Artist Spotlight: HAIM proves pop doesn’t have to be basic

HAIM is a California trio combining rock, pop, indie and R&B to churn out one of the most unique mainstream sounds in recent years.

One of the most notable aspects of HAIM is their status as a full-album band. Unlike most artists, their albums chart higher than any of their singles. You’d be hard-pressed to find another band like that in 2018.

The band recently announced dates for their worldwide Sister, Sister, Sister tour through choreographed dance on their Instagram, representative of their quirky social media presence. The synergy of the three sisters comprising the band, Danielle, Este and Alana Haim, comes through in everything they do, from the seamless three-part vocal harmonies in their songs to the band’s playful videos on social media.

The band’s sound shuffles somewhere between 70s rock and contemporary R&B. The band’s most recent release, “Something To Tell You,” shows the diversity of influences HAIM puts into their songs.

The album’s title track features a low-strumming guitar and infectious electronic beat that makes it hard not to shimmy along. The sisters sing in dramatic harmony reminiscent of Destiny’s Child. On the other hand, “Nothing’s Wrong,” with its background synth and call-and-response vocals between Danielle and her sisters, sounds like it could’ve filled Madison Square Garden at the height of hard rock. In fact, Danielle takes the opportunity to rip a guitar solo at the song’s conclusion when the band plays the song live.

HAIM’s live show is a separate entity from their albums; the band’s live performance truly gives new life to the songs. The band reached a huge audience opening for Taylor Swift on her 1989 tour. A whole new breed of music fans were introduced to their energetic live show. It’s not uncommon for each sister to grab a drum and break out into a jam during the show. The band brought a small section of horns, strings and a piano to complement their “Little of Your Love” performance on “Saturday Night Live.” The live instrumentation brought an energy and power to the performance that a recording couldn’t have.

The band’s lyrics are often personal and emotional; many songs revolve around love and relationships. “Something to Tell You” covers loves lost, longed for and lingering. “Night So Long” is particularly gut-wrenching: “I say goodbye to love again/In loneliness, my only friend” Danielle sings over a muted, down-tuned guitar strum. “Kept Me Crying” chronicles staying up for a late-night phone call from an ex-lover.

Despite the personal nature of the songs, the band has released many collaborations and remixes, showing they aren’t afraid of hearing a new spin put on their songs. DJ BloodPop’s remix of “Little of Your Love” ups the pep of the original song by adding a bouncy, infectious dance beat to the song. HAIM’s collaboration with Calvin Harris, “Pray to God,” manages to be catchy yet foreboding in its ominous-sounding verses with lyrics like “I pray to God, I just don’t know anymore/I lost the feeling, but I try to hold on.”

HAIM’s used their platform to spread messages of female empowerment in many forms. In subtle ways, their lyrics and music convey private emotions that promote vulnerability and expression. In not-so-subtle ways, the band speaks out on social media and in public to support women in music. At the NME Awards, upon the band winning an award, Este spoke out about sexist attitudes in music during the band’s acceptance speech; “To anyone that identifies as a girl: Whenever you walk into a guitar shop or a sound check or a recording studio, do not let anyone that’s there intimidate you or make you feel like you don’t belong there. Because you do belong there.”

Schae Beaudoin is the life editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at