How do you really listen

In Russia, the question, posted in the streets of Moscow, developed its own momentum: "Do you listen to girl in red?" The particularly brave even sent pictures of it directly to the head of state on the social web - "What's up Putin?" How's it going, Putin? Nice ambiguity. You can read the whole thing in two ways: Do you hear Girl in Red? So the music. Or: are you listening to her? Do you obey what she says And now the wonderful thing is: Both translations are a very direct attack on Russian anti-gay politics.

Girl in Red is the pseudonym of the Norwegian singer and songwriter Marie Ulven, who has just released her debut album after a few EPs. On the one hand. On the other hand, the name is now also a distinguishing mark. Ulven, just turned 22, lives openly queer. The theme determines larger parts of their music. A few years ago she released the song "I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend". Autumn bedroom pop, down-soft guitars, awakening lyrics: "I don't wanna be your friend / I wanna kiss your lips / I wanna kiss you 'til I lose my breath / Oh, Hannah / Tell me something nice / Like flowers and blue skies. " In short: kisses to the point of breathlessness instead of friendship with Hannah. Got about 160 million streams on Spotify alone. So far. At some point in the course of 2020, the artist name then became a code.

Depressions? Serotonin deficiency. There are drugs for that

"Do you listen to girl in red?" Since then, anyone who asks this no longer necessarily just wants to test the taste in music, he or she also gropes for sexual orientation. There were posters with the slogan, T-shirts - and the poster campaigns. In São Paulo. In New York. In Moscow. "What's up Putin?"

Question: Is the world finally completely broken when you have to lead a then 21-year-old against the gay hatred of a 68-year-old autocrat? Or is there just then hope?

At Forbes they tried to find an answer and included Ulven in their "30 Under 30" in the entertainment sector - a list of young people of particular social importance. Today's superstar Dua Lipa, for example, was there four years ago. "Ulven tackles stigmatized mental illnesses" was the reason, among other things, that she now also takes care of the stigmatization of depression and other mental illnesses. And, more importantly, their transfiguration.

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The first lines on their recently released, famous album "If I Could Make It Go Quiet" (World in Red / Rough Trade): "I'm running low on serotonin / Chemical imbalance got me twisting things / Stabilized with medicine / There's no depth to these feelings ". Big Demon Hunt? Glorification of the tormenting abysses? Soul black prominently displayed? Not at all. It's the year 2021. Generation Z. Depressions no longer have to be written up as heroic tales by the psychologically unhappy artist. You are now simply serotonin deficiency and chemical imbalance. There are drugs for that. You can take it. And seek help. No one has to pretend that suffering makes him or her extraordinary. Girl-in-Red followers on Tiktok: 1.8 million. About three times in Oslo.

Pop is often fun. But it still becomes really grandiose when very private issues suddenly become very political. Self-description by Ulven in the video portal: "tik tok for funzies music for world domination". Tiktok for fun. Music for world domination. So maybe there really is hope for the world. "Do you listen to girl in red, Putin?"

However, the thing about world domination is of course also this: if you want the whole thing, you have to think big. Finneas O'Connell - songwriter, producer, brother of Billie Eilish (not necessarily in that order) - worked on the album. The crunchy, always a little bed-warm fluff indie, for which Girl in Red has stood so far, is sometimes surprisingly powerful, pompous, angry - and yes, also well coiffed on "If I Could Make It Go Quiet". It sparkles, pushes and pumps. The pianos have pathos, the drums bounce off their hips. In a few places Ulven even raps - and not bad at all. In addition, she seems to have looked up US indie rock a lot of the noughties before starting work. That's why the music sk8er-boit a little in a few (very few) places. A few of the early fans don't like this that much.

For this, Billie Eilish - sister of Finneas, also a style icon of young women, singer (not necessarily in that order) - reported. "Billie Eilish said my lyrics were bonkers", Ulven recently said very proudly: crazy lyrics. Pretty sure a compliment. And even if she doesn't, Billie Eilish listens to Girl in Red. That will mean something too.