(Guardian) In an era of “woke pop” – in which Beyoncé’s dancers are raising black power fists, Katy Perry is flogging “political liberation” anthems and Lana Del Rey singles allude to tensions in North Korea – Kim Petras’s music is almost defiantly apolitical. As the world burns, she sings through her thrillingly garish electropop of spending sprees, weed-smoking and unrequited crushes, while lounging on her pink bubble-wrap throne. On her debut single, I Don’t Want It at All – the video for which sees her worship at the altar of Paris Hilton – Petras is a millennial Veruca Salt, demanding she be given designer clothes she can’t afford.
In a way, such wilful hedonism is a statement in itself, particularly given that Petras’ very identity is politicised every day. “Sometimes, it’s hard not to get completely reduced to being transgender,” she says. Having moved from Cologne to Los Angeles aged 19, after a YouTube cover of a Chris Brown song got her noticed by a producer there, the German musician worked as a songwriter for more than half a decade, penning tracks for the likes of JoJo and Fergie. Last year, she broke out as a solo artist when I Don’t Want It at All topped the Spotify global viral 50 chart. A few months later, she collaborated with Charli XCX on the track Unlock It, before releasing more singles: the low-riding pop-rap of Faded, the strutting Heart to Break and the newly released Can’t Do Better, a lung-busting, bombastic power ballad. But on a recent trip back to Germany for a week of press, she wasn’t asked about any of that.