Kiana Reid, Student DJ
It’s clear what we consider pop music today has a pretty generic formula. A beat you can dance to, a catchy hook, and maybe even a guest appearance from another popular artist seems to be sure fire way for a number one hit. Popular music in America is mostly targeted to listeners who are younger in age, specifically teenagers and pre-teens. As we get older, it’s very natural for avid listeners of music to widen their interests in genre and venture out of the pop strictly zone. If we look at the varying college radio stations all over the country, ages 18 to 22 are very involved into the alternative music scene. However, the genre Alternative has taken quite the transformation over the past couple years.
Alternative music or Alternative rock derived from the independent music scene of the 1980’s. However, the term served as an umbrella term for all music acts that fell outside of commercial success and fell into subcategories such as grunge, indie rock, punk, alternative hip hop, rap rock and many more. Original alternative music without a doubt focused more on instrumentals, less synths, and fancy production, a contrast to popular music at the time. Among this scene, was Nirvana which came about in the following decade and brought these terms and similar bands to the mainstream. The grunge scene died along with the turn of the century however, the popularity of different sounding music opened the door for extremely successful bands we know and love today.
The bands that started Alternative music, all marched to the beat of their own drums, literally. The varying types of sounds and vibes gathered from the genre’s origin is the cause for the term, “Alternative”. However, today some areas of Alternative music have fallen into the trap of following a pattern. With bands like The XX, Oh Wonder, CHVRCHES, Broods, The 1975, Passion Pit, what once was considered “Alternative” has without a doubt taken a drastic turn. A popular area of alternative music, has ditched drums and guitars, and replaced them with drum pads and looping pedals, giving their alternative categorization a futuristic, and more carefully sounding packaging. So, is the Alternative music we grown to love today, diminishing the value of original alternative sounds? Is this against the mainstream genre, now adopting the extravagant productions we’ve seen in popular music since forever?
For that, I cannot say, but what I can say is that Alternative music at heart has remained its main goal: having unique and self-produced sounds that vary in messages and vibes that we hear on radio stations and phone commercials. And to those who fear the alternative music scene is losing it’s alt-ness, we still have successful bands out there that still choose the drum set over the reverb, and will remain that way until the disappear into music history.