The days when an MTV video could make or break a song seem to be long gone. It’s not often that I bother to “watch” a new song instead of just listening to it, but as it happened, my first encounter with British artist Charlotte Hatherley’s single “Behave” was via a YouTube link.

The song is engaging enough, with its playful, jangly guitar hook and rumbling punctuations of bass. But when you also take note of its twisted lyrics and stalker-themed, spacey, cartoonish video, yessir, we’ve got a winner!

Hatherley’s performance in this video is of the “Vogue” school: posing, dreamy-eyed, coy. Visually a cross between Toni Collette and Chrissie Hynde, Hatherley’s dark looks belie her girlish voice and irresistably pathetic lyrics. “I’ll be willing, I’ll be a fool/I’ll be something that you do,” she sings to her object of affection. “Tell me, what do I have to do/To behave?” It all eerily presages the Lisa Nowak astronaut love-triangle story. Hatherley even calls her guy “commander” at one point.

Hatherley’s first language is guitar. She left the Irish rock band Ash last year to focus on her own solo career. Her first album, Grey Will Fade, came out in 2004. “Behave” is a single from The Deep Blue, which came out March 6.

There’s another thing to consider about Hatherley: A second song from the album, also with its own video on YouTube, has a completely different tone. It’s more pugilistic, both aurally and visually, and it’s a sassy addition to the angry breakup song genre. It also shows that Charlotte Hatherley is a skilled guitar player who can rock. The music world can always use more women like that.

Author

Christina Nunez

Christina Nunez is an editor and producer for NPR Digital Media, based at KQED's headquarters in San Francisco. She coordinates books and arts coverage for NPR.org. You can find more of her writing at her Uncomfortable Moments blog.

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