EDM / Dance
Best New Artists
Coupled with the word indie, a soft, but strong rebellion is born. Indie music is often defined as rejecting mainstream trends and going against the grain. In the 90s, a surge of indie acoustic artists sprouted from underneath the indie rock umbrella. Bands like Neutral Milk Hotel, Death Cab For Cutie, Bright Eyes, and artists including Elliot Smith and Sufjan Stevens picked up cult followings who craved honesty and acoustic guitar. These artists frequently paint elaborate pictures with their lyrics. For example, Neutral Milk Hotel’s In The Aeroplane Over The Sea discusses themes of love, nostalgia, and tells the story of Anne Frank.
Is there a difference between acoustic music and folk music? The answer- sort of. Acoustic music can be folk music but isn’t always, like how a rectangle can be a square. Both styles of music are emotional, stripped back, and relevant in representing American culture and history. Some say that acoustic pop songs are talking to an audience, while folk music is more conversational, talking with an audience.
When the baroque guitar became the most popular stringed instrument, guitars began to look a little more like the indie acoustic guitars we know today. An adaptation of the baroque guitar is the Spanish guitar, which came from the vihuela. The vihuela originated in Spain during the Renaissance and typically had five or six strings. In the late 1700s, only 6 string vihuelas were being produced. In the mid 1800s, Antonio Torres Jurado created the first larger guitar that resembles the ones we use today. Over time, luthiers have figured out how to make guitars more resonate by utilizing different types of wood and body shapes. Today, the most popular acoustic guitar brands include Taylor, Martin, Gibson, and Ibanez.
From 1989 to 2009, artists performed stripped back versions of their hits on MTV’s show Unplugged. After the show, many artists would release the sessions, and in a few instances these indie acoustic song versions went platinum. Eric Clapton’s session sold 26 million copies. Mariah Carey and Nirvana also had Unplugged sessions go Platinum.
In 2016, streaming service Spotify began the Spotify Sessions, a series where popular artists record 2 stripped back songs: one original and one cover to be released as singles on their playlists. Pop artists like Taylor Swift and Harry Styles offer stripped back acoustic versions of their songs, while indie artists like Henry Jamison, Phoebe Bridgers, and Maggie Rogers let listeners enjoy new acoustic versions of their favorite songs.