Alien, mind-bending, out of this world—those are just some of the ways to describe the music and artistry of SOPHIE. The artist came onto the scene in 2013 with the energetic "Nothing More to Say/Eeehhh," and since then SOPHIE has had a hand in creating the sweeping genre known as hyperpop. With beats unlike anything that was coming out at the time, the industry and fans alike watched as SOPHIE unearthed something truly profound: a genre filled with indescribable sound and an inimitable talent. With the artist's recent and tragic death, it’s important to showcase the talent that the artist brought to many of our lives. Here are ten essential tracks everyone should listen to.
Two years after SOPHIE’s breakout came the feverish “MSMSMSM.” The intro, a harsh whirring, serves as some kind of warning, bracing the listener for what’s to come. Then, fifteen seconds in, SOPHIE lets the electronics take over, clashing against metals—sounds that fans would soon fondly compare to pots and pans. The electronics go deeper, then higher and higher. It feels like a warped vision of a Mario Kart track race tune, spiraling until you lose control of the wheel. Just as you’re about to careen, the track slows down and allows you to breathe again. But, in distinct SOPHIE fashion, you’re not meant to get too comfortable, and the incessant pace comes back before the song finishes altogether.
Fans of the record label PC Music and the hyperpop genre alike know "Vroom Vroom," but a track that seems to be forgotten from Charli XCX’s Vroom Vroom EP is “Trophy.” The whole EP is produced by SOPHIE, but this is the song that really got listeners into SOPHIE’s work. “Trophy” begins with a sample of a classic Pulp Fiction scene which quickly turns into a cacophony of girlish screams exclaiming “throw it up,” SOPHIE’s now iconic metallic sound gives way to samples of dogs barking. In 2016, these sounds ignited a genre. As Charli taunts “bitch, I'm here to fuck you up / wanna make your bottle pop,” alarm bells whirl in the background. It’s a sonically disorienting song, and one that perfectly displays the work that Charli and SOPHIE continued to make together.
2017 saw SOPHIE releasing the now Grammy-nominated album OIL OF EVERY PEARLS UN-INSIDES, but that didn’t stop the artist from producing tracks for others. This song is about "how femininity is seen as inferior, when it shouldn't be," and the lyrics play with ideals of femininity and masculinity. When the track’s breakdown comes, SOPHIE’s signature production infiltrates the song, metallic claps giving way to an explosion of industrial sounds. It’s a perfect example of an artist adding their distinct vibe to a track without overshadowing the actual artist. When Let’s Eat Grandma is singing, the song feels whimsical—but once SOPHIE unleashes their production, you know these girls aren’t messing around.
In 2019, SOPHIE released a remixed version of OIL OF EVERY PEARLS UN-INSIDES. What could have been small or slight was anything but, with SOPHIE proving to have multiple ideas for each song previously showcased on the breakout solo album. The stand out track is “Not Okay - Alone Mix,” which takes the basics from the SOPHIE track “Not Okay” and warps it into a pulsing showcase of electronic warfare. This rendition of the track is heavy and fast-paced, perfect for mindless dancing and letting the music take control of your body. It’s a case of an artist willing to rework their art, and a fantastic display of how in tune SOPHIE was with every inch of their craft.
When Arca proposed to SOPHIE they work together, she said she wanted the track to be "a sense of chaos and very rhythmic"—and that’s exactly what “La Chíqui” is. It starts with heavy bass-filled punches that are quickly accompanied by Arca chanting “menéalo” sixty times. It quickly switches to ethereal vocals, and then the beat becomes consuming once more. SOPHIE hypnotically plays with pronouns, suggesting “she is my boyfriend / flowers of my love / he is my best friend.” As the song progresses it gets increasingly intense, and quickly begins to sound like something from a modern sci-fi film. It’s a collaboration fans prayed for, and one that exceeded expectations.
While there’s no denying that "Ponyboy" and "Faceshopping" are iconic, SOPHIE really gives their all in the final track of their breakout album. With the frantic proclamation of “whole new world,” the track gives way to a symphony of electronic punches, whips, and growls. The song quickly turns feverish, with alarm bells clashing against metal, and vocals catching with hollow bass. The intensity of the song’s first six minutes then gives way to incomprehensible vocals, and while it’s overwhelming, it’s beautiful. In the track’s final moments SOPHIE truly transports you to a whole new world, their warped voice guiding you forward.
For an album as experimental as Big Fish Theory, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Vince Staples collaborated with SOPHIE. While SOPHIE also worked on the track "SAMO," “Yeah Right” is definitely the standout. Right from the beginning it’s obvious SOPHIE is the producer, with the metallic swerving found in the artist’s own “Faceshopping” ever present throughout the track. As Staples chants lyrics that contemplate the rap lifestyle, SOPHIE’s production oozes in the background, heady and full of the artist’s classic robotic melodies. It’s a fantastic collaboration, elevating both artists' work and flowing perfectly.
A month after releasing “MSMSMSM,” SOPHIE released the bubblegum-filled “Hard.” The track feels like a gut punch, as singer GFOTY chants the same lyrics over and over in her high-pitched voice. Bass chimes in and mixes with what can only be described as bubbles, birthing the perfect combination of pop and electronic music. It’s something SOPHIE does masterfully: making a song appeal to a general audience, while also catering to hyperpop fans. Just when you think it’ll calm down, “Hard” picks up and introduces a new tempo, keeping you on your toes.
Coming off a series of remixes the artist did in late 2020 is SOPHIE’s twist on BAYLI and BABYNYMPH’s collaborative club track. Originally a silky and disjointed two-minute track, SOPHIE transforms the song into six minutes of speedy bliss. The track never drags, with the artist switching the tempo every three minutes, warping the original remix into something completely different. A perfect club track and display of SOPHIE’s expertise, the track is sure to make you feel like you’re climbing up the wall into another dimension—one filled with rubberized bass.
While its earliest rendition tracks back to 2015, “Girls Night Out” was officially released in the summer of 2018. SOPHIE’s production on the track is light, with the artist’s usual harsh bass taking the backseat as bubbly electronics swim behind Charli’s vocals. This perfect party anthem sums up the work Charli and SOPHIE did together. Simple vocals give way to feeling: something that imitates a warm hug, all the while keeping you on your feet and ready to party. “Girls Night Out” makes you want to see your friends, and as Charli lilts “it's a girls' night out / so throw your hands up if you feel alright / I can't wait to live it up tonight,” her and SOPHIE immerse you in the sonically-driven party they’ve created.