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I Disagree – In Being Who You Really Are

(I Disagree album cover)
(I Disagree album cover)

I Disagree (2020) by music artist Poppy is the third album of her career, marking a major shift in her style. Early on, Poppy was most known for making bizarre performance art YouTube videos where she would act robotically and send cryptic messages through confusing words and gestures. Her early music had a largely mainstream, bubbly pop sound with a satirical bent; the lyrics and music videos discussed topics such as the artificial nature of celebrities and selling your soul, for example.

However, after being foreshadowed with the chaotic finishing track from Am I A Girl? (2018) and the EP Choke (2019), I Disagree throws out the lighthearted pop facade in favor of a heavy, hectic experience that’s closest to metal over anything else. 35 minutes long and with ten tracks to its name, this album is a far more eclectic and earnest experience than Poppy’s previous musical style.

I Disagree is built around defying conventions and mixing wildly different genres, perhaps most obviously done in the starting track “Concrete”. Rapidly switching between slow sunshine pop and shredding metal chords, Poppy sings about her dissatisfaction with her “old” self, likely relating to her breaking away from her previous “robotic” persona. The song is bombastic, incredibly catchy, and never leaves you bored; it’s also arguably the cheesiest song on the record, with lyrics such as “Bury me six feet deep, cover me in concrete/Turn me into a street” and “Break me off a piece of that tasty treat/Sugar in my teeth, demons in my dreams/Watch me while I sleep for eternity”. Despite this, its bombastic nature makes it one of a kind. It is the musical representation of Poppy breaking from her previous style, with it melding and giving way to her new ambitions.

In the eponymous track I Disagree, Poppy is hostile towards, according to the song’s music video, music industry executives; she repeats “I disagree” at the beginning of each line like a mantra, with the chorus chanting for everything to “burn down”. This is likely related to her frustrations with her music label, seeking to defy genre and convention as well as her old image. It is easy to see why this song takes the title of the album; it represents the major idea of the record and its sound.

The album has stellar production quality, with fantastic mixing, background vocals, and melodies. The music takes harsh industrial riffs and electronic sounds and makes them incredibly fun to listen to. The standout track in this regard, and arguably the best in the record, is BLOODMONEY; Poppy’s screams alongside the rough, grinding background make for an absolutely ascendant experience the entire way through.

The songs mix and match rage and calm, with abrupt changes in chords and tones the whole way through. Some dismiss the album as a “mess” on first listen with its rapid style changes, but this ignores the effort put into the production and the way it fits together quite cohesively as one whole. The “ordered chaos” feeling of this album is a hallmark of many great heavier albums, like System of a Down’s 1998 self-titled album, for example.

Every track on the record brings something to the table; for example, Fill the Crown has a particularly glitchy, electronic sound, while Bite Your Teeth brings an aggressive edge to Poppy’s voice that’s fascinating to compare with her previous work. Personally, I prefer the songs on the first half of the album, but I find the entire album an enjoyable experience nonetheless.

Finally, the album ends on the fantastic concluding note Don’t Go Outside, a six-minute long track mixing the motifs of the entire album and chords that bring a level of emotion and melancholy you wouldn’t expect. (Listening with headphones actually made my eyes water on the first listen.) Bringing back the calls to “let it all burn down” alongside the reassurance “you can be anyone you want to be”, the album is brought to one cohesive, satisfying whole.

I interviewed long-time friend Mia Sherrow about what she thought of this album.

What are your thoughts on I Disagree?

Sherrow: I really liked it. I’m super into alternative music like that. I love the bass and the countermelodies. Also, I’ve listened to Poppy’s music before and I’m a huge fan of her voice. 

What’s your favorite song on the album?

Sherrow: It would probably have to be BLOODMONEY. I love the background beats in songs, like, I feel like with my ADHD and neurodivergence, it just gives me that dopamine. 

Do you have any ideas on what the album is about?

Sherrow: I think it’s about how the people in charge don’t care about the people they’re in charge of. And I feel like, also, with a lot of alternative music, it is about kind of going against the stereotypical and standing up for what you believe in and what you feel is right, even if the majority of people don’t believe it.

The album may be a difficult listen for many of Poppy’s old fans, but it kept and brought in just as many new ones. While it’s not an album for everybody, it has become a truly special album for many, which is a great accomplishment for such a unique record. More than just a great experience, I Disagree is Poppy breaking out of her satirical shell and creating something that is more true to herself above all else.

(Rating: 9/10)

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About the Contributor
Charlotte Dykes
Charlotte Dykes, Writer
Charlotte Dykes is a 17-year-old senior at Bonner Springs High School. She is involved in the school's Scholars Bowl and is a member of the local orchestra. She enjoys analyzing media as well as writing her own stories. In her free time, other than writing, she enjoys playing video games, drawing, and hanging out with her friends.

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    BobMar 8, 2024 at 8:50 pm

    After watching the video I have to say there was some serious indications that changes were alluded to; the meeting, the fire. There is a lot to unpack here.