Poppy: The 10 songs that changed my life

Genreless entity Poppy discusses the music that shaped her – from Beach Boys to David Bowie.

Poppy: The 10 songs that changed my life
Jake Richardson
Jonathan Weiner

Sensitive boys, sassy girls and screamy Japanese hardcore sounds all collide to inform the genre-defying musical make-up of rapidly rising alt. star Poppy

The first song that I remember hearing...

The Beatles – Blackbird (1968)

“My mother would play this song quite often when I was a young child. I was lucky enough to see Paul McCartney play live in Nashville, Tennessee, and it was the only time in my life that I’ve cried at a show. I felt so fortunate to be there, because he’s one of the last truly great musicians left in the world. Blackbird reminds me of a time when things were a whole lot simpler in my life.”

The song that reminds me of high school...

Bright Eyes – Lover I Don't Have To Love (2002)

“During my teenage years I listened to Bright Eyes a lot. I was also exposed to Elliott Smith around that same time, and I think being introduced to that kind of music is great when you’re at that impressionable age. [Frontman] Conor Oberst’s lyrics on Lover I Don’t Have To Love are incredibly striking and inspiring. I love his way with words and storytelling style.”

The song that made me want to be a musician...

No Doubt – Just A Girl (1995)

“The first time I saw Gwen Stefani, I remember feeling like, ‘Okay, I need to do that.’ She made a huge impact on me. She is such a powerful frontwoman, who has total control over the stage every time that she performs live. Just A Girl remains a really special song to me and one of my all-time favourites. I also find it inspiring how she has managed to succeed in both the rock and pop worlds. How many people do that?”

The first song that I learned to play...

David Bowie – Starman (1972)

“This came about due to the influence of my parents’ music tastes. As soon as I got an acoustic guitar I was determined to learn Starman. Even the chords make me feel emotional, but the whole thing moves me. When David Bowie wrote it he must have felt like he was receiving a signal from above, because it’s so unbelievably magical.”

The song that got me into heavy music...

Yellow Machinegun – Something Enormous (1998)

“My sister introduced me to Yellow Machinegun. They were a hardcore band from Japan who made erratic, noisy punk music with screaming vocals, and they blew my mind.”

My favourite song to play live...

Poppy – I Disagree (2019)

“This one is awesome to perform. I love getting to scream the lyrics and hearing my fans scream them back. It shows me how many other people relate to those words and how they’ve been through those same kinds of things. Those feelings need to come out.”

The song that reminds me of love...

Nine Inch Nails – We're In This Together (1999)

Nine Inch Nails have been a huge influence on me, in terms of both production and how unconventional their song structures are. We’re In This Together has some special lyrics that remind me of a certain time and place where I was figuring things out in my life. I’d best describe it as soundtracking what was a fork-in-the-road moment for me. It helped me appreciate the people who matter most in this life.”

The best song that I've ever heard...

The Beach Boys – God Only Knows (1966)

“This is a really special song. The chords are majestic, and along with the lyrics, everything flows so perfectly. The technical side of songwriting is something that I really care about. When it comes to my music, I try to take tracks like God Only Knows into consideration on my own material. For example, my song Concrete has these really distinct sections on it, that when they’re put together work well on a mathematical level. The best thing about God Only Knows, however, is how you can read the lyrics like they’re a story, which is something I’ve also tried to incorporate into my music.”

The song I'm most proud of writing...

Poppy – Nothing I Need (2020)

“Lyrically, this was one of the first times I tried to be as honest with myself as possible, and when I was working on it in the studio, I knew it was the last time I was going to be in a certain scenario. Nothing I Need felt like the turning of a page and the closing of a chapter. It was the final track written for I Disagree.”

The song that I'd like played at my funeral...

David Bowie – Changes (1971)

“I have to pick another David Bowie song here, because of how big an influence he has been on me. The subject matter of this song is very on- the-nose, but that makes it timeless. Changes will never not have a place in this world. David Bowie was great at creating music that struck that chord with people. It’s a song that I will never outgrow.”

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