If you don’t know who Glaive is, you will soon enough. Whether you’re aware or not, 16-year-old Ash Gutierrez is riding the crest of the new hyperpop wave.
For those unfamiliar, hyperpop is a niche genre of pop pioneered in the 2010s by artists such as A.G. Cook, Charli XCX, Dorian Gray, the late Sophie and 100 Gecs. It is loosely categorized by its non-traditional, chaotic sound. If you took bubbly, catchy mainstream pop songs and threw them into a blender of wildly pitched vocals and avant-garde electronic production, you essentially get hyperpop. The best way I can describe hyperpop is: it’s weird, but you won’t be able to stop hitting repeat.
With just under a million monthly listeners (962,446 at the time of writing) and over 30 million streams on Spotify alone, Glaive exploded onto the scene over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic; his first single “life is pain” was released in 2020. The lanky 6’4 teen hails from Hendersonville, a small town in western North Carolina right outside of Asheville. It’s certainly not the first place you’d expect to find the next big pop star. But that’s exactly what Glaive, named after a weapon from "Dark Souls III", will be.
He did not rise to fame alone, however, but in conjunction with fellow promising young hyperpop artists such as brakence, midwxst, ericdoa, aldn and renforshort. During the isolating and lonely quarantine, all of these artists turned to music as a much-needed creative outlet. Inspired by an eclectic mix of rap, pop, rock, emo and electronic genres, these teenagers are at the frontier of a genre nestled in the cultural heart of Gen Z.
“all dogs go to heaven,” Glaive’s sophomore EP, reveals that he isn’t going anywhere except up. Consisting of a polished tracklist of eight songs, Glaive demonstrates that he has the potential to be something huge — a fact that he is still clearly coming to terms with.
The EP centers around Gutierrez’s struggle to adapt to his newfound fame. He appears to be emotionally torn between two worlds, homework in Hendersonville and studio sessions in LA. Glaive desires to reach his full artistic potential, yet the intense pressure that comes with being a rising young artist weighs heavy on his mind. A common theme running through each track is the turmoil that his success has wreaked on his social life.
On “Detest Me,” Ash vents his frustration over an angsty chorus before soberly reflecting on a verse, “My friends, yeah, they might change 'cause I've been going up / I guess that it's hard to digest / Dissect the people in my head.”
On the chaotic track “Bastard,” he laments, “Every single person in my life turned to an actor / Fairy tales lied, there's no happily ever after / All the flowers die when I'm running through the pasture.”
He goes a step further on his verse, describing how fame doesn’t necessarily bring happiness: “Let me tell a story 'bout a boy I know / He was 'bout 15 years, stood about 6 foot 4 / He made a couple connections and he opened some doors / And now he
realized he was way better before / And I'm always alone and that's a blessing and a curse / 'Cause I could be doing better, but I could be doing worse.”
Tracks like the intro “1984,” the pop-punk banger “Poison,” and the elegantly titled and unexpectedly upbeat “i wanna slam my head against the wall” display Gutierrez’s natural talent for songwriting, especially his ability to create choruses that get stuck in your head.
The outro titular track, “all dogs go to heaven,” shows Gutierrez’s more sensitive side, trading in his typical high energy, head-banging angsty teenage anthems for a slower, emotionally raw guitar ballad that borders on beautiful. Glaive pours his heart on the chorus, singing “All dogs go to Hеaven / But the peoplе don't because we're selfish / All dogs go to Heaven / I know we can't help it.”
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Amid the excitement, anxiety and social turmoil of his rise to fame, Gutierrez appears ready to take the musical world by storm. His genre-defying musical style is a breath of fresh air in the oversaturated arena of pop, capturing the attention of industry elites like Cole Bennett, Nick Mira, and The Kid Laroi. On Wednesday, Bennett’s multimedia company Lyrical Lemonade premiered the official music video for Glaive’s “1984,” which has already racked up nearly 500,000 views in the mere 48 hours since its release.
At only 16, Glaive is poised to become the prince of hyperpop, ushering in a new musical dynasty to the realm of pop.