Monday, 31 December 2001

Am I Alternative?

Something happened to me recently which led me to realise exactly what one aspect of my musical taste really is.

Just over a week ago a friend of DJ Raggy's (sorry, but I forgot his name), e-mailed me saying that he would wanted to write for TSC. He wanted to write a weekly column about alternative music, and wanted to discuss the likes of Guns 'N' Roses.

When I saw this, something hit me. I have been a huge fan of G 'N' R since 1987. Their Appetite for Destruction is one of my all-time favourites. I never tire of playing it. Sweet Child O' Mine is one of my favourite songs.

When Axl Rose and co arrived on the scene fourteen years ago, I thought that they were considered "mainstream". But if they are now considered "alternative", does this mean that other artists I have been listening to for most of my life are also now "alternative"? Are the likes of Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and Metallica now considered "alternative"?

If alternative means that their latest songs are not played on the mainstream MTV channels, and must now be shown on the likes of MTV2, then so be it. If being alternative means that a band was not made up of a bunch of photogenic teenage heartthrobs that were put together by a record producer, then so be it. I would much rather listen to a band that formed because they wanted to make music, not because their posters could adorn the walls of some prepubescent teenage girl.

If my kind of music is no longer welcome on shows like Top of the Pops, then so be it. I'm proud to be able to say that I like the music of Deep Purple, Guns 'N' Roses, Black Sabbath, Kid Rock, Limp Bizkit and Papa Roach. I have nothing to be ashamed of.

Because my like of this kind of music allows me to enjoy two more delights that I have discovered recently. One you can find on MTV. The other, MTV would probably be too afraid to play.

Alien Ant Farm, and their cover of the Michael Jackson classic  Smooth Criminal is destined to be a hit - and it is due in part to the video. The parody of almost every Jackson video I can remember is brilliant, and if it doesn't win at least one award at the MTV Video Music Awards then something is wrong.

The group you probably won't see are Berlin-based rockers Rammstein. To be honest, I discovered this group by accident. Flipping through the channels I came upon the Kerrang music channel, and began to watch their video for Sonne. Because they sang in their native German I had no idea what they were singing about. But it was the video that once again grabbed my attention. The Snow White-like story was one of the best videos I've seen in a long time. I could describe it here, but it would be best to see it yourself.

The second video I saw was a live performance of Ich Will. Again, I had no idea what they were singing about, but the song was great. The power they put into this live performance was truly astounding. I haven't heard the likes of this since the last time I listened to the Black Sabbath album Live Evil.

From what I understand, Rammstein are very big in the US, Europe and the Far East, and that Britain is the only market they haven't broken through. Singing in German, I can see why. Some would say that they should perhaps sing in English to really break through here. But judging by the amount of times Sonne and Ich Will are played on Kerrang, they have already attained quite a following in this country.

Well, I'm off now to live my "alternative" lifestyle. And remember - if you prefer "alternative" music to those god awful boy and girl bands, then be proud. I'd rather listen to Rammstein than the Backstreet Boys any day.

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