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2000's West Coast Alternative Rock Ballads
Transcript of 2000's West Coast Alternative Rock Ballads
Appeals to America's younger generation, sometimes called, "the young and impressionable."
The music isn't for everyone, and the bands don't cater to the standards of what is considered good or bad music.
By directing the music at this group, the bands hope to induce a change in the thinking of the generation.
Fans care more about what the band has to say with their music, rather than how they look, or if they're signed on with a record company.
Bands such as Green Day and 30 Seconds to Mars hold a rebellious spirit towards modern social values, and critical of topics such as war and the media.
Music in this genre relies using vague imagery to appeal to the human sense of curiosity.
Bands identify with the audience and thereby establish their credibility, as the audience feels compelled to listen to whom they can call their peers.
The music relies on sad lyrics, and slower, resonant tones to evoke melancholy, some evidence of pathos-related appeals.
Ex. "No warning sign, no alibi/ We faded faster than the speed of light/ Took our chance, crashed and burned/ No we'll never ever learn."
The genre tends to use abstract or vague imagery, which prompts the audience to think about the lyrics and what they mean.
In the song "Alibi" by 30 Seconds to Mars, the singer voices a feeling of helplessness, but doesn't actually articulate how.
The line, "I fell apart / But I got back up again" is meant to inspire resilience in the face of failure or despair.
The vagueness of these lines' imagery makes it more applicable to more contexts.
The genre tends to sentimentalize the breaking of conventional ideas about the world and limitations.
For example, 30 Seconds to Mars' song, "100 Suns" does this with lines such as, "I believe in nothing/ Not in sin and not in God" and "I believe in nothing/ Not in the day and not the dark".
This rejection of the traditional ideas dramatizes the apparent revolution in thinking the band is going for.
By Shashank Rao, Jesse Gao, and
Origins of Alternative Rock
Alternative rock, as a relatively broad term, arose in the late 1980's and 1990's.
It was originally fiercely non-mainstream (for the time), and was considered to have descended from punk rock.
It was only in the 2000's that the genre became mainstream, as it grew popular in America, with numerous bands arising in the wake of older ones.
It is considered, "alternative," because while it retains some of the traditional sounds of rock with electric guitar and bass, its lyrics tend to be darker, more sentimental, and are more focused on sending a message.
Alibi - 30 Seconds to Mars
100 Suns - 30 Seconds to Mars
The lyrics focus on attacking conventional social ethos, and try to forge one that is more malleable with respect to change.
The songs of this genre often feature breaking away from social repression, dealing with inner conflicts, and the life of a young adult.
Many times, the lyrics also champion the strength of the individual.
Slow Cheetah - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Represents Anthony Kiedis' struggle with his drug addiction
The "Slow Cheetah" represents the a death from drug overdose, while the "forest" is his short life
The fact that he describes the arrival of the cheetah as "euphoric" shows his desperate addiction to drugs
Kiedis uses absurd, riddle-like phrases, such as "She knew not what her life was for/She barely knew her name "
The strange descriptions seem to promote poetic, sentimental introspection.
Burial grounds and graves are also used as significant images, referring to human mortality.
The language of 30 Seconds to Mars uses simple, yet poetic diction to promote its values.
Wake Me Up When September Ends
Summer has come and passed
The innocent can never last
Wake me up when September ends
Like my fathers come to pass
Seven years has gone so fast
Wake me up when September ends
Do these verses make sense to you?
These are the first two verses of this song. When Billie Armstrong was ten, his beloved father dies of cancer on September 1st, 1982. At his funeral, Billie cries, runs home, and locks himself in his room. When his mother knocks upon his door, he simply says, “Wake me up when September ends,” setting the title for the song that he would write years later. Such a great loss could not simply be forgotten, but Billie eventually becomes numb to the loss, hence the next few lines “As my memory rests, But never forgets what I lost.” At the same time by losing his father, young Billie's naive youth is crushed just as the innocent warmth of summer passes with the coming of fall.
Even though the years have passed by quickly, he could never forget his loss and repeats “Wake me up when September ends” throughout the song as though it would help him forget the gloomy month. He also tells us that although the rain brings back such heart-wrenching memories to haunt him, these painful experiences also shape who we are, tempering us for a world where the “innocent can never last.”
"Here comes the rain again
Falling from the stars
Drenched in my pain again
Becoming who we are"
Green Day’s ballads, such as 21 Guns, Boulevard of Broken Dreams, and the one being discussed, explore the pains of life and the struggles of the youth in a very emotional and human way.
These ballads are designed to make the audience think deeper about the darker aspects of life that the world seems to try to hide (for example, death, war, etc...)
Green Day often tries to tell its audience to look beyond the sugar coated image of real life presented to the youth and, rather, at the reality of growing up and making decisions for themselves.
Wake Me Up When September Ends brings us a very clear warning to not take what we have for granted, for such good things in life may disappear as quickly as the seasons pass.
The song starts in a calm retrospective view in which Billie passively speaks with no eloquence or emotions about his past. The lyrics are simple and connects with its audience well, and the use of "we" includes the audience in Billie's trip to his past, which makes the song all the more powerful.
Its lyrics are not extremely pessimistic, but shows a nonchalant yet meaningful series of orders and observations that creates an image of how Billie remembers the loss of his beloved father as the rain begins to fall.
The song is poetic in a way; Billie doesn't directly tell us that he is paying his respects to his father through this song, but rather uses simple, short lines to tell us how he has the strength to move on.
As the song ends, he tells us that accepts how such losses are inevitable and have made him into the person that he is today, a stronger human being more fit for this world.
Now Listen to the Song