What is Indie Pop?


Different forms of music categories have been popular in different eras. Every music genre had its own peak time after which it got replaced by another. One such music genre that got its peak during the 1980s was Indie Pop. Many classic music fans still love this pop genre but singers don’t usually sing Indie Pop songs nowadays. 

What is Indie Pop Music?

Before getting to Indie Pop, one should know about pop music. Pop music has been a combination of rock and roll music that is youth-oriented. The musical and lyrical combination makes pop music one of the top-performing music genres in the world. On the other hand, Indie pop music is a subgenre of pop music which is mainly based on guitar pop and DIY ethics. It becomes quite different from conventional pop music as it is more melodic, and angst-free as well. Further categories of Indie pop music include chamber pop and twee pop. 

Indie pop is considered to be a stripped-down version of punk music and is less abrasive. However, comparing it with conventional pop music, it is also much catchier. Simon Reynolds, a music critic, believes that Indie pop defines itself against charting pop. Both pop music and indie pop have stayed popular in the 80s.

Music critic Simon Reynolds. 

source:Justus Nussbaum, CC BY 2.0 DE, via Wikimedia Commons

History of Indie Pop Music

Indie pop music emerged in the late 1970s from the United Kingdom. Different artists were attracted to this form of music because it allowed them to think out of the box. The artists could create music just like they wanted rather than having a strict protocol of a studio deal. This gave them the freedom to create simplistic yet harmonized melodies which made Indie pop quite popular. 

In the early 1980s, there were a number of bands created that were based on Indie pop music. “Postcard Records” is considered to be one of the pioneer brands of Indie pop which was founded by Alan Home in Glasgow. The motto of this label was “The Sound of Young Scotland”. Ideally, this is what defined Indie pop music in the later years as well. Their first song was “Falling and Laughing” which was released in mid-1980. Despite the fact that the band did not survive for long, it did give a framework for Indie pop which was followed by many brands later.

A song by Postcard Label. 

Another important step towards the development of Indie pop music was the American band named “Beat Happening”. This band was formed in 1982 and was focusing on the Indie pop category. The band members included Calvin Johnson, Healthier Lewis, and Bret Lunsford. The band got its popularity mainly because it introduced a new music line by disregarding the technical aspects of music and having distinctive primitive recording techniques as well. The music was sometimes childish and other times, closer to nature. The band stayed active for 10 years from its formation in 1982. Some of the top songs by this band include “Our Secret”, “Look Around”, and “Honey Pot”. 

A popular Indie rock-pop group formed in Glasgow was The Pastels. This band was formed in 1981. The Pastels have made notable contributions towards independent British music as well as the promotion of Indie pop music. However, this group had several issues with the band members leaving quite often. Currently, this group comprises Stephen McRobbie, Katrina Mitchell, Tom Crossley, John Hogarty, Suse Bear, and Allison Mitchell. Popular songs by the band include “Check My Heart”, “I Wonder Why”, “I’m Alright With You”, and “Baby You’re Just You”.

Members of the band, The Pastels. 

source:Masao Nakagami, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Indie pop stayed quite popular in the North American region for the decade of the 80s. Many UK-based independent bands also entered this category to generate a thriving fanzine. The famous cassette collection of songs called C86 was released in 1986. This cassette had a large number of Indie pop songs which made the genre even more popular. However, the C86 became more controversial as many argued that Sarah Records was more of a contribution for Indie pop as compared to the C86. 

Sarah Records was a British Independent Record Label that was quite popular among the mass audience between 1987 and 1995. While C86 was a broad term label that was focused on different types of music, Sarah Records is considered to be focused on Indie pop only. The label released a number of Indie pop singles and on reaching the number SARAH 100, the label celebrated and shut down as well. In 2015, NME declared that Sarah Records was the second greatest indie label of all time. 

Criticism with Indie Pop

While Indie pop was one of the most popular music genres of the 80s and 90s, there was certainly some criticism associated with it as well. In the late 80s, indie pop became unpopular mainly because it had associations with self-conscious primitive music and underachievement. This was one reason why indie-pop did not have as much lasting success and place in the music industry as much as other genres such as rock and pop have. Nonetheless, many artists were still inspired by this music genre as well. New music is still being created but not on a large scale. 

Latest Trends in Indie Pop Music

One of the things noticed recently is that indie-pop has been changed to indie-rock. As a result, much of the indie genre and rock genres are included as a sub-genre in the category of indie-rock. 

As a matter of fact, the Baroque Pop category has become popular nowadays. You can consider it as a modern version of the folk music of the 1960s with quiet vocals and more orchestral music. Being more ornate, and depending on a few electrical instruments, it has quite well attracted the audience in modern times. One of the most famous bands focusing on indie rock is Arcade Fire which was founded in 2000 by Win Butler and his wife Regine Chassagne. Other members of the band include William Butler, Richard Reed, Tim Kingsbury, and Jeremy Gara. They have made quite a few songs and won several awards too. Popular songs by the band include Neighborhood, Crown of Love, and Neon Bible. 

Arcade Fire performing in 2017.

source:leonardo samrani from rosario, argentina, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Another modern trend in the indie-pop music category is that there is an influence of dance-punk also known as disco-punk. This includes the aesthetic version of punk rock while the latest instruments from the new music era are used. As a result, it becomes a good combination of indie-pop in the current era. The Rupture is one of the most known bands working in this genre. It is an American band formed in 1998 with current members including Luke Jenner, Vito Roccoforte, and Gabriel Andruzzi. This band had its peak time during 1999 and 2009 after which it slowed down. It mainly focuses on dance-punk, acid house, and electronica music. Popular songs by the band include Out of the Races and Onto the Track and House of Jealous Lovers.

Twee pop is considered another famous sub-genre of the indie-pop category. This is a relatively easier form of indie-pop where the melodies are light and the lyrics are sweet giving a childlike impression. Jangling guitars are a famous instrument in this category. One of the famous bands in this category is Girls in Hawaii. Unlike the name, the band comprises all the male members which include Antoine Wielemans, François Gustin, Daniel Offerman, Brice Vancauwenberghe and Lionel Vancauwenberghe. The band stayed popular during the era of 2000 to 2010. Two of the most popular songs by this band include “From Here to There” and “Found in the Ground”. 

Girls in Hawaii performing in a concert.

source:Endless Autumn, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Indie pop is truly one of those music genres which has given the industry a different and revolutionary form of music. The lyrical arrangement in indie pop music has stayed diverse for a long time. From time to time, indie pop music has evolved so that it adapts to the current trends in the music industry.

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