Alternative Ringtones

A gigantic stylistic umbrella for everything from early garage rockers the Stooges to noise artisans Sonic Youth, and from synth-pop royalty New Order to post-modern pop pioneer Beck, the "alternative" moniker was introduced into the mainstream in the early 1990s -- but as an alternative to what? Alternative represented a collision of several genres whose momentum had been building for several decades. Beginning with the artsy, seedy undercurrents of the Velvet Underground in the late '60s, and continuing through both punk's heyday in the late '70s and the college rock/post-punk of the '80s, the groundswell of the underground ultimately broke big in January 1992 when grunge upstart Nirvana's Nevermind improbably topped album charts worldwide. The brashness of the original punk movement has played a significant role in forming the attitude and identity of most alternative music of the last twenty years, yet the underground's original scorn of mass acceptance became so diluted in the wake of its ever-growing commercial success, its near-complete metamorphosis into the mainstream was an inevitability in the hodgepodge '90s.