Poppy: "Concrete" - music video analysis and interpretation

in #music2 years ago

I want to start analyzing sophisticated art here. Since I'm a pro, I'll get straight to the really difficult things, even though I've never attempted music video analysis before.

"Concrete" has reached one million clicks after two weeks now. In a few months I estimate it will reach around three million views and will certainly exceed 10 million at a later date, maybe in one or two years. Who wants to understand until then what messages it could contain?

Many people listen to music for purposes such as relaxation or for fun - just by the way. Completely without having to think about it. For me it is a little bit more complicated.

So this is my first try. I take the chance now, because Poppy still produces her art regularly. Two weeks ago she and Titanic Sinclair together with Sumerian Records have set a new milestone, I think. Simply for the reason that these two geniuses have already made it several times that I think "What's that supposed to mean?" but then later on I still got into it.

So I'm glad that I could process the whole thing mentally since the release to be able to deliver such an analysis 15 days after release date. Now that I've put in an incalculable amount of hours of work and seen the music video about 30 times and internalized it on different levels to figure out a more or less suitable picture, at least for me, which meaning this piece of art has.

As this suggests, it will not be easy here either, if you should have come across this blog post by random and not by targeted search via Google or similar. But that doesn't matter either. Because I'd be interested to know how someone uninitiated reacts to such a music video made by Poppy.

I think it's very hard to hear the genres out there. I will have it a lot easier if I only work based on how the whole song or the individual parts in it affect me.

I myself have no real idea of genres or art-scientific analysis of music videos. And I won't try at any cost to determine the exact subgenres, if that's possible at all. Otherwise I'll make a fool of myself if I say something wrong. But I think you can leave all that behind anyway. With the aim of analyzing one of Poppy's music videos, I'm already entering a territory with sufficient amount of confusion and complexity.

They are always specially made so that they are difficult to analyze and interpret. Without disregarding some points or accepting inconsistencies you will not get a result, as you will see. You won't get a completely clear result at all. It's also difficult to consider the video by itself. Further information about Poppy must also be included. The only thing that really helps me is that I've been following Poppy and wondering about her for almost three years now. All this together still leaves confusion behind, like when you have a strange, abstract picture in front of you and now you have to interpret what the artist actually wants from you. And that inspires me, which is also the reason why I praise this music video so highly into heaven.

Here of course the video:

I will go through the video piece by piece and work out its structure and impressions. I will also formulate the interpretative ideas. Let's take this thing apart as well as we can...

Going into Concrete - All my impressions

The video contains an intro and extro. In between there is the refrain twice and in between there again is another section. Who now thinks that this is still quite simple, however, he guessed wrong enormously...

Initially Poppy's face is fixed in front of the camera. She looks directly into it. She is wearing something that looks like an astronaut's suit since her head is inside a glass dome. The lights give an illusion that everything around her is rotating faster and faster. An alarm sounds and additional yellow lights glow.

Bury me six feet deep (4x)

She tells the listener several times in a whisper to bury her six feet deep. While at the first no music is playing, It seems hypnotic because of the sound effects.

Bury me six feet deep, cover me in concrete turn me into a street (2x)

After the alarm stops and the electronic melody has started, she also wants us to cover her with concrete and turn her into a street. The sound is accompanied by more yellow, strongly glowing lights and also vibrations.

That was already the whole intro. Then it starts directly into the main performance. Let's see first what this beginning communicates to us. It announces that she is concerned about her death and therefore wants to be buried. This is already clear with the lyrics. She asks for it or gives it as an instruction. However, the question of why or how she means this is left open for now. Obviously she finds herself in a dangerous and deadly situation and might not believe that she can survive, because she wants to be buried. The alarm and also the protective clothing convey this as well as the glow and the vibrations. Burying her, covering her with concrete and turning her into a street seems to be what would help her in this situation. Because she communicates it like asking for help inconspicuously during a dangerous moment. So whispering and asking with fear in her face.

The location is unclear, but danger and risk of life seem to surround her. The echo of the alarm system only indicates a factory hall or something like that. In any case something where technology exists. The alarm could be a fire alarm. It might also have something to do with radioactivity, considering the suit she's wearing. So that this will be the cause of her death and she should be covered in concrete to protect the outside world from the radioactivity. It could also be a spaceship, as the vibrations indicate. In the comments under the video Area 51 also seems to be under discussion...

This introduction seems mysterious and dangerous. Her intrusive whispering as well as the scary melody and the unfamiliar environment make an excellent contribution to that. This intro has a completely different character than the other parts of the video and its meaning won't be easy to understand.

It follows directly the cut into a dark foggy scenery, where the refrain will be played during the main performance. With this setup of electric guitar, bass and drums you get the impression that a Hard Rock or Metal song is starting right now.

Poppy's dressed in a red outfit. It's eye-catching, but it's still typical for her. The three musicians playing the instruments, on the other hand, are completely covered and masked. Outfits that look like contrast and duality. The three are black and white, while Poppy is the only one wearing color. Since black and white are no colors, this is probably to make clear - in addition to the fact that her face is the only one to be seen - that everything is about her, while her three instrumental performers are only for musical purposes. She doesn't looks very friendly into the camera when she becomes visible out of the darkness while the musical prelude takes place. And with this mimic it seems like she wants to prove something we wouldn't have believed otherwise.

The lighting flashes continuously, everything flickers, every few seconds is cut with high frequency. And the setting also changes several times for a split of seconds to another Poppy in a different outfit and to the secondary performers in close-up, before the whole thing progresses into the next level of escalation in which Poppy starts singing:

Chewy chewy, yummy yummy yummy
Sharp and pointy, yummy yummy yummy
Break me off a piece of that tasty treat
Sugar in my teeth, demons in my dreams
Watch me while I sleep for eternity

The lighting and the cuts during the refrain itself are then no longer changing so quickly. But in contrast to the hard guitar sounds Poppy uses her very high-pitched voice to sing the lyrics, while the sounds around her escalate further. In order to create the contrast in the facial expression as well, she also switches to a friendly face while singing.

Bury me six feet deep cover me in concrete turn me into a street

This last line she sings instead with deeper threatening voice and facial expressions, whereby she is also supported in the background by the guitarists with Screaming, as you can find it in Black- or Death Metal, which increases the strong contrast to before. The content statement of this last line also sounds like a theme a Death Metal song could be made about. After that the music fades away and announces something different again.

Let's take a look of what we have here before we proceed.

In my estimation, the refrain and this main performance represent confusion, over-stimulation and complete escalation. Poppy sings about pleasure: Delicious sweets and sugar. The text itself and the way it is sung, played and performed just feels like excess, contradiction and stress.

We have a lot of audio and light impulses that are pelting on us consecutively. The theme of the text is also taste stimuli. She also sings about demons in her dreams and invites us to watch her sleeping forever.

The taste of sugar/sweets together with this excessive music can also be representative of all kinds of things you can enjoy. In connection with demons, she dreams about, also for nasty things.

Eternal sleep you may first associate with death, which is also consistent with wanting to be buried. But then you couldn't observe her this way - when she is buried and covered with concrete, you can't see her corpse. But what you can still see are her videos - and of course they are also available for predictable eternity. The cultural treasure she created.

Before the refrain starts to play for the second time, the entire appearance and genre changes again as if you were suddenly in a completely different music video. The sentiment changes to a calm and light atmosphere with a much slower tempo. Poppy is now out in the nature equipped with a scoop, in middle of a meadow of roses and wears a bright outfit with crosses. A symbolism that once more refers to death.

Some people like candy
Some people like coffee
But these lifeless flavors don’t satisfy me
I tried to eat ice cream
I tried to drink tea
But I need the taste of young blood in my teeth

She describes her real problem for the first time, now that she has expressed the wish to be buried several times. The subject of sweets continues. She mentions other examples of stimulants, but explains that she cannot enjoy them. instead she needs the taste of young blood between her teeth. And with this sentence she starts to scoop out earth with a smile on her face. Almost excited about something. Whether it's a corpse she wants to dig up or burying herself. The brightness is immediately taken out and that's it with colourful nature scene and cheerful music. It then takes on the previous character again. Announced with supernatural sounding choral singing in the background, because it follows the refrain second time.

The first association here may be that she wants to dig up a corpse to get blood. But that doesn't make sense, because she explicitly speaks of young, so probably fresh blood. Already in the refrain with "a piece of that tasty treat" she already could have meant human meat, which is revealed just now. Why she now also wants blood is not easy to explain and she seems to be more interested in her own tomb. At most, the desire for human meat or blood could be related to the demonic desires she dreams about, because things like sugar and caffeine don't help her.

Let's associate this with the refrain and the question arises about why she once propagated candy to an audience, but now explains that she has no use for it. Poppy can't take any pleasure in such things, so she either becomes a psychopathic corpse eater and blood drinker in search of pleasure or digs out a tomb for herself. By comparing herself with other people who like sugar and coffee, an obvious difference to normal people becomes clear. And that agrees with the fact that she is not a normal human being, but rather an artificial form of life that perhaps aims the end of its pleasureless existence.

So here we already have the first clue that she is not human but artificial. This is an important trait of the character Poppy, which is expressed in some of her creations (for example "Time is up") and which we have to consider here as well.

Then the refrain follows second time.

Chewy chewy, yummy yummy yummy
Sharp and pointy, yummy yummy yummy
Break me off a piece of that tasty treat
Sugar in my teeth, demons in my dreams
Watch me while I sleep for eternity
Sugar in my teeth, demons in my dreams
Watch me while I sleep for eternity

This time there are not only cuts to a second Poppy but also to her as she smilingly digs the tomb up in the darkness. Apart from that the escalation we know from the first refrain is repeated again. A difference is that this time the burial is not requested by singing, because the tomb is already being excavated at the same time.

The music finally fades away again and you can hear the crowd:

Poppy (5x)

Before transition to the last and concluding section of the music video, the audience calls out Poppy's name. Maybe as if they were asking her for an encore or asking her to change something. It sounds like a applause, but it also seems like a please to me, because this whole performance feels like something the audience is not familiar with or would not have expected from her.

Poppy pauses and seems to reflect. Seems to wonder for a moment what she is doing here, and then, moved by her fans, to reconsider something about her show.

And so she launches the last verses of her song:

Bury me six feet deep and just cover me in concrete please
Turn me into a street, turn me into a street
I don’t wanna wait forever and ever, please
Turn me into a street (4x)

The hasty cuts, the shrillness, the hard rock and metal sounds and the fast changing and flickering lights - everything that previously seemed like escalation and chaos - stop all at once. In these last moments the song sounds completely melodic and enjoyable after being overloaded by stimuli so far. Poppy doesn't look angry or threatening anymore but very friendly and also has a hand on her heart while singing. She expresses her request as one of her most heartfelt wishes.

Some comments also reveal that many viewers would have wished a song completely in this style. She pretended. She played such hard and exhausting music and sang of sweets. Although she can't enjoy them as explained meantime.

At the moment the audience calls out to her, she decides not to pretend. Rather, she decides to communicate honestly what she wants: she doesn't want to wait for eternity, she wants to be buried now. Finally, she appeals six more times to turn her into a street while the song ends. The very last moments still show how the enthusiastic Poppy in the rain, digging the tomb, is nearly finished until the scene gets black.

That she would otherwise have to wait for eternity, as she additionally mentions here, implies that she is not mortal. Because, from a technical point of view, she is an immortal, artificial creature as a robot, cyborg or, figuratively speaking, as a pop star. Of course, Poppy plays a role and basically represents a work of art in person. That doesn't stop in interviews as well, and she says, for example, that she has an on/off switch behind on her neck and that "they" (either the producers or some ominous group) make her performing everything you can see about her. In this scenario of her mystery, she gets activated when she's needed for music, gigs or videos, so she wakes up after already being prepared with makeup and everything.

That she tells us to bury her also implies that she can't do it herself. We have to do it. Even though she does it herself in the second shot, it's in line with the fact that a pop star only becomes a cult figure due his fans. Since Poppy is a caricature of the concept of fame itself, I think this is the most sensible way to interprete it. Every cult figure can only be buried by its fans. Naturally, the attributes of immortality or fame are not all of them she has, but they seem to make the most sense here.

Fame is essential for her, but there is no evidence that a Poppy Cult exists.

Now after we've completely gone through the video and worked out many of impressions, I want to go into the key elements and figure out possible meanings of them, which eventually result in the more or less final overall statements of the work. Finally, of course, this is just my individual interpretation.

Now, before you go to the deeper meanings of "Concrete", you could check out what kind of music it actually is. However, as it has become clear now, it changes more than three times. Let's follow this thing first and then focus on the question of what concrete is or means.

The genres of Concrete

Before production the discussions about the question, which kind of music to do now, could have been like this:

"Which genre shall we make this time?" - Poppy: "Yes."

In the comments this can be found several times in the same or another form. And it is really suitable. The entire song sounds like 3 genres and 15 subgenres used, and 5 new genres invented.

The song is ascribed to Alternative Metal, which stands for the mixing of Metal with other styles and for experimentation without a clear direction, let alone a subculture which it belongs to. There are no uniform characteristics in Alternative Metal, except combining Metal with other genres. This tells me that it is just impossible for music magazines and newspapers to allocate Concrete into other categories. The denomination "Alternative Metal" seems the one to choose because it's simply the one with the fewest specifications.

You can identify at least 4 different genres and for sure even more subgenres where you can find similarities and potential correlations for. Therefore it seems as if Poppy wants to make herself uncategorizable.

Is it fair to say that one or even several genres have been newly invented here, or is it just a mixture designed to purposely confuse the audience?

In any case, this can lead to confusion and over-stimulation. Concrete is designed as a kind of chaotic work and a rollcoaster between different musical emotions. This could also symbolize the various tastes. Just musical tastes. Like Poppy couldn't choose a clear musical character, because she doesn't feel something for any of them as an artificial form of life. As well as for example with sweets, ice cream or tea for food, so the same is valid for music.

I myself feel that the song is harder to endure than other of her pieces which, unlike Concrete, can give me real happiness. In the end it's very pleasant. This could also be intentional, if it should feel like redemption to the listener, after being stressed by the music before. Since this is also the point at the end of the video where Poppy has finished digging her tomb and already reaches the mentioned 6 feet under the ground. At this point, where she is buried, both sides are redeemed. She herself as well as her possessed fans.

The piece is not primarily great because of its musical side. The change between genres is probably almost used as a stylistic tool, which is more damaging to the musical harmony, but of course this also depends on everyone's own feelings. Most of them will probably get confused. So the song is called weird as usual with Poppys songs and videos.

The meaning of concrete and streets

Yes - what it means when a pop singer wants to be turned into a street using concrete - this is what we're trying to figure out here.

Concrete and streets must also have an important meaning because of the title. That's why I was not surprised to find the most important message here, which also can be brought in line with Poppy's facet of being a pop star parody.

"Bury me 6 feet deep, cover me in concrete, turn me into a street." is the most said message in the song.

A street can be a way to move on. By burying Poppy and turning her into a street, we can leave her behind and continue on this road. Enriched with the experiences Poppy provided us. She doesn't really ask us to bury her and, as you might first understand, build a concrete street on top of her tomb, but rather to leave her behind. In the sense that you consider dealing with something else. Which for her as a pop star would be equivalent to the death of her career. If her fans no longer care about her and no longer follow her, she is dead.

This interpretation also makes sense because it matches with the message of one of her first more famous songs:"Everybody wants to be Poppy" which is about everyone wanting to be like her, while she calls them not to do that and to be themselves.

Concrete as a metaphorical material probably represents the key to turning Poppy into a street. And that's why the song is called so, because it contains the instruction to do so. That' s all the viewer needs.

And so Concrete contains a sign against superstars, celebs and influencers who are presented by the entertainment industry. Poppy is the parody par excellence to those or their cliché of artificial superhuman. As such, she calls on you to stop worshiping her.

Outcome, additional ideas and final thoughts

Beyond this most important meaning there are still some unexplained aspects and inconsistencies. You can see it is not easy to get clarity into Concrete. But this makes it more impressive at all.

Whether she wanted to eat a corpse or become one herself was not clear at first. She only mentioned blood once. It is also a paradox to ask them to bury her but then doing it for herself. I also cannot finally determine what the intro is supposed to symbolize. In combination with eating humans and drinking blood, you can associate the environment in the intro even with something that is specially designed to destroy Poppy, because she represents a danger that must be eliminated. Eating people and drinking blood could also be an allusion to conspiracy theories according to wich celebrities are blood-drinking satanists or something like this.

All of that, as well as the diffuse choice of genres and settings, might be used to make the artwork even more strange, in order to improve something in comparison to earlier creations. Of course, the Poppys mystery factor also has to be held up. She can't just deliver a logical, unequivocal creation. In order to that She is demonized in addition to the facets of immortality and fame. She dreams about demons and wants to drink blood. At the beginning she seems to be in danger, then she might even seem to be the dangerous crazy girl herself and finally she turns into a sympathetic, charismatic singer.

Concrete basically contains everything it needs: Something mysterious, something escalated, it's a message that's hard to figure out and is packed in due amazing way, it's trying to exaggerate completely again, and parts of the music also sounds good. Of course it is also a masterpiece of technology and directing. The kind of modern art I really need. And finally that' s why I will not bury Poppy. I am extremely thankful for living in this modern age in the same era as Poppy to support my spiritual journey and happiness using such artworks. Therefore thanks also to her, Titanic Sinclair and everyone who collaborated.

It is up to you whether you move on this street Poppy is to be transformed into or whether you consume her content forever. I'm actually not sure if that could be the same thing or not.

I imagine she is laughing about herself delivering such weird things and about guys like me who try to figure out meanings:

For those poppy seeds of you who couldn't really get anything out of the new music video, I hope I was able to give you some ideas.

This post was translated from my original German version with the help of DeepL Translator and my English skills - don't worry about several mistakes - this is also my first translated posting ever. Here you can find it: Original, German version of this blog post about "Concrete"