iTunes Diaries, entry #3: “Like a Feather” by Nikka Costa

I was once a little…um, okay, terribly obsessed with iTunes.  I got my first iPod in 2004 and became immediately entranced by Apple’s seeming infinite lists of music for sale.  Over the years, I spent way too much time on iTunes and spent way too much money on music, some of which was great, and some of which was not.  In 2011, for the sake of my sanity and my bank account, I went cold turkey.  I suspended my iTunes activities and completely stopped visiting site.  With the iTunes Diaries, I take a look back, highlighting the good, the bad, and the ugly in music that I just had to have in the moment. 

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When I first heard Nikka Costa’s “Like a Feather” on the radio, I thought she was Prince. I mean, it was 2001, and there weren’t many women soul/blues/funk singers burning up mainstream radio at the time. Keep in mind this was before your Joss Stones and Amy Winehouses and Adeles. The alt-grunge sounds of the late 90s were finally starting to fade then, giving way to…what? Not much that’s terribly memorable, which might have been why “Like a Feather” stood out so strongly. It was super catchy and super fierce, which is why it made me envision Prince — particularly since a few of her sustained notes are very reminiscent of his sound.

And then I saw Costa’s video. Well…wow.

From YouTube user MABoNeR13

She’s so little! Where the hell does that voice come from? How is that scarf attached to her?! And am I going to seizure if I keep watching?? These were the things I wondered. Her video made into MTV’s regular rotation, her song was on every other local radio station; and after awhile it was kinda hard to escape her. While the song was very accessible, unfortunately, it was also very overplayed. Not knowing anything about Costa, I thought she was destined for one-hit-wonderville, and I eventually lost interest.

However….

Speed ahead to New Year’s Day 2006. I decided to create a razzle-dazzle, high-energy playlist to ring in  the new year, full of randomness from Smokey Robinson to KISS to Madonna to Prince. And while searching for a few classic Prince songs, who should pop up in the “listeners also bought…” section but Nikka Costa. I clicked on her album Everybody Got Their Something to discover that Costa was hardly a one-hit wonder.  In fact, she had released another record since her 2000/2001 debut, and I discovered she started her musical career at an early age. (She’s since release more albums, though her latest one, Pro*Whoa!, leaves much to be desired.) So, with only a little hesitation, and after the 30 second preview, I bought “Like a Feather” and Costa once more becames embedded in my memory.

“Like a Feather” remains one of my most favorite songs on that wacky playlist.  Her unique, soul-writhing sound can’t be ignored. When I hear the song now, I think less Prince and more Janis Joplin…raspy, funky, loud (but in a good way). Costa is still releasing albums, still performing, still offering fans were signature sound.  It’s great to know that she didn’t completely disappear into obscurity because those trains back from one-hit-wonderville are pretty elusive.

Everybody Got Their Something...do you? (source)
Everybody Got Their Something — yes, she’s got somethin’, alright… (source)

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