Battle of the Chicks: Niki’s Dove Vs. Santi’s Gold

by Charissa Lock

Since both these ladies have had album releases in May, I figured it would be fun to have them battle their female talents with their albums speaking for their abilities and general jam-worthy nature.   Though for Niki & the Dove, there is a male counterpart adding to the musical instrumentation and in no way do I want to ignore their addition to the creation of the record.  However, two chicks fighting is always fun to talk about.  After listening to Niki & The Dove’s Instinct on repeat a handful of times and listening to a handful of Santigold’s Master of My Make-Believe tunes, I stereotypically categorized each album to the type of person who would really enjoy each.  Niki received spunky European college students while Santigold was deemed music of American females that habitually attend the club scene Thursday through Saturday.

Miss Santigold has been around for five years, so she has the upper hand by being able to get across her passion in the best possible way she knows how.  Based on previous accomplishments in music, Santigold receives a solid point.   Niki & the Dove (consisting of Gustaf Karlöf on keyboards and Malin Dahlström with vocals) however, have recently begun their musical career in 2010 with their debut album Instinct.  Due to it being released everywhere except the United States – they start off with negative one.

Master of My Make-Believe begins with “GO!” bringing the listener into a modernized traditional Asian dance – on speed.  This is a good thing by the way.  It’s my favorite song on the album because it has all the elements that make a sophisticated electro song worthy of listening to with just enough motion in the right spots.   Santigold steadily increases ground with an extra 2 points for the intro, and is now at 3.

We’re introduced to Instinct with Niki’s “Tomorrow” a single from their album and rightfully so.  It has a great build up with a quiet beginning, but being able to go to a place of epic proportions by the chorus.  Listening to this track makes you want to fall in love with someone, anyone at that very moment and float into the clouds (this clearly wouldn’t help the relationship, but I can’t help how she makes me feel).    Any song that forces me to love and sends me to the sky deserves multiple points and Niki ties things up.

We’re now at 3-3 and are about to tackle the general consensus of each. As a whole Santigold is leaning more towards a Minaj mess and has less respectable music because the focus has become more on vocal distortion and/or “rapping” taking place of fulfilling beats (automatic deduction of a point).  Songs are a bit on the boring side (“The Riot’s Gone”), and some downright annoying (“Freak Like Me,” “Look At These Hoes”).   Though she semi-keeps the reggae and M.I.A. feel, you expect a bit more movement in the songs or more outrageous beats and she doesn’t quite bring it.  This leaves her with a 2.  However, in some cases where vocals aren’t being used as music and music is, the synth makes things a bit more exciting.   Due to some decent beats, Santigold is now at 4.

As the tracks progress Niki & the Dove, have a lot going for them, songs are exciting or if they’re more low-key there’s always a good melody or just the right addition of instrumentation to make it stand out.   With a Madonna-esque vibe bringing a tinge of ballad to an all around electropop atmosphere, it is different, though has a sense of familiarity involved.  Beginning to gain ground on Santigold, Niki is now at 8.  There are a few moments where Dahlström delves into a bit too much heavy breathing with a high-pitched whininess, but it isn’t enough to discredit her vocals on a whole.   Because of this, I tend to appreciate the more upbeat songs because they tend to have less of the previously discouraging vocal moments.  The presence of the whininess results in -1 and Niki & the Dove is now at 7.

For Santigold to have any chance of coming back, she’ll need something that I can commend.  As I go through her album again, I’m not having much luck at finding this.  This is until I realize that in some songs there is room for good background music and “This isn’t Our Parade” and “Pirate In the Water” mixes Nintendo-type notes mixing with a Jamaican vibe, which is a unique touch.   Then looking at the song titles, Santigold is rather creative and with all of this, she has now moved up to 5.

For the possibility of Niki leaving Santigold in the dust, it is only fair that their album be relooked at.  Within 30 seconds, I remember how much I enjoyed “Somebody,” flashmob song of the year.  This track truly tempts me getting out of my seat at the coffee shop I’m in (that could also be due to the fact that I just finished a Chippi).  This song receives a point, and Niki is pulling ahead with 8.  “The Gentle Roar” is one where a “seriously?” escaped from my lips as I heard all the whispering that takes place during the pre-chorus.  However, it ends up becoming more of an extra instrumentation (and I say extra and not in place of) which makes it quite respectable.  So although I deducted points in my head when I first heard it, the points were given back because I realized I enjoyed it after all.

Well folks, we are at the end and the clear winner here is Niki & the Dove, and evidently the one that I am going to have on repeat for days.   I’m sure the more I listen, the more I’ll subconsciously add points.   At first these two females stayed pretty close, but Santigold just didn’t have the enthusiasm and catchiness required to drown out Instinct.   Instead of standing out and being on the fine line between dance club and respectable electronic/reggae, Santigold is taking the step of dance club seeming to appease to the likes of Ke$ha fans. A shame. However, it certainly makes you enjoy Niki & the Dove that much more.


Niki & the Dove’s Instinct – 8
Santigold’s Master of My Make-Believe – 5

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