A year and a half ago I stumbled onto a Film Theory video outlining a rising singer named Poppy and her connections to the Illuminati. I didn’t pay it much mind outside of something entertaining to watch, and up until a couple of days ago, Poppy hadn’t appeared in my life again. However, I came across her second full-length album and was instantly reminded of this video because, unlike a lot of other musicians, Poppy has a narrative arc.
I’m sure that sounds strange, but the creators of the Poppy character (Titanic Sinclair and Moriah Pereira) have put in a huge effort to build this character and give her backstory. The beginnings of the Poppy character take root in Illuminati and Satanic imagery. In Lowlife she is first seen posing like Baphomet, a deity revolving around the concept of equilibrium – good and evil and other binary opposites – and is heavily incorporated into the modern-day occult. She is also seen alongside the devil, dressed in all white and completely poised – Poppy is an icon of purity.
Then come to Money, where Poppy becomes the epitome of capitalism – luxurious spending and celebrating money. But the Illuminati symbolism is still there, with flying eyeballs and the full pyramid and Latin motto floating right in front of her. And then we get to Computer Boy and the full Poppy.Computer album, where her character takes a different turn. Computer Boy speaks to falling in love with your laptop, something that I know I’ve been and probably still am. Hell, I said I’d kill someone if they threw my phone over the railing at the club last night. That isn’t to say that the Satanic imagery is toned down at all, it’s still there. She looks like she has horns in her hair which is definitely intended to look at least semi-demonic. And she’s once again the symbol of purity in her shiny white dress. Or the I’m Poppy lyric video, where she is quite literally the computer screen and singing about how she is your internet girl and you can find her on your telephone screen.
And then we get to Moshi Moshi. Where there are four identical Poppy’s in four different outfits. Two white and two red. Equilibrium. And her backup dancers doing the pyramid Illuminati symbol in the middle of the chorus dance. This is where the idea that Poppy is a robot clone comes into realisation. Interweb keeps this robot character going, with the blank stare of Poppy singing that she’s caught you in her interweb, a slang term for the internet. Bleach Blonde Baby serves as the perfect bridging point from Poppy.Computer to the second album, Am I a Girl? as the Poppy character sings about being born with make-up on and only being able to sing, performing in front of pews of old people in lab coats with the Illuminati pyramid behind her. She’s the perfect angel in white, and she was made bleach blonde by God himself. Now come to Am I a Girl? and its leading single; Time Is Up. Honestly, this is one of my favourite songs on the album but the video takes it even further. It’s a backstory – she’s a robot, laid out in skin-tight white latex on white sheets with white walls, the perfectly sterile environment. She’s the newest release model, turning everyone into binary 1s and 0s as if she’s making an equilibrium. Poppy is the saviour of these humans, singing to them that their time is up.
Finally, we have X. X is a standout among the rest of her music simply from a musical standpoint – it switches between heavy metal and 80s synth pop. But the imagery stays very true to the Poppy character, in plain whites and shiny accessories to add to her deity-like image as some internet goddess. And then we get to the chorus, where she’s covered in blood channelling her inner Carrie. Her hands have finally become dirty with all the allusions to the Illuminati and demonology. And she’s dressed in full black for the bridge, which is the complete opposite of what she’s been in for the rest of her filmography. She looks almost possessed, which is what I think this song is alluding to. She’s finally let the demons in. Brainwashing is also somewhat prominent, with the guys in the 80s rolling-around-the-grass scenes looking like they’re a part of the Poppy cult. The final part of the music video is her, covered in blood, staring into the camera in complete silence and giving a wink, as if this telling you this is our little secret. And she does it in a lot of her other videos too. It’s a way of letting you, the viewer, into the storyline as well as breaking the fourth wall and acknowledging you’re on the other side of the computer screen.
So why is all this character-building important? Mostly because it’s a testament to an artist’s ability to have free reign over their image. Personally, I love the narrative arc that Poppy has played out for multiple reasons. The first is that it can be pieced together in order of release or in order of a particular timeline of events, so it’s very open to interpretation. The second reason, though, is that it carries messages of perception. Perception is a concept we talk a lot about throughout our blog posts because doing something subjective like writing or music relies almost entirely on perception, and it changes from person to person. It also speaks to internet culture, and how large a part the internet plays on our perceptions of reality and our day-to-day lives. So just think about that the next time you’re watching a YouTube video.