This Amazing Poster Charts the History of Alternative Music
While some of the biggest alternative acts (like Blondie, Nirvana, or Green Day) can command plenty of radio time, there are many, many bands that have thrived off of the airwaves. And likely, whether you're using Arcade Fire as some background ambience or a '90s alt-rock Pandora station as encouragement to fight for your right to rage against the machine (even as you dutifully fill out your tax returns), alternative music as a genre is perfect for any number of moods.
The history of alt music, in fact, covers such a varied assortment of artists both famous and obscure that it can be difficult to visualize their scope. Luckily, the UK-based design shop Dorothy Studios did the work for us with their "Alternative Love Blueprint—A History of Alternative Music" poster.
Highlighting four major influencers—the Sex Pistols, the Ramones, Joy Division, and The Smiths—the art expands to map out some of the many other artists who were influenced by (or sonically comparable to) the hub artists. The result is an all-encompassing musical blueprint with a web of connections that nicely illustrates the geographic grouping of some bands, like Michigan's proto-punks MC5 and the Stooges; or New York's early-2000s scenesters the Strokes, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and TV on the Radio; to overseas hit-makers Oasis and Blur.
In an interview with WIRED, designer James Quail said he constructed the piece around the Sex Pistols, as they're often considered the true originators of the alternative movement, and from there tried to make a nonlinear web of connections to other artists that would best summarize the genre.
"I tried to map out the bands who influenced each other in some way up to that point, from the early proto-punk and garage rockers through CBGB's era of punk," Quail said, "Then I mapped where those scenes led through punk, post-punk, 2 tone and ska, hardcore, Riot Grrrl, grunge, and so on."
The poster, which sells for roughly $45, is designed to look like a circuit board from an early transistor radio—the Regency TR-1, in fact—and is similar to other poster designs from Dorothy that cover electronic music, acid house, and hip-hop. So if alt music is your jam, today is gonna be the day that they're gonna throw it back to you. And by now, you should've somehow realized what you gotta do: i.e., hang this poster on your (wonder)wall.