Alternative rock takes alternative sound

KyungAh Kim

“I’m a rebel just for kicks, now” were the words sung throughout all of America in 2017. “Feel It Still” remained No.1 on Billboard’s Pop songs despite not actually being a pop song. “Feel It Still” is an alternative song.

A majority of people confuse alternative for angsty or depressing when the fact is, the genre is actually a type of rock that was created in the 1980s. Iconic songs like “Come on Eileen” by Dexys Midnight Runners, “Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Buggles and even “Take On Me” by a-ha are all labeled as alternative rock. It is surprising, but also slightly confusing because of the reputation the genre has. These upbeat tunes make it hard to further label alternative rock as dark. The genre features handfuls of melodies that will get you smiling and jamming along too. Remember the song from the Breakfast Club, “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds? That one is alternative too!

As time went on and more and more albums were being produced and shared, alternative rock got its name around, and got its sound into people’s hearts. By the time the 1990s rolled around, there were over 100 bands that classified themselves as alternative rock bands or had songs featuring the style. The Cranberries, Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Green Day all had best alternative songs on the charts during the 1990s.

When comparing the songs and the bands, the evolution of the sound is noticeable. In the 80’s, the idea of this new style was young and compelling. Then, in the 90s, it no longer seemed like a combination of pop and punk, but a completely new genre. The concept changed from adventurous to contagious and continued to evolve for the decades to come.

Then the 2000s arrived. Bands like Panic! at the Disco, Fall Out Boy, Paramore, My Chemical Romance and The Killers made their alternative debut. Emo anthems and their long-lasting legacy followed these bands. Alternative shifted to more of a rock sound than pop. Several sub-categories were created this decade. No one was safe from “The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World or “American Idiot” by Green Day and alternative music reached its peak with hundreds of thousands of fans and songs to back them up. No longer was alternative almost pop as it was in the 80s, but a style that included bits and pieces of many genres. “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers is still being played on the radio to this very day. Alternative songs from over 30 years ago still find their way into the ears of the newest generations. It doesn’t take a certain type of person to like alternative because alternative isn’t a certain type of music, it varies in sound and it changes according to the decade and the song being produced at the time.

Now the 2010s have arrived. Singers, songwriters and bands alike have made claims to fame through the use of their creative writing and alternative rock. Imagine Dragons, Coldplay, Neon Trees, The Neighborhood and Foster the People all are prime examples of this. The concept of alternative rock has varied from pop to rock and punk and back to pop which is what makes it so unique and captivating in the first place. Not a day goes by where someone won’t sing along to “Sweater Weather” by the Neighbourhood or “Some Nights” by Fun,. but the same can be said for any genre of music no matter what the decade or year. All genres have evolved over time but it’s the variety that makes alternative different from the rest.