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by Justin Farrar

March 24, 2014

Is It Rock, Indie or Pop?

by Justin Farrar  |  March 24, 2014

Let's get something straight: The mixing and matching of genres really is nothing new. After all, the pioneers of rock 'n' roll were musical polyglots who created an entire youth movement by fusing together a dizzying number of older genres. Over the last couple of years, however, a new crop of artists has emerged, one whose mixing and matching skills are so highly evolved and seemingly second nature that its music defies any and all attempts at tidy classification.

Indeed, the very thing that unites acts as seemingly diverse as Imagine Dragons, Lorde, Bastille and Haim is their unique ability to occupy the rock, indie and pop genres simultaneously. To look at it another way, it's almost as if these thoroughly 21st-century acts have fully internalized the logic behind digital-based graphic design. The pop song form, to them, is more like a blank template, onto which just about any conceivable style (from emo and R&B to folk and hip-hop) can be cut, copied and pasted into a seemingly infinite number of configurations or patterns. It's still too early to determine whether this represents a profound shift in music production. Don't forget: Pop is a fickle beast capable of rejecting trends just as easily as it embraces them. Still, this is one trend that's growing only more potent by the month.

In addition to the artists mentioned above, my playlist contains key cuts from like-minded artists A Great Big World, Young the Giant, Sleeper Agent and The Neighbourhood. But I also spotlight a small handful of the artists whom I believe helped pave the way for them. They include the likes of Gwen Stefani, Fall Out Boy, Coldplay, Arcade Fire and Maroon 5. Enjoy!

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