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Customer Discussions > Rock forum

"Alternative Rock" Another Why the genre thread?

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Showing 1-16 of 16 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 28, 2012 3:31:03 PM PST
alysha25 says:
Just like the title suggests. This one may bother me As Much as the many new "Metal" genres.

I mean What is "Alternative Rock " alternative TO? I never heard rock classified as alternative prior to, maybe 15 years ago, o.k. maybe 20.

I realize , or think , that this is how grunge or indie, or punk is classified? Or maybe it designates a certain era? (The 90's through current?)

Is it alternative to pop? rock? classic rock? or metal? It's like saying "You can have all this, or you can have - "
the alternative!" .

How do you feel about this genre "alternative" , and is it even really a genre? And if so What exactly. Is that where they stuck all that wonderful grunge and indie that doesn't quite classify as the other genres (in someone else's book).

end of rant.

Posted on Feb 28, 2012 3:35:34 PM PST
Savage Lucy says:
I have never understood what alternative music means. Do they still classify music using this term?

Posted on Feb 28, 2012 4:52:14 PM PST
alysha25 says:

Not a lot of traffic though. I don't See a grunge forum here. But I mentioned in another thread that "Grunge" while not quite "classic rock" (That's up for debate of course) , seems to reside in a grey area now of not fitting into any genre or classification, and I'm afraid I may have just found it. Same with "indie".

And yes, usually perusing radio stations and genre classifications there is alwys an "Alternate", sometimes called "Adult Alternate", or "Rock Alternate".

Posted on Feb 28, 2012 5:57:25 PM PST
alysha25 says:
Maybe it's music that doesn't fit into any other catagory?

Posted on Feb 28, 2012 6:13:20 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 28, 2012 6:14:11 PM PST
I first heard it around the late 80s. It was mostly stuff on independent or smallish labels that couldn't really be called punk. Either classic-sounding rock with punkish energy (e.g. Replacements), stuff that grew out of the New Wave into arena rock (e.g. The Cure, the Psychedelic Furs), or sometimes bands that were punk but with some crossover appeal (e.g. Husker Du). The term essentially meant "it's definitely rock, but it's an alternative to mainstream rock". There was a certain dignity to being lumped in with these bands - it meant that you were willing to stick to your guns even if you had to starve as a result. So naturally the bands that took that sound to the bank a few years later were all too glad to keep the term as a badge of honor. So somewhere along the way it lost its true meaning (i.e. this stuff actually became popular), but that's the way it goes in our culture.

Posted on Feb 28, 2012 6:19:57 PM PST
alysha25 says:
Good Answer Rare Goat. It does seem to have lost it's true meaning. I have sirius radio on satellite t.v. Just scrolling through the station genre classifications is , I don't know the word! I guess if you don't want to be very closed minded, you have to scroll through the stations a lot. There's no way any One of those stations would satisfy my listening tastes.Just a few samples "Adult Album Rock", "College/indie", "Alt/Grunge" (as I've said Grunge became Alt?), Billy Idol is classified as "80's Alt". Beastie Boy's Latest CD was also found as Alternate.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 28, 2012 6:39:23 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 28, 2012 6:41:18 PM PST
Good call, RG. "Alternative" used to have some meaning when it referred to music that was only being played left-of-the-dial (college radio) and most people didn't listen to said music and didn't know who these bands were. Ever since the 90s, when so-called Alternative bands (Grunge, etc.) started being played on commercial radio and everyone knew who they were, the tag Alternative was rendered meaningless.

Posted on Feb 29, 2012 4:48:14 AM PST
:BTW I should add that my comment above about "sticking to their guns even if they had to starve" was meant facetiously. Not all "80s Alternative" bands were necessarily happy with their obscurity. Everyone wants to be popular in some sense of the word. Who knows, maybe some of them would have sold out if they had the chance (with a hot shot producer and a bigger promotional push, for instance). But you can't just decide to become mainstream popular one day.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 29, 2012 2:11:43 PM PST
Many of them did exactly that. I can't tell you how many alternative 80s bands there are that had one or two great albums and then "sold out" and started producing commercial pablum. I admire the ones who stuck to their guns though and didn't do that, though it may not have been an easy decision for some.

Posted on Feb 29, 2012 2:40:08 PM PST
MarcoVG4 says:
I agree with Rare Goat. Before the term alternative was circulated, some radio stations referred to their (punk/alt/new wave/insert classification here) playlist as "Modern Rock".

Posted on Mar 1, 2012 10:20:27 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 1, 2012 10:27:34 AM PST
In the 1980's it was "any (non headbangers' ball) music video that MTV would not show during daylight hours." Remember that eccentric preppy girl and/or the smart quiet girl you got drunk with in high school that stayed up late on Sunday nights to watch "120 minutes" on MTV?

I live in a small redneck town so there never was any college radio. It was the end of high school that I realized some of these wierd musicians were doing some interesting things besides trying to make their hair as high as possible, applying loads of makeup, and generally trying to keep as depressed or flat expression on their faces as possible. For me the image had been getting in the way of the music. When the decent synth pop and hair metal bands fizzled out and their inferior imitators jumped in the spotlight, I just assumed "alternative" artists were also only about the look and attitude. Then a few of the Cure, Depeche Mode, and Souxsie & the Banshees songs grew on me a lot. Since MTV and top 40 radio lost dominance in the 1990's I'm not quite what "alternative" is today.

Posted on Mar 1, 2012 11:51:56 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 1, 2012 11:56:28 AM PST
Stratocaster says:
I agree. Rare Goat was about as spot on as I can imagine being trying to nail down a question like this. As I was formulating an opinion in my head, I read Rare Goat's reponse and thought, well......there it is.

Originally I think it was primarily a term used for bands that didn't fit into either mainstream or pop rock. Whether they wanted to or not is another question.
Two examples I think of:

Train - started out as "alternative" but with each album release, you could kind of hear that they were going for a bigger, more mainstream audience. And they did.

Radiohead - now here's an "alternative" band that gets ANY kind of whif of mainstream radio play and they immediately turn around and release an album of obscure avante guard type stuff, seemingly just to reel themselves back into true alternative territory. Whether it happens or not, they don't WANT to be "Rock Stars". Supposedly, that's a big part of what drove Kurt Cobain over the edge.

Posted on Mar 1, 2012 12:05:51 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 1, 2012 2:34:36 PM PST
The "Alternative" tag was stuck onto college kids in the eighties to market anything popular on college radio stations. And from the punk movement of the late seventies (The Clash ETC) to new wave (Talking Heads ETC) to retro bands (R.E.M. ETC) to get past Michael Jackson, Prince and Bruce Springsteen that ruled the mainstream airways at that time. It later went after the "Grunge" bands of Seattle and included music into the ninties under this corporate flag of marketing.

Tags are invented to sound cool and different and (their main purpose) is to sell product.
Every form of music besides the most popular music of the day would be considered alternative in a truthful world.
In 2011 there was that Adele lady and then there's everyone else as the field has narrowed somewhat.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 1, 2012 8:38:23 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 1, 2012 8:40:14 PM PST
Hmmm, that must've come a bit later in the game on MTV. When I started watching it (early 80s), they played the obscure stuff (as well as commercial stuff) during the daytime too. I do remember '120 Mins', but by that time I think they'd relegated the alt stuff to pretty much that show. But yes, as you did, I discovered a lot of underground bands on MTV in its early days as well as on college radio. Sad what's happened to that channel since then.

Posted on Mar 1, 2012 8:52:34 PM PST
naldo says:
Video killed the radio star, (c)rap killed the music channel.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 1, 2012 10:48:26 PM PST
Indeed. Along with shows like 'Real World' and other such nonsense. =oP
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Discussion in:  Rock forum
Participants:  9
Total posts:  16
Initial post:  Feb 28, 2012
Latest post:  Mar 1, 2012

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