Alternative music is one of the many sub-genres of rock music that became widely popular in the 1990s. At first, the term ‘Alternative’ was used for describing pop-punk bands or any band that did not fit into any other genre. Today Alternative rock has its own sub-genres, such as grunge, goth rock, indie pop, and grunge. Let us explore the origins of alternative music to understand the true essence of this music.
What is alternative music?
Alternative music or ‘alternative rock’ is the music produced by musicians that are outside the musical mainstream. This music is more typically regarded as challenging, original, and fresh music that defies every other conventional pop, rock, or country music. Since alternative music is often produced by bands who are not in connection with any mainstream labels, their music is released as independent records.
Alternative music has always attracted free thinkers who value underground music for its originality and the rebellious way of opposing the orthodox means of making music. It may not always be the best music you have heard, but it is something which gives you a new window of ideas in music.
Origins of alternative music
During the ’80s, when rock music was at its best form, a new underground community was building up, which experimented with the ways of manipulating rock music. New bands were interested in destroying and recreating rock music, and surprisingly a wide community supported this change. This new type of music was coined as “alternative” music. It was giving something different from rock to the listeners as well as to the bands to discover.
Even though Alternative music is a sub-genre of rock, some of its influences come from folk music, reggae, jazz, and electronic music. Alternative music had different types of sub-genres of its own and was generally representing the entire underground music that was emerging after the punk rock era of the mid-1980s.
The music industry mostly defined alternative music as the rejection of the commercialization of mainstream music. The underground music bands played in small clubs, festivals, and grew popularity with word-of-mouth. The topics used in the lyrics were more about drug abuse, social issues, environment, and depression. MTV first started airing alternative music videos late at night in the 80s, and it was the only aid for alternative music to spread around at that moment.
Since alternative music was only an underground movement during the 80s and was not what the mainstream music industry was looking for, there were not many bands that became popular during the time. But they laid the foundation for the upcoming musicians who grew up listening to alternative music. Bands like Nirvana broke records, making alternative music the best sub-genre of rock for the entire decade. As the alternative music bands never craved for the limelight, the trend saw a decline in the early 2000s. In the meanwhile, Indie Rock was diversifying and spreading across the listeners. People still listen to alternative music and connect with songs like the previous generation. With the rise of other music genres, there are not many alternative music bands that are making it to the mainstream industry, but they are still being heard around the globe.