For the first time, we are watching music scenes and microgenres with life cycles that play out entirely on the internet. Born from the open-source ambiguity of the online world, the last decade has seen genres accelerating from the void at a breakneck speed, chewing up an internet’s worth of influences, and spitting them out again. Burning bright and burning out, sprinting to keep up with the all-you-can-eat consumerism that has defined the way we engage with music. Today’s cutting edge is tomorrow’s lo-fi; what was the sound of the future is already a passing reference point. Pick it up, put it down. Do it because you can; do it because you’re bored. In the virtual world, Rome was built not just in a day, but on a school night—but was any of it made to last?

In the last decade alone, there has already been a dynasty of genres established in the online dimension, as quickly dug up from the underground and crowned as the sound of the moment as they are dethroned, confined to nothing more than a distant, slightly cringeworthy memory. Vaporwave, nightcore, chillwave, cloud rap… this online index is sprawling, stemming from the same source, the same radical promise, and all, in some distant way, connected to the next. 

Yet compared to the likes of grime, which was anchored to the concrete jungle of London’s council estates, or the regional Brooklyn drill scene tethered to a localized community of artists, the freeform internet genres have a considerably shorter lifespans. Without feeling the earth under its feet, without a physical epicenter to call home, internet music belongs to anyone and everyone. Unlike its IRL precursors, it’s unlimited—a continually evolving sound.

Growing at a meteoric speed, the scene that has been brought to light from obscurity and has become the latest fascination of fans, critics, and the music industry at large, is hyperpop. Already, its coverage has been extensive, including a deep excavation from The New York Times, with many of its leading lights now working with major labels, from 100 gecs being absorbed by Atlantic to 16-year-old glaive signing the dotted line for Interscope. 

If the term itself doesn’t already invite an eyeroll, with the artists themselves being first in line shrug it off as “cringe,” there is a sense that already, hyperpop is bleeding into something else before the world has truly understood what, exactly, it was in the first place.

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