When CR Japan cover star C, the artist behind Grimes, spoke to us for the international issue’s fourth edition in February, the experimental artist was pregnant, both with her child and Miss Anthropocene, her fifth-studio album.
Just like X AE A-XII Musk, Miss Anthropocene emerged as an enigma on social media. Like many of C’s projects, Grimes remains a vessel for social critique and the aesthetics of the album are no different. With a twisted take on the state of our world through rapidly evolving climate change and social decay, Miss Anthropocene manages to tell a darker tale than Grimes’ previous work.
Grimes’ early projects culminating in the 2015 release of Art Angels all were building towards her refined experimental takeover of the sound known as hyperpop. Created for the internet, by the internet, this new era of music continues to infiltrate indie kid playlists and Coachella lineups.
But what is hyperpop exactly? As asked by genre’s darling, Charli XCX earlier this summer in a tweet.
To put it in as simple terms as possible, hyperpop is a newfound genre birthed from EDM and mainstream pop parents. The categorization, also known as PC music for it’s homemade sound, is campier than most things you’d hear on your Spotify wrapped with dominating trance beats and chipmunk-like vocals pitched all the way up. It’s not a diss at the genre by any means, but instead a union point you can find among the artists representing this new, off-the-cuff wave.
Hyperpop’s humble origins can be traced back to the popstar boom of the mid 2010’s. Stars like Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, and Taylor Swift were all at the peak of their careers. In response to a cookie-cutter, overproduced industry, artists like Grimes, Charli XCX, and producers SOPHIE and A.G. Cook began deconstructing pop music and presenting an over-the-top look at what makes starlets thrive.
Soon after, new waves of experimental artists broke through the barrier. Hyperpop royalty like 100 Gecs, Dorian Electra, Kim Petras, and Slayyyter all found groups of niche but devoted fans to their sound.
Today, the genre has seen a burgeoning following with up-and-coming artists generating loads of hype, like hyperpop artist Shygirl. Combining a variation of subgenres like club, rap, and hip-hop, the South East Londoner recently announced the release of her forthcoming ‘Alias EP’ accompanied by a new music video. Titled “Slime”, Shygirl introduced her four alias’: Baddie, Bae, Bovine and Bonk alongside some mesmerizing hyperpop-esq graphics transporting us into a vibrant virtual fantasy world made of glitter, diamonds, fur, and pixels, of course.
Hyperpop is more than just music though. The aesthetics behind the genre are easy to spot once you know them– shiny, glossy and in full technicolor. If Y2K fashion had a soundtrack, this would be it. Hyperpop princess Charli XCX goes all-out for her “claws” music video, with spray painted rainbows and floating butterflies in a saccharine landscape.
And while a candyland-like dreamscape may front the album covers and music videos behind some of hyper pop’s biggest hits, the lyrics behind the songs run deeper than expected. A closer look at the genre’s themes read like topics for an analytical english essay, not a Billboard 100 hit. Existential questions on gender, sexuality, materialism and capitalism push through blown-out drums and fast-paced synths to reflect a world that often gets too caught up in maintaining its image.
Yes, a club banger can explain Marxist economics really well.
Hyperpop walks the fine line between absolute jams and difficult to digest subject matters. On Japanese-British artist Rina Sawayama’s latest single ‘XS’, luxury and opulence get thrown under the microscope in a societal critique about selfish consumerism. According to Sawayama’s track, more is more is more is more.
The ‘80s infomercial vibe, it’s fashion reflected in some of today’s hottest trends, gets the hyperpop treatment with glittering gold. Between a catchy chorus about wanting more, Sawayama’s robotic dance moves while selling a beauty product derived from exploitation, the tune is a bit dark.
Not every hyperpop ballad’s social critique is in your face, though. Kim Petra’s 2017 track “I Don’t Want It All,” goes on about instant gratification in the form of designer bags, drugs, and luxurious vacations. In an explanation about her massive breakout hit, Petras says she’s inspired by the themes in Madonna’s “Material Girl,” the ‘80s’ banger for pretty girls and sugar babies everywhere.
While Petras’ explanation calls to Madonna’s bourgeois anthem, the “I Don’t Want It All,” music video sets up a literal shrine to the 2000s’ princess: Paris Hilton. Complete with a tiara and glitter hearts, Petras’ hyperpop landscape calls back to the glitz and glamour at the turn of the century.
Since slowly growing up from the internet’s underbelly, hyperpop’s unique genre-bending aesthetics have produced its own style. The sound’s somewhat calculated chaotic nature lends itself to its artists’ closests. The looks fall between a brutalist, well-packaged indie-core Pinterest board and campy, pink Y2K style as popularized by Instagram.
Social critique on consumerism and luxury can be found everywhere– even in the very industries it’s pulling the cover back from. Jeremy Scott’s transformation of Moschino for his first collection as Creative Director during the Fall/Winter 2014 show plays into the absurdity of commodification and high fashion.
Like most creative projects emerging from millennials and Gen-Z, hyperpop is a vessel to communicate the harsh realities of the world we live in. Consumerism and materialism may not be as prevalent in the eyes of the American landscape as they were in the 2000s, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Hyperpop’s kitschy synths and intoxicating rhythm provide the perfect breeding ground for the younger generation’s angsty TikTok videos on dismantling the system.END
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createdAt:Thu, 05 Nov 2020 20:25:42 +0000
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