Here’s How I-Pop Is Having Its Biggest Moment On The Internet And Dominating Everyone’s Playlist


Growing up, what music channels to tune in the morning was a heated topic at my house, as my parents always used to murmur, ‘I would never understand the kind of music this generation listens to’. And guess who used to win? Of course, my mom, who loves to play those I-pop (Indian Pop) songs like Tera Chehra by Adnan Sami, Taanha Dil by Shaan, Sawaan Me by Falguni Pathak, Ishq Tera Tadpave by Sukhbir or tunes of Alisha Chinai and Daler Mehandi and so on.

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And in reference to that scene from Easy A or Modern Family (if you know you know), I slowly started grasping these lyrics and music for quite a while.  If I recall, artists like Kailash Kher, Sonu Nigam, and Honey Singh and Euphoria were some of the biggest names making independent bangers.

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I-pop music in the early 2000s drew inspiration from a variety of global genres like pop, rock, hip-hop, and electronic music. This fusion of styles started appealing to a diverse Indian audience which contributed to the genre’s massive popularity. Independent artists’ biggest competition was Bollywood music which slowly took over major music channels like MTV, Channel V or B4U, which led a lot of these artists to start making music for the movies.

But I-pop was still alive and creating space in everyone’s playlist, be it Honey Singh’s Blue Eyes or Gajendra Verma’s Emptiness (everyone’s favourite break-up and conspiracy theory song). Many Bollywood films in the 2000s also incorporated this style of songs, blurring the lines between film music and independent pop music. This crossover exposure helped popularise pop music among mainstream audiences. Consider it a personal bias or fact that today I-pop is getting bigger and better than filmy music because every good I-pop tune has a remix in the latest movie.

A New Era

The resurgence of I-pop music in India, fuelled by artists like Diljit Dosanjh who is an unofficial face of the genre at the moment with a long list of major achievements, King, Prateek Kuhad, Dhee and more, marking a significant cultural movement in the country’s music industry. Such artists have revitalised the genre with their unique styles and innovative approaches, blending traditional elements with modern beats and international influences. I-pop often blends traditional Indian elements with modern global trends, offering a unique fusion that expands musical horizons beyond Bollywood’s typical styles.


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Giving I-pop a chance alongside Bollywood music promotes musical diversity, supports local talent, and allows for a broader cultural exchange within India and on the global stage. Remember when Prateek Kuhad broke the internet after getting featured (Cold Mess) in Obama’s year-end list or recently Shankar Mahadevan’s band Shakti winning the Best Global Music Album award at this year’s Grammys, all these achievements happened because people started looking beyond Bollywood music.

Spotify Takeover

Streaming apps play a major role in the resurgence of I-Pop because today we have people who don’t even speak the same language as Diljit dancing to his beats, same goes for Dhee. When we asked Dhruvank Vaidya, Head of Music and Podcasts, Spotify India, he shared, “I-pop music is not limited to one language or even one sound. Over the last few years, we have seen the share of artist-centric music increase on Spotify charts. For instance, insights from our wrapped data show that King’s Maan Meri Jaan was the most streamed song in India in 2023, while AP Dhillon’s ‘Excuses’ was the most streamed song in 2022. In 2019, just over 10% of the top 50 streamed songs in India were I-pop.”


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“The numbers have grown close to 50% in 2023. We have also seen I-pop artists become mainstays on Spotify charts; Anuv Jain’s song ‘Husn’, for example, spent several weeks at number one on the Spotify Weekly Top Songs India chart. Beyond this, it’s also worth noting that I-pop artists have arrived on the global stage: Diljit Dosanjh played at Coachella in 2023, and Anuv Jain played sold-out shows in the UK. We expect to see this growth continue. On our part, we are investing in supporting I-pop artists in India to help them reach a wider audience in the country and across the world.”

“At Spotify, we have ‘Spotify For Artists’, a platform that allows artists to access in-depth data about their audience, markets, music performance, discoverability, and more. We have seen artists use the platform effectively to plan concerts, initiate artist collaborations, decide set lists, and so on. Today, over 28,000 artists from India use Spotify For Artists, up 2x from last year. We encourage all artists to continue leveraging all Spotify tools as they continue making great music and growing their fan base.”

The Artist Paving the Way

Apart from Diljit, another name that pops into everyone’s mind is King, who is a fan favourite with his musical flair and earworms, has garnered a massive following on social media, especially among the youth. His fusion of lyrics with contemporary music production has brought a fresh perspective to I-pop, making it more appealing to a wider range.

When asked about his musical icons growing up, the Tu Aake Dekhle singer shared that he grew up listening to Bombay Vikings and A Band of Boys. He also explored the independent music scene, particularly enjoying the tunes of Silk Route. Adding to his mix were the iconic tracks from Shah Rukh Khan’s films, which played a significant role in shaping his musical preferences during that time.

Coming to the future of I-pop, he certainly finds the genre promising, as long as artists continue to exert the right efforts. He later adds, “It’s crucial to showcase good musical taste to expand the playlist of I-pop. Without the translation of good music, people won’t actively seek it out, given the transient nature of the industry. Music and social platforms serve as vital funnels, bridging the gap between artists and their audiences. Artists must realise that now is the time to follow their instincts and create exceptional music, as there’s a genuine hunger for it among listeners.”

“The key message I would give to the new generation of artists is don’t hesitate to release your music. Don’t get caught up in doubts about whether you’re ready or if everything is perfect. Today is what matters, and if you believe in your songs, share them with the world. Even if you lack resources for things like mixing and mastering, don’t let that hold you back.”

There’s a vast sea of artists who are trending on our for-you pages on Instagram or reel, but someone who stood out the most to the Gen Zs is Anuv Jain. There’s a lot that makes him special, many fans are drawn to Anuv Jain’s music because of his lyrics or the themes he explores in the tunes or the visuals he portrays. Whether it’s emotional depth, reliability, or storytelling, his songs often tug a heart chord.

When we sat down with Husn singer to talk about his journey, he shared, “I think it’s been bittersweet. I’ve had some beautiful highs and some terrible lows as well, both public and personal. But at the same time, I think that the one thing that I set out to do was to establish myself as a storyteller and as a songwriter. And I think people have really caught on to that and liked what I’ve written so far and the stories that I’ve told them so far. I’m just really looking forward to the next phase of my career, where I tell more stories, and hopefully, people will like those as well.”


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According to Anuv, the biggest factor that sets I-pop apart is that the characters and the artists have become one because artists are writing for themselves or making music that is based on their own stories, and they are the characters that people can follow, look up to, or connect with.”


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He thinks that this is something people like because they are now finally having these characters and artists together as one person, and it’s easier for them to know their life stories. He also stated, “The boundaries between film-centric music and I-Pop are already disappearing, and I-Pop is crossing into the mainstream. Now we have to see how much it grows and how much people like it eventually.”

As I wrote earlier, the film industry is navigating more and more towards these artists to curate the film’s discography. One such gem is Jasleen Royal, who made her TV debut on the reality show India’s Got Talent and later gained significant popularity through her work in independent music as well as Bollywood. Her compositions for films like Baar Baar Dekho, Dear Zindagi, or Hichki have been widely acclaimed and enjoyed by audiences, as well as her tunes on MTV Unplugged.


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When asked about her childhood inspiration, she shares how Lucky Ali has always been a big influence on her. “My first ever stage performance in school was a song of his called Sandesh.” Talking about I-pop she also added, “I am really enjoying this phase of my career the most so far. I feel like I’m coming into my own more and more with each independent (non-film) song I am putting out. Artists are able to create a unique expression for themselves because it gives them more freedom to be themselves and to be more experimental and authentic.”

Also read: Diljit Dosanjh’s Road To Global Stardom

- Digital Writer


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