In the wake of tragically losing an artist in the prime of their career, it is a normal thing to introspectively turn inward and analyze their work through the new lens of grief and loss. It’s a bittersweet exercise, that I’ve found can also be comforting. Hearing their voice reminds us that they’re never gone in the recorded sense. They live forever.
Kylie Rae Harris will always be 30 in our minds, but her music is timeless. Here are my top 5 favorite Kylie tunes.
The ache of her voice matches the pain of being unwanted. The production builds perfectly and crescendos with that first cymbal crash heading into the second verse. Her Walt Wilkins influence is omnipresent and the impact of this particular song is evident in the fact that upon her tragic passing, tribute cover versions of it arrived from Courtney Patton, Haley Cole and Kelley Mickwee.
2. “Twenty Years From Now”
When I played this on KNBT with Mattson Rainer a couple months back it led to a riff on modern parenting. While this song is extremely autobiographical, it’s also universal for all parents in that we all want the best for our kids…and we want them to still think we’re cool in 20 years. We all make mistakes in parenting and wish we could have a perfect record. It’s impossible, but love normally conquers all. Kylie took a very personal sentiment and made it applicable to everyone.
On Twitter, I called this perhaps one of the best break-up songs of all time. Who hasn’t been in a relationship where you know it’s wrong? You’re looking for the way out and you feel dumb, weak and all the rest. This is most definitely not what I signed up for or what I had in mind. The turns of phrase and the booming bridge vocals are indicative of Kylie Rae at her best.
4. “What the Heart Wants”
Kylie continually had a knack for distilling the most complicated emotions and situations into something relatable and simple. She knew when to use a big thesaurus level word and when to just call it like it is. On this song, she deftly deploys both skills.
5. “Big Ol’ Heartache”
What would unfortunately turn out to be her last big radio song was an indication of where she was headed with her music. She had recently talked about being sonically inspired by bands like The 1975 and Haim. On this track, she managed to take the lyrical strengths she’s always employed and paired them with a radio friendly music bed.