Daring new pop divas

Kimbra Johnson (left), and Grimes.

Women in music today run the gamut from puffy pop princesses like Katy Perry to provocateurs like Lady Gaga and Rihanna.

But the women who are really making waves are the sassy femmes who are displaying true musicality that goes beyond just possessing a decent singing voice and a smart choice of producer.

And the lasses I'm talking about know no bounds when it comes to genre.

First up is New Zealand songstress Kimbra Johnson, who has had mainstream fame hit her like a bullet train, thanks to her emotive contribution to Aussie breakout Gotye's Somebody That I Used To Know.

That collaboration helped to raise her profile (tremendously, without a doubt), but the 22-year-old deserves massive kudos for her debut studio album, Vows, which has been extremely well-received since it dropped in New Zealand and Australia last year. The 13-tracker was recently released, with some adjustments, for the rest of the world.

Now, what's clear from the get-go is that Kimbra (she prefers going by the mononym) is not one to be pigeon-holed.

She flits flawlessly among genres, from funky beats to R&B harmonies and sultry jazz on songs like Old Flame and Good Intent. Her voice is at times cutesy mewl; at other times, belt-out diva.

Some might quibble that the album, at 56 minutes, is a little long - and I'll concede that one's attention does indeed start to wane towards the last couple of tracks.

But the good most certainly outweighs the not-so-good, making Kimbra one to watch.

Another young up-and-comer who's proved herself a force to be reckoned with is Grimes (real name Claire Boucher), a 23-year-old electro-popper hailing from Vancouver, Canada.

The lass' career started gaining momentum last year and, when her third album, Visions, was released, The New York Times called it "one of the most impressive albums of the year thus far".

The album encompasses a plethora of genres, from new-age to techno and R&B, and those sounds are accompanied by robotic, dancefloorready beats, as well as Boucher's airily mesmerising trill.

Songs like the ambient, loungey Skin and synth-heavy Oblivion feel dazzlingly futuristic.

It's almost like the girl is saying: Hey, this is what pop's going to sound like from here on. And it's all most convincing.


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