Alternative

  • Alternative Station

    FEATURED STATION

    Alternative Station

    Apple Music Alternative

  • ALT CTRL

    UPDATED PLAYLIST

    ALT CTRL

    Apple Music Alternative

    In Spatial Audio, Wilderado’s “Surefire” is sure to blow your hair back.
  • Alternative Holiday

    FEATURED PLAYLIST

    Alternative Holiday

    Holiday

    Flipping the script on the same old holiday standards.
  • New in Alternative

    UPDATED PLAYLIST

    New in Alternative

    Apple Music Alternative

    What’s fresh on the margins of the mainstream.
    • Nobody
    • half•alive
    • Portrait of God
    • King Tuff
    • The Shape I'm Takin'
    • Red Hot Chili Peppers
    • Rebels Without Applause
    • Morrissey
    • White Winter Hymnal
    • spill tab
    • last christmas
    • glaive
    • My Favorite Things
    • ELIO
    • Run Rudolph Run
    • King Stingray
    • Trouble With This Bed
    • Beach Weather
    • High Up
    • half•alive
    • Sober
    • jxdn
    • Feb 1st
    • Illiterate Light
    • Bon Voyage
    • Chiiild
    • We Are All Insane
    • AWOLNATION
    • Pretty Boy
    • Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds
    • Mad At Me
    • Samia & papa mbye
    • If I Died Last Night
    • Jessie Murph
  • d4vd
  • lovelytheband
  • White Reaper
  • TALK
  • Silversun Pickups
  • Cafuné
  • Gorillaz

About

After many years underground, alternative rock finally exploded in the early 1990s, quickly changing not only the music industry but popular culture as a whole. But the roots of alternative rock stretch back at least to punk in the late 1970s, which in turn led to the far more musically diverse post-punk and indie rock scenes in the 1980s. During the 80s, a host of artists with roots in the world of post-punk and indie gradually developed large followings around the world, while also usually being neglected or ignored by the rock establishment.

Sometimes these artists were known as college rock acts, thanks to many getting their first exposure on college radio stations, and sometimes as modern rock acts. These mostly U.S. and UK artists included a little bit of everything: proto-indie groups like The Smiths; alternative metal bands like Jane’s Addiction; noise rock acts like Pixies; goth pioneers like The Cure; dream-pop artists like Cocteau Twins. Many of these artists would eventually be grouped under the alternative rock umbrella. But what initially united them was that they were operating at least somewhat outside of the mainstream, while still being able to attract large audiences.

By the late 1980s, the music industry was taking notice, with Billboard launching the Modern Rock chart, aimed at these not-quite-underground groups. But two trends would help to push alternative rock fully into mainstream by the early 1990s. One was the upbeat and accessible sound of indie-dance bands like The Stone Roses and New Order. But far more crucial, especially in the U.S., was the rise of grunge. Initially launched by Pacific Northwest bands like Mudhoney and Soundgarden, grunge was far closer to traditional hard rock than any alternative sound that had come before.

If any event can truly be said to have launched alternative rock, it was the unprecedented platinum-selling success of Nirvana’s Nevermind in 1991. Linked with grunge, Nirvana would usher in a host of massively popular grunge and alternative rock bands, from Pearl Jam to Alice in Chains to Stone Temple Pilots. Alternative acts that had formed in the college rock days of the 1980s would become stars in the 1990s to varying degrees, from the huge successes of R.E.M. and The Red Hot Chili Peppers to the critically acclaimed likes of Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr.

Just a few years later, the alternative scene had grown wildly diverse. Ministry and Nine Inch Nails added industrial music to the alternative mix, and Faith No More and Rage Against the Machine would pioneer alternative metal. Beck and a rejuvenated Beastie Boys would link alternative rock with hip-hop. Green Day and Rancid, among many others, would bring punk rock to the alternative audience. Weezer would revive power-pop. Bands like No Doubt and Sublime would spark an interest in reggae and ska. Singer-songwriters like Tori Amos and Fiona Apple would update the confessional sounds of the 1970s for the alternative era.

In the UK, British alternative bands like Oasis and Blur began to look back to the history of UK rock. These groups and many others would spark the Britpop explosion, a sound that would only have a minor impact on America but would transform British music in the 1990s. At the same time, a more experimental wave of UK alternative bands, from Radiohead to The Verve to Spiritualized, would revive the tradition of art-rock. And with a long history of electronic-influenced rock, the decade’s developments in dance music would first hit in the UK, before spreading to U.S. alternative bands like Garbage and The Smashing Pumpkins.

By the end of the 1990s, newer trends would dominate alternative, from the heavier nu-metal of bands like Korn and Limp Bizkit to the consciously pop-friendly sounds of Smash Mouth and Sugar Ray. But by the early 2000s, alternative rock would experience a renaissance both in the U.S. and the UK. First came the revival of garage rock and blues rock, first spearheaded by U.S. bands like The Strokes and The White Stripes and then a new generation of UK groups like The Libertines. The UK would also see the rise in a post-Britpop scene that included alternative superstars like Coldplay and Muse.

In the U.S., post-grunge would remain hugely popular among alternative fans. But the 21st century would also see an influx of new sounds and influences come into alternative rock. The garage rock revival would lead to a renewed interest in dance-rock and post-punk. Inspired at least in part by the confessional alternative power-pop of Weezer, emo groups like Fall Out Boy and Paramore would enter the mainstream. A range of bands that might have been called indie rock in the 1990s, from Modest Mouse to The Shins, would find fans among alternative audiences, suggesting that alternative would only continue to evolve in the years to come. Finally, in recent years, alternative has come full circle-- harkening back to the new wave and the indie-dance of its roots, with the success of bands like Phoenix, Imagine Dragons, Grouplove and Lorde.