What do The Lumineers, Tame Impala and The Killers all have in common? They are all considered to be a part of the alternative genre. Alternative came from music in the 1980s and was developed in the 1990s. The 2000s were the real dawn of alternative music.
But, in later years, alternative has shifted more from being a different genre of rock music to being a place for artists that do not fit into a certain genre. Over the years, alternative has had different genres dissolve into it. In the 1990s and early 2000s, grunge and punk rock dissolved into alternative with bands like Pearl Jam and Green Day.
The most recent genre to become part of the alternative family is folk. In 2012, Mumford & Sons released “I Will Wait,” which was a hit that made it onto top forty radio stations. This song was different from the rest being played on mainstream radio because it had folk roots, but it was not quite folk. That same year the Lumineers released their folk rooted hit “Ho Hey.” These two songs helped establish alternative music that was rooted more in folk music and not traditional rock. Now, alternative is not just rock music. It is country, indie, rock, pop, and so much more.
Alternative can also be attributed to the dissolve of genre barriers. Some genres are more constructed than others. Most of the time, for a song to be considered country it needs to have a storyline, and an artist with a twang. But, alternative is open to the mixing of other genres and musical experimentation.
The Killers are known for their hit “Mr. Brightside.” However, if you heard their new song “Caution,” you would probably think they were two completely different bands. “Mr. Brightside” is deeply rooted in the early 2000s alternative sound, while their new song has more of an indie rock sound.
Vampire Weekend also experiments vastly with their music. Some of their albums have baroque pop influences while others have flavors of world music. In the alternative genre, artists are not restricted. Instead, they are encouraged to create something different that has never been heard before.
More and more alternative music is making it onto top forty radio stations. The most recent breakthrough from the alternative genre is Billie Eilish. Her music is very distinctive because she has created a certain sound that is unique to her. In a way, she has created another sub-genre of alternative.
Alternative is a genre that is constantly changing by taking on new genres and evolving into new sounds. It is one of the most diverse genres of music because it houses music that is influenced by folk, rock, dance, and more. If genres are constantly dissolving into alternative, what will it look like in ten or more years? Will we have genres if more and more artists are labeling themselves alternative in order to have more artistic expression? This genre is constantly shifting because new artists are putting their distinctive mark on the genre, and people love alternative because of it.