Tegan and Sara Quin made a very conscious decision to make their music more "accessible" with the release of their last album "Heartthrob" last year.
“Look at Adele and Coldplay, who are accessible to more people. For their fans, that’s really raw and emotional… I can’t change my voice. I’m never gonna sound like Katy Perry or Chris Martin or Adele,” Tegan told me back in May 2012. “There’s always going to be fans who wish we still sat on stools and didn’t have a band and played our shows that way… but now I want to share my music with as many people as I can.”
"Heartthrob" became one of the sister-duo's best-selling album to date, and yielded their biggest singles, and thrust them further into music's mainstream -- and main stage, big screen, small screen and into headlines. And even moreso lately, it seems, they're everywhere.
Here's six major reasons Tegan and Sara have been totally killing it so far in 2014:
1. "Everything Is Awesome." It is indeed. Anybody who has set foot in "The Lego Movie" and/or The Internet will be unable to deny the attractive power of the film's, erm, anthem "Everything Is Awesome."
Everything is cool when you're part of a team. And it took a team. Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo produced and co-wrote the soundtrack to "Lego Movie," including this brain-gum of a single. Tegan and Sara plus comedy troupe The Lonely Island all piled on to its "remix," which itself should be the topic of a masters thesis class in contemporary pop music. It not only makes fun of popular music tropes, but has its own lyrical subversion and performances that T&S knock out of the park.
2. Opening for Katy Perry. A few months ago, I had the privilege of seeing Katy Perry take the stage at the Hollywood Bowl, and some of her own personal favorite, hand-picked artists open the show. T&S, who have performed with Perry before, lit up the Hollywood Bowl with their typically hysterical banter. Their appreciation for each other, their acumen to warm a (literally) chilly and mainstream crowd and their kinship with Perry could kindle even the coldest cockles.
Perry has tapped T&S among her set openers for the forthcoming Prismatic World Tour, with Tegan and Sara's spots starting Sept. 9 in Vancouver. Don't expect "Everything Is Awesome" to make the setlist, though.
"Without the Lonely Island guys traveling with us, I can't really imagine it within our set. But that's not because I'm not proud of it," Sara Quin told Billboard.
3. "Don't Find Another Love." I have listened to this new song from the soundtrack to "Endless Love" about 700 times. It's equal parts Ellie Goulding, Local Natives and Diana Ross, and yet still inextricably Tegan and Sara. Upbeat and "wicked," it's simple and unapologetically sweet.
Do not see the movie. I'm sorry. Do listen to this amazing soundtrack, which also has some Immaculate Noise favorites like Nonono, Cults, The Tallest Man On Earth and The Bird And The Bee with The National's Matt Berninger. There is no pouty Pettyfer to contend with.
4. Oreos. God, as if I didn't love Oreos enough. Tegan and Sara retained their distinct style and voices for a fresh commercial for the milk-loving cookie co. And they didn't write this "Wonderfilled" jingle, ad company The Martin Agency did. How did they manage to find the perfect opportunity to line their pockets with fresh, delicious money without compromising their sound? Well, of course, it helps that their sound has drastically changed from their early career, but the dance-pop version of T&S is a no-brainer for partnerships like these.
This campaign started around the Grammys last month. Now give me a bite.
5. "Shudder to Think." Still hungry? How about their original song for Oscar-nominated "Dallas Buyers Club?" Beyond even that: 10% of the sales of the soundtrack went to (RED) in the global fight against AIDS. This burst of awesome has staying power into 2014 because "DBC" is up for a whopping six Academy Awards in March, including Best Picture. How about a Best Song nod for T&S soon, huh?
6. That Ellen Page name-check. The "Juno" actress and your new best friend gave a nine-minute speech on Valentine's Day as a coming-out, during a human rights conference. "I am here today because I am gay," Page said, then saluting others' efforts to "promote safety, inclusion, and well-being for LGBTQ youth."
"There are pervasive stereotypes about masculinity and femininity that define how we’re all supposed to act, dress, and speak, and they serve no one. Anyone who defies these so-called 'norms' becomes worthy of comment and scrutiny, and the LGBT community knows this all too well," Page said from the podium at the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Time To THRIVE conference. "Yet there is courage all around us. The football hero Michael Sam; the actress Laverne Cox; the musicians Tegan and Sara Quin; the family that supports their daughter or son who has come out."
Tegan and Sara were "out" as lesbians in their teens. Fifteen years on, strangers still approach them and tell them their own stories of coming-out. T&S have been powerful and vocal activists and advocates for LGBT rights, starting by being who they are and being very talented. A hat-tip from a high-profile actress is not just lip service but a testament to power by example. A very cool moment.