Slayyyter Is 2019’s Internet Pop Enigma Who Is Shining On Her Own Terms

Pop Music Critic
07.30.19

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What kind of pop star would perform a sold-out Friday night show without a spotlight?

Maybe one who cites a platform like Twitter as her raison d’être, and still finds most of her status in being an “internet” darling. At a sold-out show at the El Rey last weekend, Catherine Slater — aka 22-year-old pop star Slayyyter — let the blue-black glow of the stage lights illuminate her whole set, shirking the direct light that most stars crave for a more ambient mood that let the crowd feel like they were just as important as Slater herself. And, to be honest, they were.

Casually streaming through her glitchy, slyly tender synth-pop singles on Spotify is one thing, hearing a crowd thunder back every single lyric and vocal inflection was quite another; and her live show is growing quickly, too — last time through LA she performed at The Echo, and this past Friday’s show was at the El Rey, a venue nearly double in size.

Bringing an internet fanbase into reality can be a difficult transition for some Gen Z stars, but Slayyyter marries internet savvy with clever IRL cues, like the lighting trick. Instead of letting the audience focus intently on her own hair, body, face (shout out Ally, love you forever), the dimly-lit Slayyyter scanned more as a mashup of the TMZ footage that opened her show, an amalgam of every ultra-sexualized, trashy blonde that reigned in early 2000s pop and reality TV.

In this context, trashy is not an insult, but a smug assertion of elegance’s inverse: popular culture ephemera that is crass, and reveling in that signifier not just as an aesthetic, but a rejection of all things high brow. Which means, yes, Slayyyter really has three y’s, and even if the moniker is an internetized version of her last name, it’s also the ideal epithet for a 22-year-old pop star blowing up on Twitter, offering a subtle tie-in to the eternal imperative that queer fans demand of all their favorite stars — girl, you better slay! — and working out the kinks of vocal fry and AIM chat excess in typological form.

Those inherent qualities are also embedded in her musical voice, not just her stage name. The sex-kitten-voice growls and sultry, explicit lyrics immediately drew comparisons to Britney Spears’ Blackout era, but Slayyyter also registers as a bad girl Mandy Moore, flirting with obvious predecessor in her more-explicit oral sex anthem “Candy” — and her airy speaking voice and sweet, still-excited stage banter almost registers as Moore-level… until she spikes it with an F-bomb or a similarly raunchy anecdote.

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