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CULTURE | 20.05.2017

Playlist: Alaska by Maggie Rogers

“And I walked off you
And I walked off to old me
Oh me oh my
I thought it was a dream
So it seemed”

Hard-boiled hip hop enthusiasts aren’t easily bowled over – they are more than used to rich beats and pithy language, as well as to the occasional odd song experiment. And yet the student Maggie Rogers managed to bring her guest teacher (!) Pharell Williams to tears with her piece “Alaska”.

The idea of ​​the song – which has been clicked and viewed on Youtube millions of times – came to her during a master class course at the prestigious NYU Tisch School of the Arts, where, amongst others, Lady Gaga has studied. Maggie Rogers and her fellow students got the assignment to write a song, which would then be critiqued by a well-known musician. Maggie’s muse was having an extremely good day: the text and melody for “Alaska” were finished after only 15 minutes!

Rather than counting on big drama, the 23-year-old relies on an insistent simplicity, which is also at the heart of the accompanying video. There’s no spectacular landscape at an exotic location, no sophisticated light effects or impressive make-up and extravagant clothing. The video instead centres on the gentle sound of Maggie Rogers’s voice, accompanied by discreetly mixed electronic and folk fragments.

With so much purism, so much vulnerable directness – isn’t there something that’s missing? No. Or, to say it in Pharrell Williams words: “I’ve never heard anyone like you before, and I’ve never heard anyone that sounds like that. So that’s the kind of thing that’s like a drug for me.” We have nothing to add. Only perhaps that the melancholic-tender track “Alaska” is a very hot contender for our summer hit of 2017!