An unofficial definition of hyperpop: a concoction of distorted sounds, techno music and occasional bass drops accompanied by high-pitched vocals that can sometimes make it feel like your brain is melting — but in the best way. Artists like 100 gecs, known for their electronic tunes, have recently been met with a surge in popularity as hyperpop has become the new music trend.
It’s no surprise that the subgenre coincidentally came to flourish near the start of quarantine. Stay-at-home orders were more or less an excuse for shaving heads, growing beards and playing ring toss with a dildo attached to a Roomba (an actual Twitter video) than a simple rule of keeping people safe. When you think about it, listening to hyperpop is actually the most tame thing you could do during a pandemic.
However, while it may be a mild activity to pursue, hyperpop is not for everyone. As someone whose first reaction to “hand crushed by a mallet” by 100 gecs was a frown and a skip after listening to the first minute, having an emotion mixed with confusion, fear and annoyance is understandable. It wasn’t until Charli XCX released her latest album that my initial opinion of hyperpop changed.
I can’t really imagine how my freshman self would react if I told them Charli XCX was going to be one of my most-listened-to artists a year later. Prior to 2020, I only knew her as the girl who sang that one annoying song from “The Fault in Our Stars” soundtrack. Then “how i’m feeling now” came out this year, ended up throwing an UNO reverse card my way and suddenly I’ve saved four songs off of the album.
Granted, when I first listened to “anthems” it wasn’t love at first hearing. It took a couple listens later for me to realize that I actually liked the song, despite its superficial lyrics. I don’t really know what clicked in my mind for me to enjoy singing along to “I want anthems / Late nights, my friends, New York” but here I am, jamming out to Charli XCX’s autotuned voice narrate about partying with her friends.
I think it’s safe to say that most fans of hyperpop listen to the genre ironically. After all, people aren’t normally drawn to lyrics like “Aw, look at those arms / Your arms look so fucking cute / They look like lil’ cigarettes / I bet I could smoke you I could roast you” (courtesy of “money machine” by 100 gecs). Instead, hyperpop is essentially a guilty pleasure for those who are at wit’s end and find enjoyment in listening to songs that resemble Owl City on steroids. For a genre to target such a specific demographic, it’s hard not to give it some credit.
In fact, there’s a chance that my sudden Charli XCX-listening tendencies are just a product of quarantine madness. Despite the possibility of that statement, I don’t mind admitting that hyperpop has become a genre of music that I find tolerable and at times, entertaining. It just goes to show that absurd times call for absurd music.