Alternative rock (also called alternative music, alt-rock or simply
alternative) is a style of rock music that emerged from the
independent music underground of the 1980s and became widely popular
in the 1990s. In this instance, the word "alternative" refers to the
genre's distinction from mainstream rock music. The term's original
meaning was broader, referring to a generation of musicians unified by
their collective debt[clarification needed] to either the musical
style or simply the independent, DIY ethos of punk rock, which in the
late 1970s laid the groundwork for alternative music. At times,
"alternative" has been used as a catch-all description for music from
underground rock artists that receives mainstream recognition, or for
any music, whether rock or not, that is seen to be descended from punk
rock (including some examples of punk itself, as well as new wave, and
Alternative rock is a broad umbrella term consisting of music that
differs greatly in terms of its sound, social context and regional
roots. By the end of the 1980s, magazines and zines, college radio
airplay, and word of mouth had increased the prominence and
highlighted the diversity of alternative rock, helping to define a
number of distinct styles (and music scenes) such as noise pop, indie
rock, grunge, and shoegaze. Most of these subgenres had achieved minor
mainstream notice and a few bands representing them, such as Hüsker
Dü and R.E.M., had even signed to major labels. But most alternative
bands' commercial success was limited in comparison to other genres of
rock and pop music at the time, and most acts remained signed to
independent labels and received relatively little attention from
mainstream radio, television, or newspapers. With the breakthrough of
Nirvana and the popularity of the grunge and
Britpop movements in the
1990s, alternative rock entered the musical mainstream and many
alternative bands became successful.
By the end of the decade, alternative rock's mainstream prominence
declined due to a number of events that caused grunge and
fade and led to the hiatus of the
1 Origin of term
3.1.1 American underground in the 1980s
3.1.2 British genres and trends of the 1980s
3.2 Popularization in the 1990s
3.2.3 Indie rock
3.2.6 Other trends
3.2.7 Decline of popularity
3.3 21st century revival
4 See also
7 External links
Origin of term
Before the term alternative rock came into common usage around 1990,
the sort of music to which it refers was known by a variety of
terms. In 1979,
Terry Tolkin used the term Alternative Music to
describe the groups he was writing about. In 1979 Dallas radio
station KZEW had a late night new wave show entitled "Rock and Roll
Alternative". "College rock" was used in the
United States to
describe the music during the 1980s due to its links to the college
radio circuit and the tastes of college students. In the United
Kingdom, dozens of small do it yourself record labels emerged as a
result of the punk subculture. According to the founder of one of
these labels, Cherry Red,
NME and Sounds magazines published charts
based on small record stores called "Alternative Charts". The first
national chart based on distribution called the Indie Chart was
published in January 1980; it immediately succeeded in its aim to help
these labels. At the time, the term indie was used literally to
describe independently distributed records. By 1985, indie' had
come to mean a particular genre, or group of subgenres, rather than
simply distribution status.
The use of the term alternative to describe rock music originated
around the mid-1980s; at the time, the common music industry terms
for cutting-edge music were new music and post modern, respectively
indicating freshness and a tendency to re contextualize sounds of the
past. Individuals who worked as DJs and promoters during the
1980s claim the term originates from American
FM radio of the 1970s,
which served as a progressive alternative to top 40 radio formats by
featuring longer songs and giving DJs more freedom in song selection.
According to one former DJ and promoter, "Somehow this term
'alternative' got rediscovered and heisted by college radio people
during the 80s who applied it to new post-punk, indie, or
underground-whatever music". At first the term referred to
intentionally non–mainstream rock acts that were not influenced by
"heavy metal ballads, rarefied new wave" and "high-energy dance
anthems". Usage of the term would broaden to include new wave,
pop, punk rock, post-punk, and occasionally "college"/"indie" rock,
all found on the American "commercial alternative" radio stations of
the time such as Los Angeles' KROQ-FM. Journalist Jim Gerr wrote that
Alternative also encompassed variants such as "rap, trash, metal and
industrial". In December 1991, Spin magazine noted: "this year,
for the first time, it became resoundingly clear that what has
formerly been considered alternative rock - a college-centered
marketing group with fairly lucrative, if limited, potential- has in
fact moved into the mainstream". The bill of the first
Lollapalooza, an itinerant festival in North America conceived by
Jane's Addiction frontman Perry Farrell, reunited "disparate elements
of the alternative rock community" including Henry Rollins, Butthole
Surfers, Ice-T, Nine Inch Nails,
Siouxsie and the Banshees
Siouxsie and the Banshees and Jane's
Addiction. That same year, Farrell coined the term Alternative
Nation. In the late 1990s, the definition again became more
specific. In 1997,
Neil Strauss of
The New York Times
The New York Times defined
alternative rock as "hard-edged rock distinguished by brittle,
'70s-inspired guitar riffing and singers agonizing over their problems
until they take on epic proportions".
Defining music as alternative is often difficult because of two
conflicting applications of the word. Alternative can describe music
that challenges the status quo and that is "fiercely iconoclastic,
anticommercial, and antimainstream", but the term is also used in the
music industry to denote "the choices available to consumers via
record stores, radio, cable television, and the Internet." However
alternative music has paradoxically become just as commercial and
marketable as the mainstream rock, with record companies using the
term "alternative" to market music to an audience that mainstream rock
does not reach. Using a broad definition of the genre, Dave
Thompson in his book Alternative Rock cites the formation of the Sex
Pistols as well as the release of the albums Horses by
Patti Smith and
Metal Machine Music
Metal Machine Music by
Lou Reed as three key events that gave birth to
alternative rock. Until recent years (early 2000s) when indie rock
became the most common term in the US to describe modern pop and rock,
the terms "indie rock" and "alternative rock" were often used
interchangeably; whilst there are aspects which both genres have
in common, indie rock was regarded as a British-based term, unlike the
more American alternative rock.
The name "alternative rock" essentially serves as an umbrella term for
underground music that has emerged in the wake of punk rock since the
mid-1980s. Throughout much of its history, alternative rock has
been largely defined by its rejection of the commercialism of
mainstream culture, although this could be contested ever since some
of the major alternative artists have achieved mainstream success or
co-opted with the major labels from the 1990s onwards (especially
since the new millennium and beyond). Alternative bands during the
1980s generally played in small clubs, recorded for indie labels, and
spread their popularity through word of mouth. As such, there is
no set musical style for alternative rock as a whole, although The New
York Times in 1989 asserted that the genre is "guitar music first of
all, with guitars that blast out power chords, pick out chiming riffs,
buzz with fuzztone and squeal in feedback." More often than in
other rock-styles since the mainstreaming of rock music during the
1970s, alternative rock lyrics tend to address topics of social
concern, such as drug use, depression, suicide, and
environmentalism. This approach to lyrics developed as a
reflection of the social and economic strains in the
United States and
United Kingdom of the 1980s and early 1990s.
One of the first popular alternative rock bands,
R.E.M. relied on
college-radio airplay, constant touring, and a grassroots fanbase to
break into the musical mainstream.
By 1984, a majority of groups signed to independent record labels
mined from a variety of rock and particularly 1960s rock influences.
This represented a sharp break from the futuristic, hyper-rational
"Alternative music is music that hasn't yet achieved a mainstream
audience, Alternative isn't new wave any more, it's a disposition of
mind. Alternative music is any kind of music that has the potential to
reach a wider audience. It also has real strength, real quality, real
excitement, and it has to be socially significant, as opposed to
Whitney Houston, which is pablum."
—Mark Josephson, Executive Director of the New Music Seminar
speaking in 1988
Throughout the 1980s, alternative rock remained mainly an underground
phenomenon. While on occasion a song would become a commercial hit or
albums would receive critical praise in mainstream publications like
Rolling Stone, alternative rock in the 1980s was primarily featured on
independent record labels, fanzines, and college radio stations.
Alternative bands built underground followings by touring constantly
and by regularly releasing low-budget albums. In the case of the
United States, new bands would form in the wake of previous bands,
which created an extensive underground circuit in America, filled with
different scenes in various parts of the country. Although
American alternative artists of the 1980s never generated spectacular
album sales, they exerted a considerable influence on later
alternative musicians and laid the groundwork for their success.
On September 10, 1988, an
Alternative Songs chart was created by
Billboard, listing the 40 most-played songs on alternative and modern
rock radio stations in the US: the first number one was Siouxsie and
the Banshees' "Peek-a-Boo". By 1989 the genre had become popular
enough that a package tour featuring New Order, Public Image Limited
The Sugarcubes toured the
United States arena circuit.
In contrast, British alternative rock was distinguished from that of
United States early on by a more pop-oriented focus (marked by an
equal emphasis on albums and singles, as well as greater openness to
incorporating elements of dance and club culture) and a lyrical
emphasis on specifically British concerns. As a result, few British
alternative bands have achieved commercial success in the US.
Since the 1980s alternative rock has been played extensively on the
radio in the UK, particularly by disc jockeys such as
John Peel (who
championed alternative music on BBC Radio 1), Richard Skinner, and
Annie Nightingale. Artists that had cult followings in the United
States received greater exposure through British national radio and
the weekly music press, and many alternative bands had chart success
American underground in the 1980s
Kim Gordon and
Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth
Early American alternative bands such as The Dream Syndicate, R.E.M.,
The Feelies and
Violent Femmes combined punk influences with folk
music and mainstream music influences.
R.E.M. was the most immediately
successful; its debut album, Murmur (1983), entered the
Top 40 and
spawned a number of jangle pop followers. One of the many jangle
pop scenes of the early 1980s, Los Angeles' Paisley Underground
revived the sounds of the 1960s, incorporating psychedelia, rich vocal
harmonies and the guitar interplay of folk rock as well as punk and
underground influences such as The Velvet Underground.
American indie record labels SST Records, Twin/Tone Records, Touch and
Go Records, and
Dischord Records presided over the shift from the
hardcore punk that then dominated the American underground scene to
the more diverse styles of alternative rock that were emerging.
Hüsker Dü and The Replacements were indicative of
this shift. Both started out as punk rock bands, but soon diversified
their sounds and became more melodic.
Michael Azerrad asserted
Hüsker Dü was the key link between hardcore punk and the more
melodic, diverse music of college rock that emerged. Azerrad wrote,
Hüsker Dü played a huge role in convincing the underground that
melody and punk rock weren't antithetical." The band also set an
example by being the first group from the American indie scene to sign
to a major record label, which helped establish college rock as "a
viable commercial enterprise." By focusing on heartfelt
songwriting and wordplay instead of political concerns, The
Replacements upended a number of underground scene conventions;
Azerrad noted that "along with
R.E.M. [The Replacements] were one of
the few underground bands that mainstream people liked."
By the late 1980s, the American alternative scene was dominated by
styles ranging from quirky alternative pop (
They Might Be Giants
They Might Be Giants and
Camper Van Beethoven), to noise rock (Sonic Youth, Big Black, The
Jesus Lizard) and industrial rock (Ministry, Nine Inch Nails).
These sounds were in turn followed by the advent of Boston's Pixies
and Los Angeles' Jane's Addiction. Around the same time, the
grunge subgenre emerged in Seattle, Washington, initially referred to
Seattle Sound" until its rise to popularity in the early
Grunge featured a sludgy, murky guitar sound that
synthesized heavy metal and punk rock. Promoted largely by Seattle
indie label Sub Pop, grunge bands were noted for their thrift store
fashion which favored flannel shirts and combat boots suited to the
local weather. Early grunge bands
critical acclaim in the U.S. and UK, respectively.
By the end of the decade, a number of alternative bands began to sign
to major labels. While early major label signings
Hüsker Dü and The
Replacements had little success, acts who signed with majors in their
wake such as
Jane's Addiction achieved gold and platinum
records, setting the stage for alternative's later
breakthrough. Some bands such as Pixies had massive success
overseas while they were ignored domestically.
In the middle of the decade, Hüsker Dü's album
Zen Arcade influenced
other hardcore acts by tackling personal issues. Out of Washington,
D.C.'s hardcore scene what was called "emocore" or "emo" emerged and
was noted for its lyrics which delved into emotional very personal
subject matter (vocalists sometimes cried) and added free association
poetry and a confessional tone.
Rites of Spring
Rites of Spring has been described as
the first "emo" band. Former
Minor Threat singer
Ian MacKaye founded
Dischord Records which became the center for the city's emo scene.
British genres and trends of the 1980s
Robert Smith of The Cure
Gothic rock developed out of late-1970s British post-punk. With a
reputation as the "darkest and gloomiest form of underground rock",
gothic rock utilizes a synthesizer-and-guitar based sound drawn from
post-punk to construct "foreboding, sorrowful, often epic
soundscapes", and the genre's lyrics often address literary
romanticism, morbidity, religious symbolism, and supernatural
mysticism. This genre among bands that took inspiration from
late-1970s British post-punk groups,
Joy Division and Siouxsie and the
Banshees. Bauhaus' debut single "Bela Lugosi's Dead", released in
1979, is considered to be the proper beginning of the gothic rock
genre. The Cure's "oppressively dispirited" albums including
Pornography (1982) cemented that group's stature in that style and
laid the foundation for its large cult following.
The key British alternative rock band to emerge during the 1980s was
Manchester's The Smiths. Music journalist
Simon Reynolds singled out
The Smiths and their American contemporaries
R.E.M. as "the two most
important alt-rock bands of the day", commenting that they "were
eighties bands only in the sense of being against the eighties".
Reynolds noted that The Smiths' "whole stance was predicated on their
British audience being a lost generation, exiles in their own
land". The Smiths' embrace of the guitar in an era of
synthesizer-dominated music is viewed as signaling the end of the new
wave era and the advent of alternative rock in the United Kingdom.
Despite the band's limited chart success and short career, The Smiths
exerted an influence over the British indie scene through the end of
the decade, as various bands drew from singer Morrissey's
English-centered lyrical topics and guitarist Johnny Marr's jangly
guitar-playing style. The
C86 cassette, a 1986
featuring Primal Scream,
The Wedding Present
The Wedding Present and others, was a major
influence on the development of indie pop and the British indie scene
as a whole.
Other forms of alternative rock developed in the UK during the 1980s.
The Jesus and Mary Chain's sound combined the Velvet Underground's
"melancholy noise" with
Beach Boys pop melodies and Phil Spector's
"Wall of Sound" production, while New Order emerged from the
demise of post-punk band
Joy Division and experimented with techno and
house music. The Mary Chain, along with Dinosaur Jr.,
C86 and the
dream pop of Cocteau Twins, were the formative influences for the
shoegazing movement of the late 1980s. Named for the band members'
tendency to stare at their feet and guitar effects pedals onstage
rather than interact with the audience, shoegazing acts like My Bloody
Slowdive created an overwhelmingly loud "wash of sound"
that obscured vocals and melodies with long, droning riffs,
distortion, and feedback.
Shoegazing bands dominated the British
music press at the end of the decade along with the
Performing for the most part in The Haçienda, a nightclub in
Manchester owned by New Order and Factory Records,
Happy Mondays and
The Stone Roses
The Stone Roses mixed acid house dance
rhythms with melodic guitar pop.
Popularization in the 1990s
"Smells Like Teen Spirit"
Sample of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" from Nirvana's breakthrough album
Nevermind (1991). The sample illustrates the change in dynamics from
verse to pre-chorus and chorus. This structure of "quiet verses with
wobbly, chorused guitar, followed by big, loud hardcore-inspired
choruses" became a much-emulated template in alternative rock because
of "Teen Spirit."
Problems playing this file? See media help.
By the start of the 1990s, the music industry was enticed by
alternative rock's commercial possibilities and major labels actively
courted bands including Jane's Addiction, Red Hot Chili Peppers,
Dinosaur Jr., Firehose, and Nirvana. In particular, R.E.M.'s
success had become a blueprint for many alternative bands in the late
1980s and 1990s to follow; the group had outlasted many of its
contemporaries and by the 1990s had become one of the most popular
bands in the world.
Kurt Cobain (foreground) and
Krist Novoselic with Nirvana live at the
MTV Video Music Awards.
The breakthrough success of the band Nirvana led to the widespread
popularization of alternative rock in the 1990s. The release of the
band's single "Smells Like Teen Spirit" from its second album
Nevermind (1991) "marked the instigation of the grunge music
phenomenon". Due to constant airplay of the song's music video on MTV,
Nevermind was selling 400,000 copies a week by Christmas 1991. The
Nevermind surprised the music industry.
Nevermind not only
popularized grunge, but also established "the cultural and commercial
viability of alternative rock in general." Michael Azerrad
Nevermind symbolized "a sea-change in rock music" in
which the hair metal that had dominated rock music at that time fell
out of favor in the face of music that was authentic and culturally
Nirvana's surprise success with
Nevermind heralded a "new openness to
alternative rock" among commercial radio stations, opening doors for
heavier alternative bands in particular. In the wake of Nevermind,
alternative rock "found itself dragged-kicking and screaming ...
into the mainstream" and record companies, confused by the genre's
success yet eager to capitalize on it, scrambled to sign bands.
The New York Times
The New York Times declared in 1993, "
Alternative rock doesn't seem so
alternative anymore. Every major label has a handful of guitar-driven
bands in shapeless shirts and threadbare jeans, bands with bad posture
and good riffs who cultivate the oblique and the evasive, who conceal
catchy tunes with noise and hide craftsmanship behind
nonchalance." However, many alternative rock artists rejected
success, for it conflicted with the rebellious,
DIY ethic the genre
had espoused before mainstream exposure and their ideas of artistic
Main article: Grunge
Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam
Other grunge bands subsequently replicated Nirvana's success. Pearl
Jam had released its debut album Ten a month before
Nevermind in 1991,
but album sales only picked up a year later. By the second half of
1992 Ten became a breakthrough success, being certified gold and
reaching number two on the
Billboard 200 album chart.
Soundgarden's album Badmotorfinger, Alice in Chains' Dirt and Stone
Temple Pilots' Core along with the Temple of the Dog album
collaboration featuring members of
Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, were
also among the 100 top-selling albums of 1992. The popular
breakthrough of these grunge bands prompted
Rolling Stone to nickname
Seattle "the new Liverpool." Major record labels signed most of
the prominent grunge bands in Seattle, while a second influx of bands
moved to the city in hopes of success.
At the same time, critics asserted that advertising was co-opting
elements of grunge and turning it into a fad. Entertainment Weekly
commented in a 1993 article, "There hasn't been this kind of
exploitation of a subculture since the media discovered hippies in the
The New York Times
The New York Times compared the "grunging of America" to
the mass-marketing of punk rock, disco, and hip hop in previous years.
As a result of the genre's popularity, a backlash against grunge
developed in Seattle. Nirvana's follow-up album In Utero (1993)
was an intentionally abrasive album that Nirvana bassist Krist
Novoselic described as a "wild aggressive sound, a true alternative
record." Nevertheless, upon its release in September 1993 In Utero
Pearl Jam also continued to perform
well commercially with its second album, Vs. (1993), which topped the
Billboard charts by selling a record 950,378 copies in its first week
Main article: Britpop
Noel Gallagher of Oasis
With the decline of the
Madchester scene and the unglamorousness of
shoegazing, the tide of grunge from America dominated the British
alternative scene and music press in the early 1990s. As a
reaction, a flurry of British bands emerged that wished to "get rid of
grunge" and "declare war on America", taking the public and native
music press by storm. Dubbed "Britpop" by the media, this movement
represented by Pulp, Blur, Suede, and Oasis was the British equivalent
of the grunge explosion, in that the artists propelled alternative
rock to the top of the charts in their home country.
were influenced by and displayed reverence for British guitar music of
the past, particularly movements and genres such as the British
Invasion, glam rock, and punk rock. In 1995 the
culminated in a rivalry between its two chief groups, Oasis and Blur,
symbolized by their release of competing singles on the same day. Blur
won "The Battle of Britpop", but Oasis soon eclipsed the other band in
popularity with its second album, (What's the Story) Morning Glory?
(1995), which went on to become the third best-selling album in
the UK's history.
Main article: Indie Rock
Long synonymous with alternative rock as a whole in the US, indie rock
became a distinct form following the popular breakthrough of
Indie rock was formulated as a rejection of both
alternative rock's absorption into the mainstream by artists who could
not or refused to cross over, and a wariness of its "macho" aesthetic.
While indie rock artists share the punk rock distrust of
commercialism, the genre does not entirely define itself against that,
as "the general assumption is that it's virtually impossible to make
indie rock's varying musical approaches compatible with mainstream
tastes in the first place".
Labels such as Matador Records, Merge Records, and Dischord, and indie
rockers like Pavement, Superchunk, Fugazi, and Sleater-Kinney
dominated the American indie scene for most of the 1990s. One of
the main indie rock movements of the 1990s was lo-fi. The movement,
which focused on the recording and distribution of music on
low-quality cassette tapes, initially emerged in the 1980s. By 1992,
Pavement, Guided by Voices and
Sebadoh became popular lo-fi cult acts
in the United States, while subsequently artists like
Beck and Liz
Phair brought the aesthetic to mainstream audiences. The period
also saw alternative confessional female singer-songwriters. Besides
the aforementioned Liz Phair,
PJ Harvey fit into this sub group.
Main article: Post-grunge
During the latter half of the 1990s, grunge was supplanted by
post-grunge. Many post-grunge bands lacked the underground roots of
grunge and were largely influenced by what grunge had become, namely
"a wildly popular form of inward-looking, serious-minded hard rock.";
many post-grunge bands emulated the sound and style of grunge, "but
not necessarily the individual idiosyncracies of its original
Post-grunge was a more commercially viable genre that
tempered the distorted guitars of grunge with polished, radio-ready
production. Originally, post-grunge was a label used almost
pejoratively on bands that emerged when grunge was mainstream and
emulated the grunge sound. The label suggested that bands labelled as
post-grunge were simply musically derivative, or a cynical response to
an "authentic" rock movement. Bush, Candlebox and Collective Soul
were labelled almost pejoratively as post-grunge which, according to
Tim Grierson of About.com, is "suggesting that rather than being a
musical movement in their own right, they were just a calculated,
cynical response to a legitimate stylistic shift in rock music."
Post-grunge morphed during the late 1990s as post-grunge bands such as
Foo Fighters, Creed and
Main article: Post-rock
Post-rock was established by
Talk Talk's Laughing Stock and Slint's
Spiderland albums, both released in 1991.
influence from a number of genres, including Krautrock, progressive
rock, and jazz. The genre subverts or rejects rock conventions, and
often incorporates electronic music. While the name of the genre
was coined by music journalist
Simon Reynolds in 1994, the style of
the genre was solidified by the release of Millions Now Living Will
Never Die (1996) by the Chicago group Tortoise.
the dominant form of experimental rock music in the 1990s and bands
from the genre signed to such labels as Thrill Jockey, Kranky, Drag
City, and Too Pure. A related genre, math rock, peaked in the
mid-1990s. In comparison to post-rock, math rock is more "rockist" and
relies on complex time signatures and intertwining phrases. By the
end of the decade a backlash had emerged against post-rock due to its
"dispassionate intellectuality" and its perceived increasing
predictability, but a new wave of post-rock bands such as Godspeed
You! Black Emperor and
Sigur Rós emerged who further expanded the
Smashing Pumpkins album
Siamese Dream was a major commercial
success. The strong influence of heavy metal and progressive rock on
the album helped to legitimize alternative rock to mainstream radio
programmers and close the gap between alternative rock and the type of
rock played on American 1970s
Album Oriented Rock radio. In 1995
Smashing Pumpkins also released their double album Mellon Collie &
the Infinite Sadness which went on to sell 10 million copies in the US
alone, certifying it as a Diamond record.
After almost a decade in the underground, ska punk, a mixture of
earlier British ska and punk acts, became popular in the United
States. Rancid was the first of the "Third Wave Ska Revival" acts to
break. In 1996, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, No Doubt, Sublime,
Goldfinger, Reel Big Fish,
Less Than Jake
Less Than Jake and
Save Ferris charted or
received radio exposure.
Decline of popularity
By the end of the decade, alternative rock's mainstream prominence
declined due to a number of events, notably the death of Nirvana's
Kurt Cobain in 1994 and Pearl Jam's lawsuit against concert venue
promoter Ticketmaster[clarification needed], which in effect barred
the group from playing many major venues around the United States.
In addition to the decline of grunge bands,
Britpop faded as Oasis's
third album, Be Here Now (1997), received lackluster reviews and Blur
began to incorporate influences from American alternative rock. A
signifier of alternative rock's declining popularity was the hiatus of
Lollapalooza festival after an unsuccessful attempt to find a
headliner in 1998. In light of the festival's troubles that year, Spin
Lollapalooza is as comatose as alternative rock right now".
Despite alternative rock's declining popularity, some artists retained
Post-grunge remained commercially viable into
the start of the 21st century, when bands like Creed and Matchbox
Twenty became among the most popular rock bands in the United
States. At the same time
Britpop began to decline, Radiohead
achieved critical acclaim with its third album
OK Computer (1997), and
Kid A (2000) and Amnesiac (2001), which were in marked
contrast with the traditionalism of Britpop. Radiohead, along with
Britpop groups like Travis and Coldplay, were major forces in
British rock in subsequent years.
In the mid-1990s
Sunny Day Real Estate
Sunny Day Real Estate defined the "emo" genre for
many. Weezer's album Pinkerton (1996) was also influential. By 2000
and on into the new decade emo was one of the most popular rock music
genres. Popular acts included platinum selling success of Bleed
Jimmy Eat World
Jimmy Eat World (2001) and Dashboard Confessional's The
Places You Have Come to Fear the Most (2003). The new emo had a
much more mainstream sound than in the 1990s and a far greater appeal
amongst adolescents than its earlier incarnations. At the same
time, use of the term "emo" expanded beyond the musical genre,
becoming associated with fashion, a hairstyle and any music that
expressed emotion. The term "emo" has been applied by critics and
journalists to a variety of artists, including multi-platinum acts
such as Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance and disparate
groups such as Paramore and Panic! at the Disco, even when
they reject the label.
21st century revival
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand
During the late 1990s and early 2000s, several alternative rock bands
emerged, including The Strokes, Franz Ferdinand, Interpol and The
Rapture that drew primary inspiration from post-punk and new wave,
establishing the post-punk revival movement. Preceded by the
success of bands such as
The Strokes and The White Stripes earlier in
the decade, an influx of new alternative rock bands, including several
post-punk revival artists and others such as The Killers, and Yeah
Yeah Yeahs, found commercial success in the early and mid 2000s. Owing
to the success of these bands,
Entertainment Weekly declared in 2004,
"After almost a decade of domination by rap-rock and nu-metal bands,
mainstream alt-rock is finally good again." Thirty Seconds to Mars
experiencing a notable rise in popularity during the latter half of
the 2000s. American rock band
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Red Hot Chili Peppers entered a
new-found popularity in 1999 after the release of their album
Californication (1999), with continued success throughout the 2000s.
Most references to alternative rock music in the
United States past
2010 are to the indie rock genre, a term that previously had limited
usage on alternative rock channels and media. While there have
been conflicting opinions on the relevance of alternative rock to
mainstream audiences beyond 2010,
Dave Grohl commented on an
article from the December 29, 2013 issue of the New York Daily News
stating that rock is dead: "speak for yourself... rock seems
pretty alive to me."
Alternative rock portal
Book: Alternative rock
Adult album alternative (radio format)
List of alternative rock artists
Modern rock (radio format)
Spin Alternative Record Guide
Timeline of alternative rock
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