Poppy wants you to think she is an enigma, and maybe she is.
The elfish, platinum-blond performance artist has accrued more than 250 million views on her YouTube channel, which is home to surreal, often frightening content. She started uploading videos in November 2014, and hasn’t broken character since. Her videos tend to follow a formula and usually only last between 30 seconds and two minutes. In her first one, “Poppy Eats Cotton Candy,” Poppy slowly, strangely eats pink cotton candy, paying little mind to the camera. Along with other early videos on her channel, this one seemingly lacked a clear product or commodity to promote.
But Poppy knew what she was doing.
After three years of consistently making videos, she’s now primed for a pop breakthrough, thanks to her first world tour and YouTube Red series, I’m Poppy . Her evolution from weirdo to comic to social satirist and pop star took her through several disciplines and platforms. Now, she’s in this for the long game.
Poppy first drew attention to her musical talents in March 2015, when she released a cover of Mac Demarco’s “My Kind of Woman,” exposing her infectious voice to the world. That July, she dropped a video for “Lowlife,” which became the single for her first EP, Bubblebath. The track was surprisingly mature and combined elements of pop, ska, and reggae. From there, Poppy’s intentions were clear. And her cult following was only growing.
Still, little is known about Poppy, the robot-like character with hypnotic YouTube videos, or Moriah Rose Pereira, the actress behind the persona. She doesn’t seem interested in answering the question “Who is Poppy?” — at least not yet.
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Thus, Poppy can be defined by a few trends, themes, and patterns apparent in her music and videos.
Primarily, Poppy is a being of the internet, which she addresses in her video “Is This the Internet” and her track “Interweb” from her debut studio album, Poppy.Computer. She embodies the internet with a self-aware smirk, inviting criticism for her near-contentless videos, designed to waste the time of the curious people who become entrapped in her YouTube channel. Yet Poppy’s music is completely lucid. The satire of it all isn’t overly biting, and, more often than not, her songs are clever, club-ready electropop.
“I caught you in my interweb / I caught you in my internet / Well maybe I’m a spider / Or maybe I’m a fisherman,” she sings, embracing her digital stardom.
Poppy’s obsessed with pop culture, which is evident in her brand of referential, bubblegum bops. “I’m strong and in power because a famous person said I was,” Poppy says in a particularly creepy video titled, “I Know Who Famous People Are.” In another video, she mentions Selena Gomez’s intense social media audience and questions why she has so many followers.
She’s a bit of a culture vulture, apparently addicted to follower counts, celebrities, and upholding an image of “kawaii” chicness. She embraced the imagery by working with J-pop producer Ryosuke Sakai, a.k.a. Dr. R, on all of Poppy.Computer. Poppy, in a way, captured the zeitgeist in an age where Asian pop music’s influences are showing up everywhere, and groups like K-pop boy band BTS are finding chart success on the Billboard Hot 100.
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And now, Poppy is ready to share what she’s spent more than three years hyping up.
Her technology-themed pop tracks will have echoed through 40 cities when she completes her debut tour in April 2018. Her stop at Crescent Ballroom falls on Valentine’s Day, which is a bit ironic, considering Poppy only sings of love when referring to things like her computer or her microphone.
The spectacle of seeing Poppy surely will be curious and likely full of contradictions, because that’s the nature of the performer. Perhaps seeing Poppy perform live, without the bias of the internet, will unravel another layer of the persona. Of the enigma.
Poppy is scheduled to perform at Crescent Ballroom on Wednesday, February 14. Tickets are $18 to $20 via Crescent Ballroom's website.