Each week VH Music picks out a new artist you should definitely be checking out. This week, Tom explains why you should be checking out the living art project that is That Poppy.
There are far too many artists that follow fads and are utterly generic, yet still insist that they hold something valuable and unique. Years of this churn-it-out-and-let-them-tune-in attitude in the music industry, and even approach from artists, has led to a sad state of music where it can sometimes feel like referring to musicians as ‘artists’ is far too strong a compliment. After all, where is the art?
With that said, That Poppy is a breath of recycled – yet somehow still fresh – air. Right off the bat, her music is radio-friendly and straightforward pop numbers. Her music is seldom out of the ordinary and wouldn’t seem out of place in the repertoire of most bigger pop artists. So why is That Poppy worthy of any praise in particular?
Because Poppy is an artist in the truest sense of the title. In fact, her whole musical output, public-facing persona and music video etiquette is a grand display of artistic meta-commentary that parodies pop culture trends and ideas. She is the pop artist for the pop cynic, and the perfect modern art installation for the intellectual listener who has become, frankly, bored to death of the same old music industry robots.
The idea behind Poppy is that she portrays the duality of modern pop music culture. Her songs, for example, often have conflicting messages that cannot accurately represent a single artist at a single point in time. On her debut (and, so far, only) EP ‘Bubblegum’, Poppy switches between hung up on love and determined to get it (‘Altar’) and isolated outsider individuality (‘American Kids’) in the time it takes to transition between tracks. It all purposefully stinks of the ‘written just to sell’ ideology, while still – in the lyrics to the latter – managing to poke fun at the industry itself in the process.
When you combine this with her willingness to mock the popular ‘musicians are successful because they’re illuminati’ conspiracy theories with her own Baphomet-mimicking music video for feelgood pop-ska single ‘Lowlife’, it becomes clear that Poppy is a fascinating deliberate art project. This, somehow, makes her musical offerings sound even better – after all, nothing can make what you’ve heard before sound better than a subtle and sardonic spin on it.
Poppy might not be anything gamechanging, but the sentiment behind it certainly is. And in a world where very little in pop actually is different, sometimes all you need is to be in on the joke.