I'm 10: Lykke Li, WOUNDED RHYMES

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Lykke Li was having a moment. Her debut album, Youth Novels, had struck a chord with listeners around the world, captivating ears with a blissful mix of Swedish pop spring-loaded with massive, arena-ready choruses. Breakout singles like "Little Bit" became pop culturally ubiquitous, showing up in premium cable TV shows and high-end ad campaigns. The exposure drove the album up the charts, peaking at #18 on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart in September 2008.

Taking a moment to recharge before embarking on album number two, the artist set up shop in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, looking for some warm sunshine and tranquility. The move threw open the windows on her creativity: "It's like the most exotic place on Earth," the singer told Guardian in 2011. "I read this book by David Lynch where he talks about coming to LA from Chicago and he's like, 'There's always this beautiful light - it fills your soul - and the smell of jasmine.' My plan was to take a really long break. But then I wrote all these songs and it felt like if I don't record them they're going to be lost. I'm just going to get too happy [in LA], so I'll just do it, OK?"

Returning to Stockholm in her home country, the artist brought together that sunny Southern California adventure vibe with the icy reality slap of winter in Sweden to craft sophomore effort, Wounded Rhymes. Released on February 25, 2011, the album was a bold and unapologetic statement on the world around her, with the media immediately pouncing on lead single "Get Some," and it's press-baiting lyric, "Like a shotgun/ Needs an outcome/ I'm your prostitute/ You gon' get some."

"It's my comment on how men, and especially journalists, look on women and write articles about female artists," she insisted. "How much can you explain? If that's what you think, if that's your opinion, then I'm your prostitute, you're gonna get some. It's not about sex, or being a victim, it's actually really powerful, you know. It's kind of like Scarface or something: 'You want some of this, I'm going to get you some of this.' I just want to be free. Men can be whatever they want to be. Like David Bowie. He can have no shirt or go dressed as a woman. Why can't I do that?"

The album's second single, "I Follow Rivers," was an international smash, topping singles charts in Belgium, Italy, Greece, Poland, Germany, and Romana. By the end of the year, Wounded Rhymes was listed among the best albums of 2011 from Pitchfork, Mojo, SPIN, Village Voice, and more.

"I'm going to be like Benjamin Button; I'm just going to grow younger," she told NPR in 2011 when asked what the record will mean to her years later when she looks back on that moment in time. "I will probably be happy, fat, with kids and looking back and thinking, I was such an angry young woman. It's the dark years before I kind of understood that life is hard, but it's always beautiful."