Top Ten Indie Music Artists

Top Ten Popular Indie Music Artists

Here's a list of the top ten most popular Indie Music Artists in the United States as chosen by their play count and scrobbles in

Death Cab for Cutie (Source:
Death Cab for Cutie (Source:

1. Death Cab for Cutie

Death Cab for Cutie, commonly referred to as just plain old "Death Cab," is an American indie rock band from Bellingham, Washington. They were formed by lead singer Ben Gibbard in 1997, and have achieved a loyal following of hipsters and emo kids alike.

Some of their top songs are "I Will Follow You Into The Dark," "Soul Meets Body," and "Crooked Teeth."

Popular Indie Albums

  • Transatlanticism
  • Plans
  • Narrow Stairs

2. Modest Mouse

Indie rock purists will definitely scoff at Modest Mouse being labelled as indie, due to their contract with Sony. Regardless, they are still categorized as indie rock. Modest Mouse was formed in 1993 in Issaquah, Washington by Issac Brock, Jeremiah Green, and Eric Judy. Modest Mouse achieved significant mainstream appeal by including their song "Float On" with videogames such as Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Their lead singer may sound like a goat, but hey it sells.

Popular Indie Albums

  • Good News For People Who Love Bad News
  • The Lonesome Crowded West
  • We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank

Animal Collective (Source: Daniel Arnold)
Animal Collective (Source: Daniel Arnold)

3. Animal Collective

Originating from Baltimore, Maryland, Animal Collective is a new hip breed of indie rock, sometimes described as psychedellic folk or noise pop. Animal Collective's music is hard to describe as it is often experimental and changes from show to show. Some popular indie songs by Animal Collective are "My Girls," "In The Flowers," and "Summertime Clothes."

Popular Indie Albums

  • Feels
  • Sung Tongs
  • Strawberry Jam

4. The Decemberists

Formed in 2000, The Decemberists are an indie folk band hailing from Portland Orgeon. Their frontman, lead singer Colin Meloy, writes many of the band's whimsical lyrics as heard in "Here I Dreamt I Was an Architect."

Now signed to Capitol Records, The Decemberists have performed alongside the Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra and have garnered critical acclaim. Their success in the top ten popular indie artists list reflects this.

Popular Indie Albums

  • Castaways and Cutouts
  • The Crane Wife
  • Picaresque

5. The Shins

The Shins debuted in 1997 in Albuquerque, New Mexico and after their critical success with the popular indie rock album Oh, Inverted World moved to Portland, Oregon in 2002. The Shins helped popularize indie music with their "Beach Boy-esque" indie pop sound. Some popular Shins tracks are "New Slang," "Caring is Creepy," and "Australia."

Popular Indie Albums

  • Wincing the Night Away
  • Oh, Inverted World
  • Chutes Too Narrow

6. Wilco

Wilco comes from the Windy City - Chicago, Illinois.  They formed in 1993 upon the breakup of the alternative country band Uncle Tupelo.  Wilco's alternative country has touches of John Lennon and Neil Young, and is largely considered indie rock despite Wilco's relationships with major record labels.

Popular Indie Albums

  • Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
  • Sky Blue Sky
  • A Ghost Is Born

Of Montreal Leadman Kevin Barnes
Of Montreal Leadman Kevin Barnes

7. of Montreal

Contrary to their name, of Montreal is from Athens, Georgia.  Singer and leadman Kevin Barnes formed of Montreal in 1997, primarily as a Beatles cover band. Barnes began to diverge from his Beatles influence, however, with the critically acclaimed indie pop album The Gay Parade. Of Montreal is part of the Elephant Six Collective, and frequently is associated with fellow Elephant Six bands such as Elf Power and Neutral Milk Hotel. As an of Montreal fan, some songs I recommend are "The Party's Crashing Us," "Heimdalsgate Like A Promethean Curse," and "Forecast Fascist Future."

Popular Indie Albums

  • Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?
  • The Sunlandic Twins
  • Skeletal Lamping

8. Spoon

Spoon is comes from the home of George W. Bush!  Texas!  Well, Austin, Texas to be exact.  Spoon formed in 1993 and reached fame with "The Way We Get By," when it was featured on The OC.  Spoon has charmed listeners with their indie pop sound and has earned their way into this top ten indie music artist list.

Popular Indie Albums

  • Kill the Moonlight
  • Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
  • Gimme Fiction

9. Architecture in Helsinki

Architecture in Helsinki is from Melbourne, Australia and they are one of the best indie rock/pop bands out there! The band has as many as thirteen members at any given time, and are responsible for such hits as "Do The Whirlwind" and "That Beep."

Popular Indie Albums

  • In Case We Die
  • Fingers Crossed
  • Places Like This

That Beep

10. Panic at the Disco!!1!!!!!

Panic at the Disco is so good!  They are probably the most popular indie music artist in the WORLD!!!!!  My favorite song of theres is "I Write Sins Not Tragedies" it's so emotional and hardcore!!! !!!

More by this Author

Comments 26 comments

andie 7 years ago

great band all of them! I love indie music and this groups really sum up what this kind of music is about :)

panic, 7 years ago

panic at the disco is nothing without Ryan ross

indilean profile image

indilean 7 years ago from Mountain View, CA

This is an interesting topic, the nature of indie music is such that it's always changing and when one band gets signed or moves into a more corporate sound I'm not sure everyone considers them indie anymore.

Have you heard of Temple Scene? I feel like these guys are going to be the next big indie band, they already got massive exposure through a BMW ad.

Oscar Jones 6 years ago

If you like Spoon, you like Or, the whale

Will 6 years ago

Neutral Milk Hotel is where it's at. In the Aeroplane over the sea is the most classic indie album. Ever. Check it out.

Cody 6 years ago

Panic! At The Disco lolwut?

BananaWamma 6 years ago

I was completely digging all of the 1-9 love all of them, and then theres Panic! At the Disco wtf! There are bands way more deserving of that spot like Empires of the Sun or Broken Bells

:D 6 years ago


I love Panic at the disco ?

really a awesome band :D

meh 6 years ago

indie music can't really be pinned down with ten bands, there are so many different sub-genres

nekillpack profile image

nekillpack 6 years ago from Utah

love the list, everyone except for panic! where'd they come from? i'm with bananawamma on that one

6 years ago

where is MGMT??

holyshit. 6 years ago

i ROFL-ED at panic at the disco. dude,you're good.

Shay 6 years ago

Animal Collective is the best... in my opinion :)

TyJames 6 years ago


Cassidy 6 years ago

Panic at the disco?

Rafik Soughou 6 years ago

hah, like, three people got trolled by #10 so hard

[insert successfultroll.jpg here]

very clever sir, and a good list! good tidings to you

DaveysRecipeRead profile image

DaveysRecipeRead 5 years ago

Animal Collective don't break borders, they don't know what borders are. They're my choice for the band beyond all others (regardless of genre or era). Still can't believe that "safer" could be released as a "B-side" for "Peacebone" or anything else, nothing is as intense. In my opinion Animal collective cannot be matched, nonetheless a fantastic list!

fewlab 5 years ago

good bands but all this is pop not indie.

Persongirldepressed. 5 years ago

i love Foster The People so much ?

SerinaSkye profile image

SerinaSkye 5 years ago

great list, besides the obvious. nice touch.

Bradley 5 years ago

Panic at the disco... *sigh*

Lancejl 5 years ago

No. Arcade fire? Nmh?

spartucusjones profile image

spartucusjones 4 years ago from Parts Unknown

For those that are critical of the list, it is good to note that the author noted that the list was based on plays and scrobbles. So the list was based specifically on stats. That being said I am surprised that Arcade Fire's plays and scrobbles weren't enough to put them in the top 10, because they seem to have a bigger profile than some of the bands on this list.

spartucusjones profile image

spartucusjones 4 years ago from Parts Unknown

I also missed the fact that the list was posted over two years ago. But I'm still surprised that even two years that the Arcade Fire didn't have a bigger profile. Just for interest sake I checked out the current top 10 indie artist according to It is good to note that this is based on their definition of indie:

1) Florence & The Machine

2) Lana Del Ray

3) Gotye

4) Arctic Monkeys

5) Foster The People

6) Bon Iver

7) The Killers

8) Kings of Leon

9) The Strokes

10) Arcade Fire

Kevina Oyatedor profile image

Kevina Oyatedor 3 years ago

Love indie music forever. My favorites are Sleigh Bells, The Shins, The Strokes, The Killers, Kings of Leon, Foster the People, Cults, Modest Mouse and I'm looking for more music from Franz Ferdinand. Love Panic at the Disco forever, their first album A Fever You Cant Sweat is awesome.

kereeves3 profile image

kereeves3 3 years ago from Salem, OR

Gonna have to check out Architecture in Helsinki. The rest of the list is great! Pretty much some of my all time favorite bands from the last couple decades or so.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article