Poppy: I Can Like Pop Music?

A few years ago, I was introduced to the artistic mastermind that is Poppy; a now internet-famous Youtuber, turned pop-artist. At the time of my introduction to their Youtube channel, they were known (and still are to this point) for their very short, confusing, harrowing, and avant-garde videos. The most well-known probably being the heavily-memed video in which she says “I’m Poppy” for upwards of twenty minutes straight.

Fast forward to today, and they’re now gaining more and more attention from their music, instead of their random Youtube antics; coming out with an ambient album, 3:36 (Music to Sleep to), in 2016; their first pop album, Poppy.Computer, in 2017; and finally, their most recent album, Am I A Girl?, in 2018. Even now, they’ve quickly followed up with a new single in 2019, “Voicemail” (check out my review of said single, here).

Originally, my knowledge of their music sprouted plainly out of my following of their Youtube channel. Occasionally, rather than a quick daily video, they would release a single of some sort. Toward the beginning, it was pretty mediocre synth-pop, but as the months; and I suppose years; went on, it got more unique and better quality. Similarly, their first pop album release was, to me, underwhelming. There were a few jams on there that I could enjoy, but wholistically it seemed pretty plain. I’ve always liked several of the themes they’ve gone with. The character of Poppy is always interesting to enjoy, but the sound itself wasn’t anything out of the ordinary at all.

Then, quickly after the release of their 2017 album, I sort of lost touch with their channel. I don’t know if it was due to me watching all of Youtube less, or just them specifically, but despite still being subscribed, I didn’t really watch their content anymore. From that point until the release of their newest album, I think I heard one of the singles leading up to it, but had no idea that they were planning another release that quickly. So when I soon heard; from my main man, Anthony Fantano; that they had released a new album, and that it was GOOD, I kind of flipped! And since then, my music taste, and view of Poppy has done a complete 180 degree turn.

Because it’s so far after the release of their last album, Am I A Girl?, I am not going to do a full review of it. Not only that, but I have beyond settled my opinion on it, and it would be less of a review and more of just a sheer sponsorship of it at this point. However, I will go into brief detail about what it entailed, how good I believe it is, and sort of what patterns it brought forth; so I suppose it can be seen as a sort of pseudo-review, or spark-notes summarization of the release.

Am I A Girl? is without question one of my top albums of the entirety of 2018. Its bright synth-pop was a breath of fresh-air, and while yes; it isn’t entirely unique in its style of music; its production quality increased tenfold from their previous release, and its other factors make it distinct. Not only is the music better, but the exploration and development of Poppy’s lore goes deeper and deeper, giving a payoff in and of itself. The stories and perspectives it gives are important, often-harrowing, and metaphorical in the grand scheme of things. Even if you don’t have any interest in the person themselves, you can still enjoy it and gain something.

Beginning with four songs mostly about Poppy as an icon; the album is split up into three parts, via interludes. As stated, it begins with a discussion/introduction of Poppy as a superstar, glammed model, etc, discussing their ego, personality, and immense fame. After the first interlude, it delves into their backstory; first shrouding their origin in mystery, then peeling back a few layers; discussing their home situation, their maker, and eventually even their questioned sexuality. Finally, after the second interlude, it begins to darken up a bit. It begins by questioning their gender, before essentially turning into a full-on internal meltdown about whether to destroy everyone or not. All before finishing with a desire to go back to the very beginning (of humanity? of the album? who knows?).

This structuring of a plot and history is not incredibly unique in any means, but to me, it almost makes it a full-on concept album; one that makes it individual from anything else I’ve seen recently. And one that only gets more intriguing the further you go into it.

I was very pleased with everything I was given, and wasn’t necessarily looking toward their future music, but upon the release of their new single, “Voicemail,” I’m even more excited for what’s to come. The darkness that continued to grow within their last full-length album only continues its growth here, as her demonic appearance is very apparent; and the chaos of the song is very out in the open as well. Several aspects remind me of a Death Grips song, only tailored toward this person in particular (and no one needs to know how much I’m (at least currently) into Death Grips).

So many of you; including me a little bit; may be asking “Why the hell does any of this matter?” Firstly, I suppose some may argue it doesn’t. I personally believe that the information is valuable in itself, but some may not. Actually though, I think Poppy has the potential to become one of the more popular, and intriguing pop stars that are currently out there. As hip-hop has become increasingly dominant in the mainstream, and even pop artists are being heavily pushed in those directions, I think a straight up pop (especially synth-pop) artist would be a nice change of pace; and so far, I’m enjoying it. More importantly, the direction they’re going in and the sound they’re developing is getting more and more unique and could turn into something really crazy and interesting for a pop artist. Similar to that of SOPHIE, or someone like that, however this seems to be more easy to digest. All in all, I think Poppy has the potential to become an amazing artist, and is only seeming to go up from where they first started.

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