Thanks to social media and the power of a generation that understands marketing better than any of its predecessors, pop music is free to explore new frontiers. YouTube doesn’t pick its pop stars from the Disney Channel, nor do you have to be anyone’s relative in order to get a million ears listening to your record. The best part of new indie pop is the beautiful marriage between catchy, traditional pop music and just plain weird.
The internet reveals and celebrates the hustlers of pop music, the musicians who don’t fit the mold of conventional pop music marketing schemes and have no intentions of succumbing to the formula. Here you will find mish-mashed genres and the bold statements that existed in pop music during its inception.
These five lady-lead musicians and groups are on the forefront of the newest generation of pop music. Chances are good that you’ve heard them before and don’t even know it!
First thing’s first: Alessia Cara is the pop artist you have been waiting for. This Canadian 19 year old has an understanding of her own voice that some current pop icons still struggle to grasp. Her single, “Here” used a classic Portishead instrumental to highlight her hip-hop meets pop meets soul sound. This song broke ground as an introvert’s anthem and turned Alessia Cara into a responsible, smart girl pop star that turns the experience of youth into eloquent and clear statements that appeal to pretty much everyone. She released Know-It-All last year on Def-Jam, “Here” and the accompanying tracks secure Alessia’s position as a generational spokeswoman.
Listen to Alessia Cara
Photo via Elle
If you happen to be a big fan of the Swedish version of American Idol, you may recognize Tove Styrke as the third runner up from a few years ago when she was only 16. Now, the 23-year-old is fresh off the release of her album, Kiddo, and she’s blazing a new trail through popular music that lets her do what she wants. Tove has a gritty yet soft pop style that meanders through other genres and explores the boundaries of dance-able storytelling. The reggae thump behind her electropop single “Borderline” (below) is awesome and addictive.
Listen to Tove Styrke
Photo via DN
Once grunge music died in Seattle, there were naysayers that claimed we, as a city, would never see a musical revolution again. To those who doubted us, I present to you: Tacocat, the feminist surf-pop group that makes being a chick feel like a cool punk rock slumber party. Earlier this year, their release, Lost Time, debuted to an eager and hungry indie fanbase. They delivered everything from tunes celebrating the joys of being on your period in “Crimson Wave” to a legendary hymn about life from the perspective of fellow nerd-queen, “Dana Katherine Scully.” My personal favorite is the upbeat summer jam, “I Hate The Weekend” (below).
Listen to Tacocat
Photo by Kelly O
Emilie & Ogden
The picture above shows you 100% of the members in Emilie & Ogden: Emilie Kahn and Ogden, her harp. Together, they create an extremely moody and smooth melodic pop sound that is utterly transportive. Just when you think her light, delicate voice is about to break, Emilie & Ogden swells the sound into a cinematic and orchestral mountain. The controlled shake of her vocals don’t seem like they would be able to support the amount of sound she packs into each song, but somehow each track makes perfect sense. Last year’s release, 10,000, is full of beautiful and sentimentally challenging songs like “What Happened,” and my favorite (by a hair), the title track, “Ten Thousand” (below).
Listen to Emilie & Ogden
Photo by Yani Clark
If you were wading through this list waiting for a morbidly delicious pop starlet to appear – good thing you waiting until the end because here she is. Chløë Black‘s name takes a long time to type, but I assure you that her glamorous, death-tinted pop sound is entirely worth it. She came from Australia through Paris and now resides on the beautiful west coast in California, which is perfect for her Lana Del Rey meets Adele vocals. Chløë is all about the dark imagery with an ample helping of sex while still staying a step or two above straight-up vampire. Her style is perfectly reflected both in her newest track, “Groupie,” and last year’s release, “27 Club.” Personally, I can’t resist the morbid whimsy of “Wild at Heart.”
Listen to Chløë Black
Photo via The VPME
Love indie music? Follow my Magical Indie Garbage playlist on Spotify!