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I have heard people saythat they love Alternative music, but I don't actually understand what's so different about Alternative and regular Rock. I've also seen bands like Dropkick Murphys and Rancid be classified as Alternative and That confused me to no end. I always thought Alternative was the Pop Rocky stuff. If someone could help out, That'd be great=)
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It's a marketing term. Like most marketing terms, it has no meaning. For whatever its worth, here;s an essay on it from allmusic:
When I think of alternative, I think of punk rock and nirvana.
Thanks to bands like REM and Nirvana popularizing it,it no longer has any meaning...
Alternative rock became an obselete term in about 1993 when alternative became mainstream.
Simple answer. Alternative was indie before indie was indie. If the Arcade Fire had released Funeral in 1993, it would've been called alternative instead of indie. Alternative became a popular term to describe bands from the grunge era. I belive before that it was referred to as college rock.
As far as I understand it, "alternative" rock arose in the early 80s to refer to any rock music that was based predominantly on punk rock as opposed to "traditional" blues-based rock and roll. Early R.E.M., the Replacements, and then Sonic Youth and Pixies, and so on were all out of the mainstream and punk-based (if you trace it back) so they were "alternative". Then Nevermind happened, and "alternative" became the most popular form of rock, and things came full circle.
I consider stuff like The National to be 'alternative'. Anything with pop accessibility but that doesn't follow the proven mainstream formula.
post-punk, college rock, alternative rock, and indie rock are all different terms for the same thing in different eras.