Hyperpop: Pop Music’s Saccharine Armageddon

Hyperpop: Pop Musics Saccharine Armageddon

Will Engle, Staff Writer

 When you hear a hyperpop record, you’ll recognize it instantly. Distorted, blown out drums. Sparkling synth tones reminiscent of drowning in cotton candy. Bizarre samples from popular internet memes or horror movies. And most notably, intense vocals that are heavily filtered and pitch corrected to an almost parodical extent. Over the past few months, hyperpop has become one of the most recognizable (and arguably, most experimental) genres introduced from the internet. However, it wasn’t always so. 

Hyperpop began under the London-based label P.C Music, run by a prestigious DJ named A.G Cook. Through P.C Music, Cook was able to introduce hyperpop’s bubblegum sweetness to the masses, and thus generate a small following. More artists found themselves drawn to the scene and began to experiment in their own studios and homes across the globe, using whatever software they had on hand. Such experimentation led to the birth of iconic hyperpop figures such as SOPHIE (pictured at  left) or Dorian Electra, who piqued the interest of the internet through their unsettling music videos and flamboyant costuming. However, hyperpop would not reach its height of internet infamy until the release of a record that could arguably be considered the cornerstone of hyperpop: “1000 Gecs,” released in May 2019 by Chicago-based duo 100 gecs. 

At first listen, “1000 Gecs” is a lot to take in. Its pounding drums and abrasive vocal melodies aren’t easy on the untrained ear, not to mention its bizarre forays into screaming death metal breakdowns, and in some cases, pure, uncut feedback. However, the more one listens to such an ambitious project, the more genius the project seems. Yes, the drums are absolutely mangled in a typical 100 gecs record. But the beat as a whole is as driving as it is danceable. Yes, the vocals are grating and high-pitched, often reminiscent of an Alvin and the Chipmunks tune. But the melodies are sweet, and powerfully addictive. A record like 1000 gecs is a masterpiece simply because of the brilliance that hides within its experimentation. Across the world, millions of quarantined teenagers discovered this and latched themselves onto it, turning a few solid records into a full blown artistic movement, full of bright colors and optimism so intense it’s almost cynical in itself. Hyperpop is the brilliantly sweet apocalypse of all of the tropes of modern pop smashing together at once, and thousands of bored, frustrated kids around the world have chosen to ride its neon shockwaves all the way into tomorrow. 

100 gecs (pictured at right) had a profound effect upon the world’s youth, shattering the conventions of production for many producers worldwide. To get a better understanding of this, I interviewed a young producer based in Canada who creates hyperpop under the name ElyOtto. ElyOtto is most well known for his recent release titled “SugarCrash!”, which is available now on Spotify and Soundcloud. SugarCrash!, almost overwhelming in its sweetness, is delightfully catchy and bizarre, including a bouncing drumbeat complimented by samples of swishing knives and barking dogs, and vocals so processed they could be sold by Little Debbie. Through a short chat, Mr. ElyOtto and I discussed hyperpop, art, fashion, and the future of the movement.

Will: What does the term hyperpop mean to you as a creator? What are your thoughts on the emerging genre?

ElyOtto: To me, the term hyperpop is just another way of describing whatever this is we’re making. I love it and I want more

W: What is producing hyperpop like? What features of hyperpop set it apart from other genres?

E: I’ve found that everyone makes hyperpop a little differently, but in my case it’s a lot of fun because of all the experimentation involved. I dunno if this is going to make sense, but in my opinion what sets hyperpop apart from other genres is its incredibly vibrant color. Hyperpop is the neon highlighter of music, it’s shameless and it doesn’t know the meaning of subtlety

W: What is most interesting to you about this movement? What attracted you to it?

E: A big thing for me is the fashion that comes with it. I’m at school right now looking around, and I can absolutely tell who listens to hyperpop just by the way they dress (cool).

W: Where do you see hyperpop going in the future? What innovations would you like to see within the genre?

E: While the genre has probably been around since the 2000s, the most widespread strain of hyperpop is a relatively new thing. In the future, hyperpop is bound to distort and form something entirely new. It’ll stick around in some form or another though. It sounds too good not to.

W: What band/artist inspired you to create hyperpop?

E: Like many others, I was introduced to hyperpop by 100 gecs. For a good 30 seconds, I thought it was a joke, then I decided I was a fan and that I wanted to make similar music. At this point I was already [deep] in other similar genres like happy hardcore and OMfG style, so it wasn’t hard for me to become completely obsessed. 

W: Thanks so much for your time!

E: No problem yo!

You can find ElyOtto’s song “SugarCrash!” on Spotify and Soundcloud.