Top Alternative Songs
The top alternative songs is not an easy list to create. Everybody has a different definition about exactly what defines alternative music. Is it post-punk music that came along after the punk era, which didn't fit in with the mainstream? Or is it music that is an alternative to popular music? Well, it's probably a little of both. The songs on this list are mainly post-punk songs, yet many were also mainstream hits. Nevertheless, they're all fine songs.
- Nirvana - "Smells Like Teen Spirit" - This is the band, and perhaps the song, that introduced the grunge era to rock & roll. It has a sneer about it, which links it to punk. But the groove is kind of slow, unlike punk. It was Kurt Cobain, singing from his dark little heart. This song is an alternative song to all those boogie, good time glam rock songs that were so popular at the time.
- Joy Division - "Love Will Tear Us Apart" - Ian Curtis was a tortured man. That's why he killed himself on the eve of Joy Division's first U.S. tour. The band's been hailed as the leader of Gothic rock. But Curtis' struggle was always more personal. He wasn't just about being dark for darkness' sake. He just sang about his crumbling love life. Joy Divison's music all sounds like alternative songs, even today.
- David Bowie - "Heroes" - David Bowie wrote and recorded this song with Brian Eno in Berlin. It was inspired by being so close to the Berlin Wall. There were so many lives separated cruelly by a manmade barrier. David Bowie is a rock star, yet everything he records is still an alternative song because he is a living, breathing alternative to stale pop.
- R.E.M. - "Losing My Religion"- Losing one's religion is a Southern expression for going crazy. Yet this mandolin-colored song can mean so many things to so many people. It can even be taken literally about losing religious faith. It has a beautiful melody and is so sadly sung by Michael Stipe. This started as an alternative song, which grew into a big pop hit.
- New Order - "Blue Monday" - "How does it feel to treat me like you do?" say the lyrics to this emotional dance song. That fact that this personal song became a dance hit is amazing. But then again, New Order came out of Joy Division, which was not exactly the happiest act in the world. This was an an alternative to regular dance music because it was an intimate song, sung to a dance beat.
- U2 - "One" - Bono and U2 united many with this song. It is also another song that can mean many different things, depending on who you ask. Yet unity is one thing there just isn't enough of, which makes this such an important song. This was a popular song. However, it was so much more personal than so much other popular music, it was still the perfect alternative song.
- The Smiths - "How Soon Is Now?" - Most people likely notice Johnny Marr's amazing guitar riff first on this song. But Morrissey's lyric about not wanting to be lonely is also effective. This is an alternative song that has been used a lot on television because its music is so addictive.
- Sonic Youth - "Teen Age Riot" - Sonic Youth are veteran alternative rockers now. They're still the same noise rock band they've always been. Yet this song may also be their signature song.
- Radiohead -"Paranoid Android" - Thom Yorke may be singing a little bit about himself on this alternative song when he speaks of being paranoid. He's the poster child for paranoia. Radiohead is both extremely popular and and alternative rock band. Who knows how they keep all that together?
- Pixies - "Debaser" - When the Pixies reunited a few years ago, people loved it. This is one alternative band that created so many great alternative songs that few heard. Even fewer saw these alternative songs performed live.