By Megan Doherty, WERS Staff Writer
While I was looking up facts about beabadoobee for my alternative sound of summer playlist, I found out she gained popularity through a viral YouTube video of her singing “Coffee” in a friend’s bedroom. She, like Clairo and many others, broke into the music scene with noticeably amateur music and videos. They use drum machine loops, poorly recorded vocals, and slightly out-of-tune chords to create viral hits. It’s incredibly strange and intriguing.
This type of music is called bedroom pop. You may not have heard of the genre, but you know the players – Clairo, beabadoobee, Rex Orange County, Mac DeMarco, Gus Dapperton, Conan Gray, girl in red, Peach Pit, and more. They’re DIY artists who don’t need all the flashy recording and production equipment – just a laptop and some creativity.
Advancing technology, yet regressive production?
Even though I love bedroom pop, I initially thought it didn't make sense culturally. We have all these incredible advances in technology, yet everyone wants to see somewhat cheesy amateur-looking-and-sounding music videos. How absurd and seemingly illogical. However, when I dove deeper into the genre's background I realized DIY artists do fit in with this modern era – They created and established music's role in modern technology.
Bedroom pop is a testimony to how progressive and accessible technology and the internet has become. Anyone with a laptop and GarageBand can create music, and that’s the ideology behind bedroom pop. It’s a person sitting at home, probably in their bedroom, using whatever resources they have to write and produce songs.
DIY Movement to Music Genre
With this style, making music has shifted to be a fun, inclusive DIY activity. Even Conan Gray’s artist bio reads, “Armed with nothing more than GarageBand and a cheap microphone taped to a lamp.” And he has nearly 9 million monthly listeners alone. This can't be written off as some small, insignificant movement when it's changing music as we know it.
The internet and the DIY nature of bedroom pop established the genre. With easily available high-quality music software, anyone can create and record music. After completing a song, the artist then turns to the good ole internet to share their tunes. Even if they only post their music on one platform, social media users can effortlessly spread it to every inch the web offers. This is how everyday people – like beabadoobee, Clairo, and even Billie Eilish – become stars overnight.
Despite Clairo and beabadoobee’s breakout videos being extremely similar production-wise, bedroom pop is not determined by its sound. The lyrics and identity form the defining musical components of bedroom pop. In reality, many bedroom pop artists sound nothing alike. They span countless styles of music, transcending the sounds from different genres and decades. Many fuse nostalgic melodies, lo-fi sounds, and flares of rock, alternative, R&B, pop, and folk in various combinations. The only thing banding them all together is the fact that they make their music at home.
Bedroom pop artists deliver the words we've been longing and needing to hear. Because of the immense independence and individualism that comes with bedroom pop, these artists create music linked to their identities. This allows for strong representation from the LGBTQ+ community and people of color. I think this is why bedroom pop is booming. It’s regular people expressing their thoughts and sharing their experiences in an unfiltered way. By writing about mental health, sexuality, race, loneliness, and growing up, these songs normalize and validate similar feelings.
Whether it's girl in red coming to terms with her queerness in "girls" or Cuco sharing how he feels isolated when single in "Lonelylife," it's raw and relatable. These songs sound like confessionals publicizing private thoughts and showing that negative thinking is common. By carrying this sense of authenticity, transparency, and truth, bedroom pop artists create a warm, reassuring community.
Bedroom pop artists are the real indie musicians. Regardless of sound, they all have chosen an independent path to fame. These artists build up their social media presence and online persona to garner fans. And thanks to the internet, it’s not just a few lucky people whose videos go viral.
Eventually, many bedroom pop artists sign with labels but only after establishing their music online. Even when they are signed, these artists typically go with labels that give the artist complete creative control. No matter how big a bedroom pop artist gets, they never stray from their home studios and individual style.