First thing first, let’s not confuse Indi-pop with Indie-Pop. Indie Pop is originated from the British where the musicians in the 70’s infused Guitar pop and Do It Yourself Ethics. Whereas Indi-Pop in Indian Popular Music Culture had its own set of a golden era in 90’s & the early 2000s. It is also called Hindi-Pop. Can you name a few best Indi-pop singers from the 90’s? Well, we will, in detail.
Nobody can deny that Indian Pop culture had its best time in 90’s with some beautiful songs like Tanha Dil, Deewana, in fact, Daler Mehendi Paaji’s ‘Bolo Tara Ra Ra’. But let’s go deeper now?
What Is Indi-Pop?
Alright, we all have heard this term Indi-Pop, at least we have an idea of it. But, what exactly is Indi-Pop? Indi-Pop is Indian Independent Pop Music where loads and loads independent artists, without any long term contract of record labels, made music, sold their cassettes in 90’s, later CDs, and also MTV India & Channel V had a big role to play to uplift the culture.
It’s a pop culture that is non-dependent on films, which eventually got subsided by the pressure of the film-song culture in the mid-2000s.
Indian Independent Pop has given us loads and loads of beautiful songs and artists. We are soon going to talk about that, but before that, we must understand the rise & fall of Indi-Pop, as well as the reincarnation of Indi-Pop after 2014.
Indi-Pop, which slowly became a culture had nourished our music industry with amazingly beautiful songs. Each artist became a prominent part of the culture and uplifted it.
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The Rise Of Indi-pop :
There’s no debate that Indi-pop started with the hands of Pakistani singer-composer Biddu who already had success in the west with his rocking music albums. The movement started in the late 1980s. It’s okay if you don’t have any clue that who Biddu is, it is natural. He had sung the iconic ‘Baat Ban Jaaye’ song from the movie Qurbani. We are sure you all have heard it at some point of time in life. Also, the most iconic song with Aisha Chinai was Made In India, which is still an iconic song in the history of Indi-pop music. Biddu was indeed a pioneer.
Well, it was just the start, but when it was mid 90’s, already Indi-pop had reached its heights with artists like Usha Uthhup, Sharon Prabhakar, Daler Mehendi, Baba Sehgal, KK, Shaan, Sonu Nigam, Lucky Ali, Shweta Shetty, Bombay Vikings, Euphoria and a lot more. It was by far the best era for independent music scenario in the country where without internet, they sold millions of copies of their albums in cassettes, and later in CDs. There was no Jio, no WiFi, but still, their music had and still has the reach to touch so many hearts.
In the late 90’s, the launch of MTV India & Channel V gave a good push to Indi-pop music where most of the airtime was taken by independent artists, there was no grasp of Bollywood over Indi-pop yet. Artists like Alisha Chinai, Lesli Lewis, Mehnaz, Silk Route were also taking limelight all across the country. Later on, some of the iconic singers have moved to playback singing in Bollywood, and most of them are disappeared. The legendary Lucky Ali is now no more in the scene, as he said, he can’t sell his talent to the record labels. Even their songs have not been around, it is still in every 90’s born’s Playlist.
It also proves, if you work hard enough to touch people’s hearts, you will be remembered even after 25 years in spite of not dropping a single album. Well, ‘not dropping a single album’ is not something of glory but utter sadness. Talking about the sadness, let’s move on to the fall of Indi-Pop.
The Fall Of Indi-pop :
So when we start talking about the fall of Indi-Pop, we must mention the main reasons for the fall. Were the artists lured by Bollywood? Were the grasped by labels? What about them who stood their dignity? We will talk about all.
Mostly, the artists who witnessed this 90’s era, as well as the swift grasp of Bollywood, don’t only blame Bollywood. They equally blame the labels who played an evil role in monetizing the artistry of the artists and make business, as well as the mindset of people that time due to the epic rise of Indi-pop artists like Shaan, KK, Baba Sehgal, Euphoria and more. What wrong with the mindset?
People all across the nation wanted their sons and daughters to become Pop-stars! They were ready to pay lakhs (Lakhs, twenty years back was a huge deal) to achieve the goal. Labels utilized this opportunity to make business.
The worst thing which happened, which is also debatable if it was worst or best, was the internet. Many artists had fury in their mind because before even their albums used to launch, all the songs were made available online on the internet. It devastated the market of the music album. Many stores that used to sell Music CDs were shut slowly, steadily.
Bollywood was the only getaway for the artists who wanted to be in the scene, so they started doing Playback singing for movies. Shaan, KK, Mohit Chauhan, Sunidhi Chauhan, and more artists were soon signed by the label. There are some rebels who were not ready to sell their dignity at all, like Lucky Ali, Sonu Nigam, KK. And with a heavy heart, we miss all of them.
Let’s get into names now. Subir Malik, the Manager of the band Silk Route who made Dooba Dooba Rehta Hoon, said that labels were producing a lot of not-so-good-stuff purely for money. Soon, the music industry became a big shot business. So Live Shows were the only savior for Independent artists. Aryans- the band (Aankhon mein tera hi chehra) said the same story with agony. So either be grasped by Bollywood or slowly become obsolete.
Like there were rebels who were headstrong, there were some smart minds like Leslie Lewis who created songs like Pari Hoon Main, collaborated with Hariharan & his band Colonial Cousins, and made iconic songs like Pal with KK. Why smart? He adapted these circumstances into his favor. For him, Indi-Pop had a severe death.
Rahul Ram said Bollywood is a huge monster that eats everything.
Music channels also played a big role in the fall of Indi-pop, as they swiftly shifted to Music Reality Shows. It somehow subsided the chances of revival of Indi-pop. Well, the channels were there to make business.
When we have talked about the rise & fall of Indi-Pop, it’s time we discover some of the best Indi-pop singers from the 90’s & best Indi-pop songs from the 90’s. We are curating a few of the gems amongst thousands, so if your favorite song is not here, it doesn’t mean it’s not our favorite.
Also, we are going to tell you some amazing trivia’s about the songs and the artists which you will absolutely love. Starting with the best Indi-pop songs from the 90’s, we will move on to the best Indi-pop singers from the 90’s and some trivia.
15 Best Indi-pop Songs From The 90’s :
As we have already said, if your favorite song is not on the list, it doesn’t mean that it is not our favorite. We are just curating a few gems from the ocean of thousands. Ready to catch some nostalgia?
1. Deewana Tera – Sonu Nigam :
‘Deewana, Main Hoon Deewana Tera.. Mausam Hain Mastana, Uspe Dil Deewana, Deewana Tera!’
Doesn’t it take to you through a whole lot of nostalgia? Deewana tera was the title song of the Album Deewana, of course, who else but our Sonu Nigam. This was a late 90’ release, 1999 to be precise. Who did the music? The very Dabangg music duo Sajid – Wajid. And the beautiful lyrics are written by Faiz Anwar.
The same Album had the soulful songs like Ab Mujhe Raat Din, Iss Kadar Pyar Hai Tumse and more.
Be it where ever you are in the world, this song has the power to stir some nostalgia in your heart immediately. This had to be the top mention in the list of best Indi-pop songs of the 90’s.
2. O Sanam – Lucky Ali :
‘O Sanam, teri Yaadon ki kasam!’
You will be lying if you heard this song in your life and didn’t hum the above line when you read it. The magic of Lucky Ali is prominent. He is one of the biggest pop stars our country has ever had. This song was a part of the album ‘Sunoh’. A typical Lucky Ali album name.
What’s special apart from its beautiful lyrics and melody? This song had the nomination of the International viewer’s choice award for MTV India. And that was huge in 1996.
The songwriters are Lucky Ali himself and Syed Aslam Noor. Undoubtedly, they had created magic.
‘Shaam Sawere teri yaadein aati hai’ can still lit up a smile in our faces when this songs suddenly plays on the streaming platforms. It is that pure.
3. Purani Jeans Aur Guitar – Ali Haider :
Purani Jeans aur Guitar, Mohalle ki woh Chhat aur mere yaar..
One of the most iconic songs of 90’s by Ali Haider and his team. This song is still celebrated amongst friends and often this song brings nostalgia for many memories with hour friends. 90’s kids who are not apparently kids anymore, will understand and feel each and every word of these songs.
This song itself speaks about thinking of the old times with friends, and even 20 years later this song is still celebrated in hearts for the same reason. A truly beautiful one and one of the best Indi-pop songs of the 90’s.
4. Tanha Dil – Shaan :
Tanha Dil, Tanha Safar, Dhoonde Tujhe, Phir kyun nazar..
These lines have the power to make you sing inside your mind, and it is pure. Shaan is a singer who charmed the entire music industry with his voice, judgment in singing competition shows, and his smile is still childlike. So was this song, as it felt like coming from a heart that is extremely pure, longing for his loved one.
Shaan is definitely one of the best Indi-pop singers of the 90’s. This song released around the year 2000, and also had its nomination of International Viewer’s choice awards for MTV India.
Any Indi-pop chart is incomplete without this song and this singer, and we already know it by our heart.
5. Aankhon Mein – Aaryans :
Aankhon mein tera hi chehra,
Dhadkan mein teri hi yaadein,
Karti hai, Deewana..
This Band is one of the most iconic Indi-Pop bands of all time. Aankhon mein is the part of the same-named album, and it was released in 1999 under Universal Label India Pvt. Ltd.
Written by Jai Walia & Lalit Sen, this song speaks about love and longing in the most beautiful way possible at that time. Where the lover is lamenting over his past but still the love feels so fresh in every word.
6. Maeri – Euphoria :
Bindiya Lagati Toh, kaapti thhi paalke, Maeri..
We all can hear this line in Dr. Palash Sen’s voice, don’t we? This song is one of the most popular songs of this band, followed by Dhoom Pichak Dhoom and loads others. But Maeri, is definitely one of the most demanded songs of this band when they perform anywhere. Still now!
Palash Sen is in this Indi game since its start, and very happy he is still continuing to be so. He and his band Euphoria is still a prominent identity when Indi-pop is rejuvenated all over again.
7. Tera Chehra – Adnan Sami :
Aasman jhuk jaayein, ye zameen ruk jaayein, tera chehra jab nazar aayein..
Okay, do you all want to dip down the nostalgia first or want to know secret news to be happy about? Adnan Sami is coming back with a bang in 2020. The song has been recorded and new age lyricist Kunaal Verma (Tum Hi Aana!) has penned for this song. This is definitely going to be huge.
Back to nostalgia, Tera Chehra was one of the songs with its iconic music video which stayed in the hearts forever. The tune, the melancholy in the voice can be felt with closed eyes and earphones plugged in.
8. Woh Chali Who Chali – Bombay Vikings
Woh chali, woh chali, she has found the love that’s real, now her wounded heart is healed, Finally, Finally!
When we are talking about the best Indi-pop songs of the 90’s and we don’t mention Bombay Vikings, it’s unfair.
Woh Chali was one of the fresh songs having Hindi and English both in it, and loved by the youth then, loved by the youth now.
The famous songwriter Neeraj Sridhar had written this song and basically immortalized it.
This song is also one of the must songs to put into the list of 90’s Indi-pop.
9. Made In India – Alisha Chinai :
Dekhi hai sari duniya, Japan se leke Russia,
Australia se leke, America!
Alisha Chinai’s one of the best songs in Indi-pop was definitely this one. Still sung by loads, listened by many, and we all have danced at this iconic tune at some point in our childhood.
This song is not so much in our playlist that much, and it feels sad to see kids understand Made In India is a song of Guru Randhawa, without any disrespect to him. There was Alisha Chinai who made this song a glory.
10. Yaaron – KK :
Yaaron, Dosti, Badi hi Haseen hai..
Can you find a better song that celebrates friendship and love better than this one? Well, you will definitely have a hard time to do so. Indi-pop and KK go hands in hand, and it feels heartbreaking that KK doesn’t sing anymore. Well, that’s talked about a little later.
But till now, even after 20 years from its release, KK’s Yaaron is celebrated as the best song for Friendship. Because it is. Period.
11. Abke Sawan Aise Barse – Shubha Mudgal :
Abke Sawan Aise Barse, Beh Jaye Rang, Meri Chunar Se
Written by Prasoon Joshi & Sung by Shubha Mudgal, this song is indeed a gem. Nor known by a large number of audience, but still a chartbuster of that time, and in the era of stupid remixes, such songs will feel a getaway to the golden era.
12. Sayeeoni – Junoon :
This band, Junoon, is famous for its song Sayeeoni. The tune of this song is stuck in our mind and we can cope up with it anytime.
In fact, most of the time, this song saves us in Ankhtashyari.
13. Dooba Dooba – Silk Route :
Dooba Dooba Rehta Hoon, Aankhon mein teri, Deewana ban gaya hoon main, Chahat mein teri..
Silk Route is a brand that is famous for its iconic Dooba Dooba. There have been hundreds of reprise version of this song, hundreds of covers by various artists all across the world, but no one can match the original version and temperament of the song.
14. Breathless – Shankar Mahadevan :
Shankar Mahadevan & Javed Akhtar had created magic which stayed forever. A song which has probably one of the longest lyrics, but what is a Shankar’s song without difficulties? He is known for his unique voice, style, and songs anyway.
Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s Shankar Mahadevan is a genius, and it has proven with this song.
15. Ishq Tadpave – Sukhbir :
Taare gin gin yaad vich teri,
Main taan jaaga raata nu..
We are ending the best Indi-pop Song’s list from 90’s without Sukhbir? Without Ishq Tadpave? Impossible. This song is still played in every Disco, every club in the nation and each time Dj stops at Oh Ho Ho Ho, and the crowd goes crazy over ‘Oh Ishq Tera Tadpave’.
These are the songs beyond time. These are the songs which make Indi-pop what Indi-pop is, today.
5 Best Indi-pop Singers From The 90’s :
Well, as promised, here will be a few of the best Indi-pop singers from the 90’s, of course, his best songs will be mentioned with some trivia. Let’s begin.
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1. Krishnakumar Kunnath – KK :
From Tadap Tadap, to Pal, from Yaaron Dosti, to Tu Jo Mila KK is known for his Versatility. KK is definitely one of the best Indi-pop singers from the 90’s, but did you know KK used to do a 9-5Job just for them to get stable and get married to the love of his Jyothi. Also, this iconic versatile singer has sung over 3500 jingles in 11 different languages in 4 years? Surely most of you didn’t know it!
This singer had said once in an interview, that his songs are more popular than him in the people. People don’t know him by face but surely by his voice and songs.
2. Baba Sehgal :
The actual Pioneer of Hip Hop in India is Baba Sehgal & Hard Kaur. Baba was an Engineer who later turned out to be a rapper, known for the whacky lyrics and amazing rhymes. Thanda Thanda Paani is still a favorite of many.
He is one of the best Indi-pop singers from the 90’s who didn’t drift off, and still in the scene, making music videos regularly on YouTube with the craziest videos.
3. Lucky Ali :
Maqsood Mehmood Ali, AKA Lucky Ali jas always been in our hearts-whenever we discussed good music. It’s hard to stay in people’s hearts even after drifting off from the limelight, but he has managed to do it right. His first album Sunoh won many awards globally.
His Safarnama was used in the movie Tamasha by Imtiaz Ali, and definitely the song served justice to the movie. Lucky Ali creates magic.
Lucky Ali has left the scene saying it is impossible for him to sell his dignity to the labels. We still hope someday he comes back to the scene with proper dignity.
4. Sonu Nigam :
Known for his versatile singing, Sonu Nigam is also a strong head like Lucky Ali and one of the best Indi-pop singers from the 90’s. For the same reason, he has fought with many labels, as he is unwilling to sign a contract with a liable and be used by it for their business.
Sonu Nigam’s Deewana, Abhi Mujh Mein Kaahin, Tumse Milke Dilka Hai Jo Haal, Sandeshe Aate Hai, Sooraj Hua Madhham, Dil Dooba are all-time favorite and they all are chartbuster till now.
5. Shaan :
Shantanu Mukherjee or Shaan is famous for his songs like Tanha Dil, Behti Hawa Sa Tha Wo, Shikdum, Chand Shifarish, and much more.
He also used to host singing reality shows at Saregamapa, Saregamapa Lil champs and much more. He still appears to be a judge in many shows. Shaan has also sung in Nepali songs.
These were few of the best Indi-pop singers from the 90’s, who ruled and still ruling millions of hearts are truly evergreen.
Currently, it feels so good that labels are becoming so Indie friendly. Labels are changing their contract style, and the Indi-pop is back with a bang with so many active participants in the Independent Music Industry’s scene.
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