new pop star miss world deserves a crown for her meme-inspired music
She sings about Instagram and lip fillers and dances with blow up dolls on stage. We asked her about world peace.
“Me and my friend got a fake joint Tinder profile in LA a few years ago for 24 hours to see what would happen. We ended up almost dying in this guy's car while he was sniffing coke from the steering wheel. It was gross and terrifying, but it made for a great story.” Miss World -- aka Natalie Chahal -- is describing her experiences with the turbulent world of Internet dating. It’s not really the answer you’d expect from the world’s number one pageant queen, but that’s probably because she isn’t a pageant queen at all. She’s a grunge-infused garage popstar who named herself after a Hole song, eats bananas on stage flanked by blow-up dolls called Freya and Angeline, and sings songs about Instagram and lip fillers.
“FOMO made me do it,” Natalie says of her decision launch her first solo mission as Miss World off the back of her duo venture, Shit Girlfriend, “a fun and liberating project that helped me to stop caring so much and pushed me to release something”. So, why the FOMO? “I write songs about Internet shopping, overpriced rent and plastic surgery, things that I hear people talking about all the time,” Natalie explains. “I thought I better put these out soon before it all becomes irrelevant.”
While we would actually quite like to see overpriced rent rendered irrelevant yesterday, we doubt that Miss World has to worry about slipping into the Internet’s black hole of forgotten kitten content and Where Are They Now! listicles. Because it’s so refreshingly of our generation -- while some popstars still rely on hopelessly soppy romances to fuel their glossy concoctions, Miss World’s electric guitar-lined tracks inhabit the same sphere as the group Whatsapp in which you boomerang memes with your BFFLs. Click n Yr Mine is about falling in love on the Internet. Put Me in a Movie dwells on cyberspace-induced narcissism. Lip Job is about getting a lip job (“fuller, fuller, fuller, fuller, fuller, it’s worth it”). Buy Me Dinner is about getting a Tinder date to buy her dinner. “I usually have a title before I start,” she says of her songwriting process. “I like to think of titles that sound like memes or Instagram captions.”
Miss World’s sound is similarly antithetical to much of the saccharine pop of today, which can often sound like it was made in a petri dish by suits trying to perfect the enigmatic Number One Hit Formula. But like the self-directed/edited/styled/set-designed music video for Put Me in a Movie we’re premiering below, Miss World’s songs are DIY. “I either write the whole song on the guitar from start to finish and record it later. Or I write a guitar riff, record it onto the computer with some drums, loop it, sing some random melodies on top, listen back and figure out which parts I like.” The resulting EP, Waist Management, is one underpinned by a surging wall of electric guitar, minimal fancy production and the undeniable influence of the 90s grunge and rock bands she cites as inspiration -- Hole, Nirvana, Sonic Youth, Weezer, to name a few.
And while 90s rock conjures up visions a of pre-cyberspace age at odds with the Internet references punctuating Miss World’s music, it’s actually quite reflective of much of today’s Internet culture -- low-fi, DIY, unfiltered. A reactive tweet fired off without paralysing overanalysis, a chorus that she liked just because. Not that it’s all fun and ‘grams: “I don't think it's healthy. I let myself get away with so many guilty pleasures because I find it an inspiring and contemporary subject matter. It's funny, but it's so concerning if you really think about it, it's a fake world but we let it get into our real brains and affect our real lives.”
Curious to get a bit more insight into the world of Miss World, real or otherwise, we quizzed her with questions fit for actual pageant queens, because she’s smart and witty and would do a better job of ruling the planet than some of our so-called leaders. That said, she doesn’t have all the answers: “What does the order of people who watched your story mean?” Natalie asks us. “That's something I want to find out. There are reddit threads and podcasts trying to figure that one out. But so far, no one knows.” Please, DM us when you find the answer.
If you got the chance to speak in front of all the leaders of the world, what would you speak about?
Let's get rid of borders. Brexit was the worst decision ever.
What has been the world's greatest invention and why?
The credit card. The Internet. And the electric guitar.
Cyber-bullying is a massive problem these days. How would you solve this?
Live your life for yourself, not for someone else's opinion.
What is the most important quality that Miss World should possess?
What do you think should we be teaching the next generation about protecting our planet?
Recycle and don't mix it up ok, it's very important not to do that. How do we make sure people aren't mixing recycling in public bins? That really stresses me out.
If you had an opportunity to change something about the world, what would it be?
End the fucking patriarchy. End nepotism. End xenophobia. Equality rules.
Buy Miss World's EP here.