The notion of any kind of rock being alternative these days almost seems like an oxymoron. Ever since rock started to become the antithesis of chart success in the late '00s, pretty much anything that got on the charts that had the word rock associated with typically fell under the alternative label in some form or another. As much as people don't really know what about these tunes are even 'alternative' to anymore, the glory days of the genre were something to behold.
Since pop was known for its glossy sheen throughout most of the '80s and '90s, the genesis of alt-rock gave way to some of the most interesting songs to ever come on the charts, brandishing bold new trends that became complete genres unto themselves. Then again, some of these artists were so strange that they seemed to not even have a genre to call their own, playing with every single style they could and seeing what stuck.
Even though most of these records were considered a bit strange for their time, they also signaled a new type of rock and roll that could excite listeners just as much as they could challenge them. While alt-rock may be a strange term to use nowadays, these are the albums that set the benchmark for what constituted the outsider side of rock.
10. Demon Days - Gorillaz
By the time the music world reached the '00s, the term alternative had become much too spread out for anyone to take seriously anymore. Since most of the greatest artists at the time were coming from the alternative end of the spectrum, what was there even to be contrary to anymore? Though it might have been fashionable to throw some alt-rock stylings into your sound, Damon Albarn hit upon the next best thing: don't even use the band.
While Gorillaz had already been a fun idea during Blur's hiatus with their first self-titled record, Demon Days was proof that the cartoon based aesthetic wasn't a fluke, with Albarn hooking up with Danger Mouse to create one of the most thoughtful records of the post 9/11 era. Given how much fear was in the air at the time, this long journey through the night gave you some perspective while moving your body, from the manufactured happiness of Feel Good Inc. to the club anthem DARE.
What's even more impressive are the guest stars that Albarn brought into the mix, from De La Soul providing just the right amount of levity to MF Doom laying down some of his most underrated bars on November Has Come. For a genre that was starting to get really stale, Demon Days is the blueprint of how to screw with your audience's expectations.