Rina Sawayama owns, on her own terms, on "Commes Des Garcons (Like The Boys)."



Ladies often have to deal with a bunch of BS to get by in this world. The deck can sometimes be stacked, pre-loaded with preconceived notions either for or against, where people bring their ideas about what "type of woman" someone is, as if that were a thing. This can leave women having to react against those notions or embrace them. Either way, they're still not free to totally just be themselves.

One recipe for "success" is to pattern themselves after men - the Lean In-style #girlbosses - aggressive, competitive workaholics that make Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada seem mellow and folksy. Surely there must be a way for a woman to succeed in her own way, on her own terms?

This is what's being explored on "Commes Des Garcons (Like The Boys)," the comeback single from London indie pop star Rina Sawayama. It's also a love letter to early '80s club culture, from ballroom to underground disco, with Sawayama's speak-singing and birdlike electropop diva soprano coasting above a slinky, rigid, funky bassline and solid boom-bap beat. It's no-frills yet tons of fun, plus it leaves room to showcase Sawayama's charms, her effortless cool and, most importantly, her honey-smooth vocals.

Sonically, it brings to mind '80s revisionists like Abra or Nite Jewel, not to mention the originals, from Madonna to Tiffany with a hint of Cyndi Lauper and just a titch of Janet Jackson. It's not hard to imagine "Commes Des Garcons" coming out in the late '70s, inked by Gloria Gainer or Donna Summers. And that's kind of sad. But also kind of amazing, that amazing women keep fighting the good fight, in their own way, on their own terms.

We Are: The Guard stand in solidarity.


J. Simpson occupies the intersection between criticism, creativity, and academia. Based out of Portland, Or., he is the author of Forestpunk, an online journal/brand studying the traces of horror, supernatural, and the occult through music, fashion and culture. He plays in the dreamfolk band Meta-Pinnacle with his partner Lily H. Valentine, with whom he also co-founded Bitstar Productions, a visual arts collective focused on elevating Pop Culture to High Art.