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Chapter 16 Alternative, Heavy Metal, and Grunge After 1980.

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1 Chapter 16 Alternative, Heavy Metal, and Grunge After 1980.

2 The Alternative Movement Alternative is an umbrella term for a large family of rock- related, punk-inspired styles that began to develop in the early eighties and continues to flourish in the early twenty first century. “Alternative” has lost his original connotation as the music in it identifies has become more familiar. However, the alternative movement began as a musical alternative not only to the pop of Michael Jackson and others but also to the more commercial, MTV-oriented rock of the eighties.

3 The Alternative Ecosystem Alternative bands sought the artistic freedom to make the music they wanted to male, uncorrupted by a corporate mindset. Alternative was a grassroots movement to restore integrity and importance to rock. Bands toured relentlessly, going form on small club to next. They recorded low budget albums on their own or on independent labels and sold many of them at performances. Some for airplay on college radio stations; during the eighties, commercial stations seldom programmed songs by alternatives bands. Many developed loyal, even fanatic, followings; some fans published or wrote for fanzines. Because it started out on such a small scale, the world of alternative music was far more personal. Fans usually they had gone the extra mile to seek out bands to follow. Perhaps they had gotten to know members of the ban, done some of the grunt work, or written for a fanzine.

4 Minutemen Minutemen was one of the pioneer alternatives bands, sang “Our band could be our life”. Minutemen were an American hardcore punk band formed in San Pedro, California, in Composed of guitarist D. Boon, bassist Mike Watt, and drummer George Hurley. They were noted in the California punk community for a philosophy of "jamming econo"— a sense of thriftiness reflected in their touring and presentation— while their eclectic and experimental attitude was instrumental in pioneering alternative rock. “Corona” was the theme song of the MTV television show Jackass.

5 Alternative: A neo-traditional Trend Alternative began as a neo-traditional movement: recapturing the sense of importance that characterized rock in the sixties and punk and new wave music in the seventies was its primarily goal. However, the message was different. Alienation replaced the heady optimism of the sixties as the dominant theme. Musically, alternative derived most directly from punk and new wave. Tempos were fast, rhythms were busy, sound levels were generally loud. The point of departure was the garage band. The core of instrumentation was typically vocals, a guitar or two, bass, and drums, although bands often went beyond this basic lineup.

6 Alternative: A neo-traditional Trend The movement gained momentum int later part of the eighties, it diversified by infusing elements of other rockera substyles such as punk, metal, and electronica. Common gound became more a matter of attitude and commercial presence than musical similarity.

7 Lollapalooza The first Lollapalooza tour (1991) featured such dicerse acts as Jane´s Addiction, Nine Inch Nails, and Ice –T and Body Count. Unlike previous music festivals such as Woodstock, A Gathering of the Tribes, or the US Festival, which were one-time events held in one venue, Lollapalooza was a touring festival that travelled across the United States and Canada. Lollapalooza has become in an annual music festival featuring popular alternative rock, heavy metal, punk rock and hip hop bands, dance and comedy performances, and craft booths. It has also provided a platform for non-profit and political groups. The music festival hosts more than 160,000 people over a three day period. Lollapalooza has featured a diverse range of bands and has helped expose and popularize artists such as Metallica, Coldplay, Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, The Strokes, Arctic Monkeys, Green Day or Lady Gaga.

8 From Punk to Alternative The boundary between punk and new wave on the one hand and alternative on the other seems more geographic than temporal or musical. The formation of the first alternative bands occurred around 1980, when the careers of the bands like The Clash (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vHvzybkqfo) or Talking Heads (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xNnAvTTaJjM) were at high point.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vHvzybkqfo Their music represents a stylistic continuation of punk and new wave; there is no radical difference between the two at the beginning, although alternative would soon diversify into a much more varied music.

9 Early Alternative The two bands most responsible for starting the alternative music movement were: Hüsker Dü R.E.M

10 Hüsker Dü American rock band formed in Saint Paul, Minnesota in The band's continual members were guitarist Bob Mould, bassist Greg Norton, and drummer Grant Hart. Hüsker Dü first gained notice as a hardcore punk band with thrashing tempos and screamed vocals. The band developed a more melodic musical style as they drifted away from their early sound, helping to develop the early alternative rock sound in the process. 8

11 R.E.M The acronym for “ rapid eye movement.” R.E.M. was an American rock band from Athens, Georgia, formed in 1980 by singer Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist Mike Mills and drummer Bill Berry. One of the first popular alternative rock bands. Characteristically for R.E.M. the lyric is as elliptical as the music is clear. The sharp and sudden contrasts between verse and chorus provide a foretaste of what would become a defining feature of alternative music: dramatic, often jarring contrasts within songs. In their determination to follow their own creative path, even if it circled back to the past instead of moving toward the future, the group set the tone for the alternative movement. “Radio Free Europe” was their first hit. This song helped put the band on the rock music map and establish the essentially retrospective orientation to alternative music. It has the bright tempo, clean rhythm, and lean sound associated with David Bowie and new wave bands. The texture is spare in the verse; by contrast, the chorus features a much richer texture because of the jangly, reverberant guitar figuration and the active bass line underneath Stipe´s vocals.

12 Heavy Metal after 1980 Heavy metal, such a powerful force in rock during the early seventies, seemed a caricature of itself by mid-decade. Although dismissed or ignored by rock critics heavy metal developed a loyal and steadily increasing fan base through the late seventies and eighties through frequent touring. Fans packed arenas to hear their favorite bands, bought their recordings, and kept up to date through fanzines. Exposure on radio and MTV was minimal, especially early in the 1980s.

13 The Revival of Heavy Metal Guns N´ Roses debut album, Appetite for Destruction (1987), sold over 20 million units. In the wake of the economic hard times many faced a bleak future. They felt out of the loop, especially during the eighties, when the gap between rich and poor widened so dramatically. They responded to the recurrent themes in heavy metal: the occult, sexual dominance, rage, frustration, protest and power. Megadeth, AC/DC, Motorhead, Judast Priest, Slayer, Iron Maiden, Teister Sister, Scorpions, all worthy sequels to the original: Black Sabbath. Headbanging: is a type of dance which involves violently shaking the head in time with the music, most commonly in the heavy metal music genres.

14 Stricking differences Distorsion is typically more extreme. Increasing the distortion to the point that the notes being played may be almost impossible to discern because of the halo of white noise around them. Instrumentation is basic. One or two guitars, bass and drums. It is not tuneful. This is especially evident in the vocal line, which is typically more incantation than melody. The vocalists chant, wail, even spit out the words. The ratio of instrumental sections to vocal sections is much higher than in most other rock-based styles. These typically consist of a series of intricate riffs. It typically avoids conventional harmony. Bands may play power chords, but complete harmonies and chord progressions are the exception rather than the rule. The best metal bands are virtuosic. Not only in solos, also breathtakingly fast tempos, with a level of precision comparable to that of a fine string quartet or tight jazz combo. Metal “song” tend to be long, sprawling, multisectional works. They avoid the standard verse/bridge/ chorus formula of rock era music.

15 Metallica Heavy metal band from Los Angeles, California whose releases include fast tempos, instrumentals, and aggressive musicianship that placed them as one of the founding "big four" of thrash metal alongside Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax. The group, formed in 1981 by guitarist-vocalist James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich, built an ardent cult following during the first part of the eighties even as it burned through a string of guitarist, including Dave Mustaine Metallica´s record sales were brisk, although the band got almost no exposure on radio or TV. “One” (1988) the most played song from the album And Justice for All.

16 Women´s Voices Women quickly found a home in the alternative movement. What made the work of women in alternative music distinctive was that their voices were not constrained in any way by the expectations of more mainstream music. Alternative gave feminists a forum and enabled women of every persuasion to speak their mind.

17 Women´s Voices cont. The women´s movement within alternative music took root in the latter part of the eighties and flourished in the nineties. Among the important trends was the riot grrrl movement, which supported a militant feminist agenda with post- punk music that favored confontation over chops ( bands like Bratmobile and Bikini Kill). Feminist fanzines nurtured and promoted them and other acts, and independent labels released their recordings The queercore movement,which reacted against more mainstream gay and lesbian views, found a musical voice in the work of bands such as Sister George, Tribe 8, and Team Dresch.

18 Alternative and Singer- Songwriters Alternative music also supported a revival of singer-sonwriters, many of them women. Even as artists like Tracy Chapman, Suzanne Vega, k.d. Lang, and Alanis Morrissette garnered major label contracts and the occasional Grammy award ( Tracy Chapman in 1996). ature=fvsr

19 Ani DiFranco Although her music has evolved away from what she calls the “ folk punk” of her early recordings, Ani DiFranco embodies the entrepreneurial spirit of alternative as fully as any artist. She started her own record company, Righteous Babe Records, in 1989 and put out her first album the following year. Like Joni Mitchell, whose music has reflected a similarly wide-ranging curiosity and a from-the-heart perspective, DiFranco´s music has ranged from contemporary takes on the urban folk style to collaborations with major artists such as Prince, Janis Ian, Maceo Parker, and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.

20 Ani DiFranco cont. The three constants have been incisive lyrics, which usually speak either to social and political issues dear to her heart or the current take on her personeal life; and her affecting voice; and her fluent and imaginative acoustic guitar playing. k

21 Alienation The final two tracks of this chap are Nirvana´s “ Smells Like Teen Spirit” and Radiohead´s “Paranoid Android”. There is an undercurrent that connects them despite their obvious musical differences. Both project a sense of alienation. It pours out of the lyrics and the music. And it comes from and speaks to a group dubbed Generation X.

22 Generation X Generation X was the term popularized by Canadian novelist Douglas Coupland: it identifies the children of the baby boomers. The members of Generation X, some of whom came from counterculture families, came of age during the “greed is good” eighties. They were more in tune with the “ no future” mindset broadcast by the disaffected youth in Great Britain and North America and the punk bands that set it to music. Their anthem was Nirvana´s 1991 hit “ Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

23 Grunge Nirvana´s particular brand of alternative came to be called grunge, though those invlved in the scene hated the term. Grunge fused punk disaffection with the powder and distorsion of heavy metal Like so many other alternative styles, it started on the fringes--- literally.

24 Nirvana Kurt Cobain and Chris Novoselic formed Nirvana in Aberdeen, Washington. The group´s first single appeared on one of the many indie labels: the appropriately named Sub Pop, which was based in Seattle. It is easy to understand the enormous appeal of “ Smells Like Teen Spirit,” especially to its target audience: angry young people who were not ready to buy into the system. “ Smells Like Teen Spirit” is a remarkable synthesis of several different, almost contradictory, elements.

25 Nirvana cont The melodic material--- especially the several instruments hook, the “hello” section, and the vocal chorus---embed themselves in the listener´s ear; they offer immediate points of entry. They seem to be direct expression of the mood of the song; that they are catchy at the same time is a bonus. The sharp contrasts and abrupt shifts from section to section help the song portray the darkest depression: an oppressive weight that cannot be thrown off. The song is a punk song in spirit: it expresses rage, alienation, and frustration in both words and music.

26 Radiohead: The New Art Rock of the Nineties The members of Radiohead all went to the same high school: Abingdon School, a private institution outside of Oxford. The band was formed On A Friday in Their first album made it quite clear that the group would find their own direction. The album called “ Pablo Honey” came from a bit by the Jerky Boys, a comedy group whose CDs consist of irritatingly funny phone calls. “ Creep,” the single that got them noticed, is very much in the spirit of the times.

27 Radiohead cont The alienation that marked Radiohead´s early work becomes even more apparent in subsequent albums. The booklet that comes with OK Computer( 1997) contains the lyrics displayed almost randomly amid collage-like images. Both words and images are hard to decode. Kid A (2000) is even more frugal with content: there are simply fragments of images and no lyrics.

28 Radiohead “ Paranoid Android” It was a boundary- stretching single. The song is profoundly disturbing because it is often so beautiful. The facts of the song--- its sprawling lenght; the three distinct sections and the reprise of the second section; the strong contrast in character within and between sections; the deliberate delivery of the lyrics---are there. The more significant point is that the conflicts discontinuities within the words, within the music, and between the words and music demand that listeners engage with the song in more than a casual way.

29 Alienation and Fragmentation Although “ Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “ Paranoid Android” create dramatically different sound worlds, they share two common elements that place them in the nineties. One is the sense of alienation and the other one is sudden and jarring musical contrasts. The various sections create their own moods.

30 Looking Back, Looking Ahead There are numerous parallels between the alternative movement and early rock. Both grew out of the most rhythmecally aggressive music of its time Both were originally recorded on independent labels, then crossed over to the majors when the music gained commercial traction. Both developed passionate followings Both diversified styllistically over time

31 Terms To Know Alternative Lollapalooza Headbanging Riot grrrl Queercore Grunge


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