PinkPantheress is a signifier of pop’s future, a homemade superstar whose viral pop bites have made her queen of a corner of the internet whilst remaining effectively invisible to the mainstream. A 22-year-old young woman from Kent who has managed to keep her real name to herself, PinkPantheress rose through TikTok with her frothy bedroom pop (recorded on basic Apple home studio software Garageband), clocking up millions of streams, before signing a record deal with Parlophone in 2021.
She won the BBC Sound of 2022 poll without having ever played a single concert. According to industry chart aggregation site, she has 22 million monthly listeners on Spotify and 14.5 million monthly views on YouTube, yet has only had one No2 chart hit with The Boys a Liar Pt.2, a global top five remake of a TikTok song with US rap star Ice Spice.
PinkPantheress songs are invariably short and almost impossibly sweet, featuring mellifluous cascades of light electronica over skittering beats, whilst her voice glides effortlessly over the top with a tone that sounds like everything has been slightly sped up. She doesn’t go for lots of vocal pyrotechnics, essaying a chattily intimate deadpan English inflection that resembles Lily Allen at her most blasé, yet there is something artificial about the texture, perhaps because she edits one line over another to maintain a speedy flow.
Her debut mixtape, To Hell With It, featured 10 tracks with a running time of under 19 minutes. She stretches out slightly on her official debut album, Heaven Knows, with 12 tracks and a running time of just over half an hour. Only two songs reach the three minute mark, the former fabled length of a perfect pop hit. Catering to the short attention spans of social media, PinkPantheress makes her point then moves swiftly on.
Some heavyweight producers have been drafted in to add depth to a thin sound originally based around samples borrowed from Drum ‘n’ Bass and 2 Step Garage – the pop sounds of her noughties childhood. Los Angeles hitmaker Greg Kurstin (who has worked with Adele, Harry Styles and Lily Allen) brings out textures of real instrumentation, whilst British electronic dance producer Mura Masa helps expand her rhythmic base to incorporate sleek house and disco.