SOPHIE’s 13 Best Songs, Productions & Features

It’s rare to watch an artist create a brand-new subgenre of music right in front of your eyes. Certainly, many have helped shape the future of their genre or left a mark, but SOPHIE took the underground experimental pop machine and molded it into something completely new.

When you look at today’s hyperpop movement, inhabited by acts like Glaive, 100 Gecs, A.G. Cook and others, you can see just one result of SOPHIE’s singular career. Spending years chopping up beats, twisting the human voice, glitching out rhythm sections and repackaging them as a glossy product, SOPHIE only garnered the attention of the wider world in the last three years, after putting a face to the name. Before 2017, most fans didn’t even know what SOPHIE looked like. They didn’t know about SOPHIE’s transgender identity. They didn’t know much at all aside from the music. As with so many pioneers before, SOPHIE didn’t bother fostering a public image — the trailblazer was busy behind the scenes, working to change the face of experimental pop and electronic music forever.

With the tragic news of Sophie’s death at the age of 34, we’re turning to SOPHIE’s catalog to celebrate an incredible and influential life. We’ve selected 13 songs to demonstrate the range of talent the artist brought to the table — and the immeasurable potential that has been lost.

SOPHIE, “Bipp”

SOPHIE’s breakthrough single resembled nothing else in contemporary pop upon its June 2013 release, but its roots were clearly in pop: all of its blips, whirs, distorted beats and tempo shifts don’t work without a vocal hook, “I can make you feel better,” that’s somehow both metallic and warm. “Bipp,” which earned rave reviews and year-end list placements in 2013, was alien and catchy as hell, challenging the DNA of pop while embracing its soul; in this way, it would serve as a North Star for the rest of SOPHIE’s career. – Jason Lipshutz

SOPHIE, “Lemonade”

This deceptively simple 2014 single — which would eventually land on SOPHIE’S 2015 PRODUCT compilation – is, on its surface, a sonic wind-up toy about craving the titular citrus-based beverage. (So effective, in fact, that McDonald’s used it in a commercial for actual lemonade.) Like everything SOPHIE did, though, the layers ran deep. Here the producer oscillates between sugary lyrics about “candy boys, c-c-candy boys” with the heftier admission that “I never meant to hurt you/It wasn’t in my plans.” The pitched-up verses and chant-like chorus are laid over a spare, occasionally cartoonish beat that remained nonetheless sophisticated and sleek as chrome. – Katie Bain

SOPHIE, “Faceshopping”

An exemplar of SOPHIE’s singular vision and genius, “Faceshopping” combines punishing industrial skronk, wisps of top 40 pop hooks, insouciant vocals and wry cultural commentary to create a hypnotic banger. For a song that was nearly three years old at the time of SOPHIE’s untimely passing, “Faceshopping” still sounds like it’s coming in hot three decades into the future. – Joe Lynch

SOPHIE, “It’s Okay to Cry”

As stunning a ballad as was released in the 2010s, “It’s Okay to Cry” was a voice in the ear of anyone who needed it (i.e., everyone) telling you — in a whisper so intimate you could shiver just to remember it — that no matter what you’re feeling right now, your inside is still your best side. And lest the song’s lush synth twinkles and overwhelming sense of empathy risk coming off maudlin, SOPHIE ends “Cry” with twenty seconds of exultant electro-pop fireworks: a celebration confirming that you’ll make it through, if you haven’t already. – Andrew Unterberger

Charli XCX, “Vroom Vroom”

The significance of Charli XCX’s “Vroom Vroom,” and the four-song EP of the same name that she released in March 2016, can only be understood by what came before it. Prior to the project, the British singer-songwriter was enjoying mass-appeal success thanks to the Hot 100 top 10 hit “Boom Clap,” guest spots on smashes like Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” and Icona Pop’s “I Love It,” and writing credits on songs by Selena Gomez and Ty Dolla $ign. Charli could have stayed in her lane and enjoyed a fruitful next half-decade; instead, she took a sledgehammer to her sound, joining with SOPHIE to develop an unrelenting riff on early hyperpop. “Vroom Vroom” clangs and squeaks around Charli’s polished delivery, imagining a bold new path for the singer’s music — and reshaping the trajectory of a star, who quickly bought in to SOPHIE’s vision. – J. Lipshutz

QT, “Hey QT”

An irresistible hyperpop lemon drop, “Hey QT” is performed by a chirpy singer named QT to promote an energy drink called DrinkQT… which technically existed but wasn’t intended as a genuine product to be stocked on shelves across America. For something that’s more of a performance art piece than a pop song, “Hey QT” has no right to be as marvelous as it is – and that’s in large part thanks to producer SOPHIE’s deft negotiation between electropop parody and sincerity; it works both as an art project and an effervescent pop delight. – J. Lynch

Cashmere Cat feat. MØ & SOPHIE, “9 (After Coachella)”

If you liked the way two of the most boundary-pushing pop producers of the 2010s spread confusion, you were no doubt entranced by their couple of collaborations on Cashmere Cat’s 9 album, the most stunning of which was the set’s inscrutable title track. Alternating between sweet, dreamy verses and a clanging, cacophonous drop, “9” is both the hazily euphoric memory of the festival the night before and the remorseless alarm clock reminding you it’s time to snap to reality this morning. – AU

Vince Staples, “SAMO”

“Watch me do the same ol’ thing,” California’s most sonically shape-shifting MC caustically quips on the hook to this Big Fish Theory highlight, the obvious irony needing no major underlining over metallic synth scrapes and queasy bass. It’s immediately identifiable who’s producing but feels no less at home on Staples’ turf for it, demonstrating just how much further SOPHIE’s sound could’ve still traveled. – AU

SOPHIE, “Immaterial”

Ever wanted to shove a big middle finger in the face of the gender binary? SOPHIE certainly did with “Immaterial,” one of the producer’s most undeniably pop-heavy tracks, where the star wrapped a message about predetermination and the human desire to change your fate into a three-and-a-half-minute pop banger — just another day for SOPHIE, then. From the opening lines, with a chorus of distorted voices chanting out “Immaterial boys/ Immaterial girls,” lines of dripping synths and heart-pounding drums drive the song forward, shifting from moment to moment. If only to further illustrate the point, toward the song’s finish SOPHIE takes the “natural” voices and twists, flips, cuts, pitches and morphs them — why stay stuck within the limits of a gendered vocal when you can shape it into something entirely fresh? “Immaterial” serves as a glorious thesis statement for SOPHIE’s work, showing how the icon broke down boundaries in music without ever doing it the disservice of being specific. – Stephen Daw

SOPHIE, “Ponyboy”

Instinctively grasping the efficacy and allure of drastic counterpoint, SOPHIE starts out this Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides gem by pairing bass-y vocal intonations with a pouty repetition of the words “pony” and “boy.” Flavors of Detroit techno and soulful wailing gradually seep in to this deranged headbanger that seemingly crept in from a dimension just adjacent to ours. – J. Lynch

SOPHIE, “Just Like We Never Said Goodbye”

Another single that would ultimately land on the PRODUCT compilation, “Just Like We Never Said Goodbye” reaches back through the eras of pop music while also embodying its present and future. The resonant melody and bittersweet lyrics could have belonged to Ronnie Spector, Debbie Gibson or Mandy Moore, but with SOPHIE’s treatment, the song takes on a shining, mechanical quality that established the producer as both the most modern of pop talents and an artist who seemed to be transmitting music from the future. – KB

Madonna, “Bitch, I’m Madonna”

The 2015 single from Madonna’s Rebel Heart LP is ostensibly a Diplo song — the producer’s signature EDM sirens and grimy trap fingerprints are all over it — but SOPHIE, who’s credited as a writer on the project alongside a crew including Madonna, Ariel Rechtshaid and Diplo, has a more subtle but nonetheless influential presence. Madonna’s rapid-fire sing-song vocals directly replicate the style of SOPHIE’s delivery during this era, and the spare hyperpop chorus could have only come from SOPHIE — or the legion of copycats that followed in the producer’s wake. – KB

Kim Petras feat. SOPHIE, “1, 2, 3 Dayz Up”

If you need further proof of SOPHIE’s impact on the music industry, look no further than an artist like Kim Petras. The transgender German singer has slowly begun to break into pop music’s mainstream with a bubblegum hyperpop sound, entering through a door partially constructed by SOPHIE. When these two transgender stars finally teamed up to show the world what exactly they could do, it was a match made in heaven. “1, 2, 3 Dayz Up” is a perfect blend of SOPHIE’s pop musings (glittering melodies, complex beats and a bass to knock you out of your seat) and her experimental whims (a bridge that sonically melts in front of you). Getting to see two transgender stars at the forefront of a burgeoning pop sound perform together was one of many pioneering wins SOPHIE gave the world. – SD

Lil Durk Shares 12 New Tracks from Deluxe Edition of ‘The Voice’: Listen

Lil Durk is sharing new music from the deluxe edition of his latest album, The Voice.

On Friday (Jan. 29), the 28-year-old Chicago rapper dropped an updated version of his surprise 2020 release, featuring 12 new tracks. Standouts on the deluxe set include “Finesse Out The Gang Way” with Lil Baby, “Should’ve Ducked” featuring Pooh Shiesty, and “Kanye Krazy,” “Movement,” and “Love You” with singer Sydny August.

The Voice, Durk’s sixth album, originally dropped as a surprise release on Dec. 24 of last year. The 16-song set peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and recently hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.

To help promote the new deluxe edition, Durk dropped a music video for “Kanye Krazy,” where he relives some of Kanye West’s most notorious career highlights.

The nostalgia-inducing clip, directed by Lyrical Lemonade’s Cole Bennett, recalls Ye’s old music videos, including “Runaway,” with the flock of ballerinas swarming the white piano; “I Love It,” with the giant Roblox-resembling suits; “Bound 2,” with the scenic motorcycle ride; and others.

Hear 12 new songs from the deluxe edition of Durk’s The Voice below.

5 Uplifting Moments in Latin Music This Week (January 30)

From career milestones and new music releases to major announcements and more, Billboard editors highlight the latest news buzz in Latin music every week. Here’s what happened in the Latin music world this week.

Enrique Iglesias scores his fifth billion-view YouTube video

Enrique Iglesias and Wisin’s “Duele El Corazon” has officially reached 1 billion views, according to YouTube. The milestone marks Enrique Iglesias’ fifth entry in the billion-view club and Wisin’s second. The collab topped Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart (dated May 13, 2016).

Latin Artists to Watch in 2021

From regional Mexican singer Junior H to Argentine sensation Nathy Peluso and promising reggaetonero Jay Wheeler, Billboard editors combed far and wide to gather the 22 artists who we think will have a major impact in 2021. Our selections are informed by chart achievements, streaming totals, overall quality, and gut instinct. Check out the exclusive list here.

Selena Gomez announces Spanish EP 

Calling all Selenators: Earlier this week, Selena Gomez officially announced that her first-ever Spanish-language EP is set to drop March 12. Titled Revelación (Revelation), the album follows Gomez’s recently-released Spanish singles “De Una Vez,” which arrived Jan. 16, and the Rauw Alejandro-assisted “Baila Conmigo.”

Red Table Talk: The Estefans renewed for a second season 

Red Table Talk: The Estefans – hosted by Gloria Estefan, Emily Estefan and Lili Estefan — returns this year with additional episodes. Facebook Watch confirmed 12 more episodes of Red Table Talk: The Estefans from Jada Pinkett Smith and Westbrook Studios that will air later this year.

Red Table Talk: The Estefans, a spinoff of Smith’s Facebook Watch show, made its debut in October. The eight-episode series featured guests such as Rosie O’Donnell, Kate del Castillo, Michelle Rodríguez and covered topics ranging from sexuality, justice, grief and mental health.

Immigration reform

Mexican stars Alejandro Fernández and Maná‘s Fher Olvera joined “We Are Home/Estamos en Nuestro Hogar,” a national campaign that calls for changes in immigration policy. The campaign was launched by a coalition of immigration rights organizations that include Community Change/Community Change Action; National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA)/Care in Action; Service Employees International Union (SEIU); United Farm Workers (UFW); and United We Dream.

Olvera and Fernández’s call to action are the first acts of what organizers are calling a “multimillion-dollar campaign” that will include digital advertising and lobbying aimed at changing immigration laws.

Sam Smith, Rina Sawayama and More React to Sophie’s Tragic Death: ‘A True Visionary and Icon of Our Generation’

Experimental pop musician Sophie has died, as the artist’s label Future Classic confirmed on Saturday morning (Jan. 30).

“Our beautiful Sophie passed away this morning after a terrible accident. True to her spirituality she had climbed up to watch the full moon and accidentally slipped and fell,” a statement read. The producer and singer-songwriter, born Sophie Xeon, was 34.

Peers, fans and friends in the pop and electronic communities (and beyond) quickly took to social media to mourn and pay tribute to Sophie. “Heartbreaking news. The world has lost an angel. A true visionary and icon of our generation,” Sam Smith tweeted. “Your light will continue to inspire so many for generations to come. Thinking of Sophie’s family and friends at this hard time.”

See more tributes below.

Sophie, Electronic and Experimental Pop Great, Dies at 34

Sophie, one of the most important figures in the last decade of underground pop and dance music, has died. A statement tweeted by their Future Classic label on Saturday morning (Jan. 30) confirms the artist’s passing, explaining, “Our beautiful Sophie passed away this morning after a terrible accident. True to her spirituality she had climbed up to watch the full moon and accidentally slipped and fell.” They were 34.

Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Sophie Xeon inherited an interest in dance and electronic music from their father, and started recording their own music at a young age. In the early ’10s, they struck up an association with a few artists on the PC Music label, soon to be at the experimental pop vanguard, and released their debut single “Nothing More to Say” in 2013. It was the follow-up single, the double-sided “Bipp”/”Elle,” that first drew wide notice for its alternately jarring and alluring combination of elastic, abrasive beats, irresistible pop melodies and pitched-up vocals.

In 2014, Sophie appeared on two singles that brought them to global attention: the “Lemonade” / “Hard” two-side, and “Hey QT,” a collaboration with PC Music artist A.G. Cook and vocalist Hayden Dunham. The former doubled-down on the scraping sonics and bubblegummy hooks of their debut to thrilling effect, but the latter was their poppiest work yet, still sounding alien in its chirping vocals and sparse production, but with an absolute knockout chorus that felt both satirical of, and too good for, top 40 radio. The singles drew critical raves, and cemented Sophie as one of the most exciting names in progressive pop and dance music.

Sophie released several more singles over the next year, including the beatless electro-pop gem “Just Like We Never Said Goodbye,” leading up to the release of their sparkling first full-length compilation Product in 2015. They also struck up an artistic partnership with the more mainstream pop star Charli XCX — resulting in them serving as the primary producer on Charli’s more forward-looking 2016 EP Vroom Vroom, as well as contributing to future albums — and even worked on pop icon Madonna’s 2015 single “Bitch, I’m Madonna” as a writer.

In 2017, Sophie drew perhaps the most attention of their career, for their single “It’s Okay to Cry.” The gorgeous, overwhelmingly empathetic synth-pop ballad marked the first time Sophie had used their own vocals, and was rapturously received — ultimately named by Billboard as one of the best songs of 2017 — as was its strikingly intimate music video, in which they used their own image for the first time, appearing nude from the chest up. Later that year, they would give interviews confirming their transgender identity explaining to Teen Vogue, “I don’t really agree with the term ‘coming out’.… I’m just going with what feels honest.” (A rep has since confirmed to Billboard that Sophie preferred not to use gendered pronouns.)

In 2018, they released their acclaimed official debut album Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides, making a wide variety of publications’ year-end lists and even receiving a nomination for best dance/electronic album at the 2019 Grammys. At the turn of the decade, Sophie’s influence was unignorable in the rise of the burgeoning hyperpop subgenre, with their hard-hitting mix of pitch-shifted vocals, crashing beats and pure pop instincts proving formative for an entire generation of bedroom producers and cutting-edge pop artists like 100 Gecs, Glaive and That Kid.

Pop cult favorite Rina Sawayama also tweeted Saturday morning about Sophie’s meaning to her, both artistically and personally. “RIP SOPHIE u were the sweetest – an icon and a visionary,” she wrote. “the world and our community has lost a beautiful soul.” See Sawayama’s tweet and the full Future Classic statement below.