10 Indie Musicians Who Would Make Great Pop Stars


Ariel Pink’s new album Mature Themes is out this week, and it’s as strange and idiosyncratic as ever, mixing killer pop songs and curious whimsy in roughly equal measures. Pink’s more pop-tastic moment have always led us to think that somewhere inside him was/is a huge international pop star just waiting to get out. (Whether Pink is inclined to let this inner pop star out is, of course, another matter entirely.) Anyway, either way, hearing Mature Themes got us thinking about other indie types who, in an ideal world, could/should be chart-destroying megastars. The lines are blurrier than ever these days, of course, and there have been plenty of genuine crossover acts drawn from the ranks of the indie world, if that term even means anything in 2012 — M83, Feist, even (whisper it quietly) Bon Iver. Who might be next? Read on.

Ariel Pink

So, first, Ariel Pink. Even in his early days, when his recordings sounded like they were made in a truck stop bathroom, Pink was a pop star in waiting — beneath the (very) rough production, his songs were little lo-fi pop gems, and when things work out, he’s a charismatic and engaging performer. When they don’t… um, well, the results can be unpredictable.

Angel Haze

Yes, all aboard the Angel Haze bandwagon — we’re kinda stating the obvious here, but if she’s not massive by about this time next year, there’s something very wrong with the world.


You could argue that EMA’s too serious to be a pop singer, and strictly, you’d be right — she’s got far more in the way of lyrical substance and general wherewithal than your average chart pop moppet. But that’s really just an indictment on the state of chart pop today, and it doesn’t have to be that way. In an ideal world, there’s no reason why EMA shouldn’t be a huge star — she’s charismatic, talented, and a pretty fantastic performer.

Zola Jesus

Like EMA, Nika Danilova doesn’t hide behind a battery of synths or producer-y anonymity — she’s front and center, a striking presence with a voice that sounds like pretty much no one else. With her vocals and her charisma, the idea clearly appeals to her, but as ever, she’s doing things on her own terms. Bravo.


In our book, anyway, mad keytar skillz = guaranteed pop star cred.

Kevin Barnes

The fact that of Montreal have never quite broken out of the devoted-but-relatively-small-fanbase ghetto into mainstream stardom suggests that the world is not, and perhaps never will be, ready for Georgie Fruit and/or songs with long names that reference Greek mythology. It’s a shame, though, because Barnes is every bit as engaging and flamboyant a performer as yr Lady Gagas, etc.

Patrick Wolf

Likewise Patrick Wolf, who even in the allegedly tolerant 21st century is perhaps too “flamboyant” for his own good as far as connecting with the general public goes. Sigh.

Bosco Delrey

We’re not exactly big Diplo fans here at Flavorpill, but he’s onto a winner with Mad Decent’s resident “garbage can Elvis.” Delrey’s schtick falls somewhere between Jon Spencer and the real Elvis, although his music makes concessions to the 21st century (like the beat on the above track, for instance). He’s been tipped for the last couple of years but never quite arrived — still, there’s plenty of time for that.


OK, so this is very much already happening — Grimes is appearing on the cover of fashion magazines, selling a shitload of records, and generally ruling 2012. Whether she makes the leap from “artist most likely to” to “artist who actually did” will be interesting to see.

Jens Lekman

We heart Jens. One day we will live in a world where he rules the charts and is a super international megastar. One day.