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by Rachel Devitt

October 17, 2012

Pop Outliers

by Rachel Devitt  |  October 17, 2012

Pop music history is one of extremes: On one hand, this is a genre driven by the desire to appeal to the broadest cross-section, the widest swath of the population. On the other, that population and the pop stars who cater to it are perpetually on the hunt for the next big thing. So pop music's history can also be told as a story of boundary-pushers, game-changers, weirdos and outliers -- the Little Richards, the Princes, the David Bowies, the Cyndi Laupers, the Bjorks and the Cee-Los who dared to try a different direction, who let their freak flag fly, who pushed against the parameters of both pop music and pop stardom until they created space for themselves.

We're in the thick of one of those battle of extremes right now. It seems as though everyone and her sister is gaga for electronic dance music, which means much of the pop chart is coated in familiar-sounding big beats, sleek styles and silky vocals. But opening those doors has also made room for some of the more far-flung factions of EDM and electro-pop to come in. And while we've got it open, we just decided to throw a big old freaky party of weirdos, avant-R&B singers and indie-pop ingenues, folk-pop anachronists and globe-trotting hip-hop bohemians. On the guest list? Among others, Gotye, Robyn, Dragonette, Mumford & Sons, Miguel, Frank Ocean, M.I.A., Mika and Ellie Goulding, the last two of which have brand-new albums out. In honor of pop's new oddballs and its history of strange birds, we put together this little playlist of outliers past and present. Get freaky with us!

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