The rise of indie

From heartbreak songs by Khalid to feel good songs by Billie Eilish, the possibilities for us to feel connected to music are endless. Each person has that one song he or she listens to on repeat when feeling happy, sad, or stressed; there’s a song out there for every occasion. But many of our music choices tend to be based on popularity. When we want to find something new, we head to the “Top 50” or “Viral 50” on Spotify, or we simply hear new songs on the radio.

In the past, those songs have often fallen under genres like rap and R&B, from popular artists such as Post Malone, Kendrick Lamar, Drake, and Kanye West. But underneath all the attention on rap and R&B music, many hardly have the chance to encounter other genres.

However, over the past few years, growing numbers of teenagers have flocked to the indie music scene. Artists such as Jeremy Zucker, LANY, Stella Donnelly, Billie Eilish and The 1975 now hit top charts right alongside mainstream rap and pop, despite having been around for a long time without as much mainstream popularity. The indie band LANY has been around since 2014, yet they only started getting recognition after their song ILYSB (I Love You So Bad) became a hit at 14 million streams back in early 2017.

In the last three years, singer-songwriter Billie Eilish has helped change the game for indie artists. She has reached the Billboard top charts, sold millions of tickets, and collaborated with artists such as Khalid and Vince Staples. She wrote her top song, “Ocean Eyes,” when she was only 13 years old and released her debut EP at 15 years old.

From experience, the explanation for this indie phenomenon could be its versatile yet relaxing vibe, which sets it apart from other genres. For example, indie music can be calming as a background noise for getting ready in the morning or doing homework. On the other hand, indie “sad songs” about breakups and heartbreak can be more upbeat than songs by artists like Drake and Kanye West. As a teenager, I have found that in just the past few months my own taste in music has evolved to lean toward indie artists. Rather than filling my playlists with Drake, I listen to “Boys Will Be Boys” by Stella Donnelly while doing everyday tasks like homework and “Hericane” by LANY while I walk to school.

We all are constantly looking for new song suggestions from our friends and get bored of the same bands and artists after a while. Discovering new music gives teenagers room to connect to different artists and relate their music to their own lives.



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