Primary Stylistic Influences:
+ PostPunk, PunkRock, NewWaveMusic
Secondary Stylistic Influences:
+ ProtoPunk, GarageRock, PsychedelicRock, ProgressiveRock, ElectronicMusic, KrautRock, HeavyMetal, a wide variety of other influences, depending on subgenre

A term used when looking at a stone and talking about a different stone... [[DopeSlap Ow]], okay, just kidding.

[[ShapedLikeItself Rock that is alternative]]. Weird. Different, somehow. Only way you can describe it, really. Also known as "indie" in the UK (in UsefulNotes/TheUnitedStates, it describes a specific subgenre of alternative rock, the one that bands such as Music/{{Pavement}}, Music/TheDecemberists, and Music/DeathCabForCutie play. Also like "alternative," the "indie" in this genre's name is not to be taken literally -- many key Indie Rock bands have left their independent labels to sign to major labels and the term "Indie Rock" now describes the general aesthetic and overall sound these bands perform).

Alternative rock presumably evolved from PostPunk back in the early '80s, although the Music/VelvetUnderground is often cited as the [[UrExample first alternative band]] and they predate punk itself. For the rest of the eighties, it blossomed underground, and was truly "alternative;" if you were bored of all that tiresome HairMetal, you could just switch on the [[CollegeRadio college campus radio station]] and hear the music of moderately obscure bands like Music/{{REM}}, Music/TheSmiths, Music/TheReplacements, Music/TheFall, and Music/DinosaurJr. There was obviously an audience for it, but only a few Alternative Rock bands got popular in the eighties. Among these popular bands were the previously mentioned Music/{{REM}} (The key band of the whole genre) and Music/TheCure.

Alternative Rock was also a really diverse field at this point, reuniting under the same umbrella a lot of subgenres, like:

* Music/CocteauTwins' DreamPop
* Music/DanielAmos' unconventional take on ChristianRock
* Music/TheFall's angular PostPunk
* Music/KateBush's Art Rock
* Music/MyBloodyValentine's tranquil yet deafening when live {{Shoegazing}}
* Music/NineInchNails' angsty [[IndustrialMetal Industrial Rock]]
* Music/NewOrder's melodramatic and poppy AlternativeDance
* Music/ThePixies' surfy Indie Rock
* Music/RedHousePainters' depressing {{Slowcore}}
* Music/{{REM}}'s JanglePop
* Music/SonicYouth's NoiseRock
* Music/TenThousandManiacs' folky Pop Rock
* Music/TheyMightBeGiants' Geek Rock
* Music/{{Swans}}' indefinable "industrial noise alt experimental rock something" sound
* Music/{{U2}}'s first [[RattleAndHum huge misstep]]

And many others.

Then the nineties came and everyone suddenly decided to spontaneously make alternative rock hugely popular in the mainstream by buying loads of copies of ''[[Music/{{Nirvana}} Nevermind]]'' and ''[[Music/PearlJam Ten]]'' and bringing {{Grunge}} into the limelight. Into a place the musicians didn't want to be. Pretty soon, other Alternative Rock bands were made hugely popular, including Music/{{Radiohead}} (Previously called ''On a Friday'') and Music/TheSmashingPumpkins. Although [[DeadHorseGenre Grunge itself died with Kurt Cobain,]] Alternative Rock itself continued to be popular until... Well, today. In fact, it is probably the dominant form of rock music in the mainstream right now.

In the mid-'90s, a contrived search by major labels to find "The next ''Nirvana''" saw most of the international underground scene trawled, which briefly did see a bunch of varied genre bands being signed to major labels as "alternative artists," such as Japanese experimental band ''Boredoms,'' Art Punk group Music/ButtholeSurfers, Oklahoman Psych-Punkers The Music/FlamingLips, Celtic singer Loreena [=McKennit=] and the Swing Revival or SkaPunk fad bands. However, once majors and rock radio began to embrace PostGrunge, these artists were dropped in droves, with few exceptions (such as The Music/FlamingLips).

The lack of originality on alternative radio caused Indie Rock, an outgrowth of the late-'80s alternative sound, to basically become the new "alternative". In the same period, Indie Rock's figureheads, the California band Music/{{Pavement}}, became celebrities of the underground with each of their albums garnering critical success. They even had a minor hit with "Cut Your Hair", all without betraying their underground roots or signing to a major label -- they had all they ever needed at the indie label Matador. Music/GuidedByVoices also became an unlikely success story, at least for a while.

Another Alternative offshoot that became popular in the mid 90's was {{Britpop}}, which sounded refreshing to American underground rock fans when compared to the popular American PostGrunge bands at the time. However most of Britpop was virtually ignored by most American rock fans with the exceptions of several Music/{{Oasis}} songs (most notably "Wonderwall" and "Champagne Supernova"), Music/{{Blur}}'s "[[BlackSheepHit Song 2]]" and The Verve's "[[OneHitWonder Bittersweet Symphony]]". Blur, along with two other Britpop bands, Super Furry Animals and Pulp, became critically adored cult heroes in the United States and often played on college radio. Even when Music/{{Radiohead}} became popular in the US, they were mostly seen as an "album band" and most rock stations were content playing their earlier hit "Creep" and maybe "Karma Police" late at night so it wouldn't get in the way of the constant stream of Seven Mary Three, Tonic, Candlebox and other faceless PostGrunge acts.

In the mid-2000's however, many American alternative stations decided they had grown tired of spinning NuMetal and PostGrunge (and to a lesser extent PopPunk, which had become popular in the mid 90's) and began to play music from a handful of indie rock influenced bands that retained the original alternative sound instead of bands such as Music/{{Creed}} and Music/{{Nickelback}}. Music magazines called this movement "The Return of Rock", which was led by a handful of new young bands whose names all began with "The": Music/TheHives, Music/TheVines, The Donnas, The Soundtrack of Our Lives, The Mooney Suzuki, The Music, Music/TheWhiteStripes and Music/TheStrokes. Most of these bands -- with the noteworthy exception of Music/TheWhiteStripes -- have since fallen out of favor partially due to CriticalDissonance, but their success allowed Alternative radio to take a chance on other Indie Rock music, such as Music/DeathCabForCutie, Music/TheNational, and Music/ModestMouse.

Music/{{Radiohead}} also remained wildly popular throughout the world, influencing bands that were heavily indebted to their sound. Some, such as {{Music/Muse}}, Music/{{Coldplay}} and Music/SnowPatrol, made major commercial inroads in the United States.

Although PostGrunge bands like Music/ThreeDaysGrace still have some popularity on alternative radio, it's currently becoming a more indie friendly territory (compare [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Number_one_modern_rock_hits_of_2003 this more hard rock driven list]] of #1 singles on Billboard's Alternative Songs chart from 2003 to the [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_number-one_Billboard_Alternative_Songs_of_2012 indie friendly]] #1s on the same chart in 2012). The stations that never played the hard stuff, mostly independently owned and New England stations like WBRU and WFNX (until its 2012 sale to Clear Channel), continue to be the major exporters of new music to American alternative radio. Post-Grunge and Nu Metal are still popular with rock fans, but you're more likely to hear those bands on an "Active Rock" station (you know the ones, those stations that play harder new rock in addition to ClassicRock).

This indie boom did come with some problems: Music/KingsOfLeon, a former Return of Rock offshoot, recently became successful in the US by watering down their sound. To contrast, Music/{{Muse}}, a Music/{{Radiohead}}-influenced progressive rock band have also recently gained some popularity in the US without changing much of the sound they've had for a decade.

{{Emo|Music}} became a very big scene following the success of bands such as Music/{{Weezer}}, Music/JimmyEatWorld, Music/MyChemicalRomance, and Music/FallOutBoy. While it was a great scene while it lasted it was opposed on all sides by traditionalist punk rockers and emo haters in general. While it had some bands that aren't everyone's cup of tea, it was a vibrant and vital part of alternative rocks history for most of the '90s and 2000's and it shouldn't be dismissed due to the negative connotations people have chosen to label the name with. Recently it has made a form of comeback in the form of the DefendPopPunk scene.

Often (duh) characterized by the PerishingAltRockVoice and its close relative such as {{Yarling}}.

For a list of artists, see AlternativeIndie.

The term covers many, many different subgenres, including but not limited to:
* AlternativeCountry
* AlternativeDance
* AlternativeHipHop (to a degree)
* AlternativeMetal
** FunkMetal
** NuMetal
* BaroquePop
* {{Britpop}}
* DreamPop
* EmoMusic
** DefendPopPunk
** ScreamoMusic
* GothRock
** DarkWave
* {{Grunge}}
** PostGrunge
* Indie Rock
** IndiePop
** DancePunk
** GarageRock Revival
** {{New Wave|Music}} Revival
** PopRevival
* {{Industrial}}
** IndustrialMetal
* JanglePop
* MathRock
* NoiseRock
* NoisePop
* PopPunk
* PostHardcore
* PostPunk (although for most of the 80's Post Punk = Alternative Rock)
* PostRock
* {{Shoegazing}}
* {{Slowcore}}
* SpaceRock