by Connor Benincasa
I’ve never been to the West Coast, but in my imagination, this is the soundtrack to the night air blowing through my hair as I cruise the streets of Los Angeles in a convertible. That’s what happens in California, right?
L.A.-based musician Kowloon lists influences such as Peter Gabriel, Talking Heads, and Sly Stone, but “Hollywood is Under Water” evokes Midnite Vultures era Beck more than any of these artists. The strongest aspect of this tune is undeniably the cool, dry vocal delivery. Kowloon has a unique voice and he knows how to use it, never leaving his sultry lower vocal range save for a high, cracking, Bono-esque “wake up,” artfully peppered a few times throughout this track. Lyrically, the song has more in common with “Life During Wartime” than “Once in a Lifetime,” presenting a detached and sardonic view toward “the end of the world,” our impending climate catastrophe reaching its natural conclusion: “When Hollywood is underwater, who will tell me how to dress?”
The funky, upbeat backing track is tight and well produced, albeit simple and bordering on generic— Garageband loops come to mind. Clocking in at just over 3 minutes, the song isn’t long enough for the repetitive pentatonic riff to wear out its welcome, and even includes some interesting blips and bloops of production, pitched-up backing vocals and vinyl breaks to name a couple. The track’s relative brevity works to its advantage, and welcomes repeat listens.
The most important thing about this song is that the hook is solid. After listening through it only one time, I had the chorus bouncing around my head, and that’s what music like this is for. It’s for bopping along to, if not at a party or in a car, at the very least while flipping through the racks at an H&M or Forever 21. While “Hollywood is Under Water” is certainly catchy and inoffensive, it’s more of a “don’t skip” than an “add to queue.” Regardless, I like Kowloon’s singing and production, and I’d be happy to hear more from him.