Premiere: Nora Rothman’s “borderline” ft. Blush Wilson Adds Haunting Nuance to a Madonna Classic

Nora Rothman © Nora Rothman
An expressive, haunting cover of Madonna’s hit single, Nora Rothman’s “borderline” cover ft. Blush Wilson aches with intense sonics and stirringly dark emotion.
Stream: “borderline” – Nora Rothman ft. Blush Wilson

Silver Lake’s Nora Rothman is without a doubt a name to keep on your radar for this year and next. Originally catching our attention back in early 2017, the singer/songwriter has been on a continuous journey of self-discovery and self-expression that has to date resulted in two dazzlingly distinct EPs and a number of songs that provoke and push boundaries, compel us to think, and inspire us to listen. Her latest offering echoes her talents and unique sound: An expressive, haunting cover of Madonna’s hit, “borderline” ft. Blush Wilson aches with intense sonics and stirringly dark emotion.

enough - Nora Rothman

enough – Nora Rothman

Something in the way
you love me won’t let me be

I don’t want to be your prisoner
so baby won’t you set me free

Stop playing with my heart
Finish what you start
When you make my love come down
If you want me let me know
Baby let it show
Honey don’t you fool around

Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering “borderline,” Nora Rothman’s first single of 2020 and her first music release since putting out her sophomore EP Nothing New last July. Self-identifying not only as an artist but also as an activist, Rothman has been an exciting and fresh voice for quite some time now. In premiering her song “fifteen / feet” featuring Cape Francis, Atwood writer Nick Baron commented how the artist, “has always found a way to combine her passion for music and activism in resourceful ways… her upcoming EP is an extension of that ingenuity.” Rothman injects not only emotion, but also powerful imagery and messaging into her art – all of which was on full display on the five-track Nothing New, and remains prominent in Rothman’s distinguished cover.

Nora Rothman © Nora Rothman

Nora Rothman © Nora Rothman

A dynamic thirty-six years young, the song “Borderline” first arrived to the masses as the fifth single off Madonna’s eponymous debut album in 1984. A buoyant, upbeat pop jam, “Borderline” is among Madonna’s early seminal hits, finding her in a moving moment of submission and vulnerability layered in glistening keyboards and fervent synths. A product of its time, “Borderline” feels distinctly ’80s not only because it is, but also because the song (and Madonna in general) shaped so much of the music released throughout that decade and beyond.

Just try to understand, I’ve given all I can,
‘Cause you got the best of me
Borderline feels like I’m going to lose my mind
You just keep on pushing my love over the borderline
Borderline feels like I’m going to lose my mind
You just keep on pushing my love over the borderline

In contrast, Nora Rothman’s cover – a collaboration with Berlin artist Blush Wilson – plucks “Borderline” up and out of the ’80s, gives the composition space to breath, and let’s the song speak for itself. A bare bones interpretation bringing new emotion and life to what many would call a “classic,” Rothman’s cover is haunting, intimate, and emotionally immersive – all while also staying true to the song’s roots and its core sound. It’s like we’re listening to “Borderline” for the first time all over again – but not the one made for Top 40 radio; rather, this lowercase “borderline” is the one that comes straight from, and speaks directly to the heart. It’s impassioned; it’s unafraid of silence; it’s synthy, and it’s also tastefully minimalist.

It’s a fantastic, distinct rendering that showcases so much of Rothman’s artistry and what she’s all about.

Nora Rothman © Nora Rothman

Nora Rothman © Nora Rothman

“I became obsessed with this song a year ago, the original is so joyous,” Nora Rothman tells Atwood Magazine. “In my version, I wanted to expose the underbelly of these lyrics: when you listen closely, they’re really dark. This was the first track I ever self-produced, and I had a clear vision for the hook — it’s a cry for help from the crazy chorus of voices inside your head. We spent so many hours manually detuning doubles to get the harmonies just right. I asked Blush Wilson to do vocals on verse two because his voice is magic. He recorded them from his home studio in Berlin, and it gives the song this electric tension — a push and pull between two minds.”

Something in your eyes
is makin’ such a fool of me

When you hold me in your arms
you love me till I just can’t see

But then you let me down,
when I look around,
baby you just can’t be found

Stop driving me away, I just wanna stay,
There’s something I just got to say
Just try to understand, I’ve given all I can,
‘Cause you got the best of me
Borderline feels like I’m going to lose my mind
You just keep on pushing my love over the borderline

Out June 5th, “borderline” arrives as the lead single off Nora Rothman’s upcoming debut album enough (releasing July 31, 2020 via Unspeakable Records). Gloriously brooding and effortlessly effervescent, this song is an apt reminder that there’s often more than meets the eye – especially in “pop” music; and perhaps even more importantly, it showcases a small fraction of Rothman’s nuanced talent and spirited artistic energy. She is without a doubt an artist to watch, and we cannot wait to hear enough in its entirety come July’s end.

For now, stream “borderline” featuring Blush Wilson exclusively on Atwood Magazine!

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Stream: “Borderline” – Nora Rothman ft. Blush Wilson

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Mitch Mosk

Mitch is the Editor-in-Chief of Atwood Magazine and a 2014 graduate from Tufts University, where he pursued his passions of music and psychology. He currently works at Universal Music Group in New York City. In his off hours, Mitch may be found songwriting, wandering about one of New York's many neighborhoods, or writing an article on your next favorite artist for Atwood. Mitch's words of wisdom to fellow musicians and music lovers are thus: Keep your eyes open and never stop exploring. No matter where you go, what you do or who you are with, you can always learn something new and inspire something amazing. Say hi here: mitch[at]atwoodmagazine[dot]com