Oh me, oh my!
Last night, Rina Sawayama made her hotly-anticipated TV debut on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, performing single “XS” off her remarkable debut LP Sawayama. The performance comes on the heels of months of seemingly insurmountable hype surrounding the rising star, whose album became a bit of a soundtrack to the pandemic following its April release.
Sawayama proved herself more than deserving of the considerable praise she’s received with this high-energy performance, expertly executing intricate choreography (some of which, in a fun Doja-esque bit, is pulled directly from the song’s music video) without seeming to break a sweat—or miss a note. Her ornate red ensemble feels just excessive enough to reflect the song’s themes of the corruption of capitalism and the titular excess without looking gaudy or in bad taste. To put it simply, she looks hot.
If there was any doubt prior to this performance that Rina Sawayama had the proverbial “it,” she annihilated it. Rina Sawayama is, plan and simple, a superstar. There isn’t anyone making music comparable to her forward-thinking 2000s-by-way-of-hyperpop brand, and no one really could. Part of what makes Sawayama so special is how singular her perspective is, both musically and lyrically, drawing heavily on her experience as a Japanese immigrant to Britain and her progressive, even revolutionary politics.
Take “XS” for instance. It’s a scathing satire of consumerism—and I don’t think her wearing red, historically the color of the Communist Party, is an accident in this regard. But just as the best satire tends to, it doesn’t immediately read to an untrained listener. “XS,” and her Fallon performance of it (complete with a delightfully unsubtle “making it rain” moment) are quietly revolutionary and showcase Sawayama’s immense capacity to subvert expectations and the status quo, all while making some of the best pop music—nay, music—out there.
If you haven’t gone down the Rina rabbit hole yet, I implore you to do so today. You’ll be glad you did. She’s gonna be around for a while.