I have a strange taste in music that mostly consists of showtunes and a few pop and indie songs in the mix. I listen to the radio a lot and find what music I like their, usually attaching myself to one song that I’ll listen to on repeat until I get bored with it or get obsessed with another song. I don’t usually listen to whole albums from one artist, and even with showtunes will only listen to select songs from a musical, so when people ask me what kind of music I like it can be a hard question to answer.
I did used latch onto bands when I was younger though. The first band I loved were the Spice Girls and I remember going to the mall with my mom and sister and finding the cassette tape in a store that my sister and I listened to repeatedly in the car. Then it was Britney Spears, I remember my sister and I listening to that cassette tape on repeat too (show your age huh?). And then a few years later it was Hillary Duff because my sister and I were obsessed with Lizzie McGuire so when she launched her singing career she could be nothing short of amazing of course. It was the first concert we went too and I still have her CD’s which I still play in my car.
And then high school happened and my music taste turned into an iPod on shuffle constantly shuffling through songs I’d become fixated on. That’s not to say I don’t like bands and their music, only that I don’t always feel uncomfortable saying I do when I only like a couple songs from each.
But a few years ago my sister showed me a Youtube video. She loves all things Youtubers and conspiracy theories and one night was showing me one of Shane Dawson’s then new segment on strange Youtube conspiracies and one of the Youtubers highlighted was a girl named Poppy.
Poppy started gaining fame over a ten minute video titled “I’m Poppy.” where she says the phrase through multiple cut shots for the entire video. The video didn’t become a hit right away, it was originally published in 2015 but it wasn’t until a year later that people found the video (and all her other strange videos) and started wondering who this strange Youtuber was and what she was doing.
Her other videos don’t make any more sense than the first. They’re typically under a minute long and either have her repeating a phrase, asking questions or talking to the viewer in a one-sided conversation, or eating food. But even though some of her videos are seemingly mundane, there are enough creepy ones to keep viewers interested and watching, curious to see what video will be next: normal or scary. There’s one where blood pours out of a smiling Poppy’s mouth, one called “They have taken control” where Poppy stands erect as a voice over tells the viewer to accept Poppy as their saviour, and another where Poppy in a praying pose tells the audience that she is “not in a cult.” And as well as the creepiness of some of the videos, there’s also a jealous mannequin named Charlotte that asks Poppy questions, a skeleton and a plant who are Poppy’s friends, and now a cat that may or may not be an ancient god.
On top of the weird videos, Poppy is also a singer (originally known as That Poppy, but she’d dropped the “That” part of her name) and I was surprised that I recognized the song “Lowlife” from my work. My sister was thoroughly creeped out by Poppy and her weird videos and possibly cult like following, but I was already obsessed. Among my friends I’m known for liking a lot of strange, weird, creepy, and as some would call it “fucked up” things. As well as unicorns, cats, and books that people typically know I like I also enjoy murder mysteries, both reading and writing them, and I like true crime and searching unsolved cases. I like dark stories where weird and messed up things happen, and Poppy’s blend of cute and creepy was completely my aesthetic. I ended up watching all her videos that night and started listening to her music the next and I was hooked, ready to join the Church of Poppy.
Though there was a lot of mystery surrounding Poppy when she first emerged online, we live on the internet age where it’s very easy to find out who someone is without much effort. Poppy is a character played by a woman named Moriah Pereira who after trying here and there to make it in the music industry teamed up with a guy named Titanic Sinclair (Corey Mixter) to create Poppy. Who Poppy is as a character is still left up to a lot of interpretation since nothing has ever been clearly said, but it’s believed Poppy is an android or internet girl of some sort that is slowly taking over the world through her music. Her first album Poppy.Computer uses internet culture as a big theme with the songs having an electronic beat and dealing with the internet in one way or another.
But a lot of Poppy is also commenting on celebrity culture. A lot of her videos are a comment on how celebrities interact with fans, or respond to doing something problematic, even the script celebrities seem to follow in interviews is commented on. Poppy then satirizes the kind of god-like power celebrities have over us in the most extreme ways by using the character as a cult leader.
I’ve been lucky enough to go to both of her Toronto concerts and both times they’ve been so much fun. Poppy manages to stay in character, sing some great songs, and keep up the cult leader status, at both concerts she’s handed out a special “Poppy beverage” to audience members who were lucky enough to get their hands on some.
Since the concert I’ve been listening to her newest album “Am I A Girl?” in my car on repeat and I think I like it more than her first. It isn’t as internet focused, if anything it’s kind of a mess in musical genres which fits perfectly to my tastes. There’s a number of pop-y (get it?) songs, and a surprising number of rock and metal. One of her newest songs X is quickly becoming a new fan favourite (and one of mine) with its blend of metal and pop.
And it’s nice having an artist that I’m excited to listen to and keep updated on. I enjoy the theatricality, the commentary, and the talent of Poppy and I can’t wait to see how the character grows and changes with each album. My mind is still on shuffle, but at least I have one artist whose songs keep coming back on repeat.
(Picture of Poppy taken from the Poppy: Am I A Girl? concert on February 6th 2019 at the Danforth Music Hall in Toronto.)