Top 100 Artists of the Decade: #16 CocoRosie
The Top 100 Artists of the Decade list will be posted over the course of 100 days. On September 23rd, we will post one artist and continue every day until December 31st, when we will unveil our #1 artist of the decade!
Please read our introduction to learn about our nominating and ordering process.
The rewards of experimentation depend not so much on what you do as on how far you take it. Every artist we like at betterPropaganda trots out some interesting technique in their music: a strangely filtered synthesizer, counterintuitively textured samples, foreign syncopations or oddly paired instruments. Little daubs of complexity soften up and bypass our preconceptions of a particular genre of music, which is why we can enjoy new work in an old genre – the best rock and roll acts, let’s say, take one or two steps away from the norm so as to earn the guitar-bass-drums convention without coming off as tired. (For instance, drop the bass from the equation, add a little blues, and bingo, you’re The White Stripes. This is not to diminish The White Stripes – just to point out that sometimes, it’s that easy.)
The further and further you get from the center, though, the harder it becomes to corral all of those experimental elements – it’s like trying to carry an armful of small knick knacks and not letting a single thing drop from your grip. CocoRosie, quite simply, has the arms for it – they’ve developed the knack for dropping incongruous elements into a tinny, breathing bag, shaking it around, and somewhat impossibly pulling brilliant music from the disorienting racket. They’ve raced to the end of the spectrum where experimentalism – that noble trait through which select artists can reasonably arrive at the same point through independent exploration – morphs into innovation, the beautiful land in which they’ve create an aesthetic impossible to replicate.
It is perhaps easiest to define CocoRosie by what they are not. They’ve got one classically trained opera singer and one crippled, vulnerable wheezer of a lead lyricist, and yet the juxtaposition doesn’t make them art rockers. They’ve got childish musicboxes scattered throughout their albums, and yet the music boasts a particularly sharp maturity. They experiment with strange samples and dissonant electronic patches, and yet, CocoRosie is so fucking far from an experimental band. Rather, their music is evocative of a loud and busy mind, a solid and graspable representation of human conflict and confusion. They’ve solidified a permanent presence in our library – and a premium spot on this list – because their music is as inimitable and strange as it is universal and necessary. Endless respect to CocoRosie for wrangling the most bewildering aspects of humanism into a representative musical form.
- Phillip Taylor-Parker
Check back tomorrow for the next artist! To see the full list of the Top 100 Artists of the Decade, click here.
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