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The best Indie Pop songs are like the rarest Pokemon. You never know where you're going to find them. You don't know what they're going to look (or sound) like. Even when you do manage to find indie pop music out “in the wild,” it's an artform that’s always changing shape.
That's where We Are: The Guard comes in. Every week, we trawl the latest playlists, YouTube channels, SoundClouds looking for the best indie pop songs and artists. We're here to help you catch 'em all!
What do you say about a genre that encapsulates the vaporwave acoustic soul of Blood Orange, the feminist cyberpop of Charli XCX, the international beat-mangling of Diplo? What can you say about an umbrella wide enough to cover the snarky anti-folk of Girli and the low-down grime of...Grimes!?
Indie pop music may be in the ear of the beholder, but there's more to it than that. Let's take a look at how we deliver the most popular indie songs, week after week.
Let's start by defining our terminology. How do you define indie pop music in the 2020s? Let's take a look.
Defining genres involves a unique, complicated calculus. We all know what indie music is. We all listen to pop music. Yet 'indie + pop + music' is more than just a sum of its parts. It's more than just a Venn Diagram where Arcade Fire overlaps with Ellie Goulding.
Indie pop music is a genre unto itself, while also being a sum of its parts. That means as indie and pop continue to shift, morph, and mutate into the 21st Century, so does indie pop. To get to a baseline, let's return to the origins of indie pop to orient ourselves.
To start, we must remember indie just means independent, as in music recorded for an independent label. That means much of the earliest, most influential rock 'n roll, blues, soul, funk, r&b, jazz, and even pop are all technically examples of great indie.
Perhaps we could include Buddy Holly's precocious, prescient "Not Fade Away," Howlin' Wolf's chilling, incendiary "Smokestack Lightning," or even John Lennon & Yoko Ono's "Happy XMas (War Is Over)" as early indie pop treasures.
We're going to start our investigation with our current conception of indie music, indie pop, and indie rock, difficult as it may be to trace, codify, or define.