Close this search box.

Indie pop

Table of contents

What is indie pop?

Indie pop is the abbreviation for independent music. Indie music is an ever-evolving, eclectic genre that encompasses a variety of styles characterized by a do-it-yourself ethos, alternative flair and a rebellious spirit.

The main philosophy behind indie music is the emphasis on creative and artistic freedom and independence from the large and established record companies of the music industry. In fact, the idea behind the term “indie” has a fascinating history that goes back even further than the 1970s!

Initially, the term “indie” was used for independent film companies. When a new wave of British musicians came together in the late 70s to challenge the mainstream music scene, few could have guessed that they were starting a revolution that would change the face of music forever. These pioneering guitar bands released their music on vinyl and were often signed to small, independent labels.

So if you were an indie artist looking to make a name for yourself by learning how to market your music, you were looking for ways other than working with major record labels like EMI Records, Warner Music Group (formerly known as Warner Communications), Sony Music Entertainment (then known as CBS Record Group) and Universal Music Group (formerly known as MCA Records).

How has indie pop developed?

The origins of indie pop can be traced back to the late 1970s, when bands such as The Fall, Gang of Four and The Smiths began to combine guitar pop with a punk attitude. In the 1980s, the indie pop scene flourished with bands such as Aztec Camera, Orange Juice and The Wedding Present. These bands were characterized by catchy melodies, intelligent lyrics and a DIY ethic.

Indie pop is an unprecedented contrast to the dark and serious tones of earlier underground rock styles and at the same time a departure from the glamor of contemporary
pop music
. In contrast to the fear and rawness of its counterpart, indie rock, much of indie pop adopts not only the pared-down qualities of punk, but also “the sweetness and catchiness of mainstream pop”.

In the 1990s, indie pop became even more popular with bands such as Lush, Stereolab and Belle & Sebastian. These bands experimented with different sounds and influences and contributed to the further development of the genre.

In recent years, indie pop has maintained its popularity and evolved with new bands such as The Pains of Being a Girl at School, The National and Arcade Fire. These bands have combined indie pop with elements from other genres such as indie rock, electronica and folk.

Characteristics of indie pop music

Indie music, a genre that has been driving the creative and artistic force in the music industry for decades, is characterized by a diverse mix of genres and an experimental nature that makes it a unique musical expression.

Although it is difficult to categorize such a dynamic genre, it is possible to identify some key characteristics that are often associated with indie music:

DIY ethos: In contrast to the polished perfection of mainstream music, indie music relies on the charm of imperfection. Many artists record their music themselves and produce it with simple means, resulting in an authentic, “home-made” sound. This DIY (do-it-yourself) ethos underlines the independence and creativity of the indie scene.

Eclectic influences: Indie music is a melting pot of different genres. Rock, ska, folk, punk, electronics and more can be found here and merge into a unique sound. This diversity of genres reflects the joy of experimentation and the open spirit of indie artists.

Authentic lyrical expression: Indie artists often use their music as a mouthpiece to process personal experiences, emotions and social issues. In contrast to commercial pop music, which often relies on catchy choruses and superficial lyrics, indie pop is about depth and authenticity. The texts are often poetic, introspective and thought-provoking.

Emphasis on songwriting: In indie music, songwriting is the main focus. Melodies, lyrics and harmonies are carefully crafted to create unique and touching sound experiences. Indie artists value originality and creative freedom, which is reflected in their multi-faceted and multi-layered songs.

What makes the indie pop scene so special?

A central feature is the DIY (Do-It-Yourself) ethic. Independence and initiative play an important role, as the artists often produce their music themselves, release it on independent labels and organize their own concerts and tours. This independence allows them to retain artistic control and create authentic works that are not influenced by commercial interests.

Another outstanding feature of the indie pop scene is the strong sense of community. Fans and artists support each other and create an atmosphere of cohesion. This solidarity not only promotes creativity, but also the growth of a close-knit, committed community in which everyone feels valued.

Creativity and experimentation are also characteristic of indie pop artists. They don’t shy away from new ideas and experiments, but mix different genres and styles to create unique and innovative sounds. This openness to artistic risks leads to a rich and diverse musical landscape that is constantly evolving.

Authenticity and individuality are other key aspects that characterize the indie pop scene. The artists express their own experiences and emotions in their music and do not follow commercial trends. This honesty and individuality appeals to many listeners who appreciate authentic and unadorned music.

Last but not least, indie pop has developed into its own subculture, embodying a distinctive style and a special attitude to life. This subculture not only influences music, but also fashion, art and lifestyle. It offers a platform for self-expression and cultural identity that goes far beyond music.

Which artists and bands are considered indie pop?

  • Arcade Fire
  • Aztec Camera
  • Belle & Sebastian
  • Blonde
  • Car Seat Headrest
  • Lorde
  • Lush
  • MGMT
  • My Bloody Valentine
  • Orange Juice
  • Pixies
  • Stereolab
  • The 1975
  • The National
  • The Pains of Being a Girl at School
  • The Screenshots
  • The Smiths
  • The Wedding Present
  • Rubble
  • Vampire Weekend
  • Because of Lisbeth
  • Fully broken

Well-known indie pop songs

  • Blur – Song 2 (1997)
  • Florence + The Machine – Pumping Blood (2010)
  • fun. – We Are Young (2012)
  • Gotye ft. Kimbra – Somebody That I Used to Know (2011)
  • Lorde – Royals (2013)
  • MGMT – Kids (2008)
  • Pulp Common People (1995)
  • Smashing Pumpkins – Disarm (1991)
  • The La’s – There She Goes (1988)
  • The xx – Seventeen Years (2012)

Classic indie pop albums

  • Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009)
  • Arcade Fire – The Suburbs (2010)
  • My Bloody Valentine – Loveless (1991)
  • Gorillaz – Demon Days (2005)
  • Lorde – Melodrama (2017)
  • MGMT – When We Were Young (2008)
  • Pixies – Doolittle (1988)
  • Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream (1993)
  • SZA – Ctrl (2017)
  • The Smiths – The Queen Is Dead (1986)

Subgenres of indie pop

  • Dream Pop
  • Folktronica
  • Indie hip-hop
  • Indie folk
  • Indie pop
  • Indie rock
  • Lo-Fi
  • Noise Pop
  • Post-punk
  • Shoegaze
  • Dream Pop
  • Twee Pop



Indie pop, often written as indiepop, is a music genre and subculture that emerged from post-punk in the UK in the mid-1980s. It is characterized by a DIY (Do It Yourself) ethic and stands in contrast to the style and tone of mainstream pop music. Indie pop artists often release their music on independent record labels and organize their own concerts and tours.

DIY ethic: Indie pop artists are often independent and produce their music themselves.
Eclectic influences: Indie pop mixes various elements from different genres such as rock, ska, folk, punk, electronic and more.
Authentic lyrical expression: Indie pop lyrics are often personal and introspective, dealing with themes such as love, loss, society and politics.
Emphasis on songwriting: In indie pop music, songwriting is the main focus. Melodies, lyrics and harmonies are carefully worked out.

Classic indie pop bands: The Smiths, Aztec Camera, Orange Juice, The Wedding Present, Lush, Stereolab, Belle & Sebastian
Modern indie pop bands: The Pains of Being a Girl at School, The National, Arcade Fire, Vampire Weekend, Car Seat Headrest, The 1975

Streaming services: Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer
Radio: Indie pop radio stations such as Radio Eins Plus, Flux FM, WDR Campus
Online radio:,
Live concerts: Indie pop bands often tour and play in clubs, bars and at festivals.
Record stores: Independent record stores often sell a wide range of indie pop music.

Dream Pop: Atmospheric sounds, often with distortion and reverb, lyrics often vague and surreal. (e.g. Cocteau Twins, Beach House)
Indie rock: Alternative rock music with a focus on melodies and songwriting. (e.g. R.E.M., The Strokes)
Twee Pop: Cute, carefree music with often naive lyrics. (e.g. Heavenly, Camera Obscura)
Lo-fi: Music that is recorded with simple means and low production quality. (e.g. Pavement, Sebadoh)
Folktronica: Electronic music with elements of folk and indie pop. (e.g. Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes)

Indie pop has influenced music culture in many ways:

Influence on the mainstream: Indie pop artists have shown that it is possible to make commercially successful music that is also artistically sophisticated.
Development of new genres: Indie pop has contributed to the emergence of new music genres such as Britpop and indie rock.
Platform for independent artists: Indie pop offers independent artists a platform to publish their music and get it heard.
Promotion of subcultures: Indie pop has contributed to the emergence and development of various subcultures.

Its elitist nature: Indie pop can be perceived as elitist and inaccessible to people who are not part of the subculture.
Lack of innovation: Indie pop is sometimes perceived as too self-centered and not very innovative.
Homogeneity: There is criticism that indie pop is too homogeneous and concentrates too much on certain styles and sounds.


Indie pop artists