work and collaborations show us how he’s tapped into the sound that the next generation is defining as their own. KOOLKID is letting us witness history in the making.
Written by Matt Kalicky