Iggy Azalea is more popular than the Beatles. OK, that’s not technically true — she’s as popular as the Beatles. You might remember that last week, we reported that Iggy became the first artist to have her first two singles “rank at Nos. 1 and 2 simultaneously” since 1964, when, thanks to “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “She Loves You,” teenage girls everywhere realized it was OK to scream like a banshee in public. It’s a feat you can understand happening to someone like Katy Perry, but…Iggy Azalea? Where did she come from, and why is she suddenly so popular? Let’s try to figure it out.
1. She has a good story.
Growing up in Mullumbimby, New South Wales, as Amethyst Amelia Kelly, Iggy (the name of her first dog) Azalea (the street she grew up on) first grabbed the attention of the music industry when she uploaded videos of herself freestyling, followed by the music videos for “Pu$$y” and “My World,” co-starring Tom Lister, an Internet hero. This is all happened in 2011, only a year after she had been a complete unknown, hailing from a town with just over 3,000 residents.
2. She gets the Internet.
Unlike, say, Taylor Swift, Iggy’s online presence is refreshingly her. Recent tweets include, “Well I’m very pleased, last year seemed impossible to convince anyone in the music business I could break into the top 100…So let this serve as proof anything is possible & I hope we see more female rappers new and established in the charts. Dope stuff, thanks!” and “fan wars back and forth and all that shit is all bullshit.” There’s also the Clueless music video, and her Instagram. But we’ll get to that. Also:
3. She’s endlessly think piece’d.
Half the “fun” of being a pop star is subjecting yourself to loud HOT TAKES from complete strangers, and because Iggy is a white, female rapper from Australia who raps with an American accent, well, they don’t get much louder than think pieces with headlines like, “Is Iggy Azalea ‘the realest’ or is her authenticity up for interpretation?” She’s a conversation starter, with a majority of opinions falling in the “she’s the worst” or “she’s the best” categories, with little option of anything in-between. Both sides are overcompensating, and Iggy becomes less a rapper than a prop in an endless debate.
4. She’s mainstream talented.
Iggy isn’t a great rapper by any means, but she has a pretty good, if overly calculated flow and a knack for ear-worming hooks. Critics weren’t kind to her oft-delayed, optimistically titled debut studio album, The New Classic (with good reason — it’s the sound of 2011, released in 2014), but beyond the bow-down hit singles, there’s an undeniable weirdness to some of it, and I hope her becoming so popular doesn’t suppress her welcome mischievousness in favor of heavily manufactured pop-hop.
5. She, well…
The “iggy butt real or fake” Google search rabbit hole is endless. Believe me, I know.