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Trouble (Natalia Kills album)

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Trouble
An image of Natalia Kills wearing a white dress, and standing on a grey background, with her hand on her chest. Around Kills, watches, champagne, police cars, roses, handcuffs and other objects. The word "Trouble" appears on the center of the image, and is written in pink-coloured lipstick. The text "Natalia Kills" appears on the bottom of the image. On the upper corners of the image, dripping pink lipstick is shown.
Studio album by Natalia Kills
Released 3 September 2013 (2013-09-03)
Recorded 2012–13; New York and Los Angeles
Genre
Length 53:54
Label
Producer
Natalia Kills chronology
Perfectionist
(2011)Perfectionist2011
Trouble
(2013)
Singles from Trouble
  1. "Problem"
    Released: 12 March 2013
  2. "Saturday Night"
    Released: 28 June 2013
  3. "Trouble"
    Released: 8 April 2014

Trouble is the second studio album by English recording artist Teddy Sinclair under the name Natalia Kills. It was released on 3 September 2013 by Cherrytree Records through will.i.am Music Group and Interscope. Recording for the album started in early 2012 and took place in Los Angeles and New York. During that time, Sinclair was accompanied by some producers, including Jeff Bhasker, who served as Trouble's executive producer. Bhasker handled a multitude of production tasks, including production, instrumentation and songwriting.

Sinclair eschewed the sound and lyrical content of her debut album Perfectionist (2011) in favour of a heavier atmosphere, driven by strong percussion and electric guitars. The lyrics, largely co-written by Sinclair and Bhasker, explore the former's problematic childhood and adolescence. Accompanying the album, its cover art was designed by Sinclair and symbolizes the album's main themes. Upon release, music critics commended the album's cohesion, and perceived an evolution in Sinclair' songwriting.

The album was announced with the release of a music video for "Controversy" in September 2012. Three singles were commissioned from Trouble, accompanied by respective music videos—"Problem" and "Saturday Night" preceded the album's release; later, a remix of the album's title track served as its third single. The record failed to chart internationally with the exception of the US Billboard 200, where it peaked at number 70.

Background and recording[edit]

Danielle Haim played guitar for Trouble

Kills started recording new material approximately a year after the release of her debut studio album Perfectionist.[1] Primarily produced by Martin "Cherry Cherry Boom Boom" Kierszenbaum and Jeff Bhasker, the set was released in March 2011 to mixed critical reception.[2][3] It yielded three singles which, similarly to its parent album,[4] performed moderately on European charts.[5][6] During that year and the following, Kills participated in other musical endeavors, most notably collaborating with groups. She provided guest vocals for Far East Movement's song "2 Is Better" and guested on "1974" by The Knux.[7][8] Kills featured on the duo LMFAO's single "Champagne Showers", which became a mild success internationally, and collaborated with DJ Tatana on his single "You Can't Get In My Head (If You Don't Get In My Bed)".[9][10]

Trouble was primarily recorded in the Enormous Studios, located in Los Angeles. Other songs were finished in the city's Record Plant and the New York City-based Jungle City Studios. Emile's Studio served as a secondary recording location for "Watching You", which was produced and instrumented by its owner, Emile Haynie. Unlike Perfectionist,[2] a limited number of producers was enlisted for Trouble; Kills worked with the musicians Guillaume Doubet, Glass John, and Haynie for the first time. Bhasker was assigned for executive production and several tasks, including production, instrumentation and programming, as well as post-production processes. He characterised his production on Trouble as "some of his best work" and stated that it possesses "dark angles".[11][12] Bhasker recorded background vocals for some tracks, such as "Devils Don't Fly" and "Problem". The electric guitar was recorded by Danielle Haim and Jimmy Messer, whereas Haynie played the keyboards. The programming was handled by Doubet, Haynie, and the American producer Mike Will Made It. Messer, Pawel Sek Tyler Sam Johnson and Rob Suchecki served as engineers for select songs of the album. Bhasker and Tony Maserati mixed Trouble and its mastering was controlled by Chris Athens at his eponymous studio.[13]

Composition[edit]

According to Kills, Trouble represents an integral departure from her debut studio album. Kills described this sound as mixing hip-hop-resembling strong percussion with electric guitar-led instrumentals.[17] Writing for The New Zealand Herald, Paula Yeoman deemed the album's music as "darker pop", while finding it resemblant of Lana Del Rey, Lady Gaga and Gwen Stefani's works.[18] AllMusic's Matt Collar opined that the overall sound of the record was influenced by the latter, Grimes and Courtney Love.[19]

Similarly, the lyricism of Trouble deviates from that of Perfectionist. While the latter explored Kills' ambitions and perfectionism, the former narrates her upbringing and adolescence, when she left her home and pursued dangerous behavior.[17][20] Kills stated that she conceptualized the album in order to depict her experiences as a teenager and feelings of "having no control", as she did not identify with recent, "happy" popular music.[21] She regarded this attempt as difficult, since it involved the confrontation of her past problems; nonetheless, Kills desired to reflect them in the songs' lyrics as she felt they had defined her personality.[17] She also stated that "once [she] started writing, [she] couldn't stop" and compared the process to a "confession".[22]

"Television" and "Rabbit Hole" contrast their dark, "sinister" lyricism with their uptempo production.[23] The former, described by Romy Olutski from Harper's Bazaar as a "more alternative" song, opens with the sound of police sirens and its instrumentation progressively introduces electric guitars and percussion with a vocoder effect. The latter contains explicit references to recreational drugs and sexual intercourse while utilizing the metaphor of "falling down a rabbit hole" to falling in love.[24][25] The pop-styled "Problem" is influenced by rock styles such as garage and pop rock; the last genre is also incorporated in Trouble's title track, which finds Kills singing in a raw and "exhausted" voice backed by "arena rock choirs".[26]

"Daddy's Girl", which was denoted by Kills as her favorite from the album, places a sample of American music duo Hall & Oates' single "Rich Girl" over a "thumping beat".[23][27] Described as a "love song", it discusses her mother's support and "devotion" towards Kills' father when he was incarcerated.[27] Second single "Saturday Night" employs synthesizers on a new wave-based instrumental.[14][16][28] The track was described as autobiographical and discusses growing up in a house where domestic abuse occurs;[15] Kills also deemed it a song about "feeling OK when everything is not".[29] The sole ballads found on the album are "Devils Don't Fly" and "Marlboro Lights". The main instrument utilized in the latter is piano, while the former displays more instrumentation, including the organ and keyboards.[13][23][30] Writing on behalf of MuchMusic, journalist Allison observed Motown influences on "Outta Time", a melancholic love song.[31][32]

Release and promotion[edit]

Kills performing at The Bootleg Theater

The announcement of Kills' second studio album was made with the release of a music video for its first promotional single "Controversy" in mid-September 2012.[33] During an interview with Glamour, Kills explained that it served as an introductory track to the album "because it's a verbal collage of things we see on a daily basis that we turn a blind eye to, especially in the Internet age, where you can literally see anything and everything instantly. (...) We all laugh and joke when it's someone else's suffering."[34] The album's first single, "Problem", was digitally released by Interscope in mid-March 2013,[35] followed in June by its music video.[36] In the same month, "Saturday Night" was chosen as Trouble's second single. It received mostly positive reviews from music critics.[37][38]

Kills attended an after-party for the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, held on 25 August 2013 in Brooklyn, New York City, where she performed various songs from Trouble. She previously stated she wished her performance to be "remotely accurate" to the sound and packaging of the album.[27] Trouble was officially released on 3 September 2013 as a digital download in the United States and Canada.[39][40] A CD release proceeded in the US and Canada on 10 and 17 September 2013.[41][42] "Outta Time" was released as the album's second promotional single, free of charge, coinciding with the US release of Trouble.[43] On the same day, a lyric video for the song was released on YouTube.[44]

For the US release of Trouble, "Boys Don't Cry" was premiered on the website of the magazine Glamour.[34] On 18 October 2013, a remix of the song was available on Cosmopolitan.[45] To promote the album and its singles, Kills was interviewed by a number of magazines and websites, including Billboard,[27] Teen Vogue,[46] Refinery29,[47] and Playboy.[30] On 9 October 2013, Kills performed at a Chicago nightclub,[48] and on 31 December 2013 she performed at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.[49] She also performed an acoustic set for Yahoo! Music.[50] During a promotional trip in New Zealand, Kills attended the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards.[51]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3.5/5 stars[19]
Idolator 4/5 stars[23]
The New Zealand Herald 3.5/5 stars[18]

Matt Collar of AllMusic awarded it a rating of three and a half stars out of five, characterising it as a "pantomime that artists have been trying to pull off ever since Madonna sang about a sexual experience so revelatory it gave her back her virginity". He also noted that Kills' personality, although similar to that of Pink and Lady Gaga, was "enough [...] to keep your attention".[19] Writing in Idolator, Sam Lansky highlighted Bhasker's production, which he credited with making the album cohesive. Lansky opined that Kills had evolved as a songwriter and given legitimacy and "richness" to Trouble's songs.[23] So So Gay Magazine praised Trouble as an evolution from her previous album Perfectionist, and stated that Kills "remains largely unknown and underrated; astonishing considering the quality of her two albums. She’s definitely some sort of anti-princess of pop."[52]

On behalf of The New Zealand Herald, Paula Yeoman stated that pop listeners "should pay attention to" the album, to which she gave a rating of three and a half out of five points.[18] Mike Wass of Idolator chose Trouble as his favourite album of 2013,[53] while David Byrne and Tony Peregrin for Windy City Times said the album was one of 2013's "excellent efforts".[54]

Commercial performance[edit]

The record entered the US Billboard 200 at number 70, becoming her highest-peaking album on the chart. It opened with sales of 6,000 copies, almost half of Perfectionist's total sold copies, and left the chart the following week.[55]

Track listing[edit]

Song credits obtained from the liner notes of Trouble.[13]

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "Television"
  • Bhasker
  • Doubet[a]
5:54
2. "Problem"
  • Kills
  • Bhasker
  • Doubet
  • Sky Montique
3:43
3. "Stop Me"
  • Kills
  • Bhasker
  • Haynie
  • Haynie
  • Bhasker
3:45
4. "Boys Don't Cry"
  • Kills
  • Bhasker
  • Bhasker
  • Haynie[b]
3:36
5. "Daddy's Girl"
  • Bhasker
  • Doubet[a]
3:33
6. "Saturday Night"
  • Kills
  • Bhasker
Bhasker 4:46
7. "Devils Don't Fly"
  • Kills
  • Bhasker
  • Glass John
  • Bhasker
  • Glass John[a]
4:37
8. "Outta Time"
  • Kills
  • Bhasker
Bhasker 3:42
9. "Controversy"
  • Kills
  • Bhasker
  • Doubet
  • Bhasker
  • Doubet[a]
4:51
10. "Rabbit Hole"
  • Kills
  • Bhasker
  • Doubet
  • Bhasker
  • Doubet[a]
  • Glass John[b]
3:14
11. "Watching You"
  • Kills
  • Bhasker
  • Haynie
  • Haynie
  • Bhasker
3:49
12. "Marlboro Lights"
  • Kills
  • Bhasker
Bhasker 4:05
13. "Trouble"
  • Kills
  • Bhasker
4:19
Total length: 53:54
Notes
  • ^a denotes a co-producer
  • ^b denotes an additional producer
Sample Credits

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Trouble.[13]

  • Jeff Bhasker – production, programming, guitar, keyboards, engineering, mixing, piano, organ, background vocals, executive production
  • Guillaume Doubet – co-production, programming
  • Natalia Kills – vocals
  • Glass John – programming, co-production
  • Pawel Sek – engineering, background vocals
  • Tony Maserati – mixing
  • Chris Tabron – mixing
  • Justin Hergett – mixing assistant
  • James Krausse – mixing assistant
  • Chris Athens – mastering
  • Emile Haynie – additional production, programming, production, keyboards
  • Mike Will – programming
  • Tyler Sam Johnson – engineering
  • Rob Suchecki – engineering
  • Jimmy Messer – guitar, engineering
  • Danielle Haim – guitar

Charts[edit]

Chart (2013) Peak
position
US Billboard 200[56] 70

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format(s) Label
United States[39] 3 September 2013 Digital download Interscope Records
Canada[40]
Australia[57] 6 September 2013
Germany[58]
Czech Republic[59] 9 September 2013
United Kingdom[60]
France[61]
Spain[62]
Italy[63]
United States[41] 10 September 2013 CD Universal Music
Canada[42] 17 September 2013

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lee, Christina (9 March 2013). "Natalia Kills's "Problem": Hear Her Grimy New Single". Idolator. Spin Media. Retrieved 27 August 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Perfectionist (Media notes). Natalia Kills. Cherrytree. 2011. 
  3. ^ Examples of critical reviews for Perfectionist:
  4. ^ "Natalia Kills – Perfectionist (Album)". Austrian Charts. Hung Medien. Retrieved 17 April 2014. 
  5. ^ "Discographie Natalia Kills" (in German). Austrian Charts. Hung Medien. Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  6. ^ "The Official UK Albums Chart for the week ending 1 October 2011". ChartsPlus. IQ Ware (527). 
  7. ^ "2 Is Better (feat. Natalia Kills & Ya Boy) – Single". iTunes Store. Apple. 15 March 2011. Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
  8. ^ Eraser (Media notes). The Knux. Cherrytree Records. 2011. 
  9. ^ "LMFAO feat. Natalia Kills – Champagne Showers (Song)". Austrian Charts. Hung Medien. Retrieved 17 April 2014. 
  10. ^ "You Can't Get In My Head (If You Don't Get In My Bed) [Remixes] [feat. Natalia Kills] – EP – Tatana". iTunes Store. Apple. 10 May 2012. Retrieved 24 February 2014. 
  11. ^ J. Horowitz, Steven (9 January 2013). "Fun. Producer Jeff Bhasker Caps Big Year With Grammy Nods". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media. Retrieved 17 April 2014. 
  12. ^ Kaufman, Gil (21 February 2013). "Beyonce's 'I Care' Started Out As Solo Song For Jeff Bhasker". MTV. Viacom. Retrieved 18 April 2014. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f Trouble (liner notes). Natalia Kills. Interscope Records. 2013. 
  14. ^ a b Gracie, Bianca (24 June 2013). "Natalia Kills Unleashes In "Problem" Video: Watch". Idolator (Spin Media). Retrieved 19 April 2014. 
  15. ^ a b "WATCH: Natalia Kills' 'Saturday Night'". Out. Here Media. 10 July 2013. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  16. ^ a b Villagomez, Andrew (11 March 2013). "LISTEN: Natalia Kills' 'Problem'". Out. Here Media. Retrieved 22 December 2013. 
  17. ^ a b c Corner, Lewis (7 August 2013). "Natalia Kills interview: 'I thought I would be dead by now'". Digital Spy (Hearst Magazines UK). Retrieved 21 December 2013. 
  18. ^ a b c Yeoman, Paula (15 September 2013). "Album review: Natalia Kills, Trouble". The New Zealand Herald. APN Holdings NZ Limited. Retrieved 24 September 2013. 
  19. ^ a b c Collar, Matt. "Trouble – Natalia Kills". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 23 December 2013. 
  20. ^ Sarkesian, Elijah (4 September 2013). "Natalia Kills is Trouble". David Atlanta. Atlanta: DRT Media. 
  21. ^ Oltuski, Romy (28 February 2014). "A Moment with Natalia Kills". Harper's Bazaar. Hearst Corporation. Retrieved 20 April 2014. 
  22. ^ Catarinella, Alex (25 June 2013). "Natalia Kills Is the Music Industry's Best "Problem" Child". Elle. Hachette Filipacchi. Retrieved 19 May 2014. 
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  24. ^ Olutski, Romy (28 February 2014). "A Moment With Natalia Kills". Harper's Bazaar. Hearst Magazines. Retrieved 20 May 2014. 
  25. ^ Plaskowsky, Andrew (10 September 2013). "Listen Up!: Natalia Kills reflects on upbringing in new album 'Trouble'". The Red and Black. Natalie McClure. Retrieved 19 May 2014. 
  26. ^ Stern, Brad (3 September 2013). "Celine Dion, Natalia Kills, Tensnake + More: 5 Must-Hear Pop Songs Of The Week". MTV (Viacom). Archived from the original on 11 March 2014. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  27. ^ a b c d e Lipshutz, Jason (8 August 2013). "Natalia Kills Gets Real on 'Trouble' Album: 'I Wanted To Confront Who I Am Head-On'". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 22 December 2013. 
  28. ^ "UK Dance-Pop Singer Natalia Kills Is Ready for "Saturday Night" – Song of the Day". Fuse (Madison Square Garden). 2 July 2013. Retrieved 8 September 2013. 
  29. ^ Lewis, Casey (July 2013). "Go Behind the Scenes of Natalia Kills's New Music Video, "Saturday Night"". Teen Vogue. Advance Publications. Retrieved 20 May 2014. 
  30. ^ a b Butler, Vanessa (18 September 2013). "Singer & Songwriter Natalia Kills Celebrity Interview". Playboy. Playboy Enterprises. Retrieved 28 September 2013. 
  31. ^ Allison (30 August 2013). "Natalia Kills Releases "Outta Time" and It Gives So Much Feelings". MuchMusic. Bell Media. Retrieved 21 June 2014. 
  32. ^ James, Nicole (5 September 2013). "Watch: Natalia Kills' Lo-Fi "Outta Time" Lyric Video". Fuse. The Madison Square Garden Company. Retrieved 21 June 2014. 
  33. ^ Alexander, X. (15 September 2012). "Natalia Kills Pushes Our Buttons In "Controversy" Video". Idolator. Spin Media. Retrieved 21 December 2013. 
  34. ^ a b Woods, Mickey (3 September 2013). "Natalia Kills Premieres Boys Don't Cry Video: Obsessed". Glamour. Advance Publications. Retrieved 21 December 2013. 
  35. ^ "Problem – Single by Natalia Kills". iTunes Store. Apple Inc. 12 March 2013. 
  36. ^ Gracie, Bianca (24 June 2013). "Natalia Kills Unleashes In "Problem" Video: Watch". Idolator. Spin Media. Retrieved 21 December 2013. 
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  45. ^ Kills, Natalia (18 October 2013). "Free Natalia Kills Download on Cosmopolitan.com". Cherrytree Records. Retrieved 22 December 2013. 
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  47. ^ Kills, Natalia (17 October 2013). "Natalia Kills Interview with Refinery 29". Cherrytree Records. Retrieved 22 December 2013. 
  48. ^ Kills, Natalia (9 October 2013). "Natalia Kills Live in Chicago Tonight". Cherrytree Records. Retrieved 22 December 2013. 
  49. ^ Kills, Natalia (20 December 2013). "Natalia Kills at Historic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel on New Years Eve". Cherrytree Records. Retrieved 22 December 2013. 
  50. ^ Kills, Natalia (29 October 2013). "Natalia Kills Slays for Stripped-Down Set at Yahoo Music". Cherrytree Records. Retrieved 22 December 2013. 
  51. ^ "Natalia Kills – Trouble". Rip It Up. 13 November 2013. Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  52. ^ Johnson, Sam (19 September 2013). "Album review: Natalia Kills, Trouble". So So Gay Magazine. SoSoGay.co.uk. Retrieved 27 October 2014. 
  53. ^ Daw, Robbie (19 December 2013). "Best Music 2013: Idolator Contributors Pick Their Favorite Albums". Idolator. Spin Media. Retrieved 23 December 2013. 
  54. ^ Byrne, David; Peregrin, Tony (7 January 2014). "Pop Making Sense". Windy City Times. Tracy Baim. Retrieved 24 January 2014. 
  55. ^ Caulfield, Keith (13 September 2013). "Chart Moves: Bastille's 'Bad Blood' Debuts, Fleetwood Mac's 'Opus' Opens, Little Big Town's 'Tornado' Celebrates Anniversary". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 22 September 2013. 
  56. ^ "Natalia Kills – Chart history" Billboard 200 for Natalia Kills. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
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