Let’s talk about Alternative Rock

Alternative rock, alternative music or just an alternative is a genre of rock music that came out of underground independent music of the 1980s and was widely used in 1990 and 2000. Although this term is most often associated with its loud commercial bloom and distorted guitar sound, its original meaning is much broader.

Definition for underground rock

Bearing in mind that the generation of musicians either combined a musical style, or simply created an independent punk rock, which in the late 1970s laid the foundation for alternative music. From time to time, the musical term “alternative” was used as a definition for underground rock, or for any other music that originated from punk rock.

underground rock

Alternative rock is broad music, which differs greatly in its sound, social environment and regional roots. With the help of magazines, radio and various rumors, by the end of the 1980s, fame grew and the diversity of alternative rock was emphasized, identifying many other subgenres (gothic rock, jangle pop, noise pop, C86, Madchester, industrial music, shoegazing).

Most of these subgenres have achieved little interest. Compared to other genres in rock and pop music, the commercial success of many alternative bands was limited at that time. With the breakthrough of the Nirvana group and the popularity of grunge and Britpop movement in the 1990s, alternative rock entered the musical mainstream and gave significant success to many alternative groups.

The term alternative rock

Until 1990 (when alternative rock began to gain fame), alternative music was understood in different ways. In 1979, Terry Tolkin used the term “alternative music” to describe musical groups. The term “college rock” was used in the US to describe the music of the 1980s, which was broadcast on radio stations of educational institutions and was very beloved by students.

In the United Kingdom a small mass of independent people have created record labels, as a result of the punk subculture. According to the founder of one of these labels, Cherry Red, NME and Sounds magazine created a record called “Alternative Charts”, which was distributed in small stores. The first national chart was called “Indie Chart” and was published in January 1980th year.

At that time, the term “indie” (indie) was used literally to characterize independently distributed records. By 1985, he began to mean a certain genre or group of subgenres. The use of the term “alternative” to describe rock music, emerged around the mid-1980s. People who worked as DJs and promoters in the 1980s claimed that the term comes from the American radio FM of the 1970s, which served as a progressive alternative to the “top 40 radio formats”.

indie rock poster

The use of the term “alternative” was further developed in connection with the success of the Lollapalooza (rock festival), for which the founder of the festival and Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell came up with the term (Alternative Nation). In the late 1990s, the definition became more specific. In 1997, Neil Strauss in the New York Times defined alternative rock as:

“Uncompromising rock is characterized by the fragile style of the riff guitar of the 70’s and the agonizing vocalists with their eternal problems.”

Defining alternative music is sometimes very difficult, because there are two incompatible concepts of the word.

sex pistols

Alternative music can be described that calls into question the existing musical direction, but this term is also used in the music industry to indicate alternative consumer choices in music stores, radio, television and the Internet. Alternative music bands are very well fit into alternative lifestyles: do you like pubs? There is where they start to play. Do you prefer gambling? There are plenty music slots online featuring the artists, some of then you can visit here.

Using a broad definition of the genre, Dave Thompson in his book “Rock Alternative” cites the formation of the Sex Pistols, as well as the release of the album “Horses” from Patti Smith and Metal Machine Music from Lou Reed, as the three key events that spawned alternative rock. Until recently, when indie rock became the most common term in the US for describing modern pop and rock music, the term “indie rock” and “alternative rock” are often used as synonyms.

Alternative Rock Characteristics

The name “alternative rock” is essentially a common musical term for underground music, which arose as a result of punk rock, beginning in the mid-1980s. For most of its history, alternative rock is largely determined by the abandonment of the commercialization (commercial approach) of mass culture. However, this can be argued, as some alternative performers have achieved basic success or worked with well-known labels in the 1990s.

During the 1980s, alternative groups generally played in small clubs, recorded on indie labels and spread their popularity through communication with other people. Lyrics of alternative rock music, as a rule, had social problems:

  • drug use;
  • depression;
  • environment protection.

This approach to lyricism was developed as a reflection of social and economic changes in the United States and in the United Kingdom in the 1980s and early 1990s.

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