The Poppy Enigma

Sally Dobie

YouTube is a platform that can take average people to stardom in a split second, but it is also a haven for odd and disturbing online content. Since its conception in 2005, YouTube has created celebrities like Justin Bieber, Bo Burnham and Carly Rae Jepsen; it’s no wonder people use the platform to launch their careers.

One such celebrity is Poppy, although she started out as anything but average. What began as a series of strange, robotic videos featuring a cute, blonde girl became a music career spanning genres and record deals.

Many of the early videos on the channel were Poppy doing nonchalant things, such as eating cotton candy, talking to a plant, or saying “I’m Poppy” over and over again for ten minutes straight. Often with a faded pastel background and eery music in the background, it made for weird viewing.

It only got weirder when this strange, android-like girl released a four-track pop EP with Island records. Poppy, also known as Moriah Rose Pereira, started her partnership with director Titanic Sinclair in 2015, and worked together on her videos, in part as a promotion for her music.

The promotional content worked, with the videos gaining millions of views. Poppy continued her AI persona in interviews and in concert, creating a reputation in both the YouTube and music industries. Her videos had a theme of Poppy’s character being controlled by her “handler”, Sinclair.

Sinclair previously partnered with artist Mars Argo, who actually filed a lawsuit against the pair for copyright infringement. During her collaboration with Sinclair, Argo portrayed a very similar character to Poppy, and claimed she had suffered “severe emotional and psychological abuse and manipulation” while working and in a relationship with Sinclair.

The case was eventually settled, and Poppy continued to produce music with Sinclair. After leaving the Island Records label, Poppy signed to Diplo’s label “Mad Decent”, and produced two studio albums, titled “Poppy”. “Computer” and “Am I a Girl?” in 2017 and 2018.

These albums were once again mostly generic pop songs, however a few of the songs on the album took on a more rock, metal theme. In interviews, Poppy called it “post-genre”, but she said her favourite tracks on the album were the heavier ones.

She once again left this deal, and in 2019 an EP called Choke was released on her own label, “I’m Poppy”. Choke honed in more on the rock genre, and although many fans wanted her to go back to her original spritely pop music, it seemed to a lot of people that Poppy was finally showing her authentic self.

In January 2020 Poppy released her third studio album, “I Disagree”, under record label Sumerian Records, famous for artists like Black Viel Brides and Sleeping with Sirens.

Around the same time, she parted ways with Titanic Sinclair, also claiming to have suffered emotional and psychological abuse like Mars Argo years before her. Poppy told Loudwire in December that although this is her third album it feels like her first.

Sally Dobie

Image Credit: Wired