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WINIFRED 12 08 2023 491 Landscape

On "Want It Bad", Winifred makes clear she doesn't want to sign away her autonomy for accolades

23 November 2023, 12:00 | Written by Thomas Turner

Australian rising star Winifred delivers a powerfully punchy pop track "Want It Bad", taking aim at how powerfully punchy pop tracks are often the product of a competitive and ever-churning industry

In a year where music was dominated by the chromatic thrill and signature polish of Australian pop exports like Kylie Minogue and Troye Sivan, Winifred from Townsville in Far-North-Queensland adds another to the number. Quite aptly hailing from down under, Winifred has begun carving her artistic voice as a pop star in the making unafraid to turn the genre on its head. This isn’t just by creating a sound that resides on the fringes of dance, is tinged with darker, alt undertones, and is infused with electronic pulses that elevate her echoey vocals. In fact, the very narrative tug of her latest single “Want It Bad” parodies and takes aim at industry expectations of the genre.

"I wrote 'Want It Bad' at a time when the music industry, to me, felt like one big rat race,” Winifred explains of the track. “I was feeling disenchanted and torn between my love of music and having to work in an industry that feels self-serving and transactional. I was almost embarrassed by it. I was looking around me at all these hungry artists with the same ambitions and passion as me and thinking, ‘it’s no secret how badly you all want this’, which made me ask myself, ‘How badly do I want this, and what is it exactly that I’m chasing?’”

With the production simultaneously claustrophobic in its intentional sparsity, but also riveting in its reverberations, the lyrics of "Want It Bad" reflect Winifred's own despondence with the way the industry has made her feel. "Sign your name on the dotted line in blood / would you pay?", the song poses in its opening lines; "you can taste the acclaim / ain't no secret you want it bad." Overlaid with blown-out vocals reminiscent of Caroline Polachek or Hannah Diamond, the song has a snarling bark but is well aware of its irony in being - for all intents and purposes - a pretty great pop tune itself.

The accompanying visual of the track wouldn't feel amiss pulled from the Black Mirror universe, satirically depicting a highly glamourised music awards TV performance. Whilst Winifred floats through heavily choreographed dance moves like an industry puppet crafted to go through the manufactured motions, her face seems vacant and removed. Inter-spliced with scenes of her in sweeping natural landscapes, we understand the stark contrast between the inhibited outside world and the superficially styled and manicured echo chamber of the industry.

There is a great sadness in the fact that everyone knows what Winifred is singing about on the track, and the questions she poses are purely rhetorical. It takes a second to understand who she is asking - an up-and-comer in the industry perhaps, a friend in the same line of work? - but the track reaches new heights once we realise she is directing these comments and observations inwardly. It is her that has been made to feel like she is signing away her autonomy for accolades. For all its introspection, and ironic or not, "Want It Bad" is a polished pop track and delivers an intriguing window into the world of Winifred - an artist hyper-aware of the meta-narrative of artistry and finding inspiration from its insanity.

"Want It Bad" is out now. Find Winifred on Instagram.

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