The ‘Alternative' music is a form of rock music which can be considered similar to pop music, but cannot be completely classified under either category. This type of music is so original in itself that it cannot further fit into any sub-category. Another distinction apparent with bands belonging to alternative genre is their non-conformist, do-it-yourself attitude. This further takes them away from any clear classification with a certain group or set of practices. This form of rock music is most popular today and Alternative tickets have been selling high for quite some time now. Those with a taste and a nerve for alternative music are generally known to be dedicated fans.
Why named ‘Alternative'
Being born out of Independent Music groups sometime around eighties Alternative music is primarily a rock music genre. However it further incorporates a number of rock genres into it; indie, college rock, punk rock, Gothic rock, neo-psychedelic, Math rock and Dream pop are some of them. The beauty of alternative music is its inability to fit into any other form of genre completely, hence the name ‘Alternative'.
Similar to the composition of this genre, its products also retain the ability of being individualistic and original in their very form. The fusion genres as an output of alternative include Alternative Dance music, Alternative Metal, Industrial Rock, Post-punk revival, Psychobily etc.
Origin and Public Exposure
The term ‘Alternative' was coined in the eighties just about the time when the genre came into being as a result of fusion of Punk rock and various other forms of music. This form of music emerged as an underground phenomenon, adopted primarily be the groups who wanted to move away from the concept of mainstream brands and labels of music. The newly developed genre became the most popular form of music in a very short span of time, and some of the artists did indeed join the mainstream labels. However, the genre still remains an identity of the underground bands and groups.
At the time of its inception, the alternative bands used to perform at small clubs in front of small audiences. They recorded for indie labels, but their main source of publicity was word of mouth. Occasionally a song would become a blockbuster hit or receive outstanding critical acclaim and add massively to the artists' popularity. The early alternative bands include Violent Femmes, The Feelies and R.E.M are worth mentioning. Los Angeles' Paisley Underground and The Velvet Underground are two other significant names. They revived the sixties' sounds and infused them with psychedelic and heavy vocal harmonies. They also combined the folksy rock with underground punk influences.
Bump in the Road
The end of the nineties brought a dark cloud for the overarching popularity of alternative music. ‘Nirvana', a big name in the field of alternative rock lost Kurt Cobain, and the main concert venue promoter had to face a law suit from Pearl Jam. This added up to give the genre a setback and deprived several groups the location to continue their performances. Britpop Oasis could not maintain its success in its 1997 album and it seemed as if alternative era was on its way down into oblivion.
However, that did not turn out to be the case. Bands like Matchbox Twenty, Radiohead, Coldplay and Creed kept their popularity and came back swinging with some extraordinary hits. By the turn of the new millennium several new alternative bands also emerged. Interpol, the Rapture, the Strokes and The White Stripes are to name a few. Yeah Yeah Yeahs also formed around this time remains a commercial success to this date.
There is still no set definition of what exactly constitutes Alternative music, but there is certain agreement on the inevitable use of guitar in it. Blasting out power chords, buzzing with fuzz tones in the background and picking out chiming riffs, guitars is quite important in Alternative music. The sounds of guitar in indie and alternative music range from gothic rock to jangling and dirty grunge.
Since 2010 the term ‘Alternative' has fallen out of common usage. Now the term used to describe this intricate yet fascinating genre of music is ‘Indie music'. The genre still maintains its popularity and linkage to underground bands, despite the fact that many indie bands have joined commercial labels and have achieved incredible success. Now with electronic beats and modern forms of music added to its repertoire, alternative music continues to evolve in itself and keep the listeners hungry for more.