One day while procrastinating and scrolling through TikTok, I came across this invasive, glitchy, pixelated sound that both irritated and confused me – but it was also catchy as hell.
Hyperpop was one of the most talked about new genres of music in 2020. It dominated TikTok and enthralled gen Z with its surreal futuristic sound – giving the generic pop we all know a makeover for the modern age.
I’d be lying if I said Elyotto’s SugarCrash! hasn’t been playing on repeat in my head for months now. A blend of old and new, hyperpop grew on me as artists like 100 gecs layered emo vocals over distorted beats, making me nostalgic for my early teens.
It’s pretty much what it says on the tin – imagine hyped-up, jittery pop music on pixie sticks and skittles: excessive, exaggerated and excited.
Every decade has its defining sound. The 80s brings to mind synth pop, the 90s conjures alt rock and Cobain’s grunge, and in the future, when we look back, the 2020s might just sound like hyperpop.
In the UK, hyperpop rose to popularity alongside A. G. Cook’s PC Collective, pioneered by artists such as Charli XCX and SOPHIE. But despite its popularity, it is yet to have its moment on the Irish music scene. Could this be the new sound for a post-pandemic Ireland?
Dublin based artist Apollo Monroe, aka Dale Malone, is one of the few (if not the only) exploring the genre here. The singer songwriter, who previously performed with electro-pop band Apollo 6 during his undergrad at BIMM, has his sights set on pushing the boundaries within the Dublin music scene.
Monroe notes artists such as Charli XCX and 100 gecs as some of his biggest influences, as well as the late SOPHIE, who he describes as always sounding “like the future of music while everyone else was just trying to catch up”.
Explaining what drew him to the genre, Monroe says: “I really was enthralled by the balance of commercial pop and experimental elements. It pretty much was everything I loved about pop music – with an extra edge and extra attitude. I also really appreciated how queer artists are able express themselves freely within the genre as I find queer artists in mainstream pop tend to be apologetic about their queerness.”
Hyperpop, in many ways, is a genre that acts as a voice for queer culture. Largely shaped and pioneered by queer artists, it offers creative freedom while embracing the unique and celebrating the different. Monroe cites Dorian Electra’s My Agenda as an example of this creative freedom; a track that sarcastically pokes fun at the alt-right gay agenda conspiracy theories.
We can attribute the appeal of hyperpop to a generation of digital natives, born and bred on iPhones, tablets and laptops.
“Hyperpop has this rowdy energy to it that I think is super appealing to gen Z. The songs are short, sometimes finishing between 2 and 3 minutes. Kind of perfect for a generation brought up on TikTok.
“Not to mention, hyperpop is a product of internet culture, which resonates with a lot of Gen Z and younger millennials,” Monroe says.
His stunning debut single Soda Pop, which debuted back in February, mixes elements of dance pop, bubblegum bass, EDM, and trap. With such an explosive introduction, he’s undoubtedly made his mark.
“It has this bouncy, bright bubblegum pop chorus that contrasts these heavier, distorted trap beats in the verse. I was really focused on having a sound that constantly keeps you guessing where it’ll go next.
“Lyrically, it tackles the subject of pop artistry and its mass produced and highly processed nature, all wrapped in a soda metaphor. Given that I think there’s many parallels there, with them both ultimately being products built or created to bring in cash,” explains Monroe.
The latest Covid restrictions mean no live music for the foreseeable future, but Monroe is eager to keep growing his presence from his home production studio – ready to set ablaze the post-pandemic hyperpop scene in Dublin.
“I want to keep making music. I’m already focused on the next single. I feel Soda Pop has made people pay attention, so I’m excited to see what I can do with that attention. Plus, I want to prove Soda Pop wasn’t a fluke, and that I’m an artist with some real substance here,” he says.
Stream Soda Pop here on Spotify