The Definition Of Alternative Rock
Alternative rock is a broad term used to describe a style of music that surfaced in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Alternative rock is a sub-genre of the mainstream rock genre music. Alternative Rock is usually differentiated by bands who have a “do-it-yourself” or non-conformist attitude, ergo the use of the word “alternative”.
The term was often used incorrectly by people who didn’t really comprehend the meaning of it and what it refers to. People thought the term could be used to accurately label any band they chose. This is not true. For a band to be genuinely Alternative, they have to follow the Alternative mindset which is to be unconventional and to go against what is considered to be usual or average. This sub-genre was inspired by a combination of music varieties including the 1970s main-stream rock music and its subgenres of punk rock, post-punk, hardcore punk and new wave. Alternative rock has a large number of styles that include the melodic jangle-pop and the disturbing metallic grind of industrial. As diverse as the styles are, they are all tied together by a similar trend, which is they all don’t operate within the mainstream.
How Alternative Rock Broke Out And Became Popular
Alternative Rock first appeared in the early 1980’s and had developed to consist of various sub-genres that were conceived by independent musicians since its emergence. These sub-genres were comprised of grunge, indie pop, indie rock, etc. which only existed in the underground music scene and were basically unknown to the mainstream music industry.
These musicians built loyal underground followings by continuously touring and frequently releasing low-budget albums. The albums would distribute to other followers and that created new bands and new followers, which contributed to establishing a huge underground audience. Alternative Rock was commonly known as ‘college’ rock in the United States and ‘indie’ rock in the United Kingdom. College rock in the US identified mainly with college radio where it received most of its airplay because it was still mostly underground. After its emergence, many music critics use the term ‘alternative’ rock as a blanket term for a wide variety of bands that didn’t fit into a particular radio format and were usually signed with independent labels. For many years this continued to happen until the year the band Nirvana had breakthrough success in 1991, and that was the beginning of widespread popularization of Alternative Rock.
Along with the recognition of other bands, particularly the “grunge” bands from Seattle, Washington, the popularity of Alternative Music was quickly climbing, and it was paving the way for more Alternative Rock bands to be noticed and appreciated.
Today, most of the music that has been called (or is called) Alternative Rock is now considered to be mainstream popular music. There seems to be a resentment amongst people, toward the words Alternative Rock, since everything that’s considered to be different gets labeled as “alternative”. It also seems we have a need to categorize things, and when those thing are different and can’t be easily categorized, we put them in a catch-all category like Alternative Rock.