Entertainment & Media
By Eva Martinez
Volume 2 Issue 2
November 19, 2021
Image provided by Dork
When you ask someone how they would define grunge, they may reference bands like Nirvana, or recall fond memories of teen years spent in basements and garages with guitars stolen from their parents. There was joy in simply making music; it was rough, sloppy, and new. As a generation of digital natives comes of age in an era where recording software is free, inexpensive, and easy to access, a new generation’s grunge was born, Hyper pop.
Two words that make sense when combined are the genre tag for one of the most undefinable movements in music in the past two decades. Due to its ineffable nature, the best way to explain the genre is through examples. I point you to “money machine” by 100gecs. 100gecs is quintessentially Hyper pop, and while others such as Charlie XCX have been in the game longer, bands like Waterparks, which may dabble with production styles reminiscent of the genre 100gecs, are Hyper pop superstars.
So, what makes a song Hyperpop? Let us look at some of the elements in “money machine” and find out.
First, the vocals. Recorded on what sounds like a broken toy megaphone, the messy and sped-up vocals are the primary identifier of a Hyper pop song. The second genre-defining elements are the obnoxious number of vocal effects and augmentation packed into this one-minute fifty-four-second song. Reminiscent of the inadequate quality yet laugh-out-loud funny “chipmunk” versions of popular songs spawned by the Alvin and the Chipmunk movies, the heavily edited vocals create a rushed energy that channels even a turtle’s fastest effort. Next up? The beat. Undeniably simple enough for anyone with a decent understanding of Audacity or a similar mixing software to create within an hour, simplicity lends itself to Hyper pop’s “grungy” nature. It is a fast-paced ride across snare and cymbal that ups the intensity towards the end. It is a lightning-fast crash ride, and 100gecs is dragging you along whether you like it or not.
Okay, so we have covered vocals and drums; what else is there? Well, besides an ever-increasing number of random production elements, loud and distorted guitars, and general chaos, “money machine” and, by extension, Hyper pop has one larger thread holding it together. The “hyper” in Hyper pop does not necessarily come for the genre’s need for speed. It refers to the pure oversaturation of sound that one experiences whenever a Hyper pop song plays. This incessant need to overload the mixing and production of a song has an interesting connection to the people creating it. Just as grunge was a rebellion against what came before it, Hyper pop is too. The maturation of so many young people when the internet handed them the world and told them everything was in reach has led to a shift in genre. Pushing back against simpler production styles and bland radio hits, Hyper pop is neon graffiti on the black and white walls of the music industry. It is fast, loud, and undeniably too much. If you are still doubtful of Hyper pop’s connection to the online world, look at the song titles across the genre. Titles are all written in a grammatical style that intend to strike fear into the hearts of most English teachers yet are easily readable to this online generation.
The lyrical style of Hyper pop additionally lends to this online feeling. Upbeat and messy backgrounds crash through your ears as various artists depict deep feelings of hopelessness. Still, surely monster energy and some neon paint will make those issues irrelevant, right? At least, that is what Hyper pop attempts to convince you of.
When the world is at your fingertips, it can be beautiful. One can learn about diverse cultures and gain a deeper understanding of humanity. Conversely, it can cause feelings of depression and isolation. To me, this duality is represented best by Hyper pop. It can be overwhelming; it can give you a migraine and force you to wonder why anyone would ever make such music. Yet, it can also be the background to a high-octane workout, and its overwhelming nature corresponds to an overwhelming world, but here being overwhelmed means something.