SPARKING JOY CROOKES
Crooksie told me not to fall in love too early, but it’s hard not to.
Simple, honest, but powerful: that was my first impression of Joy Crookes when I stumbled upon her music last year. Her music video for “Don’t Let Me Down” first caught my eye when I noticed that the video icon featured what I thought was modeled after the avalokitesvara (千手觀音) dance, with Crookes front and center. Later, I would learn that she was channeling the Goddess Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth and fortune. As a second generation Bengali, Crookes dove into her own background and Indian history to channel the goddess' particular energy. The many arms of Lakshmi symbolize Crooke’s strength in overcoming heartbreak, each muscle pulsing with the complex vitality of recovery. The production value of the music video is minimalistic- just Crookes singing to the camera as the arms behind her twist and turn. The effect is, in turn, hypnotic: the avalokitesvara becomes an optical illusion, a melodic lull towards Crooke's vocals.
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me working out the album. And also reasons to like u. And also what gluten free meal my intolerant ass can have. And working out my chances to win the national lottery. And working out why the country has shot itself in the foot and are celebrating it today. Lots on my mind
The hypnotic qualities lingered. I constantly hummed the song while running errands, and the lyrics soon embedded themselves into my consciousness and memory. I still remember being in awe of the line “I know you’re the type to tip waiters with all your emotions” (can i just repeat-- what! a! line!). Her piercing accusation brought to mind discussions among my friends about what the treatment of waiters reveals about a person. And, let's be real - we need no further prompting to immediately conjure up the memory of (or is it lingering displeasure with?) someone to fit the description.
In her song “Since I Left You,” Crookes also creates powerful but simple imagery in her opening lines, “Since I left you / I roam like a penny.” Another key literary technique - hook your audience with a strong beginning. The piano starts off soft and slow, and her husky voice fills your ears with the feeling of sorrow that washes over you as the song soothes you into a quiet melancholy. Her music is, in short, a work of alchemy: a deep and husky voice, understated lyrics delivering quiet, captivating vulnerability. Her live performances, however, betray a third weapon: confidence, seduction, unmistakable warmth.
One of Crookes’ charms is that she is so grounded in what she is and does--in her culture, in her hometown, in herself. She returns to these roots in all parts of her music and artistry. Her hometown, London, is a clear influence in her artistic direction. Take “Two Nights," for example: she walks through a market in a tiger print coat as she hangs out with vendors and shoppers alike, buys fruits from a stand, and casually dances on a rooftop against the backdrop of the night with a beer in hand. In “London Mine,” we start in what can be assumed is her apartment and follow her as she roams around London in a casual stroll until she jumps into a convertible that takes her around the city. This is interspersed with various clips of other Londoners eating breakfast, dancing at the tube stop, and hanging out on the streets as Crookes shows her love of the city. The beauty and uniqueness of London shines in this music video with its diverse people and clearly vibrant energy. In “Since I Left You,” Crookes sings as she sits on a stool amongst a washing line with hanging clothes, her brother sitting in the right corner. She wears a long yellow dress, so long it drapes on the floor, perhaps a physical representation of what is dragging her down emotionally. Much like “Don’t Let Me Down,” her magic is in the video's stripped-down honesty. Crookes sings, seated, as tears roll down her cheeks, at times looking at the camera and at times gazing far away.
Born in South London to an Irish-Bangladeshi family, Crookes’ cultures and surroundings have clearly influenced her creative direction. The many influences that she had in her upbringing undoubtedly had a hand in creating the sound and imagery that Crookes makes today. She includes parts of her heritage within her appearances and craft, from the poetic lyricism she inherited from her father to the jewelry she wears.
Recently, she announced on Twitter that she’s working out her new album. I’m counting down the days until that announcement, because I can only logically hope that what follows an album is a tour.
P.S Crookes also does a cute little segment called Cooking with Crooksie where she invites a friend over, cooks a meal, and just hangs out with them. She’s only got three episodes so far, but hopefully this turns into a series.