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Filling out the picture of Doja Cat: Why ‘Kiss Me More’ certifies her superstar status

| Friday, April 16, 2021

Maggie Klaers | The Observer

It all started with “Mooo!”. Almost three years ago, Doja Cat first entered the mainstream culture radar as a meme, with ridiculous lyrics like “B*tch I’m a cow” and “Got milk b*tch? Got beef?”. Today, she could give a masterclass in rising star science. She stepped up to her fifteen minutes of fame and has yet to show any signs of coming down. After “Mooo!,” she showed serious female rapper chops with her Billboard-charting hits “Candy” and “Juicy,” but her real breakout came with grammy-nominated pop mega-hit “Say So,” a single off of her 2019 album “Hot Pink.” “Say So” hit #1 in the US, amassed billions of streams and Doja started steamrolling pop culture. She released “Boss B*tch” for the “Birds of Prey” movie soundtrack, repeatedly killed the TikTok game and “Hot Pink’s” “Streets” was resurrected from its 2019 grave and became a streaming hit two years after its release. This brings us to her latest single, “Kiss Me More.”

In “Kiss Me More,” Doja Cat recruits R&B rising star SZA to make a sweet confection of sexy female pop. The track’s summer-y guitar riffs, disco-influenced percussions and gliding production are a sugar high. Doja Cat’s breathy vocals, her no-bullsh*t rap delivery and SZA’s own mumbly magic give the song an eclectic feel that stays fresh even while stuck on repeat. Though similar to “Say So” in its disco-pop vixen personality, “Kiss Me More” is a standout, and a worthy lead single for the upcoming album “Planet Her.”

However, despite the tight production and addictive vocals, the song itself is nothing revolutionary, especially for an artist as sonically versatile as Doja Cat; the real impact of the song emerges in the context of Doja’s career. The song achieves the two pillars of the making of a modern pop superstar: collaboration prestige and debut-week power.

Collaboration prestige is no better exemplified than by Justin Bieber. He is unarguably one of the 21st century’s most successful pop stars, and he milks collaboration prestige to the utmost. Four out of his seven Billboard #1 hits are collaborations, and over a third of his 21 billion Spotify streams come from songs on which he is a feature. In an age where bands are no longer common in the mainstream, and promotion mostly occurs on social media, artists often rely on collaborations with other artists to switch up their sounds and conquer new fanbases.

For “Kiss Me More,” Doja found SZA, who is currently at the peak of her career after the release of top-ten hit “Good Days.” The choice is smart, and as always, where there is a collab, the buzz soon follows. Doja Cat’s newfound prestige makes these choices possible: by having SZA collaborator on “Kiss Me More,” Doja Cat shows she has reached the level of influence needed to work with the best of the best.

And the song undoubtedly has debut-week power. It was released last Friday, and it has already hit #5 on the Top 50 – Global. It is climbing fast on radio, and charting strong on iTunes and Apple Music. Given Doja Cat’s track record with TikTok, it’s also only a matter of time before somebody starts a new trend with the song. As for YouTube, the “Kiss Me More” music video shows more commitment to artistic vision than most music artists nowadays. The fact of the matter is Taylor Swift, Drake and Post Malone, all immensely influential artists, debut at the top of the charts with almost every release. Their debut-week power is a testament to their reputation and massive fanbases, and the certification of their superstar status. With a massive first week for “Kiss Me More,” Doja Cat is one step closer to joining the superstar club.

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