Your Guide to Alternative Rock - What Exactly Is It?
The very fact that Alternative Rock is defined in terms of what it is not confuses a lot of people. It gets its name from the fact that it is considered to be alternative to mainstream rock music. There is a popular misconception that this type of rock is necessarily unpopular and that alt rock bands which get huge audiences go mainstream. As long as a band stays true to the music that makes it alternate it will always stay that way, no matter how much money it goes on to make.
Alternative Rock is actually an umbrella term that covers many diverse genres of rock, some of which have very little to do with the others. This particular style of music first made an appearance in the late 1980s. In fact, it took until the mid-1990s for this genre to take on its own identity. It is difficult to identify which were the bands that first created this style of music.
However, it has to be admitted that bands like R.E.M., Sonic Youth and finally Nirvana were responsible for giving the Alternative Rock movement an identity of its own. Until then, there was a huge gap between mainstream rock and underground music with the latter comprising of musicians who were devotedly non-conformist in their attitude to music. It can also be said that many of the bands clung to non-conformism for its own sake, ironically thereby becoming conformists.
When Alternative Rock first came on the scene in the 1980s, most of the bands playing this sort of music were not commercially successful in the least. It was the mega success of Nirvana that brought this genre of music to music stores. Lots of bands started playing Grunge music because this was probably the most popular type of alt rock at that time.
However, many bands also started playing more than one subgenre of Alternative Rock. Considering that Alternative Rock started off so as to not conform to existing genres of popular rock, it is really ironic that it became mainstream, leading to an identity crisis. There were plenty of bands doing creditable imitations of Nirvana or R.E.M.
There are many different subgenres of Alternative Rock. They include Emo (short for Emotional Punk), Glam or Glitter Rock, Gothic, Grunge, Industrial, just to name a few. Since there are so many subgenres to this type of music, the list of bands that play Alternative Rock is quite large. They include Kaddisfly Alice in Chains, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Coldplay, Radiohead, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, The Smashing Pumpkins, Green Day and Weezer, amongst others. It is important to point out here that many of the really influential bands at the start of the movement did not achieve much commercial success.
This style of music has become so popular that many people consider it to have become mainstream. The popularity of various Alternative Rock music festivals such as Lollapalooza, with its music performances and political activism, offers ample testimony to the growing popularity of this style of music.