Wet Leg: Viral singles, quirky songs and BBC Sound of 2022 predictions
The Isle of Wight indie-rock duo’s carefree and unconventional sounds has seen them reach levels of unimaginable hype. Is 2022 their year?
“Is your muffin buttered? / Would you like us to assign someone to butter your muffin?” sing Wet Leg in the second verse of 2021 single ‘Chaise Longue’. With a knowing wink to fans of 2004 teen-comedy Mean Girls, it’s a line that encapsulates both the lyrical absurdity of the track and, well, the band themselves. These are lyrics that really shouldn’t work and somehow do…much like the recent success of the band themselves.
Their June 2021 single is a whole load of fun. Both ironic and deadpan, it quickly went viral last summer. The success of the track was built on a winning formula of quick wit and a minimalist funk sound that was catchy as anything. It stuck in your head and annoyingly refused to leave. If you hated it at first, its prevalence won you over
‘Chaise Longue’ ended the year with 6.5 million streams on Spotify alone, the Isle of Wight duo establishing themselves as one of 2021’s unlikely success stories. This was even more surprising considering the lack of music they’ve released to date (until the end of November they had two songs to their name). Though, perhaps such scarcity has gone in their favour.
With such little music for us to devour an intrigue developed, allowing for an army of new followers to join at the bottom of the mountain, recognising an avalanche of great music and hype was incoming. I mean, isn’t it great when you can claim to be a fan of a band from their earliest release?
At this point, I guess I should introduce them. Wet Leg were formed in 2018 by Isle of Wight natives Rhian Teasdale and Hestor Chambers, friends who met at Isle of Wight College a decade prior. After years of frustratingly trying to make it as a solo artist, Teasdale invited Chambers to play the guitar with her on tour. Similar to many grand plans we all make in our lives, the pair continually spoke about forming a band without ever really thinking it would happen. Then one day they just thought “f*ck it” and followed through on what had been a vague plan to this point. The time felt right. What did they have to lose?
That particular moment of communion has already been written into folklore, the pair making an agreement at the top of a Ferris Wheel to join forces at the end of a festival. They decided to stop taking themselves too seriously and start producing music that made them happy. "Who cares if people think we're rubbish or I'm just really bad at guitar? Let's just do it for the fun of it and see what happens” Teasdale would later tell BBC News. Little did they know at the time, but such a carefree attitude would later turn out to be their main strength.
When offered an opportunity to sign for the infamous Domino Records, the duo didn’t think twice, grateful to be represented by a company boasting indie royalty of the greatest music stature - Arctic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand and My Bloody Valentine amongst others. With the pact now official, the duo honed their songwriting efforts.
Jump forward to 21 June 2021 and out came debut single ‘Chaise Longue’, a life-changing date that would send them to unimaginable levels of hype and popularity. Added to 6Music’s Playlist, played extensively on Radio 1 and hyped by major publications with the pedigree of NME, Stereogum, The New York Times and Pitchfork, the song thrust popularity upon them on both sides of the Atlantic.
‘Wet Dream’ then followed in September and was in a similar vein to their debut single. A press release would describe it as “two-and-a-half minute slice of exuberance as unforgettable and buoyant as “Chaise Longue” that cements them as one of the most thrilling bands to emerge this year”. It was another song worthy of mass adoration.
With support slots for Inhaler and Shame confirmed, they took an even bigger ascent in their young career by appearing on Later…with Jools Holland on BBC2 on 30 October 2021. This rubber stamp of approval is one that often only reaches bands later in their career so to have that opportunity after only two songs was certainly a great feat indeed.
By now, it was clear people were beginning to take notice and they weren’t just any run of the mill artist. As the hottest indie band on everyone’s lips, Wet Leg were gathering celebrity fans as varied as Paramore’s Hayley Williams, Iggy Pop, Florence Welch and film critic Mark Kermode. In the music fan community, we savoured the five and half minutes of music they’d released to date and eagerly awaited the next instalment.
This was to arrive on 29 November when the band gave us not one, but two new songs, the pick being the more melancholic sounds of ‘Too Late Now’. As the band doubled their output in one sweeping move, it further justified the hype and provided a level of substance. One (or two…) trick pony’s they were not.
As a new wave of people were exposed to ‘Chaise Longue’ in end of year publication lists (fourth in our Best Songs of 2021, no less), the hype machine was still to peak. In early January, Wet Leg finished second on the prestigious BBC Sound of 2022, an annual BBC poll of music critics and industry figures list. In case you don’t know already, it predicts the new artists likely to breakthrough over the coming year and with Arlo Parks, Inhaler, The Lathums and girl in red featuring in the list over the past couple of years. It’s usually a solid predictor of future success, though, let’s be honest, after the year they’ve had, it would’ve been unthinkable not to include them.
Soon after, Wet Leg were nominated for five awards at the NME Awards (Best Song, Best Song by a UK Artist, Best New Act In The World, Best Video and Best New Act From The UK) in February, notable that they were up for more awards (five) than actual songs released!
They may only have 11 minutes and 36 seconds of music to their name so far, but the girls have already proved they’re the real deal. The music is fun, danceable and, in their uniquely quirky manner, distinguishable as Wet Leg. With their self-titled debut album set for release on 8 April, the pair can take a momentary breather before the madness begins again. It’s bound to be an explosive collection of tunes and we can’t wait to hear it!
Kooky guitar bands on indie labels aren’t supposed to be this popular, are they? Mark my words, this is one band you’re going to be hearing A LOT about in 2022.