“Digital Zero” is a weird song. Let’s start there. Bad Bubble is an enigmatic figure – a mohawked, bespectacled, leather-jacket-clad one singing in a heavily auto-tuned tenor voice in a bedroom. At least, that’s how he presents himself in the video for “Digital Zero.”
Stylistically, the song straddles the line between synth-driven new wave and atmospheric dream pop. A Depeche Mode t-shirt nods to the influence of the former, while a heavy dose of video effects emphasizes the latter in the song’s accompanying video. This is a piece of music that doesn’t fit neatly into a genre, and that might be a good thing. For someone as clearly idiosyncratic as Bad Bubble, “Digital Zero” is a thesis statement.
“Digital Zero” comes released as a “collection”, including a “Sexy Coupon Remix”, “Future 10 remix”, and a live version. This is noteworthy not least because the first of these, the “Sexy Coupon Remix,” is dramatically different from the first version of the song. New wave and 1990s synth rock might be at play in this song’s stylistic influences, but drenched in reverb, the “Sexy Coupon Remix” gives me a similar vibe as the work of Yung Lean, Bladee, and the Sadboys/Drain Gang extended universe. This is music that lives and breathes online angst in a way that nothing made before 2010 can capture.
As if he hadn’t done enough with the original version and the “Sexy Coupon Remix”, Bad Bubble’s piano-driven “Future 10 Remix” presents us with an alt-rock ballad, starkly contrasting the other two versions of “Digital Zero”. This version doesn’t have an effects-laden video like the other two, yet the artwork – an abandoned factory next to a highway overpass – communicates the same sense of post-industrial desolation. We don’t live in the real world of brick and concrete anymore, Bad Bubble seems to want us to understand, that we live online. We don’t live in the world of pianos anymore, we live in the world of autotune and virtual sadness. This sense seems to emerge as Bad Bubble’s overarching theme.
The live version of “Digital Zero” sits somewhere between the original and “Sexy Coupon Remix” versions. Another heavily affected video continues to make Bad Bubble’s point. He’s weird, he’s angsty, he’s online. But is any of this a bad thing? Almost certainly not. With “Digital Zero,” Bad Bubble is fundamentally challenging us to consider who we are in our heavily filtered, auto-tuned world, and whether we’re happy here. I’m not sure he is. I’m not sure any of us should be.
Listen to the "Digital Zero Collection" exclusively on Youtube here -
You can check out Bad Bubble’s website here: