She’s written some of the biggest hits across the world the past few years, and now she’s stepping into the limelight. Here’s what you need to know about pop music’s next superstar.
Jessie J co-wrote ‘Party in the USA’ before she found fame under her own name. Julia Michaels co-wrote ‘Hands to Myself’, ‘Bad Liar’ and ‘Love Myself’. Sia co-wrote ‘Diamonds’, ‘Pretty Hurts’, a Flight of the Conchords song, a Celine Dion dubstep song, and an entire Kylie Minogue album. The songwriter-turned-superstar hall of fame is lined with gold and platinum records.
Tayla Parx is the next to be welcomed into the hall. And you’ve already got songs she’s written in your head – you just don’t know it yet.
She is Ariana Grande’s secret weapon
I’m not at all sorry if you’ve only just thank u nexted the song ‘thank u, next’ out of your head. It’s a beautiful ode to your exes, and the potential of owning your past as a way of paving your future. And wouldn’t you know it, Tayla Parx wrote it, along with Grande herself with Victoria Monet (who is no slouch in the songwriting department either).
Even though this song can feel like the musical equivalent of the ‘cool girl’ monologue from Gone Girl, the hook is undeniable. When your chorus becomes a meme, you know you’ve made more than a hit – you’ve made a song that defines an era.
Which brings us to ‘7 Rings’, for which Tayla Parx shares a co-writing credit with Rodgers & Hammerstein, thanks to a The Sound of Music sample. It’s the absolute flipside to ‘thank u, next’, but it proves that Grande and Parx are a working formula, especially seeing as they’ve been working together since Grande’s sophomore album My Everything. The hooks don’t hit you in the face, they sneak into your brain like an earworm and you find yourself singing the chorus when you haven’t even listened to the song in weeks.
Parx’s career is full of songs that do this: Mariah Carey’s valedictory hit ‘Infinity’, JoJo’s comeback single ‘Fuck Apologies’, and the Khalid-Normani duet ‘Love Lies’. They’re undeniable hits, and fit perfectly on every playlist, but it’s not until a few songs later that you realise how superbly catchy they are and how securely you’ve been hooked in.
Her deep cuts are pretty impressive too
Okay, a Janelle Monae song doesn’t exactly count as a ‘deep cut’ but can we appreciate how this song manages to be cute, sexy, smart and groundbreaking all at once? Also, because this song samples an Aerosmith song, it means that Parx has shared songwriting credits with not only Rodgers & Hammerstein but Liv Tyler’s dad too! Just in case you needed to make your seven degrees of Kevin Bacon game easier, should you be playing it in 2019 for some reason.
But no, here’s a genuine deep cut, from across the other side of the globe:
I’m going to put my flag in the ground right now: The best and most inventive pop in the world right now is happening in Korea. If you want to get on the train with sounds that the mainstream is going to be bopping their heads and shaking their hands to in a few years, get listening to K-Pop and experience the beautiful smug superiority of someone who is truly in the know.
Tayla Parx has been a co-writer on a bunch of K-Pop songs, including girl group f(X) and monster boyband BTS and all these songs have a different feel from the rest of their discography, which is no accident. Take, for example, this song:
It’s a little darker than the rest of the f(x) discography, and the girls rise to meet that mood. The beats are a little bit more 90’s R&B, and somehow this throwback makes the song sound even more modern – it makes the shift to euphoric pop, the kind that K-Pop does better than anybody else, more heightened.
What I’m saying is, right now, Tayla Parx has the range. Shirley Bassey eat your heart out.
Also, a Panic at the Disco song?
Music editor confession: I could not pick a Panic! At The Disco song out of a musical lineup if you paid me to. Ditto a Fall Out Boy song. I never had a MySpace account or a Xanga account, and barely had a Bebo account, so the emo music trend passed me by entirely.
There’s about eight writers on this song, but still, it shows that Tayla’s got the (songwriting) range. This couldn’t sound any more different from ‘thank u, next’ or ‘7 rings’. Instead it has that big baroque pop sound that I’ve now, as an adult human with access to both curiosity and the internet, realised is a trademark of Panic! At The Disco.
And also? It absolutely bangs.
And her own stuff isn’t shabby either
There’s a chance with some songwriters turned popstars that their personality gets lost when they’re asked to front it. Suddenly their artform, which they’ve been channeling through the voice of other people, becomes less focussed and dissolves entirely. It’s not like they lose what makes them special, it’s that their actual voice can’t quite carry the weight of it. (Or, you know, they’ve given their best songs away!)
I can safely say that’s not the case with Tayla Parx. Take ‘Slow Dancing’ above, for example. You can see how this could’ve easily been a hit back when Grande was skipping around in her dog-whistle register, but Parx’s voice is more than enough to carry it. Not only does she have the pipes, but she has enough depth in her voice to make even the high notes ring with playful personality. It’s bubblegum-vodka pop, and I’m here for it.
Then there’s ‘I Want You’, which I can see other people turning into a hit, but I can’t imagine anybody selling it as well as Parx. It’s still bubblegum-vodka pop, but there’s a little bit more grit in her vocal here, and little bit more emotion in her voice. It doesn’t just ring with personality, it rings with full-on star power.
Tayla Parx has been here for a while, but now she’s truly arrived. Open up and let her in.
Also, she was in Hairspray
Yup, that’s her in the undeniable feel-good hit of 2007 and still the best film to feature John Travolta in a dress!
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