What is Hyperpop?
In the modern age of Spotify, Apple Music, SoundCloud, and other digital music streaming services, discovering new songs and artists from around the world has never been easier, and neither has becoming an overnight sensation. The result is a surge in young independent artists garnering groups of fiercely loyal fans who catapult them into the realm of professional musicianship, if not mainstream stardom. And those that need an added boost can always buy spotify streams for cheap.
In unique flash-in-the-pan moments, enough of these artists can create music in a similar enough vein to cause crossover between fanbases, and a new genre of music is born. This is seemingly the case with hyperpop, a relatively new sound marked by a medley of high-pitched vocals, harsh synthesizers, and elements of everything from punk to hip hop.
However, pinning down hyperpop as one discernible genre has been a constant point of contention within the community, as the young upstart artists spearheading the sound clash over what counts as hyperpop, who deserves the recognition, and dealing with the barrage of online jokes mocking the genre.
Spotify: The Holy Grail of Hyperpop Artists
If websites like SoundCloud are the places where many hyperpop artists get their start, Spotify is the holy grail that all of them are striving to attain. Namely, to be included on the streaming service’s Hyperpop playlist. The playlist, which has a modest but devoted following and gets users to save its songs at a rapid rate, was created in August 2019 as a reaction to the skyrocketing popularity of 100 gecs, a hyperpop duo that earned immense online fame for their wild and unique sound.
Along with the almost overnight success of 100 gecs as the new hyperpop pioneers came the online criticism of the genre, especially on social media apps like TikTok and Twitter with high amounts of young users in the same age range as many hyperpop fans and artists.
Between the influx of memes and the desire of the music industry to ball up hyperpop into a singular identifiable genre, artists in the community began to chafe at the lack of recognition for their individual unique sounds and have had to weigh this against the undeniable exposure that comes with making it onto Spotify’s Hyperpop playlist.
100 Gecs, osquinn, and A.G. Cook
Artists like osquinn and glaive, 15-year-old hyperpop sensations rapidly on the rise, are prime examples of the power of the Hyperpop playlist. After 100 gecs took over the playlist as guest curators and included osquinn’s SoundCloud song “Bad Idea,” its Spotify streams rose exponentially and earned osquinn both a spot on the cover of the playlist and a steady flow of paychecks.
Despite the obvious benefits of the Spotify playlist, the underground, upstart nature of hyperpop music makes it a double-edged sword. For many artists, getting the number of streams that the playlist warrants becomes a lone steady source of income, and turnover in artist representation can leave hyperpop musicians high and dry just as quickly as they made it onto the playlist.
In similar fashion to the 100 gecs takeover of the Spotify playlist, British producer and singer-songwriter A.G. Cook personally curated the playlist and in doing so made artist picks that knocked many emerging hyperpop artists further down the playlist, effectively robbing them of song streams that provided for almost their entire income. Just as controversially, Cook’s picks included many artists that raised doubts over their validity within the hyperpop scene, furthering the tension within the community over how to define the genre.
PC Music and Hyperpop
Cook’s ability to stir up unrest among hyperpop artists is more than just a minor disagreement. In fact, he holds significant power within the community as the founder and figurehead of PC Music, a record label he started in 2013 that has since grown into the premier label for hyperpop music.
Since its inception, PC Music has often been considered polarizing in terms of critical reception, either earning praise for its innovation or criticism for the harsh sounds of its artists. Moreover, none of the more modern hyperpop fan favorites like 100 gecs, osquinn, or glaive are signed to PC Music, making the frustration of many artists at Cook’s playlist decisions much more understandable as they watched him effectively play gatekeeper to the biggest source of revenue for many hyperpop musicians.
Amidst the critical and artistic polarization of A.G. Cook and the constant emergence of new artists with drastically different sounds that still fall under the hyperpop umbrella, the genre is nowhere close to being fully defined enough for a singular classification.
The Future of Hyperpop
Hyperpop is a unique-sounding and uniquely modern genre, encapsulating on a smaller scale what much of the music industry has become. The total globalization of music, access to all types of genres and sounds, and constant clamoring of record labels to find the next breakout star all lend themselves to the cult rise of hyperpop, a cacophonous new genre that benefits from the ability of the internet to make superstars out of ordinary kids and mainstream hits out of never-before-heard sounds.
As with any music genre, the artists currently innovating and defining the sound take great pride in the music and their contributions, leading to this current state of excitement, disagreement, and opportunity within a culture and community that has a lot of evolution left to do.