We haven’t run across a musical act this weird since The KLF mystified audiences back in the early 90s. Thanks to FluxBlog for introducing us. Usually Flux is my source for mainstream, but Poppy is not mainstream, and while the Poppy persona seems to imply that fame and fortune are already hers, it’s hard to tell if that’s even where she/it/they are trying to go. The video stream on their YouTube channel seems designed more to provoke than sell records, although Poppy does sell records. We played “My Style” from her new record Poppy. Computer. just this week.
Ostensibly, Poppy is a 22 year old female singer currently living in LA who stars in her own YouTube channel. Her schtick is putting out short videos in which she plays a wispy blond with a wispy voice, who all but lisps quizmatic one-liners about products and ideas, as well as the occasional cryptic warnings about a mysterious “they” who are somehow related to the Illuminati. Some have interpreted her communiques as a critique of the whole experience of “being online.” Her songs do nothing to dispel this rumor.
Poppy has a J-poppy sound which is part and parcel with her super-sweet persona. Despite being whiter than most, she uses this genre to excellent advantage. Her tunes are cute and boppy and above all hummable — almost too hummable — but the lyrics are pointed. On “My Style,” she gently warns her listeners to please develop their own styles and stop copping hers. “Money” is about how “fabulous” money is when you have it, leaving open the question of whether it also buys happiness — conventional wisdom holds that it does not. (Ooh, subversive.)
That’s the trouble with Poppy. There’s something about her act that makes me nervous, like I should stay away and not “like” her too much. Yeah, the songs are candy pop, but as many have warned, just because something tastes good doesn’t mean it’s good for you.
Our assessment — Poppy may be safe in small quantities, but consume at your own risk.