Every week, a different FADER editor compiles a playlist to highlight a new release and give you a guide to that artist’s web of influences and peers. These Staff Selects live in our Spotify app, alongside GEN Fs from our archives and playlists for each issue. This week, it's Emilie Friedlander on Julia Holter and non-musicals that sort of sound like them.
I was a ballet kid growing up, but then I became a theater kid—not the highbrow, Antonin Artaud-referencing kind, but the kind of high school musical hopeful who listened to Broadway soundtracks on repeat and memorized dozens of libretti by heart. Even as I realized how over the top it all was, my sad, early adolescent psyche discovered the pinnacle of sublimated human longing in the revolutionary fervor of Les Mis, the mournful decadence of Alan Cumming's Cabaret, the radical forgiveness of Jesus Christ Superstar, the Bohemian tribulations of Jonathan Larson's Rent. I grew out of it after I repeatedly tried out for musicals and failed to make the cut, but even after I'd moved on to indie rock and punk, I never lost my taste for camp and theatricality in music. I have a collection of songs lying around my iTunes that routinely show up in the mixtapes I make for other people, and many of them feature some combination of orchestral strings, sing-spoken text, dramatic pauses and jazzy piano—songs that tell a story and pull out all the schmaltz. When interviewing Julia Holter recently about her new Loud City Song record, which is out next week on Domino, I was excited to learn that she had based the album around the musical Gigi—not because I had grown up with that musical too, because I hadn't, but because Broadway-style grandiosity can be really beautiful and affecting sometimes, and I'm sort tired of listening to music inspired from sources that everybody on the internet has already decided are cool. Anyway, here's a bunch of my favorite tracks in electronic music and rock & roll that remind me of my love of the theater, including a few of Holter's.
Staff Selects: Songs for Closet Theater Kids