Airports are rarely fun. They’re packed full of random people moving in every which way, constantly searching for the food court to buy an $8.00 slice of pizza or those monitors with the departure/arrival and gate information. People are frantically rushing around hoping they’ll make their connections, swinging their bags around while pushing their screaming children in strollers. I can’t remember the last time my flight was on time — or the last time I fit in an airplane seat, for that matter. So yeah, I’m not the biggest fan of airports. I have no fears of flying, but I just hate the hassle of having to go through the whole process of getting from Place A to Place B. And I can’t really apparate because I’m usually not travelling alone, and I obviously can’t be seen doing that in public.

Sitting at my gate at Reagan National Airport in December 2011, waiting to board a plane home for winter break, I decided to browse some Reddit on my phone to pass the time as I was waiting for my hour-delayed plane to land. Deep in the bottomless pit of Reddit, I stumbled upon some random Australian song called “Somebody That I Used to Know,” then at the top of the Australian charts, with a tag saying to check out this awesome new video. Always on the lookout for new music, I clicked the video and began watching.

Instantly, I was surprised by the starkness of the whole thing — it opens with a fully frontal, nudeGotye standing in front of a huge blank sheet of canvas. The music is simple and calm, providing a nice background for Gotye’s impressive voice, which starts out hushed. This calm, poised naked figure mesmerized me; I was entranced by his soft yet emotive vocals, which seemed to echo the sentiment of the lyrics perfectly. And then came the chorus. I sat, stunned, as he switched from a soft and tender almost whisper to this powerful, passionate scream. Sitting there in the airport, I could totally relate to him. I was heading back to my friends from home after the longest separation of all of our lives, and I wasn’t sure if they were still going to want the same relationship we had before. Even though the song is about the breakdown of a romantic relationship, Gotye’s expressivity shares his emotions with the listener so that anyone hearing the song can understand his feelings. Kimbra’s raw and moving vocals only added to the experience, giving the song another layer of emotion for me to draw from.

When I got home, the first thing I did was download both Gotye and Kimbra’s discographies. I spent hours on YouTube watching Kimbra’s music videos and live sessions and even more time listening through Gotye’s last two studio albums, Like Drawing Blood (2006) and Making Mirrors (2011). What shocked me most about these two albums was how different they were, which — thinking about it — makes perfect sense, as they were recorded five years apart. The former is much more soulful, filled with swinging beats and his poignant vocals. It includes some of his best work, including “Learnalilgivinanlovin,” “Heart’s a Mess” and “Coming Back.” His most recent album, however, is much more experimental, each song getting its own unique treatment. “Eyes Wide Open” has Gotyetenderly screaming about the fall of humanity, while conversely, his “In Your Light” has an upbeat, positive vibe full of handclaps.

Kimbra is also an incredible talent, with a silky, jazzy voice and a knack for the eccentric and colorful. Her debut album, Vows, which she wrote in its entirety, is an incredible showcase of her special blend of contemporary jazz, pop and modern technology — her signature move is to loop her voice throughout the song, creating these unbelievable walls of sound. Look to songs like “Settle Down” for this effect and two personal favorites “Two Way Street” and “Good Intent” for a showcase of her beautiful uninhibited voice and incredible songwriting. Kimbra and Gotye are both able to convey strong feelings in their music — so emotionally exposed and vulnerable while remaining completely in control of their sound. This inspiring ability is rare among artists today and is just one of the many reasons why I love these two so much.

Zach Gordon is a sophomore in the College. LIFE PLUGGED IN appears every Friday in the guide.

 

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