Wiygul: Will Indie music take over the new ‘Roaring Twenties’?


Robert Runyon [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Picture from 1921 that demonstrates the music during the peak of the "Jazz Age."

Alden Wiygul, Social Media Editor

The twenties are coming, “roaring” over the horizon as the 2010s come to an end. The past decade was full of international pop culture as the internet shaped our most memorable moments from Carly Rae Jepson’s “Call Me Maybe” to Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road.” The question now is what will be the music of this new decade?

Music has shaped society through its evolution as it influences new styles of clothing and dance with each new wave. To get one of the best examples of this, one just has to look back 100 years ago to the age of Jazz as the decade became a glittering party full of the iconic flapper dresses.

Through the thirties and forties, America was taken over by Swing and the Blues as they listened to the crooning voices of Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. Then the fifties came with the likes of Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley bringing Rock ‘N Roll and Country. Men started dressing like Elvis, and the new generation of teenagers felt freer than ever to rebel and have fun before marriage.

Minnesota Historical Society [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
The Beatles took over the culture of the sixties with the British Invasion.

The sixties, of course, brought the British Invasion as The Beatles came across the sea. The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and Aretha Franklin also made Rock ‘N Roll and Motown more popular than ever. People started to dress from British rock designer influence as turtlenecks, knee-high skirts, cheap suits and Cuban-heeled boots took over the fashion world.

Disco and R&B dominated the seventies, a flash of neon disco light and the voices of The Jackson 5, ABBA and Queen; bringing go-go boots, glam rock, bell-bottoms and afros. Music became about visual storytelling with the popularity of “Star Wars” and the new technology of the time.

In the eighties, Glam rock, Pop and Hip-Hop then reached an all-time high when Whitney Houston, David Bowie, Michael Jackson, Madonna and more added to kick off their unforgettable careers. Music influence came from the club fashion and took over in punk looks, shoulder pads and bright colors.

Nirvana, 2Pac and Notorious B.I.G brought Grunge and Rap to the nineties. Bleached hair, chains, crop tops and ripped tights became the look of the decade as the artists influenced an age of teenage rebellion. The 2000s continued with some of the same fashion, leaning more towards brighter colors as Adult Contemporary and R&B became popular with Kanye West, Beyoncé, The Killers and Coldplay.

Bleached hair, chains, crop tops and ripped tights became the look of the decade as the artists influenced an age of teenage rebellion.”

That brings us to the last decade where we became obsessed with “baddie” or “Instagram” clothing as Pop and Hip-Hop ruled our radios with influences like Ariana Grande, Rihanna, Travis Scott, Drake and Katy Perry.

As the decade closes, however, we are seeing a shift in favoritism in Pop voices towards more Alternative or Indie sounds. Some of the most popular artists now, for example, are Billie Eilish and Lana Del Ray, both of whom have more Alternative sounding voices with beats dissimilar from the calculated tunes of regular Pop music.

One of the only things that has been holding Indie music back is the lack of record labels backing them to advertise their music. That is changing now though with the reach of YouTube when it comes to things like music videos and advertisements. One of the most viewed music advertisements being Genius videos that get often obscure artists to explain their songs.

Toutiao [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
TikTok was released in 2017 in the U.S. on iOS and Android.

Tik Tok is also playing a huge part in reaching new audiences, launching songs like “Old Town Road” into fame almost immediately.

A majority of the songs gaining popularity are ones with unique lyrics which are mostly Indie or Alternative songs that seek to tell stories. On this platform where anything can become “viral” in a short amount of time, the video takes its songs to hit status alongside it as people reuse the sound in an attempt to recreate the popularity of the original video.

Artists of this new age, especially self-produced ones like Indie artists, know how to best utilize the internet and social media to grow their follows and listens. It has become a game of playing the viewers and whoever can win is going to influence the culture of this new decade.

Vedran Metelko [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The Arctic Monkeys are an example of a popular mainstream Indie Rock band.

I think that as the twenties approach, Indie and Alternative music will continue to take over. With music and even style influence as teens search for a way to stand out in this age of social media. We can already see that in the emergence of e-culture through Tik Tok.

The true answer to the question of what is next, however, will not come until almost the end of the decade. Despite the leanings towards Indie and Alternative influence, we can never predict what new artists will appear in these next ten years. We can only hope that whatever comes next will be as impactful as the music and style from the “Roaring Twenties.”