If you’ve somehow missed the buzz around Pharrell’s protege, former NYU Clive Davis Institute student, current rising star Maggie Rogers, now’s the perfect time to catch up on what she’s been up to lately. Most recently, Rogers dropped her new single “On and Off” on Jan. 20, the third from her upcoming debut EP “Now That The Light Is Fading.” Still, her 2016 boasted a mountain of activity leading up to the single drop.
A viral video of Rogers’ performance during a Clive Davis class, where her song brought pop star Pharrell Williams to tears, blew her career through the roof. Since then, her singles “Alaska” and “Dog Years” have been played nearly 30 million times on Spotify. The music video for “Alaska” has 2 million views on YouTube, and within two days of being dropped, her single has already been played over 80,000 times on YouTube alone. She made the laudable Billboard year-end best-of list of musicians, not to mention landing spots on a host of other year-end list as well.
Now, headed into the last few weeks before her EP release on Feb. 17, Rogers once again returns to the scene with a song that tends to defy easily-applied labels like indie, pop, rock or synth. Her voice dances around the synth like synth music tends towards, and the drum beats are undeniably poppy, but between the cool, introspective lyrics, just-so timed twinkling keyboard and sudden bass lines, pinning her down is
“On and Off” starts with an insistent bass / drum beat, and Rogers’ clear voice grabs listeners by the lapel and brings them into the song without a moment’s hesitation. The chorus begs “take me to the place where you always go / when sleeping all day takes you low, so low.” It’s an unapologetic plea for connection, both for Rogers and the addressee. The sort of desperate connection felt only when you’re as low as you can get and that sudden text from a friend or Snapchat from a significant other brightens your day beyond reason dances around the lyrics, just evading Rogers and her listeners. Still, it seems like the song is just what she and her fans looking for — but leaving off in the middle of a line, without a root chord cadence to give the song any conclusion, keeps it just out of reach.
The track is a marvelously crafted piece, just as her others have been, and it’s clear that her EP will make as strong an artistic statement as could be made about life by a college-aged women in 2017.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Jan. 23 print edition. Email Hailey Nuthals at [email protected]