Game of Thrones: Madonna, Eilish, and Pop’s Ever-Changing Monarchs.
I've been upping my dose of alt-pop as of late—artists like Fly By Midnight and Hazel Bloom—playing it in the morning with my cup of coffee. I had not heard much from pop's reigning queen, to be honest, and no I do not mean Madonna's new album Madame X, I am talking about seventeen-year-old alt-pop star Billie Eilish. I stumbled upon her music only about a month ago and was impressed by its simplicity and intoxicating sound, which is what pop music should be. The cultural shift she is creating is worth talking about.
Pop music is naturally tied to culture, duh! When an artist like Eilish has its coronation, it is worth examining what cultural changes led to it and how it affects musicians currently crafting their style. Eilish's music exhibits a relatively quiet vocal delivery that is complemented by trap beats relying heavily on low frequencies and sinister synth stabs. Because pop's bubblegum aesthetic has not changed much since the '80s, this dark turn is both attractive and intriguing.
Up and coming pop artists today may no longer see a need to confine themselves to cheery or loved-up themes thanks to Eilish, they can stay a bit more grounded. The current social and political climate lends itself to more obscured themed music that can still benefit from a catchy hook. Daily Bass and Treble make an excellent point as they claim that Eilish is the upcoming decade's catalyst. Think of Nirvana's Bleach in 1989, just before the decade they would forever be associated with, the cultural shift that was the '90s.
While it may have been Ariana Grande last week or Halsey the week before, Eilish proves a much tougher queen to dethrone. Young pop musicians can follow the direction she is headed and discover a little less chic version of the music they adore—a true alt-pop. It is this suggestion that leaves former pop monarchs like Madonna entirely out of the equation, as her shock-pop music is no longer deserving of that tag.
Whatever the next decade brings will surely have something of what Eilish is serving, and that is exciting. Her compositions may not be complicated, but they have enough pop elements to shift the cultural landscape and give us tastier bubblegum music to mull over. Local musicians got some work to do, the tools have been laid out.