Indie pop genre losing originality, novelty

By Managing Editor

Experimental pop artist Grimes has been steadily rising in the ranks of pop music since the 2012 release of her critically acclaimed album, Visions.

Hipsters praised Grimes for her unique sound that combined elements of art pop, witch house, electro-R&B and dark wave. Her music brought something new to a genre oversaturated with bubblegum pop and club beats.

However, one of her newest songs “Flesh without Blood,” released Oct. 26, is not living up to her hype. 

The song serves as the first taste of what’s to come in Grimes’ upcoming album Art Angels, due digitally Nov. 6. “Flesh without Blood” is an upbeat, energetic pop-punk track featuring Grimes’ dark themes and vocals over a clearly defined chorus, offering a more pop approach to her music than some may be used to, but it’s still the same old Grimes.

Indie blogs like StereoGum criticized the track for sounding like a “straight-up pop song.”

The thing is, “Flesh without Blood” would not have sounded like any pop song released five years ago when electro-dance pop acts like Ke$ha and Lady Gaga reigned supreme.

Following the peak of a heavily commercialized pop music scene around 2011 in which big names, over-the-top productions and multi-million dollar investments defined the genre, listeners seemed to start wanting something different. Indie experimental artists like Lana Del Rey emerged as some of pop’s most noteworthy acts in recent years. These artists’ new approach to creating pop music was refreshing to those tired of the former scene.

Naturally, it did not take long for commercial artists to tap into these sounds to maintain success, with artists like Taylor Swift—whose multi-platinum album 1989 draws inspiration from indie acts like HAIM, Lana Del Rey and CHVRCHES—coming to mind as one of the most prominent examples.

Indie artists introducing new approaches to creating pop music are the reason artists like Carly Rae Jepsen—who scored a No. 1 hit in 2012 with the manufactured, bubblegum pop anthem “Call Me Maybe”—can come back with experimental pop anthems like those featured on her newest album, Emotion, and find continued success.

Because of this, indie pop artists have lost their appeal. They’re sounding less original and more generic, but it’s not entirely their fault.

It is not that indie artists like Grimes are becoming less interesting or selling out—it’s that commercial artists are stealing their musical styles and using their status to propel them into the mainstream.

As the indie pop phase of music seems to be peaking due to overexposure, it is time for listeners to turn their ears in a new direction to determine pop’s next big trend.