Brooklyn’s Mitski Miyawaki, who goes by her first name onstage and in the studio, has some thoughts about the much-discussed dichotomy between so-called “indie” music and Top 40. “We seem to de-legitimize music that has a majority of young girl fans and think of it as having less cultural value,” she tells Billboard. “Isn’t that strange? I’m not down with the elitism of indie rock music, where it considers itself to be more ‘serious’ or ‘intelligent’ than mainstream pop. That thought often has nothing to do with the composition or political motivations of the music as it’s conveyed to be about, and more to do with its production, ‘aesthetic,’ and just another kind of branding.”
Those are pretty deep thoughts that may or may not be answered by the sheer aural pleasure of listening to her sweet, raging cover of One Direction‘s “Fireproof.” It’s half the length of the original, which is a shame, because Mitski very nearly upstages it: her emotionally strained falsetto soars above seething electric guitar feedback, contrasting with 1D’s gentler, laid-back version.
“Here is a mainstream pop song that I liked and recorded with an ‘indie rock aesthetic,'” says Miyawaki of the song. “Is it more thoughtful now?”
Is it? Listen to both versions, hers and 1D’s, below. Mitski’s third LP, Bury Me at Makeout Creek (a fitting title for a 1D fan), is out now on Don Giovanni Records.