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Dark pop

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Dark pop, dark-pop, or darkpop is a loosely defined pop music genre that incorporates dark atmospheres and themes.



Early references to "dark pop" appear in the early 1980s, with New York fanzine-turned-rock magazine Trouser Press referring to underground new wave bands such as the Cheepskates and Chris Spedding's the Necessaries as "dark pop" in 1983.[1] Other 1980s and early 1990s new wave, post-punk, and alternative rock bands have been associated with the term, including New Order, Peter Murphy, Duran Duran, The Bevis Frond, and Art Bergmann.[2][3]

In the 1990s, certain alternative rock groups featured dark pop elements; groups such as the Smashing Pumpkins and Screaming Trees described aspects of their sound as "dark pop",[4][5] and 1990s Mexican alternative rock band Caifanes were referred to as a "dark-pop band reminiscent of The Cure."[6][7] By the late 1990s, "dark pop" was used to describe such varied artists as the late alt-country singer Diane Izzo[8] and industrial rock band Orgy.[9] Radiohead described their sixth album, Hail To The Thief, as "dark pop" in 2003.[10][11][12] In 2007, such disparate alternative rock albums as Danzig's Lost Tracks of Danzig, Interpol's Our Love to Admire, and Idiot Pilot's Wolves contained dark pop.[13][14][15] Alternative metal and experimental rock band Deftones have been noted throughout the years for incorporating "dark pop" elements into their music.[16][17] Deftones' frontman Chino Moreno's band Crosses has also been described as a "dark-pop side project."[18]

Current status[edit]

Singer Charli XCX has frequently been described as part of the dark pop genre, particularly at the beginning of her career and in reference to her 2013 debut album True Romance.[19][20][21] Billboard referred to True Romance as a "collection of darkwave pop gems".[22] The song "You're the One" of that same album was compared to Siouxsie and the Banshees' 1991 song "Kiss Them for Me", and Charli XCX confirmed that she had been influenced by dark pop artists: "At the time, I was listening to a lot of dark pop, so I was inspired by a lot of the deep bass sounds. Sure, Siouxsie is there, too. We just kind of rolled with it."[23] Other songs on the album, specifically "Stay Away" and "Nuclear Seasons" were described by Charli XCX as "dark pop", with Pitchfork noting that "[t]hese lovelorn tracks prettify the scuzzy semi-genre known as witch house with crisp 80s synths and Charli's radio-ready vocals, which manage to sound simultaneously polished and creaky."[24] Charli XCX's 2016 EP Vroom Vroom has also been described as "dark pop."[25]

Other pop musicians such as Lady Gaga have been referred to as "dark-pop", with Lady Gaga's song "Bad Romance" being referred to as a "dark-pop banger" by Forbes.[26] In recent years, the term has also been used by bands such as The Neighbourhood and the Bloom Twins, who have referred to their music genres as dark pop in 2013 and 2014 respectively.[27][28][29][30][31] In 2015, 2016, and 2017, artists such as UNKLE,[32] Lana Del Rey,[33] Halsey,[34][35] electronic duo XYLO,[36] electronic pop band Muna,[37] singer-songwriter Vérité,[38] singer-songwriter Banks,[39] Cold Cave,[40] singer Billie Eilish,[41] singer Dua Lipa,[42] Scottish-born singer Kloe,[43] the Brooklyn-based Mothica,[44] the Swedish duo Snow Culture,[45] Swedish artist Skott,[46] So Below,[47] London-based singer Malory,[48] and the band Yonaka,[49] among others, have all been referred to as "dark pop".


  1. Robbins, Ira A. (1983). "The Trouser Press Record Guide". Collier Books. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  2. Thompson, Dave (2000). Alternative Rock. Hal Leonard Corporation. Retrieved 14 July 2017. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  3. Barclay, Michael; Schneider, Jason; Jack, Ian A.D. (2011). Have Not Been the Same: The CanRock Renaissance, 1985-1995. ECW Press. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  4. Bianco, David P. (1998). Parents Aren't Supposed to Like It: Rock & Other Pop Musicians of the 1990s, Vol. 1. UXL. Retrieved 14 July 2017. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  5. Moody, Fred (2004). Seattle and the Demons of Ambition: From Boom to Bust in the Number One City of the Future. Macmillan. Retrieved 14 July 2017. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  6. Martínez, Rubén (1992). The Other Side: Notes from the New L.A., Mexico City, and Beyond. Vintage Books. Retrieved 14 July 2017. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  7. Joseph, Gilbert M.; Rubenstein, Anne; Zolov, Eric (2001). Fragments of a Golden Age: The Politics of Culture in Mexico Since 1940. Duke University Press. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  8. "Album Reviews". CMJ New Music Monthly. June 1999. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  9. Kaufman, Gil (January 28, 1999). "Korn Singer Says Starting a Label was Elementary". MTV News.
  10. "The SPIN Top 40" (April 2003). SPIN Magazine. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  11. Huhn, Mary (January 5, 2003). "HIGH NOTES & LOW NOTES". New York Post.
  12. Reed, Ian (June 10, 2003). "Radiohead's Watching You". Pittnews.com. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  13. Bosler, D. Shawn (August 20, 2007). "Danzig - The Lost Tracks of Danzig". Pitchfork. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  14. Fitzmaurice, Larry (September 8, 2014). "Interpol - El Pintor". Pitchfork. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  15. Mason, Taylor (Aug–Sep 2007). "Idiot Pilot - Wolves". CMJ New Music Monthly. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  16. Petrovic, John (Oct 2000). "Deftones" (Vol. 16, No. 10, pg. 70). Spin Magazine. Retrieved May 5, 2015.
  17. Wise, Lauren (July 6, 2017). "In Conversation with Deftones' Abe Cunningham". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  18. Jones, Cat. "Extended Q&A: Crosses' Chino Moreno". Willamette Week. Archived from the original on April 16, 2016. Retrieved April 13, 2016.
  19. McKinney, Kelsey. "Charli XCX made two of 2014's biggest hits, and she just dropped one of its best albums". Vox. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  20. Nika, Colleen (March 22, 2012). "Dark Star Rising: Charli XCX Talks Rave Roots and Her Colorful Future". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  21. Chiola, Enio (April 16, 2013). "Charli XCX - True Romance". PopMatters. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  22. Ugwu, Reggie (28 August 2013). "Independent Study: IAMSOUND Records". Billboard.
  23. Bosso, Joe (20 November 2013). "Charli XCX talks songwriting, samples and her debut album, True Romance". MusicRadar. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  24. Dombal, Ryan (December 13, 2011). "Charli XCX". Pitchfork. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  25. Cills, Hazel (March 13, 2017). "No Pop Star Is Having More Fun Right Now Than Charli XCX". MTV News. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  26. McIntyre, Hugh. "What Songs Will Lady Gaga Perform At The Super Bowl?". Forbes Magazine. Retrieved 31 August 2017.
  27. Woodhall, Victoria (June 14, 2014). "Trending: Multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriters, Bloom Twins". Daily Mail. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  28. "Bloom Twins Interview". Chicago Music Guide. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  29. Lester, Paul (March 4, 2014). "Bloom Twins (No 1,712)". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  30. Kutner, Brad (October 17, 2013). "THE NEIGHBOURHOOD TALKS DARK POP, HOT TUBS, AND YELP REVIEWS". RVA Magazine.
  31. Reiner, Laurie (October 24, 2013). "The Neighbourhood: Dark-pop band keeps pushing forward". Salt Lake City Weekly. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  32. "UNKLE - "The Road" (feat. Eska) (Singles Going Steady)". PopMatters. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  33. Wass, Mike. "Here's A Dreamy Video Of Lana Del Rey Driving Around Los Angeles". Idolator. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  34. Heussner, Taylor. "Halsey Brought Dark Pop to the Gothic". 303 Magazine. Retrieved 31 August 2017.
  35. Miller, Jordan. "Shots Fired: Halsey Calls Iggy Azalea A "F–king Moron," Responds To Backlash". BreatheHeavy.com. Retrieved 31 August 2017.
  36. Sanford, Jay Allen (June 28, 2017). "Just announced San Diego concerts". San Diego Reader.
  37. Geslani, Michelle. "Warpaint to open Harry Styles' 2018 world tour dates". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  38. Crowley, Patrick. "13 Ladies We'd Like To See Crash the Male Dominated Charts". Billboard.com. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  39. Nardino, Meredith (July 10, 2017). "10 Empowering Indie-Pop Hits For Your Weekend Playlist". Baeblemusic.com. Baeble Music. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  40. Marotta, Michael. "Valentine's Decay: Listen to Cold Cave's very dark new single, 'Nothing Is True But You'". Vanyaland. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  41. Cirisano, Tatiana (June 14, 2017). "15-Year-Old Pop Prodigy Billie Eilish Announces Debut EP & First-Ever Tour". Billboard.com. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  42. Abrams, Margaret (March 2, 2017). "Dua Lipa Is the Pop Star for the Instagram Generation". The Observer. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  43. Cragg, Michael (January 1, 2017). "Rising stars of 2017: singer Kloe". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  44. Song, Sandra (May 26, 2017). "Meet Mothica, the Artist Letting Her Inner Demons Out Through Pop Music". Teen Vogue. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  45. Williams, Nick (April 5, 2017). "Swedish Dark Pop Duo Snow Culture Release 'The Box' & Talk Stockholm, Signing To Neon Gold In First Ever Interview: Exclusive". Billboard.com.
  46. Wass, Mike. "On The Verge: 25 Artists To Watch In 2017". Idolator. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  47. Dhillon, Achal (July 14, 2017). "So Below is a ray of light in the dark pop scene". Metro News. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  48. Dhillon, Achal (June 28, 2017). "Artist of the day 28/06: Malory". Metro News. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  49. Dhindsa, Jasleen (July 11, 2017). "Yonaka: "We don't want to be a quick buzz band"". Upset Magazine. Retrieved 14 July 2017.

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