Hyperpop

From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

Hyperpop is a loosely defined electronic music movement[1][4] and microgenre[5] that predominantly originated in the United Kingdom during the early 2010s. It is characterised by a maximalist or exaggerated take on popular music,[4] and artists within the microgenre typically integrate pop and avant-garde sensibilities while drawing on elements commonly found in electronic, hip hop, and dance music.[6]

Deriving influence from a varied range of sources, the origins of the hyperpop scene are commonly traced to the output of English musician A. G. Cook's record label and collective PC Music and its associated artists such as Sophie and Charli XCX.[6] Music associated with this scene received wider attention in August 2019 when Spotify used the term "hyperpop" as the name of a playlist featuring artists such as Cook and 100 gecs.[5] The microgenre spread within younger audiences through social media platforms, especially TikTok.[7]

Characteristics[edit]

Hyperpop reflects an exaggerated, eclectic, and self-referential approach to pop music and typically employs elements such as brash synth melodies, Auto-Tuned "earworm" vocals, and excessive compression and distortion, as well as surrealist or nostalgic references to 2000s Internet culture and the Web 2.0 era.[6] Common features include vocals that are heavily processed; metallic, melodic percussion sounds; pitch-shifted synths; catchy choruses; short song lengths; and "shiny, cutesy aesthetics" juxtaposed with angst-ridden lyrics.[6] The Wall Street Journal's Mark Richardson described the genre as intensifying the "artificial" tropes of popular music, resulting in "a cartoonish wall of noise that embraces catchy tunes and memorable hooks. The music zooms between beauty and ugliness, as shimmery melodies collide with mangled instrumentation."[8] Writing for American Songwriter, Joe Vitagliano described it as "an exciting, bombastic and iconoclastic genre — if it can even be called a 'genre'—[...] featuring "saw synths, auto-tuned vocals, glitch-inspired percussion and a distinctive late-capitalism-dystopia vibe."[4] Artists often "straddle the avant-garde and the pop charts simultaneously."[6]

According to Vice journalist Eli Enis, hyperpop is less rooted in musical technicalities than "a shared ethos of transcending genre altogether, while still operating within the context of pop."[1] Artists in the style reflect a "tendency to rehabilitate styles of music that have long since gone out of fashion, constantly poking at what is or isn't 'cool' or artful."[6] The style may blend elements from a range of styles, including bubblegum pop, trance, Eurohouse, emo rap, nu metal, cloud rap, J-pop and K-pop.[6] The influence of cloud rap, emo and lo-fi trap, trance music, dubstep, and chiptune are evident in hyperpop, as well as more surreal and haphazard qualities that are pulled heavily from hip hop since the mid-2010s.[1] The Atlantic noted the way the microgenre "swirls together and speeds up Top 40 tricks of present and past: a Janet Jackson drum slam here, a Depeche Mode synth squeal there, the overblown pep of novelty jingles throughout," but also noted "the genre's zest for punk's brattiness, hip-hop's boastfulness, and metal's noise."[9] Some of the style's more surreal and off kilter qualities drew from 2010s hip-hop.[1]

Hyperpop is often linked to the LGBTQ+ community and queer aesthetics.[6] Several of its key practitioners identify as gay, non-binary, or transgender.[9] The microgenre's emphasis on vocal modulation has allowed artists to experiment with the gender presentation of their voices.[6] "Digicore" and "Glitchcore" are contemporaneous movements that are sometimes conflated with "hyperpop" due to its overlapping artists.[10]

Origins[edit]

The first instance of the term "hyperpop" was seemingly coined on October 1988 by writer Don Shewey in an article about the Scottish dream pop band Cocteau Twins,[11] stating that England in the 1980s had "nurtured the simultaneous phenomena of hyperpop and antipop".[12]

British musicians Sophie (left) and A. G. Cook (right) are considered progenitors of hyperpop

Complex has stated that "the origins of hyperpop are tangled and murky in the way that things conceived on the internet often are."[10] "Hyperpop" was sometimes used within SoundCloud's nightcore music scene as a genre descriptor.[1] Spotify analyst Glenn McDonald stated that he first saw the term used in reference to the UK-based label PC Music in 2014, but believed that the name did not qualify as a microgenre until 2018.[5] Despite many other artists and labels influencing the scene such as Meishi Smile and Maltine Records,[13] the origins of the style are usually located to the mid-2010s output of PC Music, with hyperpop artists either being affiliated with or directly inspired by the label.[5][14] The Independent's Will Pritchard stated that "it's possible to see [hyperpop] as an expression not just of the genres it borrows from, but of the scene that evolved around A. G. Cook's PC Music label (an early home to Sophie and Charli XCX, among others) in the UK in the early 2010s."[6]

There were many other predecessors to the genre, as explained by Pritchard, "to some, the ground covered by hyperpop won't seem all that new". He cited "outliers" of 2000s nu rave (such as Test Icicles) and PC Music contemporaries Rustie and Hudson Mohawke as pursuing similar approaches; of the latter two artists, he noted that their "fluoro, trance-edged smooshes of dance and hip-hop are reminiscent of a lot of hyperpop today." Another artist who has heavily influenced the hyperpop scene is Yasutaka Nakata. Heather Phares of AllMusic stated that the work of Sleigh Bells foreshadowed hyperpop and other artists who "brazenly ignored genre boundaries and united the extremes of sweet and heavy;"[15] Ian Cohen of Pitchfork similarly stated that the term described Sleigh Bells before it became a dominant microgenre.[16] Eilish Gilligan of Junkee credited Kesha for impacting the microgenre, stating that her "grating, half-spoken vocal featured in ['Blow'] and all of her early work, in fact, feel reminiscent of a lot of the intense vocals in hyperpop today", as well as Britney Spears, whose "2011 dancefloor fillers 'Till The World Ends', 'Hold It Against Me' and 'I Wanna Go' all share the same pounding beats that populate modern hyperpop."[17]

Working alongside SOPHIE and A.G. Cook, Charli XCX was considered an early mainstream adopter of the genre

Spotify editor Lizzy Szabo referred to A. G. Cook as the "godfather" of hyperpop.[1] According to Enis, PC Music "laid the groundwork for [the microgenre's] melodic exuberance and cartoonish production", with some of hyperpop's surrealist qualities also derived from 2010s hip hop.[1] She states that hyperpop built on the influence of PC Music, but also incorporated the sounds of emo rap, cloud rap, trap, trance, dubstep and chiptune.[1] Among Cook's frequent collaborators, Variety and The New York Times described the work of Sophie as pioneering the style,[18][19] while Charli XCX was described as "queen" of the style by Vice, and her 2017 mixtape Pop 2 set a template for its sound, featuring "outré" production by Cook, Sophie, Umru, and Easyfun as well as "a titular mission to give pop – sonically, spiritually, aesthetically – a facelift for the modern age."[1]

Popularity[edit]

In 2019 the popularity of 100 gecs and their debut album saw Spotify formally launch a dedicated permanent Hyperpop playlist.

In May 2019, hyperpop duo 100 gecs released their debut album 1000 gecs (2019), which amassed millions of listens on streaming services and helped to consolidate the style. In Pritchard's description, 100 Gecs took hyperpop "to its most extreme, and extremely catchy, conclusions: stadium-sized trap beats processed and distorted to near-destruction, overwrought emo vocals and cascades of ravey arpeggios."[6] According to Vice and The Face, a second wave of the genre emerged in 2019 following the release of 1000 gecs.[20][21]

In August 2019, Spotify launched the "Hyperpop" playlist which further cemented the microgenre, and featured guest curation from 100 Gecs and others.[5] Other artists featured on the playlist included Cook, Slayyyter, Gupi, Caroline Polachek, Hannah Diamond, and Kim Petras.[22] Spotify editor Lizzy Szabo and her colleagues landed on the name for their August 2019 playlist after McDonald noted the term in the website's metadata and classified it as a microgenre.[5] In November, Cook added artists including J Dilla, Nicki Minaj, Lil Uzi Vert and Kate Bush to the playlist, which caused controversy due to these additions pushing out smaller hyperpop artists who relied upon the playlist for their earnings.[5][23] In addition, David Turner, a former strategy manager at SoundCloud, noted a "spike in March and April 2020 from new creators," on the platform, many of which were making hyperpop-adjacent music.[24]

The microgenre began to see rise in popularity in 2020, with the prominence of the Spotify playlist and its spread within younger audiences on social media, such as on TikTok,[7][25] particularly 'alt Tiktok', one of the main countercultures on the app.[26] In 2022, Ringtone Mag suggested that part of the reason the microgenre rose in popularity across the platform was due to its nature of favouring heavy beats to which creators could dance and make transitions.[27] Hyperpop albums like Charli XCX's How I'm Feeling Now (2020) and A. G. Cook's Apple (2020) appeared on critics' 2020 end-of-year lists.[6] Hyperpop artist ElyOtto's song "SugarCrash!" became one of the most popular songs in the app's history, and was used in over 5 million videos on the platform by July 2021.[11]

Internationally, hyperpop gained notoriety in Hispanic countries, such as Argentina, Chile, Mexico and Spain, particularly with Spanish-speaking artists and producers. Nylon's Ben Jolley cited Putochinomaricón as one of the "biggest names in the scene."[28]

Questions concerning the potential decline of the microgenre, the corporate influences upon it, and the meaning of the 'hyperpop' name, began to be raised in 2021.[10] Charli XCX, in August 2021, posted a tweet asking "rip hyperpop? discuss".[21][29] In 2022, Dazed noted that since 2019, the word 'hyperpop' "has since become a catch-all phrase for any and all forms of extreme pop music," and that "sonically, you'd be hard pressed to find any internet-born music made in the last decade that hasn't been retroactively brandished as hyperpop", also stating that "almost all of those given the label have grown disillusioned with the term, or grown irritated by its constraints."[30] The same year, prominent hyperpop musician Glaive stated that he and Ericdoa were "working on killing" the movement,[20] though three months later stated that it "will never die."[31] He later stated that the packaging of the community within the name 'hyperpop' for profit led to its music becoming "algorithmic" over time.[24] In June of 2023, PC Music announced that after that year, the label would not be releasing new music, instead turning to archival projects and special reissues.[32] In September 2023 Underscores, another significant contributor to the microgenre, stated that it was "officially dead".[33]

Related genres[edit]

Digicore[edit]

Digicore is a microgenre related to hyperpop.[34] The term ("digi" is short for "digital") was adopted in the mid-2010s by an online community of teenage musicians, communicating through Discord, to distinguish themselves from the preexisting hyperpop scene.[10] It differs from hyperpop mainly through the racial identities of its artists but there remains a degree of crossover between the scenes.[10] Artists often pull from a variety of genres such as midwestern emo, trance, and Chicago drill, amongst others.[35] The beginnings of digicore are rooted in internet culture and many popular producers from the microgenre are between the ages of 15 and 18 who use platforms such as Discord to interact.[35] In 2018, Dalton (a digicore artist relations figure) started a Minecraft and Discord server called "Loser's Club" that became a haven for several of the most popular artists within the digicore scene such as Quinn, Glaive, Ericdoa, Funeral, Midwxst, and Angelus.[35] This sense of community and collaboration have become key tenets within the scene, and have contributed to the rise in the popularity of the microgenre as a whole, with a majority of the scene preferring the idea of rising in popularity as a collective rather than as individuals.[35] In 2021, the digicore album Frailty by Jane Remover received praise on mainstream music sites Pitchfork and Paste.[36][37]

Glitchcore[edit]

Glitchcore, a microgenre related to hyperpop[34] and digicore (sometimes characterised as a subgenre of both styles), is often characterised by high-pitched vocals, sharp 808s, and frequent hi-hats. As one article stated, "Glitchcore is Hyperpop on steroids",[38] referring to the exaggerated vocals, distortions, glitch noises, and other pop elements present within Glitchcore. One of the most defining elements of glitchcore is vocal glitch patterns, created by rapidly repeating a section of a vocal sample.

Stef, a producer of the popular Hyperpop and glitchcore collective 'Helix Tears' stated that there certainly is a difference between the two microgenres, saying "Hyperpop is more melodic and poppy" while "Glitchcore is indescribable".[38] Similar to digicore, glitchcore is typically made up of a younger group of artists than traditional Hyperpop.[39] The artist Twikipedia became a major pioneer of the microgenre, incorporating hyperpop's traditional heavily processed vocals with an 8-bit inspired sound.

TikTok played a key role in popularising glitchcore, through video edits to two viral glitchcore songs "NEVER MET!" by CMTEN and Glitch Gum and "Pressure" by David Shawty and Yungster Jack.[39] Glitchcore has also been associated with a specific visual aesthetic where videos are typically accompanied by glitchy, fast-paced, cluttered, colourful edits that are even marked with flash warnings in certain cases.[39] Some popular digicore artists like d0llywood1 even refer to glitchcore as "an aesthetic, like the edits", rather than an actual music genre.[40]

Hyper Mandelão[edit]

Hyper Mandelão, or Hyperfunky,[41][42] is the result of the fusion of mandelão, a subgenre from funk carioca and slap house, with hyperpop and influence of industrial music. The main artists of this style are DJ Mu540, DJ Ramemes[43] and Pabllo Vittar.

Dariacore[edit]

Dariacore, also known as hyperflip, is a microgenre related to hyperpop.[34] It was coined by Jane Remover following her 2021 album Dariacore and its two sequels, Dariacore 2: Enter Here, Hell to the Left and Dariacore 3... At least I think that's what it's called?. The microgenre gained popularity on SoundCloud in 2021 and 2022. Dariacore is characterised by sped up and pitch-shifted samples from pop music and other popular media, breakbeats, and Jersey club influence.[44] The genre was described by Raphael Helfand of The Fader as "an entire genre in and of itself, taking hyperpop's silliest tendencies to their logical conclusions".[45]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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