Content warning: This article contains links to online musical performances that contain explicit language.
Today, on December 8th, 2020, Chloe x Halle’s NPR Tiny Desk (at home) Performance was released on NPR Music’s YouTube channel. If you haven’t heard of this harmonic sister duo, I offer my sincerest apologies. Chloe x Halle have a distinct, melodious sound, paired with smooth R&B beats. During this studio performance, the sisters cycle through tracks on their latest album, Ungodly Hour. The pair is accompanied by a nine-piece all female band, mingling to create an absolutely delightful musical experience. Needless to say, I cannot recommend their music enough, and this Tiny Desk serves as a wonderful introduction for new listeners.
The set begins with the track Don’t Make it Harder on Me. The song starts out slow and smooth, with Chloe introducing the lyrics in a subdued tone. The song begins with a certain gentleness, which eventually ramps up into an incredibly catchy beat. The sisters bob and sway way in tandem, and it’s clear from just the visual cues that they play off of each other as artists beautifully. I mean, honestly, if you muted the video and just watched the way they move to their respective parts, you would just be able to tell that these two are an unbreakable dynamic duo. Their musical talent transcends sound, even; it’s incredible. Even a glance at their wardrobe speaks to their complimentary artistry; they both look relaxed and comfortable, and, frankly, completely cool. The track tells the story of a girl attempting to reject the advances of a lover who missed his initial chance. There’s an implication that the resistance is difficult on the part of the narrator; that another relationship keeps the her from caving in. Chloe x Halle breathe life into these lyrics flawlessly. I can’t even describe the feeling of hearing a new rendition of this song that I continually loop in my car.
Following this track is Baby Girl, a heartfelt song dedicated to female fans around the globe to continue to believe in and empower themselves. This song also contains themes of women speaking to and taking care of the young girl inside of them – constantly striving to be in awe of themselves, and constantly growing. At least, that’s my interpretation. The performance is wonderful — I can’t add on very much aside from that.
The next track is Do It. Now, I’m a bit sparse on musical vocabulary, so I don’t know exactly how to convey how good this song sounds on the Tiny Desk. I’ll land on this: it’s absolutely incredible. The sisters add on a rapping section to the track, which is absolutely jaw dropping. Chloe’s low tone perfectly sways the very Pop sound of the song into a fast-paced rap. It’s almost effortless. This entire performance is so fun and full of personality – particularly notable is Chloe’s dancing and gesticulation as she preforms. Of course, as usual, the two provide absolutely stunning vocals. Please, treat your ears, and take a listen to their performance of Do It.
Up next is Ungodly Hour, the title track of the album. Again, I lack the vocabulary to describe this stellar performance. It’s just an experience you have to have for yourself. There’s just so much personality in each and every lyric – Halle echoes the lyrics “holler at me / call up on me” with an honestly hilarious flair of nonchalance. It screams, “When you get it together, you come to me, and I won’t accept anything less.” The whole thing is so animated. It’s amazing!
Finally, to end this amazing ride, Chloe x Halle perform Wonder What She Thinks of Me, my personal favorite track on the Ungodly Hour album. Oh, it’s just so beautiful, and it’s even better on this Tiny Desk. The song details the experience of being the “other woman” in an affair, wondering aloud of what the unfaithful man’s wife thinks of the narrator. It’s such a human song; there’s so much raw emotion. There’s so much pain, so much uncertainty, so much longing. And in this performance, it is all so palpable; the pleading of a woman who isn’t sure what she’s doing is right, but knows that she can’t be worse than the husband who engaged with her in the first place. This song, tonally, is much more dramatic and slow. It’s one of those songs you lay down and stare at the ceiling to. Truly, it makes me feel lucky to be alive in 2020 – I know, I know – just so I can listen to this wonderful album and feel all of the emotion put into it.
After viewing Chloe x Halle’s riveting performance, I recommend perusing the NPR music channel to discover more artists through their Tiny Desks. There are some true gems – like performances from the late Mac Miller, as well as Tyler, The Creator. Renew your passion for music, and experience these for yourself.