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2018-10-20 14:54

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History

Alternative rock in the 1980s

By 1984, a majority of groups signed to independent record labels were mining from a variety of rock and particularly 1960s rock influences. This represented a sharp break from the futuristic, hyper-rational post-punk years.

Throughout the 1980s, alternative rock was 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 relegated to independent record labels, fanzines, and college radio stations. Alternative bands built underground followings by touring constantly and 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. By 1989 the genre had become popular enough that a package tour featuring New Order, Public Image Limited and The Sugarcubes toured the United States arena circuit.

In contrast, British alternative rock was distinguished from that of the 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 there.

The American underground in the 1980s

Early American alternative bands such as 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. Minneapolis bands 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 that 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 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 the Pixies and Los Angeles' Jane's Addiction. Around the same time, the grunge subgenre emerged in Seattle, Washington. Grunge was based around a sludgy, murky guitar sound that synthesized heavy metal and punk rock. Largely based around the 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 Soundgarden and Mudhoney found 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 R.E.M. and Jane's Addiction achieved gold and platinum records, setting the stage for alternative's later breakthrough. Some bands such as the Pixies had massive success overseas while they were ignored domestically.

In the middle of the decade Husker Du'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 it's lyrics which delved into emotional very personal subject matter (vocalists sometimes cried) and added free association poetry and a confessional tone. Rites of Spring has been described as the first "emo" band. Ian MacKaye a former singer with Minor Threat founded Dischord Records which became the center for the city's emo scene.

British genres and trends of the 1980s

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 Seventeen Seconds (1980), Faith (1981), and Pornography (1982) cemented that group's stature in that style and laid the foundation 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 Britain. 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 NME premium featuring Primal Scream, 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 Valentine and 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 Madchester scene. Based around The Haçienda, a nightclub in Manchester owned by New Order and Factory Records, Madchester bands such as Happy Mondays and The Stone Roses mixed acid house dance rhythms with melodic guitar pop.

Popularization in the 1990s

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, 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.

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 success of 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 asserted that Nevermind symbolized "a sea-change in rock music" in which the glam metal that had dominated rock music at that time fell out of favor in the face of music that was authentic and culturally relevant.

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 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, D.I.Y. ethic the genre had espoused before mainstream exposure and their ideas of artistic authenticity.

The Grunge Explosion

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 and Alice in Chains' Dirt, 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 '60s." 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 topped the Billboard charts. 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 of release.

Britpop

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, Oasis, Suede, and Blur 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. Britpop bands 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 Britpop phenomenon 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 Britain's history.

Mid to late 1990s: 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, 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 the Lollapalooza festival after an unsuccessful attempt to find a headliner in 1998. In light of the festival's troubles that year, Spin said, "Lollapalooza is as comatose as alternative rock right now".

Despite alternative rock's declining popularity, some artists retained mainstream relevance. 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 its follow-ups Kid A (2000) and Amnesiac (2001), which were in marked contrast with the traditionalism of Britpop. Radiohead, along with post-Britpop groups like Travis and Coldplay, were major forces in British rock in subsequent years.

Fugazi became the first emo act to attract notice in the larger alternative rock world. In the mid 1990's Sunny Day Real Estate defined the "emo" genre for many. Weezer's Pinkerton album was also influential. By 2000 and on into the new decade emo was one of the most popular rock music genres. Poular acts included platinum selling success of Bleed American by Jimmy Eat World's (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.

Alternative Rock In The 21st Century

During the late 1990s and early 2000s, several alternative rock bands emerged, including The Strokes, Muse, 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 Modest Mouse, The Killers, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, found commercial success in the early 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."

By 2010, in the United States the term alternative rock fell out of common usage. Most references to rock music today are to the indie rock genre, a term that had previously limited usage on alternative rock channels and media.

 

Dedication Scroller

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Westfield Massacre

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Heart Shaped Box

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The_Cat

Dedication:
Kurt would like this :)


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Song Played:
How Long Will I Love You

Requested by:
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Dedication:
To one of my oldest friends on his birthday.. Friday the 13th always in my heart


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Song Played:
In The Air Tonight

Requested by:
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Dedication:
To all the Axel Rudi Pell fans Like me :)


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Aerosmith

Song Played:
I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing

Requested by:
MzEssensual

Dedication:
to my friends Earwen and Fin.. this ones for you


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KEEL

Song Played:
If Love Is A Crime (I Wanna Be Convicted)

Requested by:
The_Cat

Dedication:
For all of us lovers :)


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