Natalia Kills’ 2011 debut, Perfectionist, is underrated. It’s not without its flaws like the title suggests, and there’s a faint whiff of The Fame running through some parts, but the GaGa comparisons were ultimately overblown and clouded people’s judgement when it came to the actual music. Kills eventually put a nail through any lingering similarities to Mother Monster with follow-up singles like “Kill My Boyfriend” and “Problem,” cementing her own identity as a chilly fashionista with a penchant for aggressive pop music in the process. But every bad girl has a back story, and Natalia Kills is finally ready to share hers with the release of her most personal single to date, “Saturday Night.”
Kills’ is back with Perfectionist producer and fun. hitmaker Jeff Bhasker on this one, but you don’t need to read the credits to figure that out. All the Bhasker signatures can be heard, from the crashing drums to the blurry ’80s synthesizers, but none of it sounds derivative of any one specific song he’s crafted before in the way that something from Ryan Tedder or RedOne might.
“Saturday Night” is tight and radio-friendly without being too obvious about it, but Kills’ lyrics is where things truly shine. The 26-year-old paints a vivid picture of her younger self, from witnessing domestic violence at an early age (“Momma you’re beautiful tonight / movie star hair and that black eye“) to her own problematic teenage years (“Pills fall like diamonds from my purse / right out the hole in my fur coat / straight down the gutter goes my antidote to a broken girl“). Kills attempts to shake off the doom and gloom of reality each time the chorus rolls around, singing, “When I look up from the pavement / I know we’re gonna be just fine / and I’ll put on my dancing shoes real tight / cause it’s just another Saturday night,” which feels more like sad denial and desperation than some kind of hopeful, light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel sentiment, which is exactly what makes “Saturday Night” so powerful. Some of the lyrics can and will be seen as a little Lana Del Rey-ish (especially with the Twin Peaksy opening chord), but Kills’ own color is still there, and the relatable tragedy of her words remains very real.
If Natalia Kills is ever going to shake the haters off and make the move from blog star to pop star, then this is the song that’s going to do it.