Until recently, “alternative music” referred to music that fell outside of mainstream acceptance. This style often had an edge and sense of rebellion.
Alternative music enjoyed worldwide recognition and became immensely popular, not only within the United States and United Kingdom but also Australia, New Zealand, Mexico and Brazil.
Brand New – “Jesus Christ”
Alternative music has long been defined in different ways over the years. Common terms used to characterize it include college rock, modern rock (a term popular with commercial radio stations), new music or new pop (preferred by print journalists) as well as less concrete classifications like post-punk industrial synthpop etc.
Nirvana and R.E.M helped bring alternative music mainstream in the 1990s. Before that, most alternative artists relied on word-of-mouth promotion or playing small clubs and venues to grow their fanbase; there was no TV program or radio station to spread awareness of their music.
Alternative artists tend to embrace the DIY spirit of punk rock in their music as well. They believe it is essential to be able to produce authentic material without succumbing to pressure of creating hit records; an example being Ash’s song, “Bela Lugosi Is Dead”, with sparse instrumentation creating an ominous soundscape.
Alternative music stands apart from other genres because its philosophy makes defining some artists difficult. Many bands are considered alternative even if they don’t fit within its definition, such as My Chemical Romance or Brand New; sometimes the difference between alternative and indie rock depends on location – in America they may be classified as alternative while those from England would fall under indie.
No matter its classification, alternative music is one of the most eclectic and creative branches of music available. It draws influence from every style out there and incorporates it into its own sound for unique and inventive results. Furthermore, alternative is constantly developing and expanding making it hard to pin down who the best alternative musician is; regardless of this fact it will continue influencing other styles for years to come.
Radiohead – “Creep”
Radiohead are one of the premier alternative rock groups, and Creep one of their iconic singles. Though now an essential radio staple, its initial release in 1992 to little fanfare did not meet with widespread praise; BBC Radio 1 considered it “too depressing”, only reaching number 78 on their chart and selling only 6000 copies. But after an impromptu performance during an American tour one year later drummer Phil Selway ran through it while warming up for another song – realizing its potential and eventually performing it publicly at once again in US concerts a year later when performing it for an impromptu performance in America it finally met its fate – although originally considered too depressing by Radio 1 when released it in 1992 despite initially receiving little attention in Britain from BBC Radio 1. “We had other songs earmarked as possible single releases but just ran through it as it came through on top,” Selway explained at that time & we immediately started using Creep as our next single; later that year it would become our next single! “That one ran through as we just ran through it as our next single & it became our next hit-in-waiting performance while warming up before heading offstage at another gig when Phil Selway said this song would eventually become part of Radioheads original release on release back home ground zero.”
Creep was, surprisingly, the band’s breakthrough single. It became immensely popular in America where Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit had broken through to mainstream audiences. Creep fitted perfectly into this trend due to its Pixies-influenced “quiet-loud” dynamics; soon thereafter it started appearing on college radio playlists across the US.
Although Radiohead fans adore Creep, lead singer Thom Yorke finds it distasteful and the band have only ever performed it once during an VHS release of Kid A in 1993 – yet, despite this dislike from Radiohead themselves, Creep remains one of the biggest alt-rock hits ever written.
Thom Yorke has become an indispensable voice of modern music over the past 20 years. He is responsible for writing some of the most iconic tracks since, including Ok Computer and In Rainbows; both representing his ability to adapt with changing audiences and adapt styles as an artist. Karma Police and No Surprises serve as examples of this, too; though his more pop-oriented hits such as Karma Police or No Surprises demonstrate it further. Ultimately though it’s Yorke’s honesty, androgynous persona and haunting voice that truly set him apart – his most successful single Creep stands testament to this skill as a master artist!
Thom Yorke – “Karma Police”
Thom Yorke is a well-known figure in alternative music, having lead Radiohead for 20 years as their androgynous lead vocalist and writing some of their most iconic tracks such as Ok Computer and In Rainbows. He remains at the forefront of alternative music through his groundbreaking and audacious approach that pushes boundaries and challenges expectations with each track he writes.
“Karma Police,” from OK Computer by the band Radiohead is an example. The track’s lyrics speak directly to karma and how past actions may manifest themselves today; yet its lighthearted approach will make for an engaging way of exploring this concept in modern life.
Indie rock music encompasses an expansive genre that embraces many different styles. From jangle pop and grunge, to soft folk punk or dreampop; noise rock or shoegazing may even feature. As its popularity grew, new subgenres arose – post-punk, no wave, power pop and synthpop were some of the many to appear within this broad genre.
Alternative rock is on an upward trend across both North America and Europe, thanks to younger audiences embracing it more fully. Additionally, this genre’s versatility means it caters to various musical tastes while helping bring people closer through shared experiences.
The Smiths are widely considered one of the original alternative bands, with their unique blend of droning voices and morbid lyrics having had an indelible mark on modern music. Their style has had an immense influence on other bands in the genre – even Morrissey is considered a legend within rock music circles and widely recognized for changing its landscape forever.
The Smiths – “Once in a Lifetime”
When discussing alternative music, one cannot fail to mention The Smiths as one of its key contributors. Their jangly guitars and lyrics that touch upon depression and loneliness made an important impactful contribution.
“Smells Like Teen Spirit,” one of their signature tracks, defined more than just genre – it set the scene for an entire decade! Boasting loud, layered guitars and gritty vocals that stood out among alternative audiences at the time, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” helped kickstart grunge era while setting the foundation for alternative’s popularity during the 90s.
Depeche Mode’s iconic hit “Don’t Think Twice” stands as one of the premier examples of alternative music. Its catchy melody and socially aware lyrics stand out, showing how alternative lyrics can both pop-like and intelligent simultaneously.
My Chemical Romance’s “Mr. Brightside,” is another iconic alternative song. This catchy tune addresses feelings of being Unloved and Hopelessness through lyrics that resonate with anyone who has experienced anger or bitterness towards someone, with fast paced guitars and drums combined with their distinctive singer voice making this tune an all-time classic worldwide.
Indie and alternative music both have distinct definitions, yet many artists fall under both categories simultaneously. Traditionally, alternative was used to refer to new artists aspiring for mainstream radio playback while indie was for bands who weren’t interested in mainstream radio promotion. Today it’s more likely for musicians to include both alternative and indie tracks in their repertoire so as to reach an audience through different platforms.
Some of the most beloved contemporary alternative music comes from social media influencers and SoundCloud artists, reunited bands such as My Chemical Romance and The Smiths, as well as rising musicians who are beginning to gain a fan base and make waves in alternative and indie circles; many newcomers are even breaking onto charts! Today’s alternative and indie genres focus more on song concepts rather than style or location of performers.