Why is alternative rock radio so unlistenable as of late?

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parocks
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun May 20, 2012 1:23 pm

Re: Why is alternative rock radio so unlistenable as of late?

Post by parocks » Mon Feb 15, 2021 2:47 pm

zinger7 wrote:
Fri Jan 08, 2021 6:38 am
These bands you mentioned U2, The Cure, Chili Peppers, Coldplay, Incubus, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, blink-182 are Core Artists for Rock/Classic Rock not Alternative. Period
But when the Alternative format was started in the 1990s, those bands that he mentioned were all Alternative radio chart toppers.

What the original question was was "Why is alternative rock radio so unlistenable as of late?"

Perhaps the answer is that the Alternative Rock format, at some point, for reasons that I don't understand and the OP doesn't understand, threw all the good music that they used to play into the trash, and replaced it with "unlistenable" music.

And the question becomes, who exactly was the one who made that decision to create or promote this new type of terrible music? You probably can get the answer by looking at what stations are playing the terrible stuff over and over (take a guess) and what stations are playing some of the better stuff that still appears on the Alternative charts from time to time.

The OP is right, Alternative has become unlistenable. It was a good format in the 1990s, then it became quite similar to Mainstream/Active Rock in the 2000s, and then in the 2010s, they went heavy with Word The Word bands, and now it seems they just want the vowels removed.

BUT, this is not at all to say that all the rock formats are bad. Mainstream/Active Rock has all the Rock that has always been there, and the worst rock from those formats, like in the 2000s, is pretty much gone, and, yeah, there's certainly some sameyness, and a lacking of the coolest heavy indie, but there are riffs there, there is rock there. The quality is there, they're not making top bands remove all the guitars to get played.

And, if you ignore the actual quality of some of the songs, that AAA format has quite a bit of good stuff there.

Alternative today = who is this? oh, it's terrible, and it's not even rock? How can a rock format have no rock?

AAA today = Wow, you could really make a great festival out of 40% of the acts, as long as you make sure that the Alternative acts that are found in that chart aren't playing that festival.

Current Top 50 on AAA includes. 1 Kings of Leon, 4 Strokes, 7 Foo Fighters, 12 Weezer, 14 Fleet Foxes, 16 Bruce Springsteen, 18 Julien Baker, 20 My Morning Jacket, 22 Dispatch, 24 Taylor Swift w/ The National, 30 Black Crowes, 35 Ed Sheeran, 36 Killers, 37 Future Islands, 38 Hiss Golden Messenger, 42 Black Keys, 47 Hold Steady, 50 Tune-Yards.

That ain't bad, not one bit. Now, the songs aren't as good as they used to be, a lot of those bands are taking the guitars out for some reason, but, as a festival, that's a great festival. You have Bonnaroo headliners from a good year, a ton of headliners of slightly smaller festivals, and a decent number of lower level indie that you'd want to see at the festival.

parocks
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun May 20, 2012 1:23 pm

Re: Why is alternative rock radio so unlistenable as of late?

Post by parocks » Mon Feb 15, 2021 3:11 pm

radioxus wrote:
Mon Jan 11, 2021 7:26 am
It's a fairly simple explanation.

The format as a whole is under a transition, because rock guitar stylings that were commonplace 20 or 30 years ago (in more than just alternative music) have certainly been getting phased out over the past ten years.

Modern musicians prefer computer-driven sequencing, synthesizers, all those sorts of toys, and it definitely modifies the audio landscape.

Some have theorized that Alternative and Top 40 will just undergo some sort of merger down the line. In a sense, it's already happening - note how many of the biggest Alternative hits end up on Top 40 radio - currently, as this is written, All Time Low's "Monsters" scaled the heights of Alternative in summer and fall 2020 only to start scaling Top 40 here in 2021.

Alternative is in a midlife crisis and PDs do not know exactly how to handle it. So, the end result is "Jack on acid".
I don't agree with this analysis, exactly.

The part about "guitars being removed" is right.

The part about "bands wanting guitars to be removed is wrong.

It's someone else who is MAKING the acts remove the guitars.

It's not clear exactly who is MAKING all those acts remove the guitars, but it's at least somewhat clear that acts that didn't sound like guitarless disco with lithium before now sound like that, in order to get airplay. So, we could say that powerful radio decision makers are withholding airplay on Alternative stations from Alternative bands if there are too many guitars there. With not too much research, you could probably identify a number of specific people who have top jobs in the radio industry or the MSM, who just don't like guitars. They might not even like music all that much. In theory, you could find 100 people who are the most guilty of this, and you could replace them with cool people, who have have seen tons of great bands, actually paid their own money to see them, people who identified teenagers and pushed them up a bit, and now they're stars, things like that.

What Alternative should've done years ago, maybe about 20, was understand what was going on with all that indie rock, and play that stuff. They never did. They seemed to want to invent their own musical style and then put a bunch of bands that no one heard of, no one liked, on their radio stations.

I'd prefer that "Alternative" change to "Classic Indie". Play all those indie songs from 2000-now that didn't get airplay but a station with the format of Alternative. I'd say play a bunch of Deerhoof. How about Fresh Born? It's an old song. How about, going back, Rapture, House of Jealous Lovers. It seems like theres a lot of tepid, neutered versions of that these days on the Alternative format. At Home He Feels Like a Tourist. Gang of Four. Just keep a straight face, the teenaged girls who are getting tired of Top 40 won't know those aren't new songs, and others would be pleased by all that.

parocks
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun May 20, 2012 1:23 pm

Re: Why is alternative rock radio so unlistenable as of late?

Post by parocks » Mon Feb 15, 2021 3:46 pm

sfvarholy wrote:
Mon Jan 11, 2021 2:35 pm
1. Corporate radio programmers burn the hell out of all the grunge in the format. 20+ years of the same Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Soundgarden tracks will do that.
2. What was the core artists of alternative such as R.E.M., STP, Pearl Jam and the like now research as appealing mostly to people that also like Classic Rock.
3. Because of point 2, the new music does not appeal to the same people.
4. You either choose to have the newer alternative (genre) music or you choose the grunge sound, because doing both is going to appeal to fewer people.

15 years ago, our core artists were R.E.M., U2, Pearl Jam, etc. We almost play none of them now. At some point, you either grow old and gold with your audience or you follow what is happening in music now and play what the next generation of alternative fans likes - facetatt alt and all.
I see how you guys did that, and what you're saying makes some sense. It's 2021, and you're not going to continue to play Nirvana, Soundgarden and other bands from 1990-1995.

But you (not you specifically) really screwed up by not playing all the great indie rock which pretty much followed on the internet. MTV, even then, 2000-2005, I don't know if it was MTV or MTV2 or MTVU or whatever channel it was, they played a good number of the indie from the day. And back then, Alternative radio wasn't having any of it.

And then, at some point, 2010?, Alternative formats decided to play a style of music that really isn't that popular even now. You would think that the bands being played on the Alternative format would be fairly similar to the bands that play in all the many venues in all the cities, and, not really.

You would think that some WordTheWord band who has 3 albums with 3 hits per album on Alternative rock radio would be playing the AEG venue with the 2000 cap, and not the AEG venue with the 500 cap, but it's the 500 cap venue they play and they don't sell that out. If the Alternative stations were playing the music that people actually liked, people would be showing up to see those bands play. Supposedly big acts with lots of Alternative rock hits play small venues and maybe the ones with fewer hits open for them, or don't play, but there are tons and tons of indie bands who play bigger rooms and the Alternative stations don't play them.

The Grammys, over the last 20 years, have done a better job of giving Grammy awards and Grammy nominations to the right Alternative or Indie bands, and the Alternative rock radio stations.

St Vincent should be a core Alternative act, going back to 2009. I don't even think that St Vincent has had a hit on Alternative. For some reason, AAA has been playing the Indie for the last few years. Back in the day, AAA was the home of acoustic singer songwriters and the softer classic rock. Now it has the biggest classic rock acts, and it has a nice group of indie or formerly indie acts, whose songs have their guitars removed because, I guess, they want to be played on Alternative, and Alternative still doesn't play them.

Oh, and Cannons is awful.

How hard can it be to look at Pitchfork and Stereogum and NPR and Metacritic to figure out what's interesting and good, an Alternative to Mainstream/Active Rock, and play that, instead of making up your own style of music and finding bands to play that, and finding that people don't really like that music enough to buy it, so you, or someone wants to force those bands onto formerly good festivals, wrecking those festivals.

parocks
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun May 20, 2012 1:23 pm

Re: Why is alternative rock radio so unlistenable as of late?

Post by parocks » Mon Feb 15, 2021 4:23 pm

jkaplan wrote:
Tue Jan 12, 2021 2:40 pm
What I'm wondering is what happened to "Pop-Rock"? I realize this is maybe out of scope of the original question, but it seems to me that the Pop-Rock genre (which appears to have no home right now, except maybe Triple A) has way more crossover potential than Hard Rock or the "Alternative Rock", which has become at this point almost indie pop.

Perfect example of this is the song "Friend or Foe" from Fastball in 2019. This is a catchy hit song with no outlet whatsoever.

It's unclear to me why Hard Rock stays alive on the basis of about 10 bands (that you either love or hate); where as Pop Rock would have a much wider appeal.
Hard Rock stays alive for a number of reasons.

It's popular. People like to see it live. Take a look at this, this is a lineup for the Sonic Temple festival in Columbus, Ohio.

https://live-from-the-pit.com/2020/11/1 ... -analysis/

So, it was cancelled because of covid, but you can look at the lineup. It's basically a bunch of rock bands. Some are old, some aren't quite so old, some are younger. They've been having festivals like this in Columbus for years, and they've had a number of pretty similar festivals in other cities for years, and they're typically 3 days long and they typically sell out. The radio home for most of these bands is active/mainstream rock, if they have a radio home. Many pretty big 3 day festivals, all successful. Rock is popular, people spend money on rock.

I haven't heard about any big 3 day festivals that are exclusively Alternative. Why? Because Alternative is not popular, or, at least not popular with people who spend money on music. It might be nice background music for girls who grew out of Top 40 before they go back to Top 40, but those aren't really music fans.

If we're here posting, we can look at the charts. Much of what's on the Alternative charts are acts I've never heard of, like by looking at venue schedules.

Anyway, good point about AAA. AAA right now seems to have a lot of the classic rock legends, some top Top 40 like Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran, and a good healthy amount of Indie rock.

I did not know that Fastball was still together. It doesn't really seem that the kind of pop-rock that was quite popular in the late 90s is still a thing. Plenty of the indie that's on the AAA or not on the AAA could be seen as catchy pop-rock, but it's also indie, and Fastball is not indie.

The home for Fastball was never on Active/Mainstream Rock. Maybe Top 40, maybe Alternative Rock.

Now, Fastway, that was Mainstream Rock. Say what you will.

donobrian
Posts: 57
Joined: Fri Oct 02, 2009 10:07 am

Re: Why is alternative rock radio so unlistenable as of late?

Post by donobrian » Sat Feb 20, 2021 11:16 am

LOL

The history of "alternative" music/formats starts with relevance with KROQ, the rock of the 80s.
The format was never a "guitar rock" one, it played new wave music after punk and it really was that new wave music that made it famous.

It was lots of UK and others imports and it was a new sound that had its place between the legends and arena rock AOR stations and the top 40 stations who in the early 80s were practically adult contemporary. That original Alternative format gave the young people a sound that they could call their own. It was weird, counter-culture, and...FUN!

Too many think that "alternative" started with the grunge sound of the early 90s and that simply not true. If anything, what you are hearing now at alternative is an updated return to its roots.

It gets to own the slightly different sounding songs like Glass Animals "Heatwaves" before CHR figures out that it is a mass appeal hit and plays it for months at 120+ spins a week per station.

bladerunnerradio
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2018 7:58 am

Re: Why is alternative rock radio so unlistenable as of late?

Post by bladerunnerradio » Mon Feb 22, 2021 2:17 am

Why is ALL radio unlistenable anymore?

meko1999
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Feb 19, 2017 5:36 am

Re: Why is alternative rock radio so unlistenable as of late?

Post by meko1999 » Wed Mar 03, 2021 6:59 am

donobrian wrote:
Sat Feb 20, 2021 11:16 am
LOL

The history of "alternative" music/formats starts with relevance with KROQ, the rock of the 80s.
The format was never a "guitar rock" one, it played new wave music after punk and it really was that new wave music that made it famous.

Let's not forget WLIR in Long Island, who also played a huge role in the early 80s in making alternative/new wave a big thing regionally and then nationally. Their "Screamer of the Week" song selections in particular were famous, and these started in 1980. Here's a list of all the Screamers of the Week song selections from Sept. 1980 to Jan. 1997. I think you can even find already-made Spotify and Youtube playlists for these:

http://www.advancedspecialties.net/wlir.htm

The ones in fall 1980:
Rock Hard - Suzi Quatro 4-Sep-80
Johnny & Mary - Robert Palmer 1-Oct-80
De Do Do Do De Da Da Da - Police 2-Oct-80
Girls, Cars, & Rock & Roll - Johnny Destri 3-Oct-80
Tighten Up - Yellow Magic Orchestra 4-Oct-80
Hungry Heart - Bruce Springsteen 5-Oct-80
Staying Power - Neil Young 1-Nov-80
(You’ll Always Find Me In The) Kitchen At Parties - Jona Lewie 2-Nov-80
What Does Sex Mean To Me - Human Sexual Response 3-Nov-80
Jackie O - Human Sexual Response 4-Nov-80
I Know What Boys Like - Waitresses 1-Dec-80
Lies Through The 80’s - Manfred Mann 2-Dec-80
Hitsville, U.K. - Clash 3-Dec-80

tristan2330
Posts: 3
Joined: Sun Jul 30, 2017 3:59 pm

Re: Why is alternative rock radio so unlistenable as of late?

Post by tristan2330 » Tue Mar 23, 2021 11:37 am

Gen Z here just wanted to chime in, as much as I admire the bands you mentioned I could honestly care less about hearing them on the radio especially stations that claim to be "modern" I'm sure there's some industry politics behind it but I honestly don't get the over reliance on songs from the 90's and 00's on both rock formats (Alt & Active) I wanna hear MGK, Tame Impala & Billie Eilish not some random obscure indie band from 20 years ago, it seems as if Alternative is trying to please two different generations at once despite acknowledging that they're tastes are quite far apart from one another.

tristan2330
Posts: 3
Joined: Sun Jul 30, 2017 3:59 pm

Re: Why is alternative rock radio so unlistenable as of late?

Post by tristan2330 » Tue Mar 23, 2021 11:46 am

parocks wrote:
Mon Feb 15, 2021 4:23 pm
jkaplan wrote:
Tue Jan 12, 2021 2:40 pm
What I'm wondering is what happened to "Pop-Rock"? I realize this is maybe out of scope of the original question, but it seems to me that the Pop-Rock genre (which appears to have no home right now, except maybe Triple A) has way more crossover potential than Hard Rock or the "Alternative Rock", which has become at this point almost indie pop.

Perfect example of this is the song "Friend or Foe" from Fastball in 2019. This is a catchy hit song with no outlet whatsoever.

It's unclear to me why Hard Rock stays alive on the basis of about 10 bands (that you either love or hate); where as Pop Rock would have a much wider appeal.
Hard Rock stays alive for a number of reasons.

It's popular. People like to see it live. Take a look at this, this is a lineup for the Sonic Temple festival in Columbus, Ohio.

https://live-from-the-pit.com/2020/11/1 ... -analysis/

So, it was cancelled because of covid, but you can look at the lineup. It's basically a bunch of rock bands. Some are old, some aren't quite so old, some are younger. They've been having festivals like this in Columbus for years, and they've had a number of pretty similar festivals in other cities for years, and they're typically 3 days long and they typically sell out. The radio home for most of these bands is active/mainstream rock, if they have a radio home. Many pretty big 3 day festivals, all successful. Rock is popular, people spend money on rock.

I haven't heard about any big 3 day festivals that are exclusively Alternative. Why? Because Alternative is not popular, or, at least not popular with people who spend money on music. It might be nice background music for girls who grew out of Top 40 before they go back to Top 40, but those aren't really music fans.

If we're here posting, we can look at the charts. Much of what's on the Alternative charts are acts I've never heard of, like by looking at venue schedules.

Anyway, good point about AAA. AAA right now seems to have a lot of the classic rock legends, some top Top 40 like Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran, and a good healthy amount of Indie rock.

I did not know that Fastball was still together. It doesn't really seem that the kind of pop-rock that was quite popular in the late 90s is still a thing. Plenty of the indie that's on the AAA or not on the AAA could be seen as catchy pop-rock, but it's also indie, and Fastball is not indie.

The home for Fastball was never on Active/Mainstream Rock. Maybe Top 40, maybe Alternative Rock.

Now, Fastway, that was Mainstream Rock. Say what you will.
Most modern Alternative bands play at more mainstream festivals your Coachella's and Lollapalooza's, I honestly can't imagine seeing a band like Five Finger Death Punch headlining a festival like any of those, Active has been in Limbo for awhile now and unfortunately has been pushed into a niche audience which sucks since there's a lot of bands that can be huge IMO Greta Van Fleet, Bad Wolves, Royal Blood never get any spotlight if I turn on my local Active Station I probably couldn't tell the difference between it and my local classic rock station

mdellinger
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Nov 30, 2009 11:05 pm

Re: Why is alternative rock radio so unlistenable as of late?

Post by mdellinger » Sun Mar 28, 2021 3:06 pm

Spoken like a true Gen X'er. New Alt shouldn't be in a rock platform. Maybe call it AC. I always laughed when talking up 21 pilots on the rock format. A suit won't understand this.

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