‘For as long as I’ve been paying attention to such things, I’ve heard — and rolled my eyes at — proclamations that a given cultural entity is “dead.” Is indie rock dead? Is punk dead? Is rock itself dead? Is criticism dead? Most of the time, “dead” is code for “irrelevant,” and relevance tends to reside squarely in the eye of the beholder. If you’re bored with something, or if it benefits you in some way to proclaim something irrelevant, then you’re infinitely likelier to proclaim its death than you’d be if you were coming in fresh. You and I aren’t in a position to proclaim indie rock dead, but we can acknowledge that it’s splintered to a point where the term has lost much of its meaning or value.
Finally, I’d encourage anyone and everyone to push back against blanket dismissals of “bland Top 40 drivel.” Just as indie rock now includes music that’s found mainstream success, music with major distribution, and music that doesn’t rock, the Top 40 includes music that’s often inventively recorded, beautifully produced, emotionally stirring, and hard to resist. We’re bound to stumble across genius where we expect to find drivel, and vice versa.’