I randomly discovered Kim Petras thanks to Spotify. These days, while hip-hop and rap tend to be the most popular genres, my playlists are jam-packed with modern pop icons like Carly Rae Jepsen, Charli XCX, Ariana Grande, and Zara Larsson.
To me, pop music represents the kind of unapologetically carefree, confident energy that we all need. It's a tumultuous time in the world, so the importance and cultural significance of positive and upbeat vibes cannot be underestimated.
Kim Petras is, to me, one of the poster children of this wave.
You won't ever hear her singing mushy ballads or acoustic guitar tracks (with the exception of her cover of "Human" by the Killers) No, her work is equal parts dance and pop, and the cheeky nature of many of her songs (actual lyrics include "I wanna party with Jesus") makes them especially fun. She's like that friend who is always the life of the party, the most popular person in the room, and still a completely down-to-earth sweetheart.
One might think, as I did initially, that Kim's persona was that of a shallow party-girl Barbie. In reality, she has been an activist and revolutionary ever since she was a toddler.
Born and raised in Cologne, Germany, Kim wasn't your average little kid. She was assigned male at birth, but even by the age of two, she made it clear to her parents that she was a girl. She was lucky enough to have an open-minded family that accepted her for who she was and supported her. In 2008, at the age of 16, she became one of the youngest people to ever (at the time) undergo gender reassignment surgery, and for this, she garnered worldwide attention. When asked about her gender, Kim commented, "I was asked if I feel like a woman now—but the truth is, I have always felt like a woman—I just ended up in the wrong body."
For the first several months of my obsession with Kim, I was not even aware that she was transgender. That's because the vast majority of her songs aren't about that at all. I think it is hugely important for trans people to tell their stories, especially the most emotionally difficult ones, and increase awareness of the oppression they face for such a fundamental part of who they are. That said, it's wonderful it is when a trans artist is acknowledged for their work in the exact same way any cis artist would be. Kim sings awesome pop songs. She's a gorgeous and charismatic gal. She makes her millions of fans, including myself, really happy! That's what is most important about her.
Kim sings about romance, heartbreak, sexual desire, partying, and the substances that come along with it, all of the stuff everyone else sings about (she also released a spooky EP for Halloween!) My top recommendations are "Heart to Break," "I Don't Want it at All," "Faded," "and "Turn Off the Light." I'm definitely not going to argue the substance of her music is especially deep or thought-provoking. I don't think Kim herself would argue that either. But not for a second will I entertain the notion that it makes her music, and the music of artists similar to her, any less important and valuable.