Does indie music have a mainstream moment?

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Rhianna Greensmith

Although some music fans have long wanted to ignore indie as an individual musical genre and instead see it, in its simplest sense, as a classification of independently produced music, indie has largely held a separate position from popular. Arguably, indie music was most prominent in the public eye in the 90s with industry giants Oasis and Blur, but it seems we’ve been able to witness its mainstream revival lately. Rhianna Greensmith explores this topic for Impact Magazine.

North Shields singer-songwriter Sam Fender is perhaps the biggest indie name on the tip of anyone’s tongue right now. The indie rocker shot to fame when his 2019 debut album ‘Hypersonic Missiles’ hit number one on the UK Official Albums Chart. Fast forward to last year, her release of the second number one album “Seventeen Going Under” accelerated her popularity without a doubt.

First single seventeen below peaked in third place UK Singles Chartand now Fender’s politically charged guitar music can be heard frequently on mainstream radio stations such as Capital FM.

Long-established indie rock band The Wombats also recently achieved their first number one album.

But could TikTok be responsible for putting indie back in the spotlight? Long-established indie rock band The Wombats also recently achieved their first number-one album with their 2022 offering “Fix Yourself, Not the World.” While this commercial success was long overdue (two of their previous albums peaked at number three), the group’s popularity on video-sharing app TikTok last year certainly seems to have contributed to their triumph. Oliver Nelson’s remix of the 2015 song Greek tragedy went viral on the platform, its use in more than 430,000 videos creating quite a hype around the band and, as a result, expanding their fan base.

Additionally, pop sensation Taylor Swift got her stab at the “much cooler” indie records she sang in the era track “Red.” We’ll never get back together with the albums ‘Folklore’ and ‘Evermore’. On these albums, she invited collaboration from several indie names, including indie-folk band Bon Iver, the HAIM sisters and The National, throwing them into the mainstream like they had never been before. More recently, his collaboration with Travel sickness singer Phoebe Bridgers on hit ‘Red (Taylor’s Version)’ Nothing new put even the casual listener on Swift’s more soulful counterpart.

it seems undeniable that the distinction between popular and indie has been greatly downplayed lately

Regardless of whether indie is resurfacing into the mainstream due to the influence of TikTok or the help of pop industry giants like Swift, it seems undeniable that the distinction between popular and indie has been greatly reduced in recent times.

Whether this revival will be indie having another mainstream moment or more of a sign of permanent change in the industry is still unclear, but it looks like indie is in for at least another year of commercial success.

Rhianna Greensmith


Image courtesy of Raph_PH via Flickr. Image license found here. No changes have been made to this image.

Image in article courtesy of @wombatsofficial via @instagram.com. No changes have been made to this image.

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