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Melbourne-based singer-songwriter Kira Puru on the songs she couldn’t stop listening to this year

Photography by Nelly Skoufatoglou

Words by Sarah Noonan

Pop beats for every playlist this summer.

Despite it being an unbelievably terrible year (or perhaps because of it?), 2020 has been packed with excellent music. So much of it, in fact, that I’m sure there are albums, singles and music videos that have entirely passed you by.

I know there have been for me, and that’s why I’m asking some of Australia’s most innovative and talented artists to tell me about the music they couldn’t stop listening to this year. Because who better to ask than people who literally make music for a living?

Our final artist in the series is Melbourne-based multidisciplinary artist Kira Puru. One of Australia’s most important up-and-coming voices, Kira brings a dynamic presence to the stage along with genre-defying lyrical talent.

Appreciating the range present in contemporary pop music, Kira’s top picks of the year reflect the evolution the genre has undergone in 2020. Take in her favourites below.

Harry Styles – Fine Line album

So Fine Line technically came out in 2019, but it’s been a constant companion in 2020. I remember watching Harry’s Tiny Desk performance when it came out, and immediately flicked back to the start and watched it over three more times. The album is truly superb, and it comes alive in the live context. His band is SO GOOD, and the lilting harmonies really accent the sentimental country mood that is stitched through the album. Hard to pick a favourite song but ‘Cherry’, ‘Adore You’ and ‘Watermelon Sugar’ are amongst my faves.

Noah Cyrus – End of Everything EP

One of my friends and collaborators, Thief, played a song for me on guitar in his garage last year in a writing session and he said: “I think Noah might release this” – that was ‘I Got So High I Saw Jesus’. I loved it the minute I heard it. Soon after, ‘July’ came out and ‘I Got So High I Saw Jesus’ quickly followed. I really love the album and it’s so nice to listen to it and hear Thief’s writing sensibilities here and there. I think ‘July’ is hands down one of the biggest ballads of the year.

Taylor Swift – ‘the 1’

Folklore was the album I needed from Taylor in 2020. Clearly, I’m on a pop-country bender at the minute, and Taylor has always been a queen in this genre, even when pop production has lifted her out of that genre, I feel like this has always been where her writing shines the most. I love the whole album but sometimes I get caught on the plush, bittersweet, nostalgic feelings I get from ‘the 1’. It’s a rare feat to see an album start on a high note and not feel let down by what follows.

Conan Gray – ‘Heather’

I watched this song blow up on TikTok and then just couldn’t get it out of my head. I think it’s pretty masterfully written and I’m drawn in by the queer drama of it all. It’s basically the sad soft boy retelling of that ’90s song, Whitetown’s ‘Your Woman’.

Justin Bieber – ‘Lonely’

I’ve been binging live versions of this cause I feel like Justin’s voice is just so perfect live in this track in particular. It’s a straight, bare-bones pop ballad, and the way Bieb’s voice is soft and breathy and kinda breaks in the chorus is so perfectly matched to the mood It’s nice to see him do something so clearly genuine too.

Dua Lipa – ‘Break My Heart’

I’ve been absolutely frothing Dua’s new disco flavour and I feel like this one is a real peak in the album. I feel like the INXS sample is such a key feature in this and is what keeps it so alive the whole way through.

Miley Cyrus – ‘Heart of Glass’ cover live from iHeart Festival

I feel like you’d have to be living under a rock to have missed Miley’s live performance of Blondie’s ‘Heart of Glass’ at iHeart this year. I love Miley but I feel like she objectively brought the internet to its knees with this one. Not only does she look so divine and slinky in this get up but her vocals are on point for the whole performance… and it’s no easy song to sing. I feel like there are equal amounts of grit and anger as there are clean, stunning vocal moments. My fear as a performer covering other people’s music is wondering if I have impressed or offended whoever wrote it, and I feel like Debbie Harry would have to be tripping to not be honoured by this effort.

Troye Sivan – ‘Take Yourself Home’

Ugh, this is hands down one of my all-time favourite songs of 2020. It’s so well written, classy, understated and feels so fresh. I’ve always been a big fan of Troye but this felt like a big moment between what he’s done and what he is going to do in the future. The production on this feels so fresh compared to what else is happening right now. It’s so satisfying when good melancholy moments come packaged in good dance production.

 

Vetta Borne – Violeta EP

Vetta Borne is a friend and collaborator based in Melbourne who used to work under the name Maribelle. She’s honestly hands down one of the most talented people I know and her work under Vetta Borne is a brilliant showcase for her talents cause she flexes on songwriting, vocals, instrumentation, and production. I don’t think I need to hype it up too much because the music so perfectly speaks for itself, but the Violeta EP is perfect and you should go listen to it right now.

Head here to listen to Kira’s latest music.

@kirapuru

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