’80s Alternative Essentials

’80s Alternative Essentials

Following the seismic explosion of punk in the late ‘70s, the aftershocks continued to ripple into the next decade, reshaping the mainstream in the process. The result was alternative rock: music that was too offbeat to conform to traditional guitar-band archetypes, yet too insidiously melodic and sonically ambitious to be confined to the indie underground. First-wave punks like The Clash and Talking Heads paved the way when they started taking cues from dance music and became early MTV stars, while post-punk-spawned acts like U2 and R.E.M. offered early prophecies of their arena-filling futures. By the mid-’80s, The Cure’s Robert Smith and The Smiths’ Morrissey emerged as the era’s quintessential anti-rock stars, rallying millions of misfits around the world with their sad-eyed romanticism. However, at decade’s end, harder-edged bands like Jane’s Addiction and Red Hot Chili Peppers started whipping up the mosh pits that would carry alternative toward a grungier new phase in the ‘90s.

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