The 100 Most Successful And Popular Indie Songs Of All Time

Sharing

In the context of our now following contribution, we go into the exciting world of indie music. The total of 100 tracks on our best list will impressively prove to you that you don’t need a major label behind you to produce incomparable music milestones. Enjoy our selection!

(You can find a Spotify playlist at the end of this article.)

1st place: The Killers – Mr. Brightside (2003)


As soon as the iconic intro of “Mr. Brightside” with its iconic opening line “Coming out of my cage” blares through the rocking halls, the tree is on fire.

Since its release in 2003, the song by the American formation “The Killers” has been something like the uncrowned anthem of groovy heartbreak, which should have caused emotional turmoil in every child of the early 2000s. In terms of content, the powerful song deals with the tricky situation of the performer Brandon Flowers, who is obviously cheated on by his girlfriend and is thus thrown into hopeless emotional chaos. “Mr. Brightside” has always been one of the classics of recent indie-rock history.

In addition, the single is considered to be the work that helped “The Killers” to gain a foothold in the world of the commercial music industry. Especially in the United States, the dynamic heartbreak number was very well received and immediately made it into the Top 10 of the charts.

2nd place: Radiohead – Creep (1992)


The relationship between the British rock band “Radiohead” and their world hit “Creep” was considered for a long time as conceivably complicated. Many international fans reduced the group to their exceptional track and paid little attention to the other releases of the formation, which is why the members of the band even refused for years to perform “Creep” live.

In the meantime, the controversial relationship between “Radiohead” and “Creep” has eased up again, so that we are allowed to dedicate ourselves to that track again without any ulterior motives, which is generally considered to be one of the most brilliant pearls of the early 90s. The stirring track, which deals with the unrequited love of an outsider for his idealized beloved, was especially successful in the British home of “Radiohead” at the time. In addition to the seventh place in the hit list, this track also received a platinum record.

3rd place: Kings of Leon – Sex on Fire (2008)


In their song “Sex on Fire”, the members of the U.S. rock band “Kings of Leon” devote themselves to the finer things in life. More specifically, the group, formed in 2000, gave the world an incomparable anthem with their 2008 track, which captures the beauty of unforgettable, romantic togetherness in an unmatched way.

In the meantime, the number has an untouchable cult status, which is mainly due to the intense emotionality of the work. At the time of its release, “Sex on Fire” literally went through the roof. The song managed to claw its way to the top spot in both the American rock charts and the British hit list.

4th place: Blur – Song 2 (1997)


Woo-hoo! Hardly any song is so much associated with the British rock group “Blur” as that track, which was baptized at the time with the casual name “Song 2. The song lives from its iconic guitar riffs, which thanks to their powerful, driving vibes that stick directly in the listener’s ear.

The track, which was actually staged as a parody of grunge, which was on the rise during the 90s, became one of the band’s most famous releases virtually overnight. “Song 2” was so popular at the time of its release that it was used in numerous commercials, movies, and video games. The song, which is very different from the rest of Blur’s releases, was bought to second place in the UK charts and was also awarded a platinum record.

5th place: Oasis – Wonderwall (1995)


Oil your golden throats, get out the lighters, and get ready for a heavy dose of nostalgia! In those days, when Noel was still writing songs for Liam, the British band “Oasis” secured a firm place in the hearts of a huge international fan base with songs of the “Wonderwall” brand. In addition, the music of the group, headed by the later estranged pair of brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher, shaped the youth of an entire generation.

The touching song, which deals with the turmoil and hopes of the protagonist towards a beloved person, was a great commercial success at the time. “Wonderwall,” which many of us can still sing along to in our sleep, easily entered the top 10 charts in the U.K. and U.S.

6th place: Foster the People – Pumped up Kicks (2010)


If you will, “Foster the People” is a musical wolf in sheep’s clothing. By this, we mean in detail the fact that the track’s easy-going, melodic production contrasts sharply with the song’s sometimes quite brutal lyrics. In fact, “Pumped up Kicks” is an acoustic warning from the protagonist to his surroundings to please swing your heels fast enough to avoid catching a bullet.

The single Californian indie band brought the group in no time into the consciousness of a wide audience and secured sixth place in the “Billboard Hot 100” in the United States. But also in this country, the unusual number was welcomed with open arms and climbed to the ninth place of the hit list.

7th place: Pixies – Where Is My Mind? (1988)


The fact that the Pixies’ most famous song was never released as a single still seems quite unusual. However, none of the band members probably expected in 1988 that the track, which was part of the debut album “Surfer Rosa”, would develop into an independent phenomenon in the course of time.

According to this, the work, which deals with the emotional absentmindedness of the protagonist, has been used in films such as “Fight Club” or “Sucker Punch”, among others, and has also been adapted countless times by other artists. The aforementioned album was to miss a place in the charts at the time, but in retrospect is considered a significant release that exerted a high influence on countless contemporary artists.

8th place: The White Stripes – Seven Nation Army (2003)


If you ever feel that your self-confidence could use a good push, then “Seven Nation Army” by “The White Stripes” is just the thing for you. The song, which was released in 2003, exudes an incomparable coolness, which, in combination with the exuberant self-confidence of the lyrical I, automatically helps every listener to a broad chest.

The title, which is characterized by its driving, almost martial beat, was awarded, among other things, a “Grammy” in the category “Best Rock Song”. “Seven Nation Army” was especially well received in our home country of Germany. In this country, the song made it to fourth place in the charts and was also awarded gold status.

9th place: Franz Ferdinand – Take Me Out (2004)


“Take Me Out” by the British band Franz Ferdinand is pure, driving indie rock. Released in 2004, the track is bursting with energy and is perfect for tickling out the supposedly lost motivation in our tired limbs. The musical pearl from the time of the turn of the millennium made it to third place in the hit list in Great Britain.

Thanks to the immense sales figures, “Take Me Out” was also able to enjoy a platinum record in this country.

10th place: The Verve – Bitter Sweet Symphony (1997)


The name of the track already suggests where the musical journey will go during the approximately four and a half minutes of the song. In fact, the work of 1997 radiates a thoroughly bittersweet feeling, which inimitably goes under the skin of the listener. The number of the English group “The Verve” helped the band in 1997 to worldwide fame and is currently still considered one of the most popular and most successful releases of the formation.

The unorthodox presentation of the song, which draws in large parts from the composition of the original “The Last Time” by the “Rolling Stones”, makes “Bittersweet Symphony” a work that, thanks to its melancholic otherness, clearly distinguishes itself from the usual offshoots of the genre. In Great Britain, the track was awarded two platinum records in addition to second place in the hit list.

Number 11: Mumford & Sons – Little Lion Man (2009)


In addition to its characteristic folk staging, it is above all the lyrical depth which makes “Little Lion Man” an inimitable song. In terms of content, frontman Marcus Mumford deals with the reappraisal of his own past and speaks in detail to himself from earlier days.

The reflected, relentlessly honest examination of life’s turmoil, worries, and supposedly wrong decisions is perfectly transported into the listener’s heart with the help of a driving beat. The song of the British indie-folk band is also one of the most famous releases of the group at all. Even though the big chart successes for the single from the band’s debut album failed to materialize at the time, “Little Lion Man” earned double platinum status in the United States over time.

12th place: Arctic Monkeys – Do I Wanna Know? (2013)


In the context of “Do I Wanna Know” we go on an emotional musical journey that, packed with rock, deals with the doubts and fears that the romantic feelings for a new crush can bring with them. After all, in the course of revealing our true emotions, we always make ourselves vulnerable and run the risk of being hurt.

This intense, power-packed release from Arctic Monkeys is once again a testament to the musical evolution the group has always undergone. The greatest successes of “Do I Wanna Know” were in Great Britain. Here there were two records in platinum and the eleventh rank of the sales list to skim off.

13th place: Lana Del Rey – Video Games (2011)


Long before Lana Del Rey was to sign her major label deal with Universal, the New Yorker secured a firm place in the hearts of a huge fan base with her track “Video Games”. The melancholic, touching track became a real phenomenon within a very short time, the video belonging to the song has been viewed more than 230 million times on YouTube.

In terms of content, the tenderly prepared number tells the heartwarming love story of two lovebirds, which is authentically conveyed to us in picturesque metaphors. The song, which made the singer a global star practically overnight, secured the top spot on the hit list in Germany. Due to more than 2.4 million units sold, “Video Games” has also been honored with a wide variety of records.

14th place: Coldplay – Yellow (2000)


If you feel the need to melt your heart with the help of a touching indie track, then sit back, close your eyes and fire up “Yellow” by Coldplay. The meanwhile 20-year-old work of the British group comes along with such a sensitive touch that our skin is already haunted by tingling goosebumps after the first bars of the song.

The romantic song, which dates back to the band’s earliest creative period, has sold more than 3.3 million copies to date. At the time of its release, the track managed to claim fourth place on the British music charts.

15th place: The Kooks – Naive (2006)


“Naive” by “The Kooks” proves to us once again that the lack of communication within a relationship can always lead to complicated situations. When those involved can’t bring themselves to speak openly about their desires, feelings, and missteps, the danger for deep-seated problems is great. However, provided the emotional turmoil is presented as authentically, memorably, and compellingly as it is on the track released in 2006, we have no problem following the awkwardness of the protagonists without gnashing our teeth.

The indie track from the English band was able to build up a strong following in its home country. “Naive” went to fifth place in the British charts, where it also has the coveted double-platinum status.

16th place: Mando Diao – Down in the Past (2004)


“Mando Diao” has always stood for brute riffs, powerful voices, and clever lyrics. Before the Swedish band could start their glorious international triumphal procession, the band members around frontman Björn Dixgård made a name for themselves, especially in their Scandinavian homeland. As we know today, this circumstance was to change when “Down in the Past” appeared on the scene in 2004. The dynamic track is characterized by its believable emotionality, which leaves no eye dry.

In terms of content, we get to deal with the performer’s reappraisal of a recently failed relationship. All in all, the lead singer tells his ex to please go where the pepper grows. In retrospect, “Down in the Past” is considered the cornerstone of the worldwide success of “Mando Diao”.

17th place: Tocotronic – Pure reason must never win (2004)


Of course, we don’t want to miss the opportunity to award a place to a band from our home republic in the course of our best list. And which group could be better suited for this than the Hamburg indie veterans “Tocotronic”?

With “Pure Vernunft darf niemals siegen” the band succeeded in 2004 in packaging a witty, poetic track in a catchy way. The clever, profound lyrics are perfectly supported by the wonderfully arranged instrumentals of the song, which results in a coherent overall work that you should definitely listen to! The track is part of an album of the same name, which at the time managed to reach third place in our domestic charts.

18th place: Oasis – Don’t Look Back in Anger (1996)


In the context of the 18. At the end of the 18th place, we return to “Oasis”.

The band released another hit in the form of “Don’t Look Back in Anger”, which was to help countless young people to come to terms with the failure of their relationships in a musical way. In detail, we get to do it during the song with the reappraisal of an ex-love affair. While Noel Gallagher does sing about some unpleasant moments of his past relationship within “Don’t Look Back in Anger,” the track’s core message says not to hold grudges against things that belong in the past.

From a commercial point of view, the track, released in 1996, once again became an absolute box office hit. The biggest audience was found in Great Britain, where the single reached the top of the charts.

19th place: Kings of Leon – Use Somebody (2008)


Kings of Leon” also has the honor of appearing in the Top 20 for the second time. Just like “Sex on Fire”, “Use Somebody” is also on the album “Only by the Night” and was released in 2008.

The song, which has enjoyed great international sales success and has been honored with two platinum records in the United Kingdom, among others, has a profound flair and deals with the emotional consequences of being alone. Abandoned by his beloved, the protagonist wanders the nighttime streets of his home like a driven man. Instead of relief, however, the performer experiences only the insatiable longing for the company of his loved one.

A touching work of art that still enjoys an untouchable status in the indie scene.

20th place: Snow Patrol – Chasing Cars (2006)


Now we want to give you the heartwarming feeling that only “Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol can evoke in us. The dreamy Love Song, which celebrates the romantic relationship of two people as a perfect world in itself, is by far the most successful work of the British rock band.

Showered with countless platinum records, “Chasing Cars” was able to enter the top 10 of numerous national charts.

The ranks 21-100 of the best indie songs of all time:

Place: Artist/Song: Listen:
21. The Stone Roses – I Am The Resurrection
22. Lykke Li – I Follow Rivers
23. Bon Iver – Holocene
24. Sharon Van Etten – Every Time the Sun Comes Up
25. Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart
26. LCD Soundsystem – Dance Yrself Clean
27. Radiohead – Karma Police
28. Angel Olsen – Shut Up Kiss Me
29. Grimes – Oblivion
30. The Killers – When You Were Young
31. The Clash – London Calling
32. New Pornographers – The Bleeding Heart Show
33. R.E.M. – It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
34. Perfume Genius – Queen
35. Modest Mouse – Float On
36. Arctic Monkeys – Mardy Bum
37. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
38. Talking Heads – Burning Down the House
39. Gang Starr – Mass Appeal
40. Tame Impala – Let It Happen
41. Oasis – Live Forever
42. Spoon – I Turn My Camera On
43. Public Enemy – Don’t Believe the Hype
44. Foals – Spanish Sahara
45. Beck – Loser
46. Beach House – 10 Mile Stereo
47. The Cure – 10:15 Saturday Night
48. Oasis – Cigarettes And Alcohol
49. St. Vincent – Prince Johnny
50. Antony & the Johnsons – Hope There’s Someone
51. Pulp – Common People
52. Built to Spill – The Plan
53. Matthew Sweet – Divine Intervention
54. Mitski – Your Best American Girl
55. Neutral Milk Hotel – In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
56. The Breeders – Cannonball
57. Yo La Tengo – Autumn Sweater
58. Arctic Monkeys – I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor
59. M83 – Midnight City
60. Hole – Violet
61. Arcade Fire – Rebellion (Lies)
62. Oasis – Slide Away
63. The Libertines – Can’t Stand Me Now
64. Pixies – Monkey Gone to Heaven
65. Le Tigre – Deceptacon
66. Pretenders – Message of Love
67. The Strokes – Reptilia
68. Black Star – Respiration
69. Common – I Used to Love H.E.R.
70. Vampire Weekend – Hannah Hunt
71. Pavement – Cut Your Hair
72. PJ Harvey – Sheela-Na-Gig
73. They Might Be Giants – Birdhouse in Your Soul
74. Violent Femmes – Blister in the Sun
75. Fugazi – Waiting Room
76. Arctic Monkeys – Fluorescent Adolescent
77. The National – Bloodbuzz Ohio
78. Interpol – PDA
79. Soundgarden – Black Hole Sun
80. Phoebe Bridgers – Funeral
81. Patti Smith – Gloria
82. The Smiths – This Charming Man
83. Alt-J – Breezeblocks
84. Black Flag – Rise Above
85. White Stripes – Fell in Love with a Girl
86. Jessica Pratt – Back Baby
87. X – Los Angeles
88. Paul Weller – You Do Something To Me
89. The Strokes – Someday
90. Blur – To The End
91. Mudhoney – Touch Me I’m Sick
92. The Cure – Lovesong
93. Magnetic Fields – Papa Was a Rodeo
94. Velvet Underground – All Tomorrow’s Parties
95. Foo Fighters – Everlong
96. Primal Scream – Come Together
97. The Maccabees – Toothpaste Kisses
98. Arctic Monkeys – A Certain Romance
99. Blink-182 – I Miss You
100. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Maps

Indie Spotify Playlist:

Leave a Comment