Twee pop

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Twee pop is a subgenre of indie pop[1] that originates from the 1986 NME compilation C86.[3] Characterised by its simplicity and perceived innocence, some of its defining features are boy–girl harmonies, catchy melodies, and lyrics about love. For many years, prominent independent record labels associated with twee pop were Sarah Records (in the UK) and K Records (in the US).[3]


The definition of twee is something "excessively or affectedly quaint, pretty, or sentimental", supposedly born from a childish mispronunciation of the word sweet.[4] A retrospective fascination with the genre in the US saw Americans eagerly defining themselves as twee.[5] According to The A.V. Club's Paula Mejia:

The difference between "twee" and "indie pop" is slight but polarizing. Both styles of music transcended genre, became a tape-trading lifestyle, and have similar influences, drawing from the Ramones' minimalist three-chord structures as much as The Jesus And Mary Chain's salty pop harmonies. Everyone varies slightly on origins ... Twee itself began as a vast collection of sounds, gathering the threads where luminaries left off, and carving out divergent avenues in their wake.[2]

AllMusic says that twee pop is "perhaps best likened to bubblegum indie rock – it's music with a spirit of D.I.Y. defiance in the grand tradition of punk, but with a simplicity and innocence not seen or heard since the earliest days of rock & roll".[3] The author Marc Spitz suggests that the roots of twee stem from post-war 1950s music.[6] While the culture categorized itself under the moniker of "indie" (short for independent), many major twee powerhouses gained mainstream critical acclaim for their contributions to the twee movement.[7]

Related movements[edit]

Cuddlecore is a movement that emerged as a consequence of twee pop[2] that was briefly prominent in the mid-1990s.[8] This label described a style marked by harmony vocals and pop melodies atop a punk-style musical backing.[9] Cuddlecore bands were usually, although not always, all female and essentially represented a more pop-oriented variation on the contemporaneous riot grrrl scene.[8]


  1. ^ a b "Indie Pop". AllMusic.
  2. ^ a b c d Mejia, Paula (1 May 2014). "A wistful walk through the precious world of twee pop". The A.V. Club.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Twee Pop". AllMusic.
  4. ^ "Definition of TWEE". Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  5. ^ Twee; Paul Morley's Guide to Musical Genres, BBC Radio 2, 10 June 2008
  6. ^ Spitz, Marc (2014). Twee: The Gentle Revolution in Music, Books, Television, Fashion, and Film. It Books. p. abstract. ISBN 978-0062213044.
  7. ^ Abebe, Nitsuh (24 October 2005), "Twee as Fuck: The Story of Indie Pop", Pitchfork
  8. ^ a b "Cute. Real Cute : The Look Is Dainty, but Cuddle Core Followers Are Brashly Telling the World They'll Grow Up the Way They Please". Los Angeles Times, 28 June 1995.
  9. ^ Kaitlin Fontana, Fresh at Twenty: The Oral History of Mint Records. ECW Press, 2012. ISBN 978-1770900523.