It all started on a bus, heading to work on an unremarkable Sunday morning in early February. Even though I wasn’t listening to the radio so much as the rumbling of the drive, and my thoughts were drifting through the air, something suddenly caught my attention and forced me to listen. A song was playing on the radio, but it wasn’t an ordinary song. It felt like a real and honest cry, powerful, rising up from the guts and the heart. At that moment, it didn’t occur to me that I should pull up my Shazam and make sure I knew the name of the song. But it kept playing in my head and wouldn’t let go, calling me to listen to it again. The only problem was, I couldn’t remember any concrete details. Nothing except the voice – a woman’s voice. A bit childlike, a bit sober, sometimes broken and cynical – I mainly remembered the heart-splitting call of “Oh oh oh oh oh”, and just try searching for that on Google. Fortunately, I’m an information specialist, so with a little effort, luck and mostly the fact that the words “Lost on You” flashed in my mind as I was searching, I managed to find LP.
I started watching the music video, and I was amazed. I entered into a world that was magical, painful, sexy and pleasant all at once. I spent the following hours listening to more and more songs, shocked that I’d spent so many years missing out on this extraordinary artist who was striking such deep chords within me. What started in a single morning became a week of obsession, in which the songs of LP followed me everywhere. I danced to them in the morning and dozed off to them at night. There were, after all, four CDs to consume, and a huge number of live performances that were even better than the recorded tracks.
By the end of that week, the penny dropped: “Hey, I love a singer who’s alive and active today! She’s touring abroad right now, and in Europe even! Hey, Europe isn’t that far from here!” So I temporarily overcame my fear of flying and my long-standing tradition of avoiding trips abroad, and decided I’d go on a crazy adventure to see LP live, no matter what.
Sure, I know that for a lot of people that’s not such a big deal, but it was for me. After endless rounds of planning, consultation, online shopping and luggage-purchasing, I found myself in the north of Italy. My choice of Italy wasn’t a coincidence: Laura Pergolizzi, also known as LP, is Italian-American, and you can tell she has a soft spot for Italians and vice versa. It wasn’t by chance that she had about five performances in Italy and only one or two in other European countries. As I counted down the days to the trip, I learned that LP’s success would be bringing her to our sweltering country some months afterwards, accompanied by unnecessary rappers (apologies to their fans, but that’s how I referred to them in my own head). It was a cause for celebration – I’d be seeing my new musical crush not once, but twice – once in lo Stivale, the Boot, the land of pastas, and again on my home turf!
A month later, as I watched her thrill the audience at the lovely Gran Teatro Geox in Padua, I was overjoyed that I’d have a second opportunity to witness the wonder in person. It wasn’t just because she was every bit the vocally-blessed, crowd-pleasing stage beast I’d hoped for, the rock goddess I’d seen in online videos, but because I’d been sick as a dog. That’s right, I was sick during the show and had to dance and jump (how could I not?) during my favorite songs and then sit down on the floor and take a break. To the crowd’s credit, they were polite enough to let me do so and not trample me.
Which brings us to July 2017. LP’s second performance was right around the corner, she'd just released a new video, and it was the best time to explain to you all (and maybe to remind myself as well) why I’d fallen in love.
So what is this extremely-excessively-long post about? I want to tell you about the songs and music videos of LP, what they represent and what they evoke in me. I want to tell you about her life, her career and her romances (with apologies in advance for occasionally stepping into TMZ territory – it’s not me, it’s the obsession). Shall we begin?
By the way, if the epic story of LP’s career doesn’t interest you and you’d rather see the songs and their analyses, skip on down.
The androgynous singer with the non-gendered stage name (think J.K. Rowling) was born in New York in 1981. At some point she was forced to admit that all the important shit happens in Los Angeles, and moved to the City of Angels. Her first two albums, Heart-Shaped Scar (2001) and Suburban Sprawl & Alcohol (2004) were indie rock to the core, kicking and screaming and noisy in a way that did little to show how unique LP actually was. The overproduced music around her drowned out her most valuable asset – her vocal abilities. They also didn’t reflect her varied musical influences – pop, rock, blues, opera, you name it. In any case, that’s my guess as to why LP’s success came significantly later, but she seems to agree with me so that’s okay.
There are a few interesting points to make about the first two albums that reflect something about LP’s career in its entirety:
- The first single served as the opening theme to the second and third seasons of the lesbian-centric TV show South of Nowhere. It wasn’t a great show, but this was perhaps the first step in turning LP into an international lesbian icon.
- Speaking of lesbians, the album saw LP collaborate with Linda Perry. Never heard of her? Let me help: she’s the former lead singer of Four Non-Blondes, responsible for that one-hit wonder with the addictive chorus that asks “What’s goin’ on?” It was everywhere in the ‘90s, and it recently enjoyed a resurgence thanks to critically-acclaimed TV series Sense8, itself praised repeatedly for its wonderful LGBT representation. Linda is also married to Sara Gilbert, who played Darlene in the classic sitcom Roseanne and made some guest appearances on The Big Bang Theory.
- LP’s second album marks her second contract with a record label. Spoiler: by the release of her fourth successful album she’ll have had seven such deals (!!!) with an endless series of delays. Suffice to say that she’s not especially fond of record company executives, as we see at the start of her video for “Tightrope”.
So LP wasn’t having much luck as a singer. Yes, she’d signed up with a label associated with Universal Records following her successful performance at the SXSW convention, but the deal fell apart due to artistic differences of opinion. You know how it is. Nevertheless, she achieved considerable success as a songwriter, her lyrics sung by artists like Rihanna (“Cheers”), Christina Aguilera (“Beautiful People”), Cher (“Red”, “Pride”), the Backstreet Boys and many other artists we’ve never heard of. This, of course, led to more contracts with record labels. Exhausting, isn’t it? Imagine what it must have been like for her.
In September 2011, LP finally reached a truly large and impressive record company – Warner Bros. Records – so it should come as no surprise that shortly thereafter, the song that would come to be featured in her third album Into The Wild appeared in a Citibank commercial. Not bad, LP, not bad. The album itself was only released in 2014, preceded by an EP of live performances and an extensive tour.
On her third album, Forever For Now, you can already hear the LP we know today. Aside from “Into the Wild”, which is terrific and very different from the melancholic, cynical and serious songs in the next album, this album has more cheerful and upbeat songs like “Heavenly Light”, “Tokyo Sunrise” and “One Last Mistake”. When I want to dance to LP, those are the songs I play. As with other songs throughout LP’s career, these deal with a piercing romance and painful heartbreak, but they do so while tapping into her more energetic pop side. Though this album also had impressive musical production values in the background, LP’s voice was emphasized more strongly, and this is most clearly expressed in “Forever For Now” – perhaps the most vocally-impressive song LP has ever performed. (If I had a nickel for every time I’ve written the word LP in this post…)
The success of the album is difficult to gauge – apparently better than the first two, but it wasn’t a dazzling success that brought her into the mainstream. Still, the album is also noteworthy for featuring another exciting collaboration between LP and Isabella (“Izzy”) Summers – a member of the wildly talented band Florence + The Machine. Here we can see LP performing their first big hit “Dog Days Are Over”, with Florence Welch emerging in all her glory about halfway through. We can only regret that the quality of the recording isn’t higher.
In 2015, the stage was long set for LP’s big breakthrough, and events miraculously began to move in the right direction. Somewhat oddly, the decision was made to release “Muddy Waters” as the first single of LP’s fourth album. Don’t get me wrong, I like and appreciate the song, but its name is appropriate: it’s a heavy piece, reminiscent of the swamps of Louisiana, conjuring images of voodoo priestesses with ill intent. It should come as no surprise, then, that Orange is the New Black – another series praised for its LGBT representation (notice the trend?) ended up using it during the emotionally wrenching final scene of season 4 (or so I’ve been told; I’m still enjoying the second season’s happy ending).
But this ended up being trivial because in November 2015, “Lost on You” was released and the world went crazy for it. A month later, the fourth album – named after that same track – was released as well.
“Lost on You” was an international smash hit – amusingly, it was only moderately successful in the United States even as it topped charts across Europe. This might not come as too great a surprise, as European audiences appreciate drama while American audiences typically respond more to trash – excuse my stereotyping. Even in the tiny, remote Middle-Eastern state of Israel the song was well-received, with my friends teasing me for somehow having missed it by that point because it had been inescapable. My story, by the way, is not unique.
The video itself drew millions of views and hundreds of thousands of likes on YouTube. It wasn’t the two billion views of Adele’s “Hello”, but it was a respectable start. Considering that both those songs are about dealing with separation, and both are performed by women with impressive vocal abilities, my only suggestion to LP is that she include a Stone Age phone in her next video and maybe it’ll help. People just like vintage. Personally, I learn something new about the song and about myself every time I listen to or watch it. And I’ve listened to it a lot. A lot. It doesn’t let up.
If you’ve made it this far, welcome to the really interesting part: the trilogy. And no, I’m not talking about Star Wars.
Lost on You
There isn’t a lot of online discussion about what I refer to as “the trilogy”, but it’s very clear to me that the three music videos released from Lost on You – which include the eponymous track (released mid-2016) and the two subsequent videos for “Other People” and “Tightrope” (released concurrently in January 2017) – are parts of the same story.
Despite the fact that “Lost on You” was the first video released, it’s actually the second in the chronological sequence, preceded by “Other People” and followed by “Tightrope”. Chuck David Willis – a photographer and actor who had minor roles in films such as Ant-Man and series including Nashville – directed all three videos (as well as "When we're High", but we’ll set that aside for now). They share the same actresses, the same sensual and dramatic visual style, and even certain recurring elements. In other words, these videos are connected to each other.
Now, if you’ve gotten this far and haven’t seen the videos – or, heavens forbid, haven’t heard the songs – pause here and do so, otherwise nothing I’m about to discuss will have any significance.
This is the point where I’m forced to go into TMZ territory. Well, if I’m being honest, I enjoy it quite a bit. I’ve always liked knowing the true story behind artists’ creations, trying to figure out if there’s any real connection between a music video and its song, and if so, what that connection may be.
“Lost on You” was written about a year before the final split between LP and her partner of five or six years, British actress Tamzin Brown. You can find plenty of pictures and videos of them together online. An investigative journalist (meaning a bored fan like me) went back and studied multiple articles, ultimately concluding that they started dating in 2012, but I believe it must have started at least two years prior, based on things LP has said in interviews (don’t worry, I don’t have a wall with crazy timelines like the FBI, really!)
LP has said in other interviews that the song was written during that fragile and painful stage where you’re not quite sure the breakup is coming, but you understand it’s probably going to happen and you’re holding onto a desperate hope that maybe it’s not the end. As the singer said: “Tell me, are they lost on you?” She has also said that she’d been in a particularly dark place at the time she wrote the song – professionally her situation was complicated (presumably early-to-mid-2015) and there was a growing distance between her and her partner (we’ll discuss why in the next video).
The song begins with the following verse:
When you get older, plainer,saner
Will you remember all the danger
We came from?
Burning like embers, falling, tender
Longing for the days of no surrender
And will you know
LP believes these are the most beautiful words she’s ever written, and I’m inclined to think she has a point because with these lone words you can see how she describes complex, protracted situations that unfolded over years. These opening lyrics present the hope that we might still matter to our future (or past) partners, and the sobering adult perspective of someone who’s been through a lot of shit in life, rebelled and became more settled in their own skins.
The next verse is LP’s advertisement for cigarettes and alcohol:
So smoke ‘em if you got ‘em
‘Cause it’s going down
All I ever wanted was you
I’ll never get to heaven
‘Cause I don’t know how
Let’s raise a glass or two
To all the things I’ve lost on you
It’s funny that this dark song includes a winking, cynical call to toast all the things she’s lost in the relationship with her partner. It’s unclear if she means that the two of them should raise a glass, or if everyone’s invited to do so with her (in the video LP’s toast is accompanied by the band member beside her) but what’s clear is that she’s trying to take all this in stride, which helps lighten the oppressive atmosphere of the song.
Hold me like you never lost your patience
Tell me that you love me more than hate me
All the time
And you’re still mine
There’s that desperate hope mentioned earlier – that you still have a place in the heart of the person you love, and everything that’s gone wrong between you isn’t enough to destroy the life you share, and that there’s enough love and affection to carry on or at least hope that if it’s gone, you’ll be released quickly.
And of course there’s the addictive chorus that had people all over the world pressing repeat again and again to the point of considering rehab. There’s so much depth and passion in that “Oh oh oh ohhh”, so much truth and emotional believability. I think anyone can fit their personal pain into that generalized sound and consider their own breakup story. We know there are few pains worse than that of a serious goodbye (I’m not referring to loss resulting from death, that’s a completely different scale). That stinging experience of thinking about the time, resources and compromises we made for a relationship that didn’t last is universal. Anyone who’s ever been in love and had that love shattered to pieces could feel their hearts fluttering between the ukulele’s strings. We all feel like breaking up is the end of the world – the most tragic, epic, heartwrenching apocalypse possible. One fan took the song a step further by telling the entire story of her failed relationship with a man suffering from mental problems through LP’s lyrics.
This is also an opportunity to discuss the music itself, how the song and background are built. “Lost on You” has a sense of permanence to it, as we often mistakenly believe our relationships will be. This pathos is magnified via the voices at the start, that to me resemble ghosts or Native American chants, concluding with what sounds like a choir of angels or a Greek chorus at the end of a tragedy. This is in fact an excellent definition for LP’s music as a whole – she lives between the extremes of operatic drama and the passionate rhythm of the Wild West, with a strong atmosphere of Americana.
Which brings us to the video. Let me take you back to that Sunday I watched the clip for the first time. Remember, this was a song I’d never heard before, by some unknown singer. I didn’t know anything about her – what she looks like, where she’s from, that she’s a lesbian like me – and I wasn’t at all prepared for what I saw in the video. It opens on a door that slowly brings us into an intimate world, described by the sound of a running shower. We see a redhaired woman standing under the stream in a floral robe and bra, because obviously that’s something we do all the time. A moment later, the bridging strings coil around us and we see a feminine backside in stylish underwear, moving beside another floral robe (spoiler: it’s not the same robe but we’re meant to think it is). We’re back to the bridges. Then we continue to follow fragments of the redhead as she stands in the living room and looks at us. This effect, along with the taxi cab passing behind her, hints at fragments of memory, distance and a sense of imminent change. The stunning redhead is Laura Hanson Sims, a model and friend of LP, and she’ll be back in the next video.
This brings us to our first look at LP, playing the ukulele and whistling (something she’s done obsessively since she was a child, inspired by a janitor at school). A round cascade of curly black hair bursts up above her head, and she looks like some hybrid of Prince, Bob Dylan and Katherine Moennig from The L Word (if I had any Photoshop skills, I’d demonstrate).
We continue to follow Laura, who clearly represents Tamzin, LP’s ex, in this video and the next one. Laura is busy smoking (I assume Tamzin smokes because LP doesn’t, as far as I can tell – at least not cigarettes), and the smoke curls from her mouth upwards in aesthetic shapes that lend an intolerable glorification to the process. Occasionally, to mix things up she looks at us in a sensual, yet sometimes confused and distant way. She does the laundry or goes out to tear up the town, lean against posts and riding elevators. It’s unclear where she’s going with such purpose in her eyes, but she’s always looking at us. LP lies on the couch and stares, ponders, sometimes plays and drinks with a friend or alone. She elegantly ignores the creepy owl wallpaper behind her as she whistles. She never looks directly into the camera. This suggests that we’re seeing Laura, AKA Tamzin, through her eyes throughout the video, which explains why we never see her and Laura in the same frame. So what this video gives us is LP’s gaze, directed at Laura/Tamzin, and maybe LP’s view of herself as well. When LP was asked about this video, she said it was the closest she ever came to capturing her memories in a cinematic/visual format while playing the person she used to be. And that’s what it feels like: a reflection of memory fragments.
The video ends with Laura gradually disappearing from those spaces she shared with the other Laura (that’s right, they’re both named Laura, after all). The same sexy backside and the famous robe (with flowers colored differently than Laura’s) enters the frame again, but as the scene progresses and the choir starts to sing, and there’s one last touch goodbye on Laura’s chin, we see that a new love has entered LP’s life: Lauren Ruth Ward. They kiss, and with that bit of a “Fuck you” to the ex, the video ends. In other words, though the song itself frequently repeats the chorus with few changes, the video takes us on a journey through anxiety about a relationship, the difficulty of processing and accepting the breakup, the final separation, and beginning a new relationship.
Now for a bit of feminism: when I first saw the video, I felt a little bad because of how much I loved it. I don’t follow MTV or other music channels the way I did in the ‘90s, but I couldn’t think of a single music video where the point of view wasn’t the famous male gaze, and not the female gaze either, but the lesbian gaze specifically. It reminded me of pre-Raphaelite painters with their red-haired muses (figures Laura strongly resembles). This video is unapologetic in its treatment of sexuality and sensuality, literally placing them in your face from the first moment. LP’s gaze carries the video, lovingly observing her partner, and is sealed with a kiss from her real-life girlfriend. I hadn’t seen anything like that, ever, so despite pangs from my conscience over the possibility that the video might be indulging in objectification and so on, I put up with it. Until the next video came along.
Well, the next video turned up pretty quickly for me, because it had already been posted by the time I first watched it, immediately after “Lost on You”. Like its follow-up “Tightrope”, “Other People” begins with a cinematic sequence, without music. We hear a British woman explain to LP, as she’s driving a car, that she’s going to be late or absent because she’s going out with friends from work, because she has to substitute for someone who skipped her shift, and because the dog ate her homework (the dog is a hint!). White flowers lie on the car’s front seat; they’ll be delivered in the next video.
LP arrives at a club deeply nestled in the twists and turns of New York, ready to perform, and much to our surprise we discover that her partner not only works there but is a sort of dancer at the club, an establishment that looks like some combination of performance venue, strip club-lite, cabaret and artistic gym. At this point, the famous whistling rings cheerfully in our ears, and the song starts playing. While performing, LP looks at us, whispering in a honeyed and venomous tone about the lover who took them from the stars to nothing, from devoted and committed love to distrust and misery. By the looks of it, her partner (who we know will soon become the ex) wanted something else, other people. LP, for her part, vigorously claims:
Oh, baby it’s just your body
Go lay it on everybody
But it’s hard to believe these aren’t cynical words meant to hide the tremendous pain and sorrow her lover’s affair has caused her (since the song doesn’t speak of mutual choice but rather something that sounds like persistent cheating). She refuses to hear any explanation, and simply makes the following wish for her partner:
Well, go fuck yourself with other people
Ouch. Musically, this is a very pleasant song to listen to: the softness and tenderness and youthful sound of LP’s voice mixes well with the stinging comments and the whistling. Though the subject of cheating is a very difficult one, the song doesn’t feel “heavy” even when LP says “Go fuck yourself”, as she manages to express it in a way that doesn’t sound like a typical curse, but rather something lyrical.
But I’ll admit the thing that’s really interesting about this song is its video. Shortly after the performance begins, an acrobat on a rope almost drops on LP’s head (the rope will make a comeback in the next video), as women in cages blow fire from torches and dance. Laura walks among them and comes to dance next to Lauren. That’s right, LP’s current girlfriend at this point in the timeline, or rather her representation, knows LP’s future partner. Confused? It’s not as complicated as it sounds. What’s actually complicated is that Laura seems to really enjoy her co-workers and fans – men, women, everyone. She likes them so much that she responds to their letters of admiration and flowers by making out with them in well-lit rooms at the sides of the stage. And Lauren seems to know this.
Here I have to pause and mention the stirred tea – in “Lost on You” and in this video, there’s a strange shot of a cup of tea being stirred. If I could ask LP or her director any question, it would be this: what the hell does that tea signify? Lacking any official input, I’ve decided it represents Britain and the cultural complexes Tamzin brought with her. The acrobat continues to spin and twist in the air, as LP kisses Laura while Lauren watches them from afar. Later, LP watches her girlfriend kiss a random woman, and twists her face with a paradoxical expression of surprise and acceptance. Ultimately, Laura is the one who gets to finish her cigarette and go home with LP, while Lauren watches them drive away.
I have two issues with this video:
- It continues the lesbian gaze I enjoyed in the first video, but here it’s become… troubling. In “Lost on You” there was something intimate and personal in the “objectifying” gaze, as it was directed at the woman she loved. Once we reach this video, showing half-naked women in cages, it becomes less enjoyable and more disturbing for me. It’s not clear to me how LP can be comfortable with her partner sashaying around in revealing clothes in the background. Here, of course, lies the eternal question. Should we see this as a celebraction of female sexuality and sensuality – something that is often silenced and pushed aside – or do we see it as and exploitation and objectification of women. I don’t have a good answer for this. I do think, after some research, that Lauren enjoyed the idea of “not being overdressed” and it certainly is expressed and amplified in LP’s last video – "When we're high", which to reiterate I’m ignoring because I have even more issues with it (in short – it took all my problems with this video clip to an entirely new level).
- It’s not true. By which I mean it doesn’t accurately reflect reality. It’s not that “Lost on You” is some pure historical truth, since we only hear one side of the story, but it also doesn’t make too many claims about the other person and is mainly focused on LP’s experience. Here we hear a song and see a video that shows LP being repeatedly cheated on – when according to many interviews with LP that’s not at all what happened. She’s very open about the fact that her last partner (she never names Tamzin but it’s pretty clear) wanted to open their relationship up after quite a few years together. LP wasn’t enthusiastic about the idea, to say the least, but she went along with it because she wanted to keep the relationship going. The song implies this with “You wanted something else” but the video doesn’t show any hint of joint consent. LP also has said that after she cheated on all the previous women she’d been involved with (!!!), at this point in the relationship Tamzin was the only one to whom she was faithful. Now she’s experienced all too well how difficult it is when your partner shares their body and maybe their soul with other people. It’s complicated. But think about the tremendous power creators have to dish out dirt on their exes. It’s a pretty scary power. I’m sure Tamzin isn’t especially happy with this video – maybe she can start a club with Adele’s and Gotye’s respective exes.
In any case, LP describes the experience both here and in “Lost on You” of being with someone yet feeling alone. She feels Tamzin practically pushed her into the arms of her next partner by insisting on an open relationship. Which brings us to the song that concludes the trilogy.
By most accounts, LP and Lauren started seeing each other in 2015. Of course, the start of the relationship is clouded in mystery because of the somewhat gloomy circumstances, but it is what it is. They recently announced their engagement and apparently intend to marry soon. Their whole relationship played out in the public eye, and you could find an endless amount of photos (mostly via their Instagrams, which they both carefully cultivate) and online videos of the two, including fanart of the couple as if they were characters in beloved TV series. LP takes Lauren with her on tours, which is convenient since Lauren is a singer as well, and is of course trying to promote her own career in the shadow of her partner’s sudden success.
There was a time when my Instagram feed was full of pictures and videos of LP, Lauren and their dog Orson (we’ll get to him shortly), including pictures and photos uploaded by their fans. At some point I got sick of it and lowered the dosage, but there’s no doubt that I found something very empowering and compelling even in 2017 in images of a lesbian couple out in the open and unapologetic, as part of a singer’s stage persona. I’m also happy to see there are fewer comments of “Is that a man or a woman?” and “Eww, lesbian” on her videos, and more appreciation of her voice and her ability to sway the audience.
I’m telling you all this because “Tightrope” is a song about Lauren, for Lauren. It’s also the song that moves from dealing with the previous relationship to the current relationship, with all its challenges and difficulties. At first I couldn’t understand the lyrics at all, but over time it’s become clear to me that these are words of support from LP to her partner, whether they’re about her career or their relationship. Either way, LP’s song advises Lauren on how to deal with walking a tightrope (a metaphor that accompanies the song and the video): dealing with fear, feeling light as a feather, not looking down, courageously trying despite this being the first time, and holding onto the hope that it’ll last forever even though you never know for sure. Who would know better than LP that things can seem eternal and turn out not to be so at all?
The video is actually my least favorite of the trilogy. There’s an anemic and dull feeling to it that doesn’t fit LP’s dramatic and extravagant style which dominated the two previous videos. The first scene supposedly seems disconnected from what follows. As with “Other People”, we see a cinematic prelude without music. This time we see LP sitting in a board room with a group of old, pompous blowhards who obviously represent record executives. She seems very comfortable around them, in a place of strength. And maybe that’s where she’s able to advise Lauren, who’s in an earlier stage of her career’s progression.
Throughout the video, LP starts playing with robes and pink ribbons (remember the tightrope-walker in the previous video? Like that). She kisses Lauren goodbye as the latter sleeps with her exposed back to the camera. We spend a long time on that loving and intimate moment, and from there jump into a series of recreated scenes from their relationship. On one side, we see them in a parking lot, with LP running after Lauren trying to comfort her. On the other side, we see LP bringing Lauren gifts: roses (it took a video and a half to see her deliver the flowers!) and little Orson!
While Lauren plays with Orson while wearing the floral robe from the previous video, LP hangs out with her friends who are watching the video for “Lost on You” (so meta!). Then LP, broadly smiling, moves into a sweeping dance that breaks the hearts of lesbians around the world, while completely ignoring Lauren who’s dancing behind her. Happily, we then see them almost kiss just a moment later. The feathers fly from Lauren’s body towards the ceiling, and in the most anticlimactic way possible LP uses her feet to catch a rope that’s trying to escape, and thus the video ends. There aren’t too many clues as to what central conflict has drawn the two women in, but LP simply promises the record executives that everything’s cool and we’re meant to be consoled by the fact that after all the agony and the paralyzing split, she’s found someone to share her heart with.
Now that we’re done with the trilogy, let’s talk a bit about LP’s third album and its hidden gems. We’ll start by pointing out that we almost missed out on LP as a musician: she decided to go full throttle for her dream of becoming a singer after her mother’s death. Her mother was a professional opera singer who gave up her career to have a family and raise children, and LP swore she wouldn’t let her own talent go to waste. It would have indeed been a tragedy because LP is destined to be a musical superstar. She’s excellent in live performances, she has an outgoing persona, and you can tell she’s very comfortable on stage and in the public eye.
Learning about the opera thing dropped a major penny for me, because I realized that’s how LP can reach the high pitches she does, and how she controls her voice so well. It also explains her affinity for the genre. Listen to this masterpiece and tell me it’s not operatic:
LP’s multiple talents express themselves through her ability to sing songs like this on the one hand, then drop cheerful, energetic pop explosions like my two favorite tracks from the same album:
One of my favorite LP songs, and the perfect way to start each morning, is “Tokyo Sunrise”. She somehow manages to use her voice to recreate Japanese melodies and a feeling of crossing to the other side of the world to unite with a lover she hasn’t seen in a long time. It’s unclear why the talented drummers need to be blindfolded, but hey, no judging.
Maybe the best way to explain what the big deal is to people is just to let them see LP at her best, where she’s meant to be: on the stage, live. So I’ll leave you with some of her cover performances.
LP is a master of cover songs. She brings all her emotional and vocal powers to bear and makes those songs her own. Her performance of “Halo” is one of the best covers I’ve ever heard. It turns the already-incredible song (and my favorite Beyonce track) into a slow, pondering piece, a powerful expression of awe at the boyfriend/girlfriend. LP toys with her vocal abilities, which remain perfectly under her control, and goes wild while jumping towards the crowd with contagious enthusiasm that perfectly meshes with the beat provided by the band. It’s a performance worthy of a standing ovation, and the crowd is clearly enraptured and grinning. The things LP does with her voice there are amazing, almost inconceivable. You can’t tell when she draws a breath. And the heart-melting smile at the end is the gentle, perfect finale to the song.
If you’re hungry for more, here’s my full playlist of LP songs. It doesn’t contain all her performances and songs, but it has most of them. Enjoy listening!