There are many definitions of alternative bands, but the main way to look at the genre is to consider which bands are going against the mainstream and doing something different, bringing an alternative style of music to the world. Many bands in the past have accomplished this including Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails and Bush. Over time, some bands labeled alternative became the norm and, therefore, lost the title alternative. Here are five alternative bands that still carry the title today.
- Radiohead Radiohead has been around for a long time and might be one of the most popular alternative bands on the planet. This is made even more impressive when you realize that the band has only really achieved one monstrous hit in their career with the 1992 song “Creep.” Despite that being their only mainstream success, the band has released critically acclaimed albums such as “OK Computer” and “Kid A” and won three Grammy Awards in fourteen nominations for their work.
- Cake Cake is one of those alternative bands that remain a fun and entertaining party band while never betraying their indie roots. Unlike Radiohead, Cake has no problem releasing songs that prey upon the mainstream conscious but never pander to the masses. Songs like the remake of “I Will Survive” are huge hits but are done in a style that retains the unique Cake style. Other big hits for the band include “Short Skirt/Long Jacket” and their biggest hit, “The Distance.”
- Cage the Elephant Cage the Elephant is a new alternative band with only two albums to their name but have been building their name on their unique sound, something not heard by many other artists. Despite their off kilter sound, they have built quite a following and enjoy extended radio play for many of their releases. Their self-titled debut featured two songs which received radio play: “Ain’t No Rest For the Wicked” and “Back Against the Wall.” They continue to impress with their sophomore album not dropping in quality. “Shake Me Down” from this album is their biggest hit yet and the album debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard charts.
- Arcade Fire Few people in the mainstream audience had heard much about Arcade Fire. They first hit the mainstream conscious when their song “Wake Up” was used to promote the Spike Jonze movie “Where the Wild Things Are.” However, true music lovers had known this alternative band was going to be something huge since their 2004 critically acclaimed album “Funeral.” They finally broke out with 2010’s “The Suburbs,” which won them a Grammy for Album of the Year.
- Kings of Leon With a strange mix of southern rock and gospel music, alternative band Kings of Leon have become one of the biggest arena bands in the world today. While they are still not widely accepted in their home in America, they are huge in Europe and remain one of the best-selling bands playing today. The sons of a former Presbyterian minister and their cousin have brought their music to the world and was rewarded with the Grammy for Record of the Year in 2010 for “Only by the Night.”