The legacy of PC Music.

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PC Music

The PC Music logo. In this case, "PC" stands for computer.

Mason Montano, Music Editor

In case you were unaware, the latter half of 2013 was a pop culture event! New artists like New Zealand singer-songwriter Lorde and American singer-songwriter and actress Ariana Grande were taking the mainstream music scene by storm while already established acts like American singer-songwriter and actress Miley Cyrus and American singer-songwriter and actress Lady Gaga were reinventing themselves in fresh and exciting ways, and it was during this period of pop excellence that PC Music emerged.

Founded in June 2013 by British producer and singer-songwriter A. G. Cook, PC Music is a London-based record label and art collective that is known for its surreal interpretation and experimental approach to pop music using a combination of avant pop, bubblegum pop, and hyper pop with elements of kawaii, camp, and Y2K.

Its sound is characterized by high-pitched feminine vocals and bright, synthetic textures; and its image embraces the aesthetics of advertising, consumerism, corporate branding, and cyberculture.

Many of its acts use an alias in order to obscure both their identity and the number of artists that are signed to the label, and early on in its lifetime, PC Music kept tight control over its interactions with the press in order to maintain a certain degree of secrecy, but over time, the label gradually loosened its grip and became much more open about the identity of its artists and the way it operates.

The reaction to PC Music has always been polarizing, with some critics praising it as “innovative” while others dismissed it as “noise”, and despite making a name for itself in the UK and achieving mild chart success — English singer-songwriter and prominent PC Music member Hannah Diamond’s November 2014 single, “Every Night”, reached #28 on Billboard’s Emerging Artists chart, making her the first PC Music artist to impact a mainstream music chart — the label had not yet reached the international market within its first two years, but that was all about to change.

In February 2016, while working on her third studio album with Cook as her creative director and Scottish producer and PC Music affiliate SOPHIE as her primary producer, English singer-songwriter Charli XCX — a commercially successful and well-established artist who impacted charts everywhere with massive hits like “Boom Clap” and “Break the Rules” — dropped her controversial Vroom Vroom EP and changed the face of pop music forever.

Vroom Vroom marked a turning point in the pop world, as it was the first time that PC Music was presented to the eye of the mainstream, and just like anything that dares to bring something new to the tasteless general public, Vroom Vroom was met with mixed to negative reception upon its release, with some even going as far to deem it “unlistenable”. 

The negativity surrounding Vroom Vroom did not stop Charli, though, as she would continue following this direction with her 2017 mixtapes Number 1 Angel and Pop 2, inspiring a new generation of artists to follow in her footsteps and starting a movement within the underground pop music scene that emulates the sound and style of PC Music. 

These new artists; which include American singer-songwriter Slayyyter, Australian producer and DJ Donatachi, and Spanish singer-songwriter and rapper Rakky Ripper; have found great success within this newfound community, receiving praise from critics, who have not only given PC Music and Vroom Vroom a second chance, hailing the latter as “bold” and “ahead of its time”, but are finally starting to recognize the cultural significance of PC Music and giving proper credit where credit is due.

PC Music isn’t just a weird, British novelty act. It’s a boundary-pushing group of talented innovators who have pioneered the future of pop music and redefined what it means to be a pop star.

This is the legacy of PC Music.

Check out my The legacy of PC Music. playlist on Spotify, which features 30 of the most iconic tracks from PC Music and its affiliates: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5xK4Ll5jbAW86otR2jttP9?si=FaUkesGYRx6OAo0SpFPgVA 

A. G. Cook as he appears on the single cover for his song “Superstar”.

This article was originally published in December 2019 and later revised in May 2020.