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An umbrella term used to describe a style of music that emerged in the late 80's and early 90's. Alternative Rock is usually characterized by bands who have a "do-it-yourself" or non-conformist attitude; hence "alternative".

It originated with the jangle pop guitar sounds of R.E.M. and the loud/soft dynamic of the Pixies and gained popularity when Nirvana brought it into the mainstream with their album Nevermind. Ironically, it became probably the most popular music of the time period, which was a paradox of sorts in itself -- although purposely anti-mainstream and "against the norm", it became commonplace for people to conform to non-conformity.

Today, the term is often thrown around by people who don't really understand what it means and think that it can be applied to any band of their choosing. This is not true -- for a band to be truly Alternative, they have to follow the Alternative mindset; that is, they must either perform in a style of Alternative Rock already established (see Grunge or Britpop) or be avant-garde and completely throw what it considered usual or average out the window.

The name is often wrongly associated with "Modern Rock". This is wrong because whereas Alternative Rock is a genre and follows a specific style, Modern Rock is a radio format and simply refers recent bands.

Note: discrepancies with categorizing bands as "Alternative Rock" come from the fact that most Alternative bands fit easily into an Alternative Rock subgenre (Nirvana - Grunge, Modest Mouse - Indie) and can be classified as either the subgenre or "Alternative Rock" in general; if a band covers more than one style instead of sticking to one in particular, they are usually just called "Alternative Rock".
It was ironic that Alternative Rock became as popular as it did, considering its entire purpose was to be the opposite of what everyone wanted to hear.
by Username is taken July 10, 2008
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Jan 22 Word of the Day
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Music usually influenced by punk, grudge, goth, indie, as well as classic rock. Sometimes called Modern Rock. It’s not designed specifically to be popular, usually doesn’t include any synthesizers or mixed music, and is usually less “harsh” than what one would classify as Hard Rock.

The label “Alternative” often applies to new music/bands before they become more widely popular due to creative people whose music does not fit into current genres.
Examples of Alternative Rock Bands: Interpol, NIN, Queens of the Stone Age, Beck, Audioslave, Garbage, The Mars Volta, Green Day, Weezer, Hot Hot Heat, The Killers, Coldplay, The White Stripes, Gorillaz, DMB, Modest Mouse, Moby, Chemical Brothers, Franz Ferdinand.
by devious69grl May 11, 2005
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Also called Post-Grunge, Alternative Rock was a style that record labels and media embraced after the short lived but dominant Grunge movement by the Seattle four (Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Mother Love Bone/Pearl Jam). The very early and very heavily umfluenced are the only I would call post-grunge, such as: Stone Temple Pilots, Bush, Candlebox. Alternative Rock has become the most played music on modern rock stations and has in the last about 20 years has essentially with few exeptions has taken over the world of rock as it was once known. Like it or not it's all over the radio, and all over the stores.
(Rest in Peace: Layne Staley, Kurt Cobain, Mike Starr, and Andrew Wood. You were truly the inspiration of a generation along with: Jerry Cantrell, Chris Cornell, Eddie Vetter, and David Grohl who are still rocking.)
There are to many Alternative Rock bands to list but a few include: The Smashing Pumpkins, Foo Fighters, Staind, Queens of the Stone Age.
by fitzy123 January 23, 2012
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A musical genre that is basically a "grab-bag" of very different styles of Rock that because very popular in the mid-90's. The genre is totally useless. If you're going to put shit like Nickleback or (post 80's) Metallica into the same genre with great bands like Tool or Fuel, then why even bother catagorizing in the first place?
Mike: So what kinda' music do you like?
Fred: Mostly alternative rock stuff.
Mike: Oh, cool. So you like Local H and Tool too?
Fred: Actually, I was talking about Puddle of Mudd.
Mike: ... Fuck you.
by Phildo January 20, 2005
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