Weekly survey: Is alt-rock about to get harder, louder, and angrier?

All popular music, no matter what the genre, tends to move in cycles of varying lengths. There is some chatter among those who follow and study the world of alternative music that we’re due for the overall sound of this music to toughen up, to get harder, and to get louder and angrier.

Alt-rock has been very much in a pop phase for at least ten years. Even during the Trump years, alt-rock songs with big guitars and screaming vocals were in short supply. If you stand back, the 10s have been much more like the 80s than the 90s.

So here’s my question to you: Is it time for this music to get harder and angrier again? Is the pandemic going to push musicians in that direction? Or are pop sensibilities the escapist material we need during these times and we’re headed even further in that direction? Or perhaps we’ll just continue in this same direction for a while, buoyed by the kind of songs that blow up on TikTok?

Obviously, this is just a blind prediction and there are no right answers. But where do you stand on this?


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

One thought on “Weekly survey: Is alt-rock about to get harder, louder, and angrier?

  • April 19, 2021 at 2:58 pm
    Permalink

    “The raw, guitar-rock sound is really — I don’t want to say it’s done, but …” He trailed off. “It’s present, but it’s morphed and mixed with other instrumentation. Does anyone really go to Guitar Center anymore and pick up the guitar?”

    The guy who said that programs the “Alternative” station in New York City… The largest radio market in North America. They don’t even use the word “Rock” anymore. He also programs KROQ in LA… and he doesn’t call it KROQ (KRock) Sadly, whatever that format has become skews to kids who listen to garbage so an Alt Rock renaissance could happen tomorrow… but nobody’s gonna bring it to the masses.

    I definitely WANT to swing back, but I don’t see it happening for a while.

    Reply

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