Twee pop is a subgenre of indie pop that originates from the 1986 NME compilation C86. It is an offshoot of the Twee movement, characterized 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).
Cub, which was dubbed the "most confrontationally twee band of them all" by Pitchfork, was a trio of girls from Vancouver who played shows in their pajamas and wrote childlike songs like "My Chinchilla."
Twee pop gained popularity in the 1990s. An offshoot, freak folk, gained popularity in the 2000s. Twee was never a completely insular genre. However, twee pop and cuddlecore's narrative changed with the dispersion of the indie and pop movements.
The definition of twee is something "excessively or affectedly quaint, pretty, or sentimental," supposedly born from a childish mispronunciation of the word sweet. With the Twee movement's embrace of innocence and femininity, the genre has strong associations with feminism and queer activism.
Indie pop was a space for women to exist around other women and not be sexualized. Artists such as Heavenly, Talulah Gosh, and Marine Girls, were primarily women who wrote about love, relationships, and personal empowerment. While the music sounded lighthearted and naive, the subject matter was often gritty and dark. Twee pop has been seen as a feminist response to tough, invulnerable, masculine punk and post-punk music scenes of the time.
Many Twee artists, such as the Field Mice, were openly queer. In the 1990s, Indiepop and Twee scenes rejected the sexist, homophobic, and racist attitudes of mainstream music.
A retrospective fascination with the genre in the US saw Americans eagerly defining themselves as twee. 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.
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". The author Marc Spitz suggests that the roots of twee stem from post-war 1950s music. 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.
Cuddlecore is a movement that emerged as a consequence of twee pop that was briefly prominent in the mid-1990s. This label described a style marked by harmony vocals and pop melodies atop a punk-style musical backing. Cuddlecore bands were usually, although not always, all female and essentially represented a more pop-oriented variation on the contemporaneous riot grrrl scene. In cuddlecore's earlier stages, it had moments of regressiveness and cartoonish cutesy behavior due to the escapism in embracing innocence.
Slumberland Records of Berkeley, California, compiled a collection of records representative of the various strains of cuddlecore in 1994's "Why Popstars Can't Dance."
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