Alternative rock (also called alternative music, alt-rock or simply alternative) is a genre of rock music that emerged from the independent music underground of the 1980s and became widely popular in the 1990s and 2000s. In this instance, the word "alternative" refers to the genre's distinction from mainstream rock music. The term's original meaning was broader, referring to a generation of musicians unified by their collective debt to either the musical style or simply the independent, D.I.Y. ethos of punk rock, which in the late 1970s laid the groundwork for alternative music. At times, "alternative" has been used as a catch-all description for music from underground rock artists that receives mainstream recognition, or for any music, whether rock or not, that is seen to be descended from punk rock (including some examples of punk itself, as well as new wave, and post-punk).
Alternative rock is a broad umbrella term consisting of music that differs greatly in terms of its sound, its social context, and its regional roots. By the end of the 1980s magazines and zines, college radio airplay, and word of mouth had increased the prominence and highlighted the diversity of alternative rock, helping to define a number of distinct styles (and music scenes) such as gothic rock, jangle pop, noise pop, indie rock, indie pop, grunge, industrial rock, alternative hip hop, and rap rock. Most of these subgenres had achieved minor mainstream notice and a few bands representing them, such as Hüsker Dü and R.E.M., had even signed to major labels. But most alternative bands' commercial success was limited in comparison to other genres of rock and pop music at the time, and most acts remained signed to independent labels and received relatively little attention from mainstream radio, television, or newspapers. With the breakthrough of Nirvana and the popularity of the grunge and Britpop movements in the 1990s, alternative rock entered the musical mainstream and many alternative bands became successful.
By the end of the decade, alternative rock's mainstream prominence declined due to a number of events that caused grunge and Britpop to fade and led to the hiatus of the Lollapalooza festival. Nevertheless, post-grunge remained commercially viable into the start of the 21st century, with the commercial success of Creed and Matchbox Twenty; Radiohead's critical acclaim, and the success of some post-Britpop groups like Coldplay. Emo attracted attention in the larger alternative rock world, and the term was applied to a variety of artists, including multi-platinum acts. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, several alternative rock bands emerged, including The White Stripes, The Strokes, Arcade Fire, Franz Ferdinand, and Interpol, that drew from post-punk and new wave. Post-punk revival artists such as Modest Mouse and The Killers had commercial success in the early and mid 2000s.
Anne Erin "Annie" Clark (born September 28, 1982), better known by her stage name St. Vincent, is an American musician, singer-songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. After studying at Berklee College of Music for three years, she began her music career as a member of the Polyphonic Spree. Clark was also a member of Sufjan Stevens's touring band before forming her own band in 2006.
St. Vincent's work has received consistent praise for its distinct musical style, which blends soft rock, experimental rock, electropop, and jazz influences. Her debut album was Marry Me (2007), followed by Actor (2009) and Strange Mercy (2011). She released a collaborative album with David Byrne in 2012 titled Love This Giant. Clark also contributed backing vocals for Swans on their 2014 album, To Be Kind. Her fourth solo album, self-titled St. Vincent, was released on February 25, 2014 and was named album of the year by The Guardian, Entertainment Weekly, NME, and Slant Magazine, as well as second best album of the year by Time magazine. The album won her a Grammy for Best Alternative Album, her first Grammy award. She was the first woman in 20 years to win a Grammy in that category.
St. Vincent has opened shows for such acts as The Black Keys, Arcade Fire, Andrew Bird, The National, Jolie Holland, John Vanderslice, Xiu Xiu, Death Cab for Cutie, Cristina Donà, and Grizzly Bear. Additionally, her track "The Strangers" was sampled by Kid Cudi on the song "MANIAC" for his 2010 album Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager. In 2015, she performed with Wire in Chicago, as part of the band's Drill Festival. Clark has been heralded as "one of the past decade's most distinct and innovative guitarists."