Seven Sofi Tukker Songs that Will Make You Want to Dance
(And Not One Is that Song You’ve Heard on the Radio)
You know how the omnipresent “they” is dictating our every move? They say you shouldn’t wear white after Labor Day, or they say if you don’t sell out by thirty you’re an idiot. It’s how we speak of the expected norms that we can’t attribute to any specific person, a stand in for society as a whole. My second musical obsession of 2018 was the song “Fuck They” by Sofi Tukker, a dance song smashing more norms than a Seinfeld convention:
Deep down in the world, on this rock we got
All these rules that everyone keep makin’ up
Who the fuck is they?
I’m not saying Sofi Tukker is deep or influential political music; it’s not. It is absolutely music to shake your ass to. But for that thing, it is one of the best acts around right now. I want to bring them (Sofi Tukker is two people: singer Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern) to your attention because one of their songs is starting to get radio play. You will probably be hearing “Best Friends” over and over and over until you want to puke (thanks corporate radio!) so I want you to know these two have so much more to offer.
As dance songs, natch the lyrics are simple and short, yet the words are chosen well enough that they make suitable anthems for all the angst of 2019. Take “Baby I’m a Queen”:
Baby I’m a queen, so why do you call me baby?
It’s been about a week, it’s too soon for nicknames
That’s a lyric I can get behind. Then when Tukker drops the bass, Sofi comes in with:
I might prefer desire to self control
I might prefer crying to being composed
I might prefer chaos to even flow
It’s too soon for songs though
A short passage that beautifully captures the dichotomy of being human, so much better than anything Katy Perry has ever done.
But despite the song’s title, her lyrics don’t put Sofi on a pop queen pedestal. They speak instead to the tribulations of life and facing our own imperfections. The thread tying all these songs together is a relentless, relatable honesty.
And here I am playing by myself
Me and my superiority complex
And here I am playing by myself
Me and my inferiority contest
I’m not winning, but I’m having a very good time
It’s not just Sofi’s lyrics and singing making these tunes great. Tukker’s beats are fresh and the song structures are tight. In most EDM songs the first minute is a slow buildup with little or no lyrics, to make it easier for the DJ to mix in. These songs have the structure of pop, hooking you right away with Sofi’s voice and building immediately with a variety of horns, castanets and keys. It’s the rare dance album where the songs sound different enough from one another that the whole album is worth playing through. Compare dreamwavy “Benadryl” with “Drinkee,” a song that layers Chacal’s Brazilian poetry with guitars and bongos.
There’s also “My Body Hurts,” another song that begins with relatable poetry and bursts into an anthem suitable for shouting:
I woke up late, my dreams were loud
They settled down into the kitchen then I win ’em back to bed
I tried to rest, the dreams came back
I couldn’t learn all of the lessons that I knew I could’ve had
And once I started, started to think
I got tossed inside a tumbleweed, a many-headed thing
So I’m here on the other side
Feeling fucked up and bridled inside my own mind
Ah, now that’s a feeling we’ve all had, right? When we feel so fucked up that even the sweet release of sleep won’t free us from our anxieties. Sometimes you just need to dance it off, and that’s when Tukker’s thudding bass comes in with Sofi shouting:
My body hurts
I complain because I want to and it feels so good to yell
These aren’t songs for fantasizing about spending our last dollar on bottle service (again rolling my eyes at Katy Perry). Who needs that ridiculous bullshit? In 2019 we don’t need bullshit, we need Batshit.
Karma has a degree in writing and sociology. She’s an Americorps grad and a board member of the California Writers Club. Her first foray into human rights work was with the Westcott 12 activists who launched a 100+ day camp out in protest of sweatshop labor. Since then she’s organized with IndyMedia, Occupy Oakland, and most recently with Solidaridad Con Los Ninos, a group that organizes caravans to visit detainment centers. She loves street art, poetry, and dancing with wild abandon.