Independent.

My fiance and I went to go see The Twilight Saga: Eclipse the other day.  Our current situation has us living with his parents in Salt Lake City.  We are foreign to it’s activities and have yet to discover how to fill our time.  It is a month long stay en route to Davis, California.  Too little time to find jobs and too large of an amount of time to simply hole up.  Though neither one of us are fans of these movies, we have seen every one hoping that next might be slightly more entertaining.  In all honesty, what is most entertaining about the movies are their soundtracks.  In my opinion.  I am sure my fiance would say that there is nothing entertaining about them.  Period.

The first movie’s soundtrack was a mix between main stream rock and some alt-rock indie bands.  Even though bands like Paramore and Muse had a following, they were not quite as commercially known until after the release of the vampire love story.  New Moon’s soundtrack dug a bit deeper into the independent underground and managed to score as it’s theme a ballad from Death Cab for Cutie.  Eclipse’s soundtrack was dubbed by one of my friends as “indie heaven” with artists such as Band of Horses, Metric, Bat for Lashes and Vampire Weekend.

This description of “indie heaven” got me thinking about what it means to be “indie”.  It is easy to determine that “indie” is shorthand for independent.  I believe the original objective that the term had was to define the type of music.  It was independently produced.  Or on a relatively small label.  However, I think that the term to describe the production of music has become a sort of label on how individuals behave, or in essence live.  It has become “scene”.  Or in other words, a specific lifestyle.  These bands produce the sound that is the soundtrack to that lifestyle.  Those who belong to the scene dress and act and behave a certain way.  It definitely helps solidify the notion that music is extremely influential on how people view not only themselves, but the world around them.

This notion can only make sense to a certain point.  What happens, then, when these songs and these bands become part of mainstream culture?  The examples I lift up are the The Twilight Saga’s soundtracks.  At work, I was one of two people who knew the band Death Cab for Cutie.  After New Moon, and the radio friendly “Meet Me on the Equinox,” I was no longer one of two, but one of several.  The same occurred with Paramore’s rise to fame after Twilight’s release.  It makes me question:  when does scene become mainstream?  And here is the real paradox, if mainstream is “indie”, shouldn’t we classify it all as “pop” (from the assumed definition that “pop” is referring to popular culture)?  Or can that happen?

Mainstream and popular culture has always garnered success by pointing to things and saying, “you should like this.”  But when someone stops pointing, and individuals stop listening, the disintegration of popular culture is inevitable.  With the ability to create and find thousands upon thousands of new things (thanks to the ever expanding technological world we live in), we each choose how to define ourselves.  When there is no one stating “this is the way”, there can no longer be a fracture on what is popular and what is independent.  Mainstream is scene, and scene is independent, therefore mainstream is independent.  But how can it be independent if it is what everyone else is doing, thinking, saying, and listening to?  A conundrum.

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