Poppy comes from a generation of chameleon artists. Her debut album was happy-go-lucky bubblegum pop whereas I Disagree opens with hardcore metal tropes. Between the guitar shredding is Poppy’s sugar-sweet vocals. We are living in an era where artists commit to just one sound at their own peril.
The titular track “I Disagree” sounds like an angsty teen track on the surface, but the lyrics have more substance. In light of the #MetToo movement, Poppy confesses: “I disagree with the way you continue to pressure me / I disagree with the way you are failing to pleasure me.” Poppy is refusing to accept the status quo and demands better.
Billie Eilish’s influence in the middle section of the album is prevalent. In “BLOODMONEY”, Poppy whispers in an Eilish-like fashion before descending into raging screams. The distorted dubstep sounds and background laughter is akin to Eilish’s “You Should See Me In A Crown”. Of course, I Disagree is far heavier and angrier than When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? While Eilish’s music represents a generation, Poppy is settling into her edgy niche, creating music that will surely divide fans down the middle.
While many of the tracks see Poppy raging, “Fill The Crown” opens with a pep talk to her fans. Poppy with her sugar-sweet vocals declares: “You can be anyone you want to be / You can be free, you can be free / I believe you’re the one who’s meant for me / We can be free, just come with me.” The track then descends into screamo, with her backing vocalist chanting “Poison the family / Make the children cry.”
What is most unusual about Poppy’s new album is the fact it is so popular. Poppy is a twenty-odd-year-old singer who started out as a YouTuber turned fashion model. Hardcore screamo fans can’t take her seriously whereas pop fans may be put off by the random bursts of heavy metal.
There is clearly something we are missing given that Poppy has half a million monthly listeners on Spotify. A video of her repeating the phrase “I’m Poppy” for 10 minutes has been watched more than 23 million times and her channel has millions of subscribers.
Although Poppy’s new album is admirably alternative and is essentially America’s answer to BabyMetal, the nu-metal record lacks something. Still, there’s something about Poppy that people can’t seem to get enough of, and this quality is certainly not absent from I Disagree.