• ruby crowhurst

THE HISTORY OF BEDROOM POP




Bedroom pop seems to be the genre of the moment right now, and although it appears to be just kids making music in their bedrooms (which it is) there's actually much more history behind the genre than you might think.


What even is bedroom pop?


Bedroom pop, also sometimes known as 'lofi music', is pretty much as it sounds. It’s music that sounds like it was made in a low-quality environment, such as a musician's bedroom


It defines a genre of music that is self-made and low-quality in sound and production but high quality in every other sense. Bedroom pop is almost completely driven by the internet, which is why a lot of up-and-coming musicians now fit into this category.


The sentiment behind is that anyone can make music, wherever they’re from and whatever budget they're on.


Although any style of music can be made in this way, bedroom pop tends to be chilled-out music with soft vocals and steady beats.


When did bedroom pop begin?


Bedroom pop itself is a pretty new genre, with it only coming up in the style we know it as in the 2010s but lofi music has been going on for as long as recorded music has.


The beginning of lofi: the 1960s-70s



Although it was nowhere near what bedroom pop is today, the roots of creating albums yourself at home started way back in the 1960s.


The Beach Boys, Brian Wilson in particular, are credited with releasing the first ‘lofi’ albums with Smiley Smile and Wild Honey in 1967. The albums were recorded in Wilson’s home studio which he put together himself. Compared to other Beach Boys releases, these albums were full of flaws and incredibly low quality which was controversial at the time but have since become much loved.


These inspired releases from other artists (including Bob Dylan and The Beatles) in this more DIY style and made it more commercially accessible to release music in this lower-quality form.


Rise of lofi as a genre: the 1990s



The 1990s saw a rise in artists in the alternative and rock scenes taking to 'lofi' home-made music as a response to pop music becoming 'less authentic'.


At the forefront of this was Beck. His song 'Loser 'from 1994 was recorded at home and became a huge hit in the US. Other artists that used this 'lofi' style were Guided By Voices, Ariel Pink, and The Mountain Goats


Once again, the music at this point was a distance from bedroom pop as we know it, but this was the era that 'lofi' music became a proper genre of its own and not just random offshoots in between properly recorded albums. Artists like Beck, essentially, made low-quality cool.


Beginning of modern bedroom pop: the mid-2010s


It wasn’t until the mid-2010s that the genre bedroom pop as we know it really came to light. There’s no specific one artist that started the new bedroom pop craze, but rather several that appeared on sites like Tumblr, Soundcloud, and Bandcamp all at once.


It feels like there was some kind of silent signal for lots of artists in their mid-teens to start releasing music between 2013-2017 in similar forms and styles.


For the sake of keeping things short, we've included several bedroom pop artists that we feel have been most influential on the genre and have branched out to be part of the wider music industry.


Billie Eilish




Although now Billie Eilish is one of the most famous people on earth, her roots began in bedroom pop. Eilish started working on music with her brother, famed producer FINNEAS, way back in 2015 when she was only 13 years old.


The pair created low-key music together and released their first single ‘ocean eyes’ in 2015.


If you were anywhere near Tumblr in the subsequent years (which I’m unfortunately old enough to say I was) then you’ll know the way this song was everywhere. There was no promo done, just simply dropped online, and it took off.


It wasn’t until the next year Eilish released more music, and since then she kept releasing similar-sounding EPs until her smash debut album in 2019 which made her the only woman to ever win in the main big 4 categories at the Grammys. Although WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP WHERE DO WE GO?, is a far cry from the low-quality releases from earlier in her career, you can see the way that previous style of music release continues to influence Eilish’s music, with her continuing to use light vocals and heavy beat.


Cavetown



Cavetown started making music when he was only 14 in his bedroom and released his first song in 2013. His first full project was released on Bandcamp (an artist led music selling platform).


Cavetown doesn’t only act as his own artist but also a producer for other bedroom pop artists, such as mxmtoon. He produced the famous song ‘prom dress’ by mxmtoon which went completely viral on Tik Tok in 2019 as well as the full album she released later.


Because of the necessity to create everything yourself, a lot of bedroom pop artists are incredibly skilled producers as well as vocalists, which makes them very well-rounded and independent.


Rex Orange County




Rex Orange County is another artist who is a bit of an indie icon now but started making music via Apple Logic on his computer in the mid 2010s.


He released a mixtape in 2015 on which caught the eye of Tyler, The Creator, which of course then launched him into the music mainstream as Tyler featured him on his album Flower Boy. Rex Orange County has been a pretty consistent part of the indie music scene since, and has even played major music festivals like Coachella.


girl in red




Do you listen to girl in red?


girl in red is an artist from Sweden, who also started releasing music on Soundcloud in 2015 under a different name. It was the track I wanna be your girlfriend’ which really shot her to fame, and since girl in red has had a string of successful English language releases.


However, girl in red hasn’t just become a popular singer but also an online queer icon of sorts, where ‘Do you listen to girl red’ has become a way for young queer women to identify themselves to each other.


The rise of girl in red and her position as an upcoming queer icon says a lot about how young people find it very easy to relate to bedroom pop artists which is a huge part of their success.


Cuco



Cuco is another singer-songwriter who released their debut release in 2015, on to streaming platforms like. He was 17 at the time. His music combines the classic bedroom pop sound with Latin influences from his heritage, which makes it stand out from the bedroom pop crowd.


Clairo


Clairo was making covers since she was very young, but it wasn’t until her release of pretty girl in 2017 that she really took off. It went viral on Youtube.

She claims she only used the resources she had around her in her room to create the song, which is why it’s pretty low quality.


Clairo has gone on to release a couple of albums, and worked with some really impressive mainstream artists such as Charli XCX and Wallows, as well as her vocals featuring on Lorde's 'Solar Power'


Mxmtoon




If you’ve been on tiktok in the last couple of years, then you’ll likely have heard Mxmtoon’s smash hit 'prom dress'.


However, it was back in 2017 that she started creating music anonymously online with producer Peachy. Her debut 'Falling' literally became a sensation overnight and has continued to build incredible streaming numbers ever since.


The list really doesn't end here though. There are several other artists that belong to the genre that also rose to success in this four-year gap between 2013 and 2017, including;

  • Boy Pablo

  • Cosmo Pyke

  • Gus Dapperton

  • Jack Saunters

  • Beabadoobee

  • chloe moriondo


The latest hot bedroom pop artist


PinkPantheress




The latest sudden bedroom pop success from the last couple of months is PinkPanthress. The London-based singer-songwriter rose to fame after her song ‘just for me’ went viral on TikTok. Her music career started with her using Garageband whilst bored, which seems to be a common theme across a lot of bedroom pop artists.


This being said, by next week there could be another artist at the forefront of the genre. Because of the nature of virality on social media, new music artists come and go as quickly as the trends do.

This doesn't mean the artist won't go on to be successful, they often do, but it means that it can be difficult to keep up with the way the genre is moving forward.



The future for bedroom pop


It seems that with the ability to have your music go viral becoming easier and easier, bedroom pop is well and truly in its heyday. You no longer need professionals to write and produce music when so much of the software you need is now so accessible.

Also, because the artists are so well-rounded, it’s likely they’ll be able to be in the industry as writers and producers if they decide they don’t want to be at the forefront of their own music career anymore.


The rise of Billie Eilish has labels and management teams scrambling to find other young unknown artists, but part of the enticement of bedroom pop is that it feels genuine and independent. It isn’t something that can really be recreated by a huge label or manufactured for the general public. It has to happen somewhat naturally, which makes it very difficult to predict which teenagers making music in their bedroom will be the next big thing and which ones are just one-hit TikTok sensations.