Nadia Vaeh’s “Never Leave the Basement” (SINGLE/VIDEO)
Everywhere you look and listen, it’s been there – isolation has undeniably been the most common theme in pop music over the past year, and given the circumstances, it certainly makes a lot of sense. 2020 gave birth to a new subgenre in quarantine pop that centered almost exclusively on Zoom call-style music videos and insular lyricism of the most self-aware sort, and about three months into the pandemic, critics were already getting pretty sick of it (myself included). Nadia Vaeh’s new single and music video “Never Leave the Basement” doesn’t just lampoon the past year in pop, but instead improves upon a concept her peers have woefully turned into a generational joke we can’t wait to forget.
The vibrant strum of the guitar in the background here adds to the depth of the melodicism in “Never Leave the Basement” and definitely spotlights one of the greatest problems similarly-stylized material has faced; instrumental tininess. Vaeh’s entire approach to this song appears to be rooted in creating a cerebral, full-bodied sound with nothing more than the same instruments her contemporaries would struggle to accomplish much of anything with. The mix isn’t the star of the show, but merely a catalyst for the catharsis she’s dishing out behind the mic.
These lyrics are more self-conscious than claustrophobic, and there’s never a moment in which it feels like Vaeh is rattling off the predictable poeticisms of someone lost to the emotional perils of cabin fever. She’s lucid in her verses and very straightforward in her delivery, and both of these attributes alone put her leaps and bounds ahead of rivals’ pseudo-surreal stylization of virtually the same narrative. It’s essentially the same story with the music video, which has become one of the few releases of its kind that I would consider aesthetically stimulating.
The harmonies aren’t centered on the vocal in “Never Leave the Basement,” but instead the guitar parts guiding the verses behind it in the arrangement, and this is yet another winning move for Vaeh’s voice. She isn’t having to contend with the lush tonal presence of the strings because they’re starting her verses before she ever does. The guitar is more or less an extension of her singing rather than just another instrument used as a springboard from which to launch her expression, which is something I could only wish to have seen more of in the past six months of following the pop beat.
Nadia Vaeh admittedly has a very hook-driven sound, but I think that’s helping her to rise through the ranks as quickly as she is this season. While others are focusing almost exclusively on experimentation, this is a singer/songwriter who doesn’t mind taking a stock beat and dressing it up with a sexy melody and some original lyricism, even going so far as to use her originality to poke some fun at the less-than-unique sounds of her rivals. She’s sold me on her style, and I’m looking forward to hearing what it might produce in the near future.