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(Credit: Aurelien Guichard)

Music

A 105-track playlist chronicling the career of Karen O

@TomTaylorFO

“Band that I’ve loved over the years are the ones that have a certain myth around them.” – Karen O.

When Karen O burst on the scene with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, guitar music was floundering. Thankfully, in the many indie dive bars of New York, a quiet revolution was underway. Along with the likes of The Strokes and various other scratchy bands putting melody back at the fore, Karen O and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs helped to save rock ‘n’ roll for the ten-thousandth time in its often-threatened but never bettered lifespan. 

Karen O was the energetic driving force behind the band, so energetic, in fact, that in the early she once even danced her way towards an off-stage stumble and essentially had to be dragged to the hospital, only to complete the rest of the tour in a wheelchair. This, although a laughable example, was the sort of vigour the indie needed to become relevant once more, and it has to be said that Karen O was one of the most instrumental characters in doing so.

As she once said herself, “I’m in the camp that needs to discover and take risks, sometimes it’s with the promise of something special and new, sometimes it’s to stay awake, either way, it’s much more stressful with all the uncertainty but worth the pain in the end.” This daring has kept her in good stead throughout her continually evolving career. 

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As she also said herself, “I feel like every five to seven years I really need to put myself in this position of discomfort and exploration, just to survive. Otherwise, I feel like I’m falling asleep, like I’ll go crazy if I don’t do it.” With this in mind, she has traversed the world of film soundtracks, dance collaborations, producing and indeed art. 

But even though her wide-ranging diversity has led her continually towards new creatively discomforting albeit fruitful spheres she sees her work as a complete whole. “I can’t separate the art from the music and the music from the art. I think that stems from going to school for film first, and kind of stumbling onto music as my career.” It is this rich variety held together by her own singular aesthetic that makes her discography soar. 

Thus, we have collated all of Karen O’s creative efforts to date, from the four scintillating studio albums she put together with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to the Where the Wild Things Are soundtrack she crafted for her former partner Spike Jonze’s film of the same name. Along with collaborations with Michael Kiwanuka, Danger Mouse and many more, dive into the 105-track career charting playlist below. 

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