Defining Moments

You've heard about all this hot alternative music. Alternative to what?

Bob Slade (band manager and WLRN-FM DJ): "Alternative music is the mainstream. It's just a catch-all phrase that's pure business -- it's money. Look at Soul Asylum/Screaming Trees/Spin Doctors at Bayfront. It was sponsored by MTV and the turnout for that was tremendous. Just like the Seventies when we had the term 'progressive' and Yes was considered progressive even though they had stacks of gold records. Alternative is a cash cow and the term 'alternative' is just a catch-all for the new pop. It's an industry term. Period."

Mike Eiseman (band manager): "These days it could give someone an involuntary lobotomy, because 'alternative' used to be understood as music other than mainstream. Now, with the suck-cess of bands like Pearl Jam, Nirvana, the Chili Peppers, et cetera, alternative music has become the mainstream. It's an obsolete term, ancient and choking on its own bile. Maybe we should look in the thesaurus for a new term, like 'selective music' or 'replacement music' (well, that also would be great if all music was by the Replacements, but they broke up). I say, 'Hey, you trendy alternative fuck with your plaid shirt and army boots, I listen to selective music, not that alternative crap.' We all want to be the first on the block to be different."

Ben Greenman (professional music critic): "As long as bands keep making new sounds from old scraps, these categories are just false teeth. You say the Chills, the Sugarcubes, and Fishbone, I say the Buck Pets, A.R. Kane, and Kinky Friedman. Can't we all just get along?"

Mia Johnson (assistant music director of "Alternative Tuesdays" at the Stephen Talkhouse): "I guess I would define it as music that defies classification. It's what you can't categorize."

Clearly, then, what we need is an alternative to "alternative." Any suggestions?

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