Brink of Popscurity: Cooler Kids
They came, they saw, they (maybe) conquered the charts... and then they suddenly faded away. Welcome to the Brink of Popscurity, where we excavate some of pop's arguably most obscure or forgotten artists, songs and albums. Our mission? To uncover that one lost song lingering on the tip of your tongue—and to introduce you to some deeply underappreciated pop gems.
Formed in 2002 by vocalist Sisely Treasure and producer Kaz Gamble (a.k.a. DJ Kazimir), Cooler Kids—not to be confused with hip hop group The Cool Kids—only lasted a few years, but their first and only album, Punk Debutante, remains one of pop's catchiest time capsules, bursting with glossy, candy-colored early '00s club pop.
Though you may not remember them by name, the pair's groovy debut single, "All Around the World (Punk Debutante)," might ring a bell if you were a teenager in the early 2000s: The contagious, shimmery disco bop was aired during commercial breaks on the Disney Channel around 2003 and 2004, as well as featured in The Lizzie McGuire Movie and on teen soap opera The O.C.—on the pilot episode and on the soundtrack, no less.
Signed to the now defunct Dreamworks Records (yes, that was once a thing), Cooler Kids, who met online via AOL around 2002, released Punk Debutante on July 1, 2003. Featuring musical oversight by Luscious Jackson's Jill Cunniff and production by Pop Rox, best known for their work with boy band LFO, the album didn't exactly rock the music industry to its core, though "All Around the World" did manage to climb its way up the Billboard Dance Chart, reportedly hitting No. 8.
Aiming to appeal to LGBTQ listeners, in 2003 the duo joined Erasure on their North American tour and even took a float in New York City's Gay Pride Parade. And the promo didn't stop there: Cooler Kids unleashed two non-album songs in the PS2 game Monster Rancher 4, and their funky track, "E Is For Everybody," was featured in the animated Disney Channel movie Kim Possible: A Stitch in Time.
Aside from the album's heavily rotated lead single, Punk Debutante contained a collection of sunny, sugary, bright dance-pop bops that wouldn't sound out-of-place on certain smash hit albums of the time, like Gwen Stefani's Love. Angel. Music. Baby. or Kylie Minogue's Fever. From the breezy disco shimmer of "Morning Star" to the tropical hip hop stylings of "Bali Hideaway" and the lush, liquid synth waves of "Blue Nile," Cooler Kids danced to the irreverent beat of their own joyful noise.
Despite their refreshingly playful appeal, the band, sadly, wasn't meant to last. Cooler Kids split around 2005, leaving in their wake a trail of glitter and grooves and neon-hued "next school new wavin'" promises left unfulfilled.
Following their mid-2000s dissolution, Treasure continued to pursue music across various genres, competing briefly on The CW's reality show Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search For the Next Doll in 2007, where she was dubbed the "Punkycat Doll," before joining electro-punk band Shiny Toy Guns as lead co-vocalist in 2008, following the departure of original member Carah Faye.
However, her contributions to Shiny Toy Gun's sophomore album, Season of Poison, were controversially received. Some diehard fans were vehemently against a new female vocalist, while others welcomed Treasure, who brought something fresh to the group on rollicking singles like "Ricochet!" and "Ghost Town," as well as the band's spacey cover of "Major Tom."
Unfortunately, Treasure only remained in the band for one album cycle, being abruptly replaced when Faye returned to the lineup in 2011. Over the next few years, the singer dabbled in hard EDM, lending her effervescent vocals to the likes of superstar DJ Dave Aude ("Grass Is Greener"), electro producer culineR ("Into Vapor") and Ikon and Exodus ("Shadow of the Sun").
Treasure debuted her Aude-produced synth-pop single, "That You Like," in 2011, and it seemed like the artist was primed to finally launch her solo career. Unfortunately, the track fizzled, and no additional promo was planned. In the years since, the singer-songwriter has appeared on a string of electronic songs, mostly under the stage name SISTERWIFE, though it's unclear if SISTERWIFE is a multi-member project or just Treasure's stage name as a featured vocalist.
In December 2016, she provided the vocals for Darku J and Styles&Complete's frantic, dub-heavy banger "Kick in the Bass," appearing in the video as a raver, a flapper and a disco queen.
While Treasure has trekked forward as a vocalist, Gamble has also continued creating music over the years since Cooler Kids' breakup, releasing his own experimental electronica on SoundCloud, as well as collaborating and producing for other artists and working as a music supervisor for both television and film.
Next year will be the 15th anniversary of Punk Debutante. And while it's unlikely these two Cooler Kids will come together for another "ravin' invasion," it's certainly the perfect time to dust off the duo's first and only album for one more fluorescent spin—just don't forget your zippers and your pearls, baby.
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