Old Alt Rock Songs From the 70s, 80s, & 90s


Alternative Music from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. 70s Punk Rock, 80s College Rock, 90s Grunge Rock.. its all here!

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Alternative Music

The meaning of alternative music has morphed over the decades.  It original meaning was to reflect the independent music not played on popular radio, hence the alternative moniker.  Alt Rock had its roots in the punk rock movement of the 70s.  Punk rock became popular in the 74-76 timeframe.  Punk rock bands tended to play songs hard and short.  The music was minimalist and often had political overtones.

With the turn of the decade, punk rock became more complex, giving way to the post-punk and alternative rock bands of the 80s.   Bands like Joy Division and The Psychedelic Furs added synthesizers and a more intricate sound to their music.  The post-punk bands were often played on college radio.  By the mid-80s these bands started to move in a more commercial sounding direction, merging in with other independent musicians being played on college radio to form the alternative rock genre.  Later in the 80s, the Alt Rock Band R.E.M.  expanded past college radio and started making noise on the popular music charts.

A little movement in Seattle called grunge made more than noise on the charts, it took them over.  Grunge took alternative back towards its past.  It stripped the music back down and incorporated hardcore punk, metal, and indie rock together into a distinctive sound characterized by heavily distorted guitars. Nirvana was the first grunge band to break through with their hit album “Nevermind”.  It became a big success on the popular music charts in 1991 largely due to its first single, “Smells Like Teen Spirit”.  This set the state for a spate of successful grunge bands in the early 90s like Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains.  Later in the 90s, alternative music moved in a more commercial direction with the post-grunge bands  like  the Foo Fighters, Nickelback, and Matchbox Twenty.