Icona Pop toasting 2020 with W Aspen performance
IF YOU GO …
Who: Icona Pop
What: ‘Light it Up’ New Year’s Eve Party
Where: W Aspen
When: Tuesday, Dec. 31, 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.
How much: $400; table packages $6,000-$15,000; free for hotel guests
Tickets: 970-431-0800; tablelist.com
Released by the Swedish duo in in 2012, the synth-pop collaboration with Charli XCX — simultaneously a break-up song and an exhilarating dance track — is the kind of timeless pop concoction that’s so ubiquitous and instantly familiar that it’s hard to believe there was a time it didn’t exist.
In its best songs of the 2010s wrap-up, NME wrote that “I Love It” “proved to be the ultimate go-off anthem in the giddy days of summer 2012.” Rolling Stone’s called the song’s oft-quoted “I’m a ’90s bitch” line “one of the more bumper-sticker-worthy generational salvos of the 2010s.”
But as Icona Pop’s Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo recalled recently, they’d been touring with the song for about two years before it broke out as a global sensation.
“It was a crazy ride,” Hjelt wrote in an email. “‘I Love It’ was so different from every other pop song on the radio all around the world, but somehow it connected with people.”
For many, the song is indelibly linked to HBO’s “Girls” and the scene of Lena Dunham’s Hannah singing along to it in a pivotal second season club scene.
Jawo recalled that episode airing in January 2013 was the turning point for the song, which leapt from being a hipster hit into the stratospheric smash and generational anthem. It jumped into the Top 50 on iTunes the next day and soon climbed to No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and went double platinum. Tours with Katy Perry, One Direction and Miley Cyrus soon followed.
“We really noticed a huge difference when the song was featured in an episode of ‘Girls,’” Jawo said. “It just exploded. I still don’t think we realize how big the song was and still is.”
On New Year’s Eve 2013, the duo performed at the ball drop in Times Square for a global television audience.
“That was really a dream come true,” Jawo said. “We’ve only seen it on TV and suddenly we were standing there counting down to the New Year.”
Icona Pop is closing the decade with a performance at the W Aspen on New Year’s Eve 2019, as the centerpiece of the hotel’s “Light It Up” party. The W has given Aspen’s apres-ski and nightlife scene a shot in the arm since it opened in August, shifting the town’s social center of gravity away from long-established spots with buzzy events like this Icona Pop show and a recently announced pop-up of West Hollywood’s The Abbey Food & Bar during Gay Ski Week next month.
Making their Aspen debut with the W performance, Icona Pop is thrilled to be here.
“We absolutely love doing New Year’s Eve shows,” Hjelt said. “It’s always a good vibe, you can really feel the excitement and I think the only challenge is to be away from your friends and family.”
And though they’ve performed in stadiums and to massive outdoor audiences at the biggest music festivals in North America and Europe, Icona Pop still feels at home in an intimate nightclub space like the W’s.
“We’ve done so many different kinds of shows, everything from super-small clubs to massive arena shows, but we love both,” Hjelt said. “When we play smaller venues we can usually get a closer connection to the audience. “
Since their breakout work with Charli XCX on “I Love It,” the duo has collaborated with the likes of Louis the Child, Ty Dolla $ign and Afrojack. They said they seek out artists that will challenge them.
“You can do something totally different and go out of your comfort zone when you collaborate with someone,” Jawo said. “It usually turns out super cool and interesting.”
Most recently, they teamed with New Orleans bounce rapper Big Freedia on her new album, including the single “Louder,” released in November. Hjelt said they teamed up by accident, meeting when they were recording in adjacent Los Angeles studios.
“We bumped into Freedia in the studio and she asked us if we wanted to join her on her album,” she recalled. “A couple days later we were recording two awesome songs.”
Looking back on the decade, the duo — formed in 2009 — is pleased.
“Sometimes you forget to stop for a second and see how far you’ve come,” Hjelt said. “We’ve definitely reached our goals. Our dream was to be able to tour and write music as a job and that’s what we are doing.”
They have been working on new material and writing music over the past year, planning on new releases in 2020. But for now, their eyes are on the snow.
“We are both skiers,” Jawo said. “I am not very good but I absolutely love it. We’ll be there a couple of days before and after the show. So you’ll absolutely see us on the slope enjoying life.”
Anderson Ranch Arts Center’s new fall lecture series will run weekly from Oct. 20 through Dec. 6. The lineup consists of artists nationwide who will be spending one to three weeks at the ranch completing projects within their area of expertise and exploring new work in the studios.