Although some music fans have long been keen to disregard indie as an individual music genre and instead see it, in its plainest sense, as a classification for music produced independently, indie has largely held a position distinct from the popular. Arguably, indie music was most prominent in the public eye in the nineties with the likes of industry giants Oasis and Blur, but it seems we might have been witnessing its mainstream revival in recent times. Rhianna Greensmith explores this topic for Impact Magazine.
North Shields singer-songwriter Sam Fender is perhaps the biggest indie name at the tip of everyone’s tongues right now. The indie rocker rose to stardom when his 2019 debut ‘Hypersonic Missiles’ secured a number one in the UK Official Albums Chart. Fast forward to last year, his release of second number one album ‘Seventeen Going Under’ accelerated his popularity beyond question.
Lead single Seventeen Going Under peaked at number three in the UK Singles Chart, and now Fender’s politically charged guitar music can be heard frequently on mainstream radio stations such as Capital FM.
Long-established indie rock group The Wombats also recently achieved their first number one album
But could TikTok be responsible for casting indie back into the spotlight? Long-established indie rock group The Wombats also recently achieved their first number one album with their 2022 offering ‘Fix Yourself, Not the World’. Even if this commercial success was well overdue (two of their previous albums peaked at number three), the band’s stint of popularity on video-sharing app TikTok last year certainly seems to have aided their triumph. The Oliver Nelson remix of 2015 song Greek Tragedy went viral on the platform, its use in over 430,000 videos creating quite the hype about the band and, consequently, broadening their fanbase.
Furthermore, pop-sensation Taylor Swift had her stab at the ‘much cooler’ indie records she sang of in ‘Red’ era track We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together with albums ‘Folklore’ and ‘Evermore’. On these albums she invited the collaboration of several indie names including indie-folk group Bon Iver, the HAIM sisters and The National, casting them into the mainstream like they had never been before. More recently, her collaboration with Motion Sickness singer Phoebe Bridgers on the ‘Red (Taylor’s Version)’ hit Nothing New put even the casual listener onto Swift’s more melancholic counterpart.
it seems undeniable that the distinction between popular and indie has been greatly minimised in recent times
Regardless of whether indie is resurfacing in the mainstream due to the influence of TikTok, or from the help of pop industry giants like Swift, it seems undeniable that the distinction between popular and indie has been greatly minimised in recent times.
Whether this revival is indie having another mainstream moment or more a sign of a permanent change to the industry still remains uncertain, but it seems indie is in for at least another year of commercial success.
In-article image courtesy of @wombatsofficial via @instagram.com. No changes were made to this image.
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