Kimbra Climbs To The 'Top Of The World' In New Single With angry synths, religious imagery and a symbolic music video, the New Zealand singer provides the empowering song we need at this time of year.
NPR logo Songs We Love: Kimbra, 'Top Of The World'

Review

Songs We Love: Kimbra, 'Top Of The World'

YouTube

As the days get colder and the sun sets earlier, sometimes you just want a powerful (if not angry) song to pump you up. Just in time for the chilly temperatures, pop artist Kimbra has released the funky, victorious "Top of the World."

The song and accompanying video are decidedly different than "Everybody Knows," the first song the New Zealander issued from her upcoming album Primal Heart. In the lighter, softer "Everybody Knows," Kimbra calls for vulnerability and reflection on a past toxic relationship, and the video finds her in a white dress in a field. In contrast, "Top of the World" is tinged with angst. In the video, Kimbra breaks down concrete columns and dances in their ruins, changing her black clothing at each interval and demanding to be seen from her place at the top.

Kimbra's vocals are also angrier, and she almost speaks instead of sings in the verses. The song blends pop and R&B elements, heavy with deep synths and steady drums, and the bridge combines nearly every piece of the song into a chaotic swell. In a moment of realization about the people she once trusted, she laments, "They built me up to be beaten," in a subdued voice.

The lyrics also carry gendered religious imagery. Kimbra refers to herself as a messiah and a god, terms that not only imply an otherworldly power but also are usually reserved for men. The bridge includes the line, "We break from the gardens, I wanted to follow you," conjuring up the woman blamed for the demise of the Garden of Eden. The line is sung in a lighter voice before the chorus reminds her to focus on her present victory instead of the past.

Sometimes the best armor is a good "girl power" song, and this tune does just that. The line, "See me with white picket fences / Now watch me build up my palace," delivered with a light laugh, recalls "Settle Down," her 2010 song written from the perspective of a woman dreaming of becoming a housewife. In "Top of the World," she tells the listener to "see her run with the girls" on their way to the top. It's an aggressive, confident step forward into the future, leaving behind broken promises and lost trust.

Primal Heart is out Jan. 19, 2018, via Warner Bros. Records (pre-order).