Both a genre of music and...something else.

The music: Alternative and indie are similar, and both came from college rock, which is what happened when goth became more mainstream (and goth was what happened when punk became more mainstream). The difference between alternative and indie is simple. Indie bands are on an independent label (or unsigned) and alternative bands aren't. Thus, alternative is more 'mainstream' than indie.

The...other thing: Like most music, people who listen to it are sometimes labeled by it. Alternative and indie are once again similar, but often times indie kids are contemptuous of alternative kids because they're mainstream, which is stupid because the whole point is the music, and is also the reason that punk and goth etc. died because they became 'mainstream'. Thus, sometimes indie kids are obsessed with not becoming mainstream, and consider bands that sign with a major label and the people who listen to the sellouts. Alternative kids usually care less about that (even if they listen to indie bands) and listen to the music that they like, even if it isn't indie or even alternative or rock, the music they like is the music they like. Like indie kids though, alternative kids will never label themselves that way, and no one will ever label them that way either, except to say 'people who listen to alt'. If you label yourself that way, you're probably just like someone who labels themselves punk or goth, trying to be 'unique' instead of yourself.
Indie kid: Death Cab for Cutie is a sellout! I'm never going to listen to them again, they were on a major label and got mentioned on a TV show. Now tons of people are going to listen to them and that makes them stupid.
Alternative kid: Sure, that sucks and all, but I still like their music, so I don't care that much.
by boredtodeath October 30, 2005
different to the normal
by paul of death October 24, 2003
who the fuck knows anymore
DUDE- can someone tell what alternative means?

DUDE2- its lost its meaning, so don't think about it.
by nostaw tarum December 17, 2007
Alternative applies to people, usually fairly young people (young at heart at least!), that do not fit into any particular subculture but are definitely not townies or any other 'mainstream' types.

Personally, I like lots of different music, from Joy Division to Alanis Morissette and Nirvana. Because this is not 'cool' music (if by cool you mean mindless shite like hip hop and garage, yo, yo me-freestyle bollocks that townies like!) I would call it alternative music which therefore makes me alternative.

So basically, alternative is the best term to label yourself with if you want to position yourself outside of the mainstream without tying yourself down to a particualar subculture, such as goth or grunger
Townie (who happens to white, who would have thunk it!)- What tha fucks wrong with yo, turn dat Nirvana shit off and spin some of deez tunes on ya deck. Me got de Blazing Squad, me got de yo-yo-yos, whos in de house, me got de dance de de boppy, breaker style.

Alternative - Come back and speak to me when you've taken some English classes and learnt the language the rest of us have agreed on. Untill then, fuck off and get some clothes that arent WHITE.
by The Alt rock chimp June 06, 2004
A person who doesnt really fit under any other tag. An alternative person will listen to any music, as long as they like it. E.G. Rock, indie, Rap and or opera aslong as it is to their preference.
Alternative people also differ in what they wear. Bright colours, dark colours, skinny jeans, baggy jeans, hoodys or leather jackets its whatever the alternative person (lets call him Dave) feels like.
Alternative people often get mistaken for a different stereotype such as mosher or emo.

Alternative people are basically themselves, most also do not stereotype others, they just cannot find a stereotype that they themselves fit into
*Random person* " Eyyaa why you listening to that sh#t(referring to Nirvana for example.) are you a mosher or something..
*Dave the alernative kid* Nooo, i just, like it...
*Random person* Whys your hair long, you an emo or what?
*Dave the alternative kid* Nope i just prefer it.
by Dope91 March 23, 2008
Alternative is a genre of music that emerged in the late 70s/early 80s and became popular in the 90s. The term "alternative" was coined in the 80s to discribe punk influenced, but hard to label college and or indie rock bands such as Violent Femmes, or The Pixies. Alternative became popular in the early 90s when bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, The Smashing Pumpkins, and Red Hot Chili Pepperswhere discovered by the mainstream music industry and MTV (witch played music at the time.)

Alternative is NOT: pop rock bands such as fall Out Boy simple Plan, Metro Station, Panic At the Disco or Paramore. Those bands lack the origanal content and creativeity that real alternative bands have.
11 year old girl: so what kind of music do you like?

Me: mostly alternative

11 year old girl: OMG ME TOOO!!!!11 I LEIK FALL OUT BOY AND SIMPLE PLAN AND METRO STATION!!11

Me:umm, i whouldn't call that alternative.

11 year old girl: well what alternative music do you like then?

me: Radiohead, Nirvana, R.E.M, The Pixies, Violent Femmes,Pearl Jam, etc.

11 year old: EWW WHATS NIRVANA WHO R THEY I LIKE FALL OUT BOY BETTER THEY ARE CUTER NIRVANA R POUSURS!!11
by Polexia October 09, 2008
adj. used to describe people or things that are or appear impaired to the point of hilarity, usually mentally. Usage is mostly localised to a small alternative high school in Michigan.
"You're being kind of alternative today" "That car/goat is alternative."
by Schmill the Definer April 27, 2006
Someone or something that goes against the mainstream and classification. An alternative person cannot be grouped as emo, punk, goth, prep, hippie, nerd, or any other stereotypical group.
Also refers to music. Alternative music is not part of any other genre. Therefore, it cannot be called grunge, punk, metal, pop , etc. Most alternative bands are indie.
Alternative band include: The Killers, Kaiser Chiefs, Bloc Party, Snow Patrol, the Postal Service, Rage Against the Machine.
Antonyms: Green Day, the Spice Girls, Killswitch Engage, etc.
by Mister Know-it-all January 04, 2006

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