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by Rachel Devitt

September 27, 2011


When Pop Stars Go Underground: Mainstream Hits With Indie-Leaning Samples

by Rachel Devitt  |  September 27, 2011

Last year, a young pop-R&B upstart named Jason Derulo burst onto the scene with a song called "Whatcha Say." The song became a huge hit partially due to Derulo's smooth, deliciously desperate hangdog crooning and the shiny, pitter-pattering beats, of course, but primarily because of the song's dramatic, surprising sample. Culled from "Hide and Seek," a track by a British indie-pop artist named Imogen Heap with a reputation for making avant-garde, often strange electro-pop, the song became the latest example of a growing trend: mainstream pop and hip-hop artists digging into the indie world for unexpected, underground sample material. The resulting singles have not only given those pop stars massive hits, but helped break indie artists into the mainstream, introducing them to audiences who may not have discovered them otherwise. Kid Cudi sampled St. Vincent. Beyoncé's "Girls" was built on a Major Lazer track. And then there's Kanye, the king of the crate-diggers. Take a stroll down the oft-crossed line between the mainstream and indie-pop worlds with our When Pop Stars Go Underground playlist.

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