Rolling Stone

Pop has officially entered its clown era

HARRY STYLES HAS been the subject of countless headlines in the wake of the 2023 Grammys — and for all the stories thinking over his unexpected win for Album of the Year, there have been nearly as many celebrating the rainbow, sequinned, harlequin-style onesie that he wore on the red carpet. “Best dressed,” they rave. “King of jumpsuits!” It’s a far cry from the more mixed reception that Playboi Carti received when he took the stage at Kanye West’s Donda 2 event a year ago. It wasn’t Carti’s unhinged performance of “Off the Grid,” or his appearance alongside an already-scandal plagued Ye, that sent shockwaves through his fandom: It was his bold new look, which included a face full of gothic-clown makeup, marrying the metal tradition of corpse paint with the Joker’s demonic, up-turned smile. “Carti has officially taken it 2 steps too far,” one Twitter user wrote. “Seriously…what in the insane clown posse was Carti doing man?” asked another. 

While it was likely both artists’ intention to stand out from the crowd, in fact both Harry and Carti were jumping on the bandwagon of a growing trend: A staggering amount of pop stars are “down with the clown” lately, and they’re part of a much larger, clown-crazed phenomenon.”

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