Sofi Tukker – Cheerful neo-hipster tunes in various languages and bright colors

When we think of the most effective pop bands today, we often, like during the eighties, think of duos.

10. June 2023. — Author: EXIT

Back then, it was popular to “break the boundaries” of what makes a band, so “incomplete” bands, supported by the latest innovations of the time, such as synthesizers, backing tracks, and rhythm machines, were a dime a dozen: think Eurythmics or Yazoo. Then, during the nineties, came grunge rockers and Britpoppers, and later, in the 21st century, indie-revival leaders brought things back to their “full band” roots, and it seemed like “heresy” to say that a band didn’t use all the traditional instruments. And then came the hipsters, La Roux, MGMT, Empire of the Sun, and many others, and where there are hipsters, there are also post-hipsters, or neo-hipsters, if we can call them that. Sofi Tukker, or, more accurately, SOFI TUKKER (no need to shout, we hear you), certainly belong to this group.

When Sofi Tukker took over the global airwaves and toplists a few years ago, 90 percent of people thought it was a single performer. However, it’s a duo consisting of Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern, so it’s a combination of their names, made to sound like one perfectly plausible name since Tucker is, in fact, a common last name. And why the strange spelling? Well, in the age of Google and YouTube searches, it’s very difficult to find anything remotely generic, so a search for “Sophie Tucker” would probably bring up a bunch of middle-aged women or college students from all over the Anglophone world and Sofi Tukker is, unmistakably – an American pop artist. If you don’t believe me, check out this trend that dates back to “The Beatles“ and “The Monkees“ (instead of “Beetles“ and “Monkeys“), or simply look at how Dzipsii spells his stage name. With a deliberate mistake, you become easier to find in a sea of anything and everything.

Anyway, Sofi Tukker relies heavily on hipster culture from the end of the first and beginning of the second decade of this century, where almost ironically, but simultaneously very seriously, themes from near and far (both temporally and geographically) are recycled. The very fact that Sophie grew up in Germany and thought primarily in that language then studied in Italy and, again, thought in that language, and then lived in Rio de Janeiro and… (you get the picture), makes her an exciting author who likes to insert global themes into her music, and even into her lyrics. 

Although the band is from Miami, they confused the world with their song “Drinkee (Brazilian slang for “drink” – “drinque”), sung in impeccable Brazilian Portuguese, accompanied by a colorful video. That song gave them a lightning-fast breakthrough on the charts back in 2017 and brought them many nominations and awards in the same year, followed by “Matadora(again in Portuguese), and then the English-language singles “Awoo,“ Best Friend,“ “F*ck They(I think you mean “them,” Sophie?), “Good Time Girl, as well as “Batshit,“ “Swing(again in the inevitable Portuguese), and “Purple Hatwith Charles Barker, and there’s a collaboration with the famous Mahmut Orhan  (“Forgive Me“), as well as a Hispanic outing with Bomba Estéreo in “Playa Grande. Finally, they ended up on the soundtrack for the movie “Birds of Prey,” so the song  Feeling Good became the band’s most recognizable trademark with the general public.

Sofi Tukker’s frequent use of profanity stands in stark contrast to their colorful videos, geeky sexiness, and international experimentation with rhythms and languages, but… maybe not in the world of neo-hipsters.

Without wishing to prove themselves excessively, Sofi Tukker do not indulge in excessive vocal or playing bravado at all — often their songs are repetitive and hypnotic, consisting only of a few notes, and the trademark of their sound is Sophie’s guitar playing over several “dark riffs,” are a mixture of indie-rock and blues, almost borrowed from Depeche Mode (only further elaborated). Some of their songs have led journalists and critics to classify them as house or EBM. However, let’s put it more simply: these tunes were made mainly for a good time, but not for a stupid good time. If you analyze their texts, you will see that the topics are often serious. And sometimes they talk about behavior patterns in a funny way (“I lie down with God, I wake up with God, I have a drink, my head spins (go dumb)” — “Drinkee,” though those lyrics were written by the Brazilian poet Chacal)—a good pop song for 2023.

They returned to their “roots,” singing in Portuguese in a duet with Amadou & Mariam (who sing in Bambara and French!) in the 2022 song “Mon Cheri, featuring another cheerful and colorful music video. We’ll see them on July 8 at the EXIT festival, and like Dennis Rodman back in the day, we’re not sure what color Tucker’s hair will be that night. What we are sure of is that it will be shaggy and predominantly white, but there is no guarantee as to the chromatic composition of his “rainbow locks.”

Written by: Žikica Milošević