If you remove the urgency out of the modern dance floor template, slow things down and chill things out and replace it with a rolling and hypnotic groove yet retain a sultry grace and understatement you arrive at a musical place where Katie Bates’ Naked is the leader of the pack. Employing the same downtempo minimalism as the likes of such alt-dance pioneers Portishead or Massive Attack, this is a sassy and sashaying piece of music, one which thinks very differently from the by-numbers pop and dance set which it will find itself competing with.
Aloofness, elegance and charm are threaded through shimmering beats, plaintive electronica washes through vocal delicacy, dance floor culture is turned into smoke and anagrams and dream-pop vibes soak into a wholly new sensual and understated EDM sound. It wanders the fringes of so many musical styles it is difficult to pin down, but rather than being a detraction it is actually its strongest selling point.
Have you ever heard a song and wondered whether or not the clap is electronically produced? Pop music definitely tricks us here and there with illusions of the simplest, most human sounds that our bodies can make. The One by Katie Bates begins with a whistle, and at the risk of being completely incorrect, I believe it is a genuinely human whistle. I don’t just think this because of its airy, imperfect nature. I think this because it sounds like a person who’s feeling something. It’s infectious. It’s like seeing a charming smile and catching yourself mirroring the expression.
Katie Bates isn’t shooting for the stars with The One, but she’s putting forth honesty in a fashion that’s enjoyable and appreciable. This song is a breath of fresh air for the morning commute in a world where every song is written for the night out. This is a song that you can skip to instead of grinding to. The song doesn’t sacrifice production quality for a tonal shift that is much needed all too often. Even if that whistle is some sort of electronic mischief, after a single listen, you’ll find yourself whistling for real.