Hyperpop sounds like an erratic banging of pots and pans on first listen, but the intense microgenre is inevitably the future of pop music.
Though its definition has been debated, hyperpop can arguably be identified by maximalist electronic production.
The niche genre often employs unconventional, compressed and distorted percussive sounds that operate as drum loops. These coarse loops are typically accompanied by heavily processed, brash backing music that can only be described as avant-garde and metallic. Hyperpop vocals are typically autotuned and produced in a way that sounds as if the artist is singing directly into your ear, only inches away from you.
Though hyperpop may seem to be a mere satire of radio-friendly pop music, it’s much more than that. It is built on a digital mountain of productive detail, groundbreaking electronic sounds and undeniable musical genius.
After the death of Grammy-nominated hyperpop pioneer SOPHIE, the genre is led by artists like Charli XCX, 100 gecs, COBRAH, A.G. Cook and Arca. These artists, among others, have created a growing community dedicated to auditory innovation.
The qualifications of hyperpop has been brought to the forefront of musical discourse this week with the releases of Charli XCX’s new single, “Good Ones,” and Lady Gaga’s “Chromatica” remix album, “Dawn Of Chromatica.”
“Good Ones” is a departure from Charli XCX’s usual style. Though it clearly retains many elements typical of hyperpop, it nods to a nostalgic aesthetic and a tamer sound than we are used to hearing. This new sound is a healthy choice, and it is one that I hope she will retain with the rest of her upcoming album.
I have been excited for “Dawn Of Chromatica” ever since it was officially announced on Twitter last week. Leaks of Rina Sawayama and Clarence Clarity’s explosive remix of “Free Woman” set my expectations high for the rest of the album. However, the album had highs and lows. It's enjoyable, but seems facetiously experimental at times, as if Gaga was merely throwing a bone to the fans of her ultramodern pop music ahead of the October release of “Love For Sale” — Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett’s second traditional jazz album.
“Good Ones” and “Dawn Of Chromatica” each pose the same question in different ways: What are the defining limits of a limitless genre like hyperpop?
If you’re new to the microgenre, I recommend checking out the following hyperpop classics: “Vroom Vroom” by Charli XCX, “Immaterial” by SOPHIE, “U KNOW ME” by COBRAH, “money machine” by 100 gecs and “Voices” by Flume, KUČKA and SOPHIE.
I would also strongly advise that you do not rely on Spotify’s “hyperpop” playlist. A constant source of Twitter controversy, the playlist includes many songs that lovers of the microgenre would not include under its umbrella.
If you’ve had experience with the hyperpop, I recommend checking out the following cuts: “Underrated Popstar” by Alice Longyu Gao, “IPHONE” by Rico Nasty, “2099” by Charli XCX and Troye Sivan, “E-Boy” by Slayyyter and That Kid and “Honey” by That Kid and umru.
Finding the auditory sweet spot where chaos meets order is a talent that few artists have mastered. These musicians are bringing an addictively fresh sound to the world of pop music — a limitless sound that points to the future.
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