Thursday, 16 September 2010

Genre Conventions of Alternative Rock


Alt-rock through much of its history its rejection of the commercialism of mainstream culture had been its defining tribute. The Lyrics in alt-rock songs tend to contain topics of social concern such as depression, drug use and environmentalism; this is not the case for all alt-rock songs though. There is no set musical style for alt-rock but in 1989 The New York Times stated that the genre is “guitar music first of all with guitars that blast out power chords, pick out chiming riffs, buzz with fuzztone and squeal in feedback.


Alternative rock started in the 1980’s when a majority of groups around that time signed to independent record labels, this represented a major break from the futuristic, hyper post punk years of that time. During the 1980’s alt-rock was mainly an underground phenomena. Even though it was considered an underground phenomena occasionally a song would surface and become a commercial hit or wold receive praise from mainstream publications such as the Rolling Stone magazine. The underground Alt-rock bands built followings by touring constantly and by performing gigs and releasing many low budget albums. Over the years the Alt-rock bands of old had cemented the ground work for future Alternative bands making them popular and successful. British alt-rock was different from alt-rock in America as it had a more pop orientated focus. Not many Alt-rock bands from Britain were big hits in the States but through British radio in the 80's gained exposure in Britain and so were successful over here to.


In alt-rock videos there is usually a narrative within the video that either tells a story that follows the lyrics of the song or the story will completely ignore the lyrics and be something random or something that still holds a meaning behind them but not necessarily what the lyrics have to say. As well as the narrative there is also a live a performance of the song by the band lip syncing and playing their instruments. The videos always have many cuts between the actual performance of the song to the narrative which usually stars the band as either portraying themselves or fictional characters.

Below is an example of a Alt-rock video performed by the band Fall Out Boy.

Here we can see a few of the conventions that I have talked about, One such conventions is that there is a performance of the song by the band in the video. Another convention is that the lyrics and the video itself have a meaning, some of the lyrics when put with the video are a way of telling their fans that things change but people don't, this was done as may fans were angry with the band changing from alt-rock/punk rock to a more pop-punk/pop rock band so the video was made to say that yes they had changed genre but they themselves had not changed and that the fans shouldn't be angry with them for changing.

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