Having fittingly released her latest single ‘Anyone But Me’ when we were all locked in our houses, Joy Crookes is a name to look out for. From lyrical openness about her own struggles with mental health to an unapologetic confidence in representing her Bangladeshi heritage, Crookes is a rising star from South London and an inspiration on social media.
The clear influences on her music have been Amy Winehouse and Lauryn Hill, which many articles have pointed out. But I think that she still keeps her sound very much her own with her personalised lyrics revolving around the importance of her hometown in South London, the hesitance to rely on those you love, and with ‘Anyone But Me’, her past struggles with depression and the wish to escape from yourself for a moment. Her songs are jazzy and husky, as you can see with songs like ‘Darkest Hour’ and ‘Don’t Let Me Down’, but the range is still there when she releases more upbeat music like ‘Hurts’ and ‘Man’s World’.
Her lyrics beautifully walk the line between bleak cynicism and warm sentimentality in songs like ‘London Mine’ where she shares the feeling of isolation and hopelessness in crowded cities like London but making it your home anyway. When speaking with Vogue magazine, she attributes much of her music to her Irish and Bangladeshi heritage, drawing inspiration from famous Irish writers like Van Morrison and Oscar Wilde and Indian music that has influenced the genre of jazz. Her music-making process is nothing short of ingenious when showing these influences, such as releasing a video in which she can be seen editing her own Irish river dancing to make a beat for a song.
What I appreciate most about Joy Crookes as a singer and a person with a platform is her brutal honesty whilst being a positive influence. In ‘Since I Left You’ she contrasts a lot of ‘girl-power’ songs that can be apathetic and cold in their celebration of independence and self-reliance with the admittance that “freedom doesn’t come for free”, and that putting yourself first is something that can also hurt. She has spent the lockdown and the summer months spreading awareness for the BLM movement with her slogan “Melanin is Not Your Enemy”, and putting educational content on her Instagram stories on social injustice regarding a variety of subjects such as the appropriation of South Asian culture and institutional racism.
Soon to release a new album, Joy Crookes is a genre of her own and we should definitely keep an eye out for what she produces in the near future.
Joy Crookes’ latest single ‘Anyone But Me’ is out now via Insanity Records.