The rise of alternative music and its main supporter, the independent record labels, were a major trend back in the ‘90s. The term ‘alternative’ was coined in the 1980s in describing the artists who signed with independent record labels who were just not fit to play in the mainstream genres like pop and hip-hop.
However, it was a turning tide in the music industry when the masses threw in its massive support towards alternative music during that decade which was already at par with mainstream music when it came to the significant influence on its future. While the initial trend has seen a decline not long after it commenced, its foundations, however, has proven to be beneficial in helping the continuation of this genre up to this day by listening to it in different forms that are relatively new to our ears.
According to the Oxford University Press, the trend was considered to be a general direction in which there was something developing or changing, and the 1990s was a decade that was in the middle of a transition in terms of culture, technology, and influence which is why it bursts with a myriad of trends. However, it was possibly the most influential year for alternative music because people were looking for music genres that they never heard of, and alternative music perfectly provided it to them with a fresh new approach that did not sacrifice the quality of the lyrics and the depth of its music which, up to this day, still influences new up and coming bands.
A lot of artists considered that the alternative music during the 1980s received its much-deserved exposure only through word of mouth and the airwaves that are broadcasted from college radio stations, meaning, that alternative music was very influential to young people knowing that this era was the peak of Michael Jackson, Madonna, and a lot of pop artists’ careers where pop music is the number one trend which was also the main reason why top record labels ignored the full potential of alternative music.
While this may be allowed during that time to be a robust and inventive underground, it was also a developing hunger for the future where it was first regarded to be good and popular. Things began to look good in the first year of the 90’s decade when Nirvana introduced its top hits. The grunge band from Aberdeen, Washington took over the music world in 1991 although it was short-lived when its front man Kurt Cobain committed suicide at the peak of their popularity due to drugs and depression.
However, his death also became one of the main reasons why more and more people, especially the youth, started to fall in love with alternative music which also paved the way for more and more alternative bands breaking into the mainstream music industry.
Then seemingly, all of a sudden, alternative music was embraced by the masses the same as it loved Michael Jackson. From underground bands, Smashing Pumpkins, Pulp, Pearl Jam, and Sonic Youth made its way into the bigger stage of these bands’ musical career through Music Television’s (MTV) exposure as well.
Other alternative bands like Blink 182, Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead, Green Day, Stone Temple Pilots, Foo Fighters, U2, Rage Against the Machines!, My Bloody Valentine, and a lot of household names in alternative music continued to create a bigger influence in this genre that are still loved up to this day.