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A question about something I never understood: what was "alternative rock" meant to be an alternative to?


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This is not meant to besmirch any genre of music, just something I never "got'', especially since rock did a lot of evolving over time.  

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I think the term was meant to differentiate it from the common Top 40/pop music on so many stations. Now I think it mainly means "stuff you probably won't hear anywhere else." 

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3 hours ago, Mark said:

I never did figure out "soft rock"...

Some 'soft rock' is just prog rock in disguise......... Alan Parsons Project, 10cc, it's what the progressive rock turned into...

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Back before that term was even thought of we used to call it college radio as you could only hear that kind of music on certain college radio stations (I would constantly listen to WPRB Princeton). When it started to gain in popularity the radio stations needed to hang a moniker on it and the term alternative music was born sort of like this is an alternative to top 40 type of stuff. 

It was great for a while but when watered down bands began to gain traction, like most things like this, it eventually faded away. Fun while it lasted I suppose.

Edited by Mike C.
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For almost 40 years people have been using the term “alternative” to describe music that’s left-of-centre, underground, independent, otherwise not made for the mainstream, or all of the above. It’s music that’s an “alternative” to what everyone else was listening to. 

Then of course, alternative became the mainstream. Now it's become classic rock. 

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1 hour ago, tbill said:

Never understood the need to label music…..

 

( I get it’s a marketing thing, but….)

Well, I speculate that say, you want to hear something in line with The Eagles or Jackson Brown and you ask someone to put on "some music" and you get Nickleback instead. 😲

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7 hours ago, paul alflen said:

WABX in Detroit played the songs on the albums that you didn't hear on the top 40 stations . The "alternative" Rock station that catered to the people into mary jane.

I have a copy of the out-of-print Rough Power (Iggy & The Stooges, 1972), which was released by BOMP! in 1995. As its title implies, it's the rough cuts from Raw Power (Stooges last studio album until c.2000).
Its main attraction is that it has the WABX broadcast of when Iggy Pop brought the unrefined tapes to the WABX studios to be played on-air. 

Back when FM was freeform radio, not corporate-sponsored tripe that's around these days.

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In the 80s, here in California we had "The world famous KROQ", the music they played was mostly new British bands and quirky songs you wouldn't hear on Top 40 or Album Rock stations. So when I hear the term Alternative Rock, I think "KROQ" music.

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6 hours ago, iamsuperdan said:

For almost 40 years people have been using the term “alternative” to describe music that’s left-of-centre, underground, independent, otherwise not made for the mainstream, or all of the above. It’s music that’s an “alternative” to what everyone else was listening to. 

Then of course, alternative became the mainstream. Now it's become classic rock. 

I keep thinking back to when I bought my 200 and got a Sirius subscription with it and discovered what they now call Rock The Bells Radio, which is their "Classic Hip Hop" station........considering how much of that came out when I was a child and young teen started making me feel old real quick<_<:lol:

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6 hours ago, Oldcarfan27 said:

In the 80s, here in California we had "The world famous KROQ", the music they played was mostly new British bands and quirky songs you wouldn't hear on Top 40 or Album Rock stations. So when I hear the term Alternative Rock, I think "KROQ" music.

Not to mention Rodney on the Roq -- I taped that programme anytime that I was home for it. Oh, what I'd give to have those tapes now! I used to see Rodney Bingenheimer at Canter's and/or Kibitz Room; my friend Len was friends with him.

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Yahoo.com stated that "Alternative in the 1980s basically meant anything that mainstream radio wouldn’t play. Which was mostly everything back then. You had to either have an “alternative” station or a college radio station available to hear most of these acts."

In the 80s the music labels were:

Alternative Rock - New Order,  Depeche Mode, The Cure, The Smiths, Tears for Fears, English Beat.

Pop - Madonna, New Kids on the Block, Bananarama.

Top 40 - Cyndi Lauper, Huey Lewis & the News, Men at Work, Police.

R&B - Prince, Michael Jackson, Commodores, Luther Vandross.

Heavy Metal - Metallica, Queensryche, Motorhead, Ozzy.

Classic Rock - Rolling Stones, Beatles, Who.

Album Rock - Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Yes.

Punk -  The Clash, Ramones, Sex Pistols. 

Pop Metal (Hair Bands) - Slaughter, Ratt, Warrant, Motley Crue.

Disco - You know it when you hear it!

Some labels got played on multiple radio formats, none got played on ALL formats!

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1972 coronet(john shoe) Exactly what I was talking about. You got it right on the Money. ON Saturday nights they would play for an example " Ted Nugent live, or Dave Mason concert from somewhere, etc. We would hook up our 8 track tape recorders( cost 69.95 back then from Radio Shack) ,put in a blank 90 min 8 track, and record it for playing in our cars when cruising. I think I still have the tapes in my closet. All cool stuff that you would never hear on top 40 stations. Iggy pop developed his fans that way! Free publicity w/o paying the promotional fees. Brilliant!

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