Goodbye hyperpop: the rise and fall of the most hated “genre” of the internet

What is hyperpop? What is a digicore? Artists Quinn, Daine, and Babii arrange the score once and for all for everyone

Hyperpop music It’s a simulation, ”reads the text that accompanies Spotify’s now infamous playlist. Launched in 2019, following the unlikely popularity of 100 gecs, the hyperpop playlist was originally intended to platform the an extremely online strain of experimental music that critics like to call hyperpop. Born in SoundCloud via Discord servers and Minecraft channels, the sound is maximal, chaotic and lo-fi, with many of the original artists in their teens or early twenties. One year an article I wrote last year23-year-old artist Alice Gas described the music as “being made by children in their bedrooms with microphones and FL Studio”.

Since then, however, the word has since become a general phrase for any and all forms of extreme pop music, from the brilliant sounds of Computer Music and the AutoTuned crowns of Drain Gang, to the death-screaming cries of the cyborg lullabies of Alice Glass and Arca. Sone, you’d be hard-pressed to find any online music made in the last decade that wasn’t retroactively waved like hyperpop. The music jumps from absurd pop to Soundcloud rap and intimate experimentalism – a mix so seemingly different that the only thing putting them together is their skill at pushing the pop envelope.

If the word “simulation” implies an imitation of something, then “hyperpop” is both a simulation of itself and the music it claims to represent. It is a nebulous term that encompasses a huge range of styles, sounds, and scenes that seem to be connected only by their tendency to the extreme. Industry leaders love it, artists hate it. In less than two years, it has gone from genre du jour to genre du not so – it’s very mention enough to elicit eye rolls from anyone involved. “It’s as if anyone pushing the boundaries in electronic pop music is now labeled‘ hyperpop ’,” says London artist twst. “I imagine it can be frustrating for people who feel like they’re put in a box, and one that is specifically taken care of by corporate hands because ‘hyperpop’ is a term coined by Spotify.”

Almost everyone who received the label was disappointed with the term, or frustrated by its limitations. For example, a press release for an 18-year-old hyperpop breakup midwxst’s Back in Action EP urged critics to stay away from the term. “He’s part of this group of young kids leading this new subset of music … but he’s certainly not immersed in the hyperpop sound and in his new music he flows beyond the genre,” it read.

The fact that no one really knows what hyperpop is is fueled by its hazy nature. “No one knows where Spotify got its name from ‘Hyperpop,'” says Umru, an artist signed to PC Music.

To make matters more confusing, Apple launched its own version of hyperpop, called glitchcore, following the success of the original Spotify playlist. After growing frustrated by these made-up terms and bottom-up corporate branding exercises, artists – like angelus, d0llywood, midwxst, all of which were previously classified as hyperpop took matters into his own hands, choosing the term digicore instead. As 16-year-old producer Hollywood said at the time, “We’re not PC Music, we’re not glitchcore. We’re hyper kids making pop music. Pop is loud, it’s hyper.”

“Digicore was a bit of a joke at first until people started liking that title better than hyperpop” – quinn

“Digicore was a bit of a joke at first until people started liking that title better than hyperpop,” says Quinn, the 17-year-old producer who became the face of hyperpop in 2020, after his explosive track “I don’t want so much. Friends in the first place ”accumulated tens of millions of streams and saw her become the first artist on her SoundCloud scene to appear on the cover of Spotify’s playlist. ) the music. But, over the years, that has diminished due to the schisms between styles that have evolved since that time. There are a lot of artists who are overshadowed by hyperpop when they fall more under experimental – but that’s mostly because no one knows what kind of labels like either. “

Quinn describes hyper-pop music as having a more polished sound: “Saw waves, metallic sounds, soft synthesizers, all nine”. Digicore, in contrast, is “much dirtier, with untamed soundscapes and distorted 808s that usually bypass the whole song”. (That said, Quinn has since rejected both terms altogether, going as far as removing all related songs from her Soundcloud page).

Kuru, a 16-year-old producer who appeared in the hyperpop scene along with the likes of fellow Soundcloud artists d0llywood1, angelus, Blackwinterwells, waifu, MISOGI, and ginseng, describes the shift from hyperpop to digicore as less sound change, more artists bored by the label put on his work. “Hyperpop has the most disturbing combinations of sounds,” he explains. “YYou would have people mostly just on the cloud repo side banded with indie pop and electronic artists, and it was a confusing suffering because that expression suited so many people. I think digicore was just more of a shift to describing artists and sounds that felt more self-made and raw and less professional and poppy. “

“For a lot of people, (hyperpop is) a bit of a hit word to describe anything with a lot of Autotune, but for people part of specific internet spaces, it’s a broad word used to easily describe a certain ecosystem of artists,” adds Daine. Following the release of her Dylan Brady producted single “Boys Wanna Txt” last year, tthe Melbourne artist became one of the first Australians to grace the cover of Spotify’s Hyperpop playlist. Her music, a grumpy mix of ethereal soundscapes, introspective lyrics, and harsh trap beats, are inspired by 00’s midwestern emo movement, just like emo rappers like Lil Peep and Wicca Phase Springs Eternal. Despite not identifying as hyperpop, she runs a bimonthly online party Nocturne, which features the whos-who of the hyperpop and digicore communities, from Charli XCX to umru, Alice Gas to ericdoa. “I don’t think there are clear parameters for any of these genres, and the increased use of‘ digicore ’as a descriptor probably stems from how increasingly loose the term‘ hyperpop ’is,” she adds. “But ultimately most of the names that are most strongly associated with these genre tags come from very similar internet spaces.”

“Someday people will leave it and it won’t matter anymore and I wouldn’t want to melt with the hyperburg” – Babii

One of the biggest problems facing hyperpop music is that it is basically trying to group artists whose music resists classification. “I think anyone who is thrown into a category or labeled as a stereotype wants to get out of it because it kind of takes away your uniqueness or identity to some degree, you become part of a crowd rather than an individual,” he says. Babies. “One day people will leave it and it won’t matter anymore and I wouldn’t want to melt with the hyperburg.”

The 2021 album by the British producer MiiRROR creates a visceral world of angel dragons and demons that serve as metaphors for her chaotic childhood and ongoing struggle with maternal figures. Despite having the so-called hallmarks of hyperpop music – a very elaborate song gives the songs a cyborg quality, while a metal percussion adds to the synthetic mood – the music is also a soft and delicate, intimate work that, like a mirror, requires reflection from its listener. Babii thinks, “I struggle with being a part of it sometimes because my music is so personal and full of my deepest secrets and there are so many parts of hyperpop that are playing jokes and selves and it’s a little scary to be so vulnerable in such a place. . ”

The 2021 album by the British producer MiiRROR creates a visceral world of angel dragons and demons that serve as metaphors for her chaotic childhood and ongoing struggle with maternal figures. Despite having the so-called hyper-pop markings – a highly crafted song gives the songs a cyborg quality, while a metal percussion adds to the synthetic mood – the music is also a soft and delicate, intimate work that, like a mirror, requires reflection of its own. listener. Babii ponders, “I struggle with being a part of it sometimes because my music is so personal and full of my deepest secrets and there are so many parts of hyperpop that are a play on jokes and memes and it’s a little scary to be so vulnerable in such a place.”

Since its initial boom, many of the young artists originally planned as hyperpop have gone on to have successful careers that transcend the boundaries of the term. Quinn’s debut in 2021 passing lullabies moves away from the saccharine tone of front tracks, instead preferring elements of a dark environment and drum’n’bass. Glaive, another of the scene’s teenage explosions, avoided the bedroom-produced chiptune tunes from his earlier work in favor of furious pop music and smooth production. “I think the word hyperpop has become a bit oversaturated,” he tells me in an email. “I’ve definitely started moving away from that community because now I feel like I’m doing more pop.”

It was only a matter of time before the hyperpopulation community began to grow tired of its limits – especially as many of the artists behind the initial boom aged and gained global recognition (and glaive and frequent collaborator ericadoa are now signed to Interscope Records). ). Nowadays, the term feels more like a corporate branding exercise than a creative flex, asking the question: is it time to burst the bubble and move on?

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