Hyperpop duo Laura Les and Dylan Brady, better known as 100 gecs, materialized like an early quarantine fever dream. While languishing in my childhood bedroom in the stagnant July heat with only Instagram and TikTok to keep me company, I kept seeing references to the duo’s eccentric music style and nonsensical lyrics. I decided to investigate. For research purposes, of course.
What started for me as a form of quasi-ironic consumption has morphed into genuine appreciation of 100 gecs. At first glance, the duo’s aura is straight-up bewildering. The comment section underneath the music video for 100 gecs’ most popular song, “money machine,” is littered with flabbergasted observers. “This song is the closest thing we’ll ever have to audible battery acid,” one viewer commented. It’s not hard to see why: The video opens with Les and Brady dancing wildly in a parking lot chanting, “Hey, you lil’ piss baby,” and only escalates from there, crescendoing for more than two heavily KineMaster’d minutes.
However, digging deeper beyond the initial chaos, I felt a Frankensteinian sense of desire for the seemingly monstrous creations of 100 gecs and hyperpop in general. The duo’s debut studio album, 1000 gecs (2019), is 30 minutes of abrasive, experimental noise. Les and Brady apply autotune with a heavy hand, resulting in heavily distorted and robotic-sounding vocals. They combine elements of indie, electronic, and hip-hop music to create an incredibly maximalist end product indicative of the hyperpop genre as a whole.
So what exactly is hyperpop? The genre generally takes aspects of pop, dance, and electronica, exaggerating their features to the point of excess. Other prominent hyperpop artists include SOPHIE, Charli XCX, and Dorian Electra, all of whom incorporate overly processed noise and distorted vocals into their productions. Music critic Mark Richardson points to crunchy vocals, ska, and pop-punk influences, as well as glitchcore and dissonant noise as distinct characteristics of the genre. For the average consumer, these genre boundaries feel like gibberish. Jargon aside, it’s clear that 1000 gecs is a delightful smorgasbord of excessive noise, and I am absolutely obsessed.
The songs on 1000 gecs range from playful to profound, promising a truly well-rounded musical experience. There is a certain raw, unhinged quality to the lyrical artistry. The aforementioned energy-charged “money machine” features taunting lines like “you talk a lotta big game for someone with such a small truck” and “You’d text me ‘I love you’ / And then I’d fucking ghost you.” Les ridicules an ex-lover with fiery passion, inviting the listener to vicariously experience her vindictive mood. “stupid horse” channels a similar lighthearted character, detailing an episode of horse-betting gone wrong. “I just gotta leave this place with a big bag,” Les sings, then proceeds to describe beating up the jockey, stealing his phone, and running off with the horse. The ridiculously catchy chorus—“Stupid horse, I just fell out of the Porsche / Lost the money in my bank account, oh no”—provides a liberating sense of catharsis, describing exhilarating but socially unacceptable actions. One cannot help but relish the pairing of nonsensical lyrics with highly-processed, metallic noises.
100 gecs also seamlessly weaves sentimentality into the fabric of absurdity. “money machine” smoothly transitions into the melancholy “800 db cloud,” which details struggles with loss, substance abuse, and stardom. Lyrics such as “I’m addicted to Monster, money, and weed, yeah” and “I’m addicted to making money off me, yeah” touch upon unhealthy coping mechanisms and critique the commodification of the self under capitalism. The duo is acutely aware of how the pursuit of commercial success brings out the best and worst of themselves, whether it be insatiable human greed or heavy drug usage.
The best example of 100 gecs and hyperpop’s versatility may be “hand crushed by a mallet.” Underlined by a gradually escalating electronic beat, the song describes the experience of being consumed by obsessive thoughts, possibly about a relationship gone sour. “This feeling’s going to my head, I’m thinking things I shouldn’t say / You circled me inside my room, I couldn’t go another day,” Les and Brady yell. The accompanying music video depicts Les, dressed as a giant housefly, relentlessly tormenting Brady in a messy room. The contrast between the lyrics and the music video highlights 100 gecs’ strength in conveying serious subject matter in outrageous flavors. The overload of chaos allows 100 gecs’ songs to be interpreted for any occasion. One can take the production at face value as a silly ditty about a pest problem, or blast the tune while trying to forget a painful romantic experience. Either way, 100 gecs provides an exhilarating choose-your-own adventure for the listener to take in whatever direction they desire.
1000 gecs is a work of art that eludes simple categorization, bursting at the seams with absurdity, noise, heartfelt emotions, and social commentary. The sensory overload feels indulgent, perhaps borderline hedonistic. 100 gecs and hyperpop are definitely not for the faint of heart—as seen by the YouTube comment section, the departure from easier-on-the-ears musical categories brings some discomfort. But what is the purpose of art if not to push boundaries and make the interpreter uncomfortable? By exaggerating characteristics of pop music and combining ridiculous lyrics with more mature themes, hyperpop deconstructs rigid barriers in music and society at large. It interrogates the artificiality of labels and normalcy, and how such categories—be it around gender, economics, labor, or otherwise—might be reimagined to be less oppressive and constricting. It shows that knocking down boundaries can be a turbulent and jarring, yet ultimately pleasurable experience. While the artificial and excessively distorted riffs may initially assault your senses and activate your fight or flight instinct, the experience will leave you breathless and desiring more. If this is the future of music, I embrace it with open arms.