If I had to pick one song to represent 2010s music for future generations, I’d probably go with “Two Weeks.” There’s that particular minimalist ambience that became so prevalent after Kanye’s 808s & Heartbreak; the processed synth throb perfected by James Blake and Arca (who plays it here); the underlying trip-hop beat over rhythmic, pitch-shifted vocal loops, pointing to the incredibly sustained influence of Massive Attack and Burial in recent years; and a singular artist in the middle of it all, curating a rich, multi-sensory experience.
FKA twigs is not the only performer to tick all of these boxes in a major release within the past ten years. You could make the same case for Frank Ocean, Dev Hynes, The Weeknd, hell even Björk (in part due to Arca’s presence in her later work, but I mean, Björk’s also been doing this stuff since before Arca was born). I would argue though that “Two Weeks” is the most successful at bringing all these elements together, and also it’s just a crazy good song that doesn’t require overanalyzing to love.
If there’s any reason to waver on considering “Two Weeks” the epitome of 201X music, it’s that it’s too sexy for this decade. I assume we can all agree this hasn’t been a sexy ten years. It’s a miracle we’re not already in a full-blown Children of Men situation. Still, you can view the candid sensual fire in “Two Weeks” as aspirational, and the vampiric metaphor in the chorus is certainly of its time (“Pull out the incisor / Give me two weeks, you won’t recognize her”).
FKA twigs is Tahliah Barnett, a British performer whose music was initially labeled R&B, though it clearly transcends easy genre-tagging. She started out as a backup dancer, much like earlier pop legends J-Lo and, uh, K-Fed, before revealing an infinitely broader range of musical talent on her self-released 2012 debut EP and taking off from there. Though she’s only released two full-length albums to date, they both rank among the decade’s best. Barnett’s music is always intense, challenging, and deeply emotional. It sounds like now.