LiZ – PLANET Y2K REVIEW

One of my favorite revelations/realizations of 2019 is that there are actually a lot of people out there who love the Y2K era electro-pop music as much as I do. Sometimes when you are confined by the bubble that is Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I do not realize or get to see that there are people out there that like all the same weird stuff I do. It is impossible to not see the world’s love for Y2K pop music by now; with artists like Rina Sawayama, Slayyyter, and Charli XCX releasing the kind of music that they have been, it is easy to see that this bright and glitchy and almost robotic style of music is becoming as prevalent as it was when it originally started coming out. LiZ is an up and coming star that I have really been getting into this year because of her obvious love for this same era of music and art that I love so much. She has been making noise in the underground pop world for a while now but is only very recently starting to get the recognition she deserves. LiZ has this ability to tow the line between retro and modern so perfectly, with her whole sound and aesthetic literally feeling like it is a direct music of 2000s era pop music and EDM from the year 2099. Planet Y2K is honestly a pretty perfect name for this album; at times when listening to this record, it is tough to know if we have transported back to 2001 or if we have teleported onto some other planet full of alien robots who love to party. This album accomplishes exactly what LiZ wanted it to, and it does such a great job of introducing us to her world. This is a perfect album for anyone who needs to disassociate and imagine they are on that alien robot planet partying it up with the rest of us. If you are a person that needs a break from the seriousness of the real world, I will meet you on Planet Y2K.

The record starts out on a really bold note, with LiZ doing a cover of a song that you would probably not expect her to. ‘Cloudbusting‘ is a tribute to the great Kate Bush, and it sounds very natural and normal considering how different of a style of music is from the original. LiZ covering someone like Kate Bush is not as weirds as it seems, though; I mean even though their styles of music and art are way different, Kate Bush has always been known for pushing the boundaries of her art and combining multiple different styles of music, which is obviously what LiZ is trying to do as well. I never thought I would hear a pop cover of an 80s artsy/folk prof rock track and dig it, but LiZ’s rendition of ‘Cloudbusting’ is very cool and does the original justice while still being completely original. LiZ jumps right into her feels on the next song, ‘BTR TGTHR,’ which was one of the singles off of this record. You can probably figure out the feeling of the song from the first lines of the song which is also the chorus: Yeah, we were better together, I wish we’d never given up. Yeah I still want you forever, I wish I never did… ‘BTR TOGTHR’ sounds like if Britney Spears had decided to make music with Alice Deejay or DJ Sammy or another big Eurodance producer; it is a perfect and awesome mix of early 2000s Eurodance and early 2000s pop that was never done and definitely should have been done. ‘Diamond in the Dark,’ which features Slayyyter and was also a single, has developed into one of my favorite songs of the year because it is so catchy and such an earworm in the best way. Every time that I even think of the word “diamond” this song becomes stuck in my head, which has been enjoyable for me because that word does not pop up in my head enough for it to annoy me yet. ‘Diamond in the Dark’ sounds exactly like what a song between these two should sound, and I mean that in the best way. It is a sweet piece of electro-pop that sounds just as futuristic as it does retro; this is one of the songs on the album that could be from 2002 or 2053 or both. ‘Laguna Nights’ brings us back to 2019, as it is the first song that actually sounds like it was made in our era. This song is super sweet and fun and will make u want to party; the lyrics are very cute and fit the vibe of the instrumental well, as LiZ is asking her partner to just let go and be free with her tonight so they can rage with no worries for one night at least. ’Laguna Nights’ is an excellent party track, and I can’t wait until I’m at a function that plays it so I can cut up the dance floor and pretend I’m at the Laguna with LiZ.

I don’t know how I know, but I know I wanna be with you. Intuition tells me true, I’m in love with you…

‘Intuition’ pulls us back into the Y2K era, but actually exemplifies a different kind of music from this time period. This track has way more of an R&B feeling to it; in fact, I would say this track had to be inspired by artists like Brandi or Monica or Aaliyah. LiZ totally brings a 2019 style synth-pop vibe to the instrumental that probably would not have flown well in 2001, but overall this track has a very cool nostalgic R&B feeling to it. When I looked at the tracklist, I wondered if this next track would be a cover as well, or at least be heavily inspired by the song ‘Hey Mickey’ from the 1980s, but I actually do not think that is the case. When I read that the making of this song was assisted by Diplo, that totally made sense to me, because this is the most EDM feeling song so far, and the beat reminds me so much of some other Diplo music. In fact, the post-chorus of this song sounds very similar to the chorus of this old Diplo song called ‘Biggie Bounce’ that most people who listen to LiZ probably would not know. One thing I will say about Diplo is that he is really excellent at getting the most out of any particular style of beat or melody, so much so that there will be multiple songs by him or assisted my him that are very similar regardless of who he is making music with. ‘Bubblegum,’ which features Namasenda, plunges us back into LiZ’s weird and eclectic style of futuristic retro music, and this one is probably the strangest song of the album so far. ‘Bubblegum’ is truly unlike anything else you will hear; I guess that in a way it sort of reminds me of the chaotic Eurodance music that was made by the Vengaboys, but it is way more robotic and futuristic sounding. The melody on this song is as sticky as the lyrical content is. ‘Bubblegum’ is very experimental for LiZ, and I think that she pulls it off pretty well. On ‘Cool With It,’ LiZ soars back into the future, as this song reminds me a lot of Slayyyter, but it is even more wonky than most of her music. I love the deep bass infused with the dark melody on this song; it makes the vibe of the song very badass and almost sinister. This song does anything but roll with the punches, which is pretty ironic because the song is basically about ignoring the bullshit and going with the flow. The wacky and not typical instrumental creates a cool juxtaposition with the lyricism of the song; I always love it when people make music that has a melody or overall sound that seems to totally contradict what the artist is actually saying.

After the futuristic nature of the last few songs, it seems right that we would get a song that sounds like it came right out 2003, and ‘Lottery’ fits that mold very well. This track, which features Aja and was also released as a single, literally sounds like it could have been made in 2002 by Jewel or Kylie Minogue. I swear that I could play this for someone random who does not know who LiZ is and they would think that they recognized it because it really does sound so much like typical Y2K pop music. The chorus of ‘Lottery’ gives me very strong Britney Spears vibes; it is one of many moments on this record where LiZ’s love for Britney is super palpable. ‘Electricity’ does keep us strictly in the early 2000s vibe, but once again brings in a bit more of an R&B flavor. It is obvious that LiZ loved all forms of music that was popular in this era because she does not strictly stick to the Eurodance nature that one would typically associate with Y2K era music. I think songs like ‘Electricity’ are a rad switch up to hear from LiZ because it shows that she is not one dimensional in any way, and can, in fact, create pretty much any kind of music she wants and always find a way to make it her own. ‘Everybody’ gives us back that Eurodance vibe that I love so much, and it is probably one of my favorite songs on the record. This is one of the few songs on this project that literally sounds like it came out of a different time period; whereas most of the music on Planet Y2K seems like it is a modern or even futuristic spin on the music from the Y2K time period, this song literally just sounds like it was plucked from right out of that time period. It sounds so much like typical Y2K pop that if I heard it without knowing it was by LiZ, I would just assume its some random dope pop song that came out in 2002 by some random one-hit-wonder artist. This song just makes me want to get on the dance floor and groove the night away with some friends, just like all of my favorite Eurodance songs make me want to do. ‘Everybody’ is an awesome track and is definitely a sleeper pick for me as one of the best songs on the record. ‘Lost U 2 the Boys’ is a complete switcharoo from pretty much anything else on this record; even though it definitely still has that synthy electro-pop vibe that most of the album possesses, this song is the only one that has a Caribbean element to it. ‘Lost U 2 the Boys’ is like a futuristic and EDM infused version of mid-2000s reggaeton, and I am totally here for it. I love the idea of LiZ exploring these island vibes because they fit into the super open and party nature of the rest of her music really well. Considering the content from the rest of the record, one could see this song as a bit of a risk. I personally do see how it fits into the sound and vibe of Planet Y2K, but I can also see how maybe one would not pick up on how it fits in. That being said, if ‘Lost U 2 the Boys’ is a risky track for LiZ, I think that she totally nailed it, and I would love to hear her explore this kind of music more in the future.

My highs are so high like lavender skies, hazy and light. When I go low, wanna dive in a hole, into the steel blue. You read me like a mood ring…

‘Mood Ring,’ which features Ravenna Golden, is just as wacky and exciting as a song with this title should have. I do not even know how to describe this one; I feel like it has elements of all the kinds of music that has been exhibited on this album so far. I love how the lyricism uses color to relay their emotions in the way that an actual mood ring is supposed to do. ‘Mood Ring’ is glitchy and synthy and just chaotic, and I bet that it is definitely a favorite among the LiZ stans out there. ‘Hearts Don’t Break’ might be my favorite song on this record, as it is probably the one that sounds the most like a random Eurodance song. This song literally sounds like it could have come out in 2002 and could be by some DJ and singer that you have never heard of; it is the type of song that you would hear at 1 am in the club when your visions blurry and just want to dance. I will definitely be bumping ‘Hearts Don’t Break’ quite a bit in the future. ‘Hearts Don’t Break’ flows into the next song, ‘Baby Blue,’ so well that it is for sure my favorite transition on the album. ‘Baby Blue’ has a similar dance-pop vibe to the song that precedes it, but it is a bit more modern sounding; it is almost like what the 2019 version of a Eurodance track. It is another song that just makes me want to dance the night away, and I love that. ‘Baby Blue’ is another song that just makes me want to get out on that dance floor and rage. I have to say, this album closes out on a phenomenal note, because the next song ‘Last Call,’ is also one of my favorite songs on this project. This track lyrically is sort of like that Semi-Sonic song ‘Closing Time;’ it is basically about seeing those lights start to come on at the club and trying to find someone to take you home. For being a song about cooling it down at the end of the night, this song is still pretty upbeat and makes me want to dance. I suppose since it is labeled as the “Afterparty Mix” that we should assume that the after parties that LiZ throws or goes to have got to be lit as hell. ‘Last Call’ is a great way to end this album because it shows that LiZ is always energetic and upbeat and turning up, and it leaves me wanting so much more.

I am so glad to see so many artists in 2019 reviving this short-lived style of music that we grew up with and was so awesome. Eurodance and Y2K pop music has always made me happy because it is just so fun and positive, and LiZ’s Planet Y2K fits that bill perfectly. This record does a great job of highlighting all of the different kinds of pop music in the early 2000s, and updates all of these sounds in a synthy and glitchy way to make them still sound natural in 2019. My favorite thing about this record is the fact that it is 16 songs and it never sounds stale or starts to get boring; LiZ did an excellent job of making every single track engaging and fun. Planet Y2K makes me so excited to hear more music from LiZ in the future, as it shows that she is the best person to bring back all of these awesome sounds from our youth. Stream Liz’s Planet Y2K below and let me know which song you love!

7.9/10

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