MUS 507A

Characteristics of '90s Alternative Music Styles

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Became a dominant subgenre of rap by the mid-1990s.  Includes themes of gang-related violence, pornography, and often includes extra-musical sounds such as gunshots, etc.  Characteristics:  driving beat, heavy metal guitar style, angry/violent lyrics.


A subgenre of rap emanating from NYC, merging the hip-hop beat with light rap and traditional R&B vocals.  Artists:  Teddy Riley, Guy, Blackstreet, Keith Sweat.

Alternative (other than rap)


Following in the footsteps of late-'70s punk rock, these bands took loudness, intensity, tempo and nihilism to new levels.  Combined hyperactive guitar banging with the traditional pulsating punk beat and lyrics expressing dark disillusionment.  (Formation of the SST label in southern California provided a vehicle for distribution apart from a major label.)  The post-punk rock audience was known as headbangers.


A blending of heavy metal (such as produced by Black Sabbath) with the speed and intensity of hardcore.  Thrash metal provided a raw alternative to mainstream heavy metal artists, such as Van Halen, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, etc.  Most thrash metal bands originated in England.  Artists included:  Metallica, Megadeth.  (Speed Metal was a faster version of Thrash Metal.)


A subgenre of the alternative music scene, emerging from Seattle.  Musical characteristics are quite similar to hard-core.  It was a fusion of punk and metal.  At the heart of grunge is musical dissonance.  Artists wanted to have artistic control over their music instead of it being relegated to a major recording company ... enter Bruce Pavitt's Sub Pop Records.  Artists include:  Soundgarden, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, Stone Temple Pilots, Red Hot Chili Peppers.

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