Indie pop is a subgenre that emerged in the 1980s as an alternative to mainstream pop music. It is characterized by its DIY (do-it-yourself) ethos, independent spirit, and a focus on melodic songwriting. Indie pop often incorporates elements from various genres, including indie rock, folk, and electronic music. Back in the late 1970s, both indie and indie pop meant the same thing. It wasn't so much about the style of punk rock but more about the DIY attitude. Bands with guitars started forming with the novel idea that they could record and release their music without needing a deal from a big record label. Emily Dolan, a music researcher, says indie music is rooted in the raw sound of The Velvet Underground, the rebelliousness of early punk, and the quirky and eccentric style of rock figures like Jonathan Richman. Nitsuh Abebe from the news website Pitchfork describes most indie music as having that jangly guitar sound from the 60s. The early singles from The Monochrome Set were so influential on the indie pop band The Smiths that Johnny Marr said without them, The Smiths wouldn't have existed.
Musically, indie pop combines melodic hooks, catchy choruses, and introspective lyrics with a range of musical styles. Indie pop can vary in sound, ranging from stripped-down acoustic tracks to more elaborate productions incorporating synthesizers, strings, and other instrumentation. The genre's musicality is known for its simplicity, charm, and ability to evoke a sense of nostalgia and emotional resonance.
Lyrically speaking, indie pop explores a wide range of introspective and personal themes. The lyrics often touch upon topics such as love, relationships, self-discovery, and coming-of-age experiences. Indie pop songs frequently delve into emotions, vulnerability, and the human condition, portraying relatable stories and capturing the nuances of everyday life.
Indie pop has given rise to many influential and celebrated artists who have left their mark on the genre. Some notable indie pop artists include Belle and Sebastian, The Shins, Vampire Weekend, Feist, Tegan and Sara, The Postal Service, and of course, more modern artists and bands such as HAIM, Lorde, Alvvays, and Beach House. These artists have garnered critical acclaim and achieved commercial success while staying true to the independent spirit and artistic integrity of indie pop.