Pop artistscrafted in indie's clothinghave essentially two missions: cater to people who love pop and can't be bothered to really explore the indie scene and at the same time justify the love for a pop song in indie people craving for "guilty" pleasures. Personal tastes aside, why is Bjork perceived as indie and why Lana Del Rey is not if they both are popular singers who are distributed bymajorsand employ dozens of producers to make an album? And why Jay-Z becomes Art if he raps around a gesticulating Marina Abramovićand suddenly not if she's not there anymore?

He's still selling the same mainstream rap songs in both cases.


Originality is not the answer, as any fan of Kate Bush will be willing to explain. Association is the real key: by connecting and working with less gentrified figures in the music biz, Bjork gained the respect Del Rey partly lost as soon as tweeters found out about her previous, more commercially-oriented flop debut. It shouldn't make any difference in choosing and it doesn't automatically put an album above another, as both have to go through the same process for approval from an established label before a release. As an example, Bjork's recent VR exhibition in London was eagerly awaited in the art circles but as The Telegraph pointed out ,it turned out to be "essentially a glorified album promotion".

A more self-conscious artist in this sense is Kylie Minogue. After re-emerging to pop stardom in 2001 from a turbulent indie period she boldly declared "Pop is not a dirty word", hitting atpop's misguided sense of inferiority and need to re-qualify in art's, or at least indie's clothes.

Pop(ular) misconceptions

The search of what is truly original and what is derivative in mainstream music is faulted as it's forgetful of the fundamental truth in pop that nothing can be invented and all can be transformed.

pop music only absorbs soundsthat come from somewhere else; for how edgy they seem, they are inevitably a "tired" trend from some other independent wave. Thinking of pop as the originator is also defective because it redirects the value of the product to the possible intents of its creator and denies the ultimate (and noble) goal of any commercial opera: pleasing its audience, directly and on the spot.

There is no possibility this can be sacrificed to the altar of one "artist" vision, which can only be validated if it'sobliging to the rule. The case of Prince publicly rebelling to the supposed major's "slavery" shows how it's more probable to lose the viability to an audience than gaining support for total artistic control.

Chance The Rapper is another original who understood this when he refused a major's contract to release his stellar mixtape"The Coloring Book." If it's true that art is subjective it is also true that pop music thinks in numbers. It happens that something subjective ends up making the numbers, often opening a new current for other pop artists to exploit, but it's plain naive to think that numbers are ever neglectedfor subjectivity in pop - Bjork or not Bjork.