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    Tuesday, January 29, 2019

    #ThemeSongTuesday: Real-Life Aggretsuko

    Over the years, we've seen WWE use songs from different artists as PPV theme songs. From metal bands like Fozzy to post-grunge acts like Alter Bridge, pop acts like Fifth Harmony and Demi Lovato to pop rappers like Tinie Tempah. Every so often, a WWE fan who just happens to be a musician like Nita Strauss gets to have their song featured on a WWE Network special, too.

    And then there's Poppy, one of the more... off-kilter acts that WWE has tapped for a live PPV's theme song. Her song, "X," was one of the theme songs for this past weekend's NXT TakeOver: Phoenix, and it's quite the trip. Before we do a little deep dive on Poppy and her music, here's the song in all its gory glory.

    Poppy is a 24-year-old artist who rose to fame on YouTube by covers, which has become a pretty common way of jumpstarting a career these days. What makes her stand out is her aesthetic and presentation. Imagine a human Barbie doll, all prim and proper, trying to fit into every standard of femininity. She speaks with a very fixed and controlled cadence, as if she were a living robot. Her delivery in her YouTube videos tends to sound monotonous in a creepy way. Critics have said that her persona is very distant from reality, which probably encapsulates it best.

    Going through her videos with a critical eye, you'll see that they're a satire of social media and the internet age. It's actually a gripping commentary on what our world has become, especially when you layer it with how dark her videos have gotten through the years. Watching her videos literally made my skin crawl because I couldn't help but imagine looking to my left or right and then suddenly finding her right next to me in person. If you plan on sleeping tonight, do not go to her YouTube channel.

    Her music has elements of Gwen Stefani's No Doubt days, with a wide variety of influences, from punk, ska-pop, J-pop, and K-pop. The album where "X" came from, Am I A Girl?, is a mix of pop, dance-pop, and nu metal, and you hear all of it in "X."

    It's a very dark song all on its own—hell, the title is short for "ecstasy." On face value, the lyrics tell you that it's about how Poppy just wants world peace. But when you read through the lyrics (and watch the music video above), you'll see that she also wants things like violence, sex, and drugs. So ano ba talaga?

    What makes "X" fascinating is how it is Retsuko of Aggretsuko come to life in the form of a song. There's a bipolar nature, where you alternate between the hard, heavy metal hook, where the dark lyrics come out and the bubblegum pop verses, where the lighthearted lyrics are. You'll also see this contrast in the music video. She's rocking out—albeit in full Poppy regalia... until she goes full on Carrie—during the hook, but she's basically a kawaii hippie during the sunshine pop parts.

    This is probably the darkest song that WWE's ever used as a theme for a live Network special. I have no idea who chooses the songs, or if they even go through Triple H and/or Vince McMahon. If this did go through Trips, then I'll have to applaud him for this bold, unconventional pick. The fact that the song was heard all throughout the promotion of TakeOver: Phoenix, as well as the hype package for the NXT Women's Championship Match shows a bit of openness towards these genres and artists who aren't afraid to break the mold. It shouldn't be surprising. After all, NXT is the brand where Papa Haitch seeks to break the mold that Vince McMahon set long ago.

    Love it or hate it, "X" by Poppy is a track that grabs your attention right off the bat and is a pretty sick track over all—in more ways than one. At the very least, it surely exposed us to some new music and an artist who, like NXT, is creating a very original brand by standing out unapologetically.

    Screenshot from music video of "X"


    Stan Sy (@_StanSy) is the Editor at Large of Smark Henry and is also a radio DJ on Wave 89.1, an events host, a freelance writer, and one of the hosts of The Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast. He also used to be one of the hosts and writers of The Wrestling Gods on FOX. He enjoys watching WWE, NXTLucha Underground, and the occasional New Japan match. You can ask him questions about wrestling, Survivor (yes, the reality show), or whatever you like on his CuriousCat account.
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    Item Reviewed: #ThemeSongTuesday: Real-Life Aggretsuko Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Stan Sy
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