By Samantha Sweet-Lichtenberg
Have you guys seen Trolls?
A thousand times each week.
This movie has been burned into my brain. Fortunately, Justin Timberlake is the executive music producer so the songs are all really good and there are a few surprise choices in the movie that happen to go along with the storyline so well. I suppose there could be worse shows (Caillou) or movies that my kids could be obsessed with so I am trying to be happy that right now it is all Poppy, all the time. I find it somewhat eerie that around the same time, I too found my very own Poppy to obsess over. I saw somebody share a video that said “Poppy reacting to kids reacting to Poppy,” and had a non-cartoon woman staring at a tablet that had two children on it who were sitting at a table also looking at a tablet. (If you’re confused af, here’s the video…)
To be honest with you, my head is so full of Princess Poppy from Trolls, I thought for a brief second that this is the voice of Poppy watching kids freak out to Poppy not being a real cartoon, but then I remembered that Princess Poppy is voiced by Anna Kendrick, who this woman was most definitely not.
I watched this video and was immediately hooked. I’ve been enamored by the platinum blonde singer ever since.
I find the sinister hiding within the innocent to be both terrifying and addictive. Poppy is a young girl with hair that is clipped back in a childish style in a majority of her videos with a bunch of girly hair accessories. Her clothing is usually very light, pastel colored and a very cute with bows or frills of some kind. In one of her interviews, Poppy even says one of three words that would describe her would be “Kawaii,” which means “cute” in Japanese. But it only takes a few seconds into her videos to realize that although she seems very sweet with her delicate voice, that she is usually on a deeper level with the things she both sings and speaks about. My husband refuses to even watch her videos. It’s almost like watching a scary movie, but it’s only anywhere from 30 seconds to just a minute or two.
That Poppy has two Youtube channels. Her music can be found through her VEVO channel. I’ll discuss her music more in depth later, but I want to give you a basic summary. Her second Youtube channel is a large selection of videos in which she is just speaking. There is usually music playing in the background to help guide the feel of the video. I have sent a few to people and the general response has been similar to, “Wow that’s weird.” A few I’ve gotten to rewatch them and see that there is deeper meaning to them, but only a few have responded after immediately recognizing that Poppy is actually speaking from a viewpoint that is a parody of current pop star culture. A lot of her videos point out how society as a whole is obsessed with both the lifestyle of celebrities and also the overall addiction to wealth and fame. The link that I sent to everybody that I asked feedback from was titled: “Do You Believe in the Internet?”
In this video Poppy discusses how because we see it on the internet, it much be true. However, we know isn’t the case. But from the hundreds of thousands of memes and stories shared daily we can see how it must seem that because somebody saw it flash across their computer screen, it is, in fact, based in truth. For the most part she seems upbeat or hopeful in the beginning of each one, but just the monotone level at which she speaks at and the synthesizer/organ type music creepily changing from major to minor keys in the background are clear signs that this is not meant to be encouraging and chances are it will also not have a positive outcome. Another strange aspect about the videos is the director, Titanic Sinclair. I’m not going to go too much into him as I want the focus of this article to be Poppy, but I feel he is relevant to the background. Titanic Sinclair also has a Youtube channel that is very similar to Poppy’s with his monologues being a little more to the point without much symbolism. However, he also delivers them with the same monotone type speak and aloofness that it’s hard to know if he’s trying to make a point or making fun of people who also share that viewpoint. He also had a previous channel with Mars Argo, a former bandmate and girlfriend. They had a channel featuring a show called the “Computer Show,” with videos eerily similar to That Poppy. Almost all videos between Mars Argo and Titanic Sinclair have been deleted or set to private with the exception of a few left on their channel. And for the most part until recently, Mars Argo had been MIA from the music industry for quite a long time. Both Mars Argo and That Poppy have little to no backstory about who they were before their characters came to be. In today’s world when everything is a google search away, it adds to the mystery of these characters and their storylines. Poppy theorists state that a lot of references can be found in Poppy’s current videos and music towards Mars Argo. For example, in Poppy’s song “Altar” she sings:
“She’ll take you straight to the bank.
Don’t marry that gutter skank.
I know the pressure is high and she’s gonna cry but that old news needs to die.”
It could just be lyrics written generally but because Mars Argo and Titanic Sinclair were publicly a couple and the assumption is that when Mars Argo disappeared in 2014 and that Poppy emerged, Poppy and Titanic Sinclair were then a couple. Titanic has addressed the breakup with Mars Argo was amicable and that they wanted to take their lives in different directions. Both in the comment sections and on their own youtube explanation videos, many followers claim that whether part of a storyline or not, a lot of That Poppy’s creations reference Mars Argo in one way or another.
So anyway, on to my favorite part (although I LOVE all the side info that comes along with Poppy) … THE MUSIC! I have not been this excited about an artist in a long time. Poppy is truly a soul-baring artist when it comes to her lyrics and they are just neatly wrapped in a very pop, synthesized sounding music. I know describing that to you can be a huge turn off because, if you are like me, when you hear those words you think Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Selena Gomez (which Poppy actually makes a video discussing what the number after your name on Youtube means [followers] and asks why Selena Gomez has such a high number). And don’t get me wrong, I have a ton of songs from those three artists on my ipod that I run to, but none of them compare to the type of writing or symbolism Poppy sings in her songs. Her song “Lowlife” is currently the most popular song on her EP. It has a light-hearted, reggae beat to it, but after listening, you can hear that the message behind it almost feels like grasping to the last good thing you have.
“Baby you’re the highlight of my lowlife.
Take a shitty day and make it alright, alright.
Oh in every circumstance, yeah you make the difference.
Baby you’re the highlight of my lowlife, lowlife.”
In her music video for “Lowlife,” there are several references to drugs, sexuality, and the devil himself. The image that sticks out in my head is where a scene that Poppy steps outside to sign autographs but all she does is take a paintbrush out of a can of deep red paint and just smears it across several headshots. I feel this is her saying that as a celebrity you are signing your life over in blood to your fans. They will make or break you. The music video and a lot of Poppy’s videos on her Youtube channel also have a lot of heavy symbolism with the illuminati and references to how Poppy is not really in control of her life but never reveals who actually is.
When I have been discussing her lyrics and musical style to others, I usually use the example of “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People. It’s an incredibly catchy song that surged to popularity in 2011. It was played EVERYWHERE. I had just started dating my husband in Kansas City and it was played at every bar we went to and at every after party. I’m not sure what the qualifications are, but it had the perfect sounds to being what you want out of your favorite summer song. It was rock but not hard. Alternative but not whiny. A catchy chorus. A major key. But did you know it’s about a school shooting? Umm….. wtf? Right? That’s how the music is with That Poppy. It’s upbeat. It’s catchy. You want to dance to it and walk a pretend runway in your hallway. Ok, that might be just me. On the surface, Poppy is bubbly! But her words direct your thoughts to some menacing places. In both her songs, American Kids and Money, she is very upfront with the lyrics. She sings about how money is ultimately everything and how not doing drugs actually makes her less cool and less accepted. In both her songs and her videos on her Youtube channel, she references how things that aren’t really good for you or are proven to not provide happiness are encouraged, especially toward youth. In an interview when asked about performing at SXSW and told how amazing it is to smoke weed there, she simply replies, “Poppy does not partake.” Although my viewpoints on both alcohol and marijuana seem to be a lot more relaxed than Poppy, I do notice how in the media today it’s accepted to be the norm at younger and younger ages. I wish I hadn’t just been pounding beers just because everybody was doing it or I thought I looked cool when I was younger. I love how Poppy seems to bring this up while clearly still standing on her own, doing her own thing and seemingly finding success. I personally feel it is vital to us to find what makes us happy and go with it barring whatever the hell anybody else wants to say or think. I’m glad that finally I have felt like I really connect with her music when it comes to my personality. I’m really outgoing and friendly. I can come off pretty stupid because I talk a lot and I talk really fast and I excite easily and laugh like a fog horn. But my thoughts are deep and scary. And half my time I’m pondering terrible, worst-case scenarios. It’s almost comforting to see somebody who is clearly out there and not talking about what is “normal” and isn’t trying to be perfect. Poppy is an all-encompassing artist that is going to give you those upbeat songs while still coming through on real, meaningful lyrics that remind us even though we think other people may be better off or we’re unworthy of being liked because we’re different, we are all just people. We all have our problems, addictions, issues that nobody else may know because of the life we are portraying to live through our social networks. As mentioned before, there isn’t a lot of backstory on That Poppy but as she becomes more and more popular it’s getting easier to find things out. I have provided a link below to a Youtube video that helped me organize my thoughts on the characters involved in the Poppy storyline that also provides some history, but I want to leave you with something Poppy said. The reason That Poppy is treated like such a mystery and she doesn’t reveal much about her past or her age is because she wants the focus to be on the music and the art that she’s making. She wants you to be obsessed with what she’s doing and not how old she is or where she’s from. You can find That Poppy’s album on itunes and her two channels on Youtube! The links are below along with other artists mentioned in the article. Also, if you really like what you hear, I would also check out Halsey, Mars Argo, Melanie Martinez and The Pierces, all artists I have fallen in love with after listening to the “That Poppy” station on Pandora. Now go listen to Poppy. Love Poppy. If you love Poppy you’ll have it all. Everybody just wants it all.
https://www.youtube.com/user/thatPoppyTV – That Poppy youtube channel
https://www.youtube.com/user/ThatPoppyVEVO – That Popppy vevo channel (music)
https://www.youtube.com/user/grocerybagdottv – Mars Argo
https://www.youtube.com/user/titanicsinclair – Titanic Sinclair
https://youtu.be/oAs0arTBYxs ThatPoppy Explained youtube video by ReignB – You tube video that helped me with some info