Caroline Polachek may be unknown to many in the music industry, but she’s becoming a major force in the alternative-pop music scene. Her breakout could be considered a consequence of her viral Tik Tok hit “So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings,” which came out in 2019, but Polachek is most likely going to soar as an artist throughout the next few years to come.
Polachek was born in New York City in 1985, so she was used to growing up in unique places. She lived for a short period of time in Tokyo, Japan, and Connecticut. After her time in Tokyo, the singer became inspired by its culture, causing much of her musical influences to be centered around traditional Japanese music and anime.
In high school, Polachek entered the world of music by being apart of several bands. When she enrolled at the University of Colorado, she became fast friends with Aaron Pfenning, a student and fellow musician who would become her first collaborator. Together, they would found their band Chairlift.
Later, the duo added Patrick Wimbley and went on to release two albums, a few singles and music videos, several of which were directed by Polachek herself. Chairlift is best known for its song “Bruises,” a folk-pop song that is sonically worlds apart from Polachek’s current music catalog.
For the next 12 years, the singer continued to write music, sing, direct and tour with Chairlift, while also branching out into her solo career. In 2013, Polachek was given an opportunity to write a song for Beyonce. She had been working on a song a year prior called “No Angel,” which ended up being the fifth track on Beyoncé’s self-titled fifth studio album.
After the success of “No Angel,” Polachek released her debut solo album Arcadia before the hiatus of Chairlift in 2017, except under the name of Ramona Lisa. Interestingly, the album was produced solely from Polachek’s computer while on tour with her band, with no instruments or external microphones.
That year, 2017, was also when Polachek became well-acquainted with Charli XCX. Polachek was even featured on “Tears (ft. Caroline Polachek)” on Charli XCX’s highly acclaimed electronic-pop album Pop 2. The feature helped expand Polachek’s vision as a performer and helped her to explore a new side of herself.
Arcadia was a foreshadowing of what would come just two years later with Pang, showing off her distinctive vocals and unique accompanying visuals under her actual name. Polachek was able to transform in her sound, becoming more confident through the use of synths and 80s-inspired production.
Pang also was defiant in its lyrics, not afraid to address the many taboos attached to women in the music industry. She sang of giving into vulnerability and letting go of your fear and anxieties and to embrace what life throws at you, making the album a real, raw and honest listen.
Although Polachek didn’t officially start her solo career until she was 34, it doesn’t mean that her time has passed. In an interview with Music is Her Passion, Polachek said, “I’m just beginning. I think women are taught in the music industry that once you’re 35, you’ve expired, and I’m here to prove that’s factually incorrect.”
The singer is ready to evolve her sound yet again as she just released “Billions,” a seductive, existential song about feeling like you’ve lost your purpose in life. While it’s already a completely different sound than any track from Pang, it proves that Polachek isn’t afraid to keep pushing herself as an artist.