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September 14, 2014 | by  | in Arts Music |
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The future of pop music

The output of internet label PC Music is a lot like a bag of gummy bears – sugary, addictive, vaguely too good to be true. They’ve been around about a year, but are really coming into their own as associated acts Sophie and QT* make their major-label debuts. If you like pop music but wish all the acts had snorted a few more lines before entering the studio, this is the music for you.

Every member of PC Music seems somewhat involved in every other PC Music project, many of which simply appear to be different personas for label head A. G. Cook. While their music spans various EDM genres, it all shares a kind of frantic maximalist aesthetic. Vocals are uniformly female, often mixed to sound like some kind of android six-year-old, with lyrics either painfully earnest or Year 12 Media Studies ironic (“topman, topshop / I don’t wanna be a twin, I just want to… f–f–f–f–fit in”). Songs are apt to change genres in a second, from full-trap to K-pop to trance, then all the way back again. Really, though – this is pop music, it’s just pop music for our hyper-mediated hyper-fragmented modern existence – an avalanche of signifiers, the music video taking back the song. I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence either.

The only thing I can really compare PC Music to, besides well, everything, is the ARK Music Factory, who produce custom-built pop songs for rich teenagers – famously, Rebecca Black. PC Music’s Hannah Diamond kind of can’t sing – it’s amazing. Her voice is interesting and pleasurable, but half of the highs she hit kind of painfully crack, at least on the first eight-or-so listens. The production behind her is far too professional for this to be a mistake, and the projected vulnerability is only helped by the achingly innocent romance of the lyrics, from “you would say how much you loved me almost every day” to the cresting wave of the chorus, “now I’ve saved you as a picture on my phone”.

Sex, usually implicit in pop music, is either notably absent or explicit and near-inhuman. One second it’s all “Less love, more sex, no calls, just texts”, “banging banging banging banging loads of guys”, “in the bathroom, sucking dick, thanks for coming, that was quick”, all produced like a smiling Korean girl is singing it; the next, we’re hearing someone whining “you say baby how are you? I’m okay, how about you?” as if their middle-school scholarship depended on it. The jarring shifts are part of the charm, but also walk an almost creepy line.

Then, exposing all the creepiness in regular pop music might be the point. One can’t quite be sure if PC Music are mocking pop music or embracing it warts and all. This definitely isn’t full irony, it’s far too good for that, but there’s something kind of wrong with it too. Kind of like gummy bears.


*QT is actually Sophie and A. G. Cook. And Sophie is a dude, but there’s always a girl singing? I don’t know either.

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