Identify this pop music style

I don’t keep up with pop music lately because it’s all crap, but lately I noticed a particular trend and wondered if it had a name. Here’s a fairly representative sample called Fireflies (youtube video).

So what we have here is a breathy style that is hyper-enunciated to the point that it’s overdone. When it’s a male singer it sounds a little twee. Also interesting is there’s zero trace of the standard rock-southern accent that inevitably seems to creep into pop music no matter where the singer is actually from. The subject matter is inevitably tame or upbeat. It seems like this guy is trying really, really, hard to emulate some form, but it’s hard to put a name on it because it’s a form that tries hard to be bland and inoffensive.

So, any takers? What is this craparoni?

I don’t have a sensible answer for you, but that particular song (it’s Owl City, yes? I haven’t clicked the link) reminds me terribly - and I do stress terribly - of a neutered, beaten, kept-in-a-cellar Postal Service.

I just think it’s particularly bad indie electro-pop. I think you could argue it’s the more bedwetter, less histrionic end of emo, if you had a mind to. Actually, how about bedwetter emo? And yes, it is terrible pap.

I’m not sure why you are so interested in a music genre you don’t care for, but I’ll try.

The band (really one dude) you are referring to is called “Owl City”. They style or genre can be described as a form of “Indie Rock”. Specifically, I would describe it as “Synthpop” or “Indie Electronic”.

The characteristics of this genre is that it combines elements of non-traditional rock and electronica. Instruments like synthesizer keyboards and other electronic effects are used with light, almost “precious” vocals to create a sort of artsy, electronic sound that isn’t quite as hard as other Indie Rock genres like Garage Rock or Punk/New Wave Revival and yet is softer and more emotionally evocative than traditional Electronica genres like Trance or Drum & Bass.

Sort of like Death Cab for Cutie having a retarded baby with DJ Tiesto.

A band with a similar style would be The Postal Service.

What do we call Postal Service?

I was tempted to say ‘emo’ except I still don’t really get what that is. Some tool trying to seem sensitive without any depth at all?

I can’t very well make bigoted complaints about it if I don’t know what it’s called, now can I?

Indie rock has been around for decades before it sounded like this… was hoping for a little more modern, specific label. This stuff can’t even stand in the same room as Punk or New Wave.

From an SDMB point of view, the most interesting thing about that video is the sinister arrival of the radio controlled blimp at 2:35.

They’re generally referred to as Indie Electronic. And I actually like both bands, but then I like a lot of underground synthpop that people would consider crap. Owl City leans a little too pop for my tastes most of the time, but it’s got some catchy melodies and I really like “Fireflies”.

Generally, I think msmith537 nailed it with this one:

My understanding of “Emo” from Allmusic and Wikipedia is that it is essentially a more artsy and histronic variation of Pop Punk (ie Blink 182 or Green Day). Examples would be Panic! At The Disco and My Chemical Romance, although they both refuse to be categorized as Emo. Ironically, this only makes them more emo.

Not Sex Pistols or The Clash “Punk” or The Smiths or The Police “New Wave”.
I generally consider Indie Rock to be from the past decade. Anything from the 90s I consider “Alternative Rock”. Prior to 1991 I consider it “College Rock”.

I think this guy and the douchetet " Plain White Ts" should all take a camping trip, “Deliverance” style. Maybe toughen them up a little.

These classifications are really just a terminology treadmill resulting from non-mainstream artists trying to stay ahead of corporate record labels co-opting their genre. To my memory, what you call “College Rock” was actually called “progressive” in its heyday. Then the record companies startied producing “progressive rock” and “progressive pop”, then progressive renamed itself “alternative”, and of course the corporations co-opted that in a big way, taking us through “indie” and to the present moment. I guess I had not realized that the co-opting of “indie” was well underway and nearly mainstream at this point.

Nirvana -> Live -> Bush -> Goo Goo Dolls -> Creed -> Nickleback -> Daughtry
Sex Pistols -> The Clash -> The Ramones -> Green Day -> Blink 182 -> Fall Out Boy

“Indie Rock” was heavily in use by 1995. By that time, “Alternative” had been considered coopted (this can probably be pinpointed to 1991, with the release of “Out of Time” and “Nevermind”). I first heard the term applied to the lo-fi movement, with the major bands of the genre including Pavement, Guided by Voices, and Sebadoh.

I’m not sure if this is really an actual style or genre, or if it’s basically just confined to Owl City.

I am tempted to apply the term “Crap-Pop” to this but it is so damned catchy.

But then, so was “Billy Don’t Be a Hero”.

To be fair, I’d rearrange the first part of the punk timeline thusly:

Ramones/Johnny Thunders’ Heartbreakers → The Clash/Sex Pistols → Green Day…

It’s not just Owl City.

I, who haven’t given a shit about pop music since 1994, really like Fireflies. It’s pansy, but it’s awfully catchy.


You used the word twee and according to this Wiki article it is an acknowledged pop genre.

As far as I can see the difference seems to be "jangly guitars’ vs. electronica. Does that count as a different genre?

I haven’t heard any of this stuff so I can’t claim any expertise on this.