Modern rock (also known as alternative rock or alternative) is a rock format commonly found on commercial radio; the format consists primarily of the alternative rock genre. Generally beginning with late 1970s punk but referring especially to rock music since the 1980s, the phrase "modern rock" is used to differentiate the music from classic rock, which focuses on music recorded in the 1960s through the early 1980s.
A few modern rock radio stations existed during the 1980s, such as KROQ-FM in Los Angeles, 91X (XETRA-FM) in San Diego, WLIR on Long Island and WFNX in Boston. Modern rock was solidified as a radio format in 1988 with Billboard's creation of the Modern Rock Tracks chart. The chart was based on weighted reports from college radio stations and commercial stations such as those listed above. The 1988 episode of the VH1 show I Love the '80s discussed INXS, The Cure, Morrissey, Depeche Mode, and Erasure as modern rock artists representative of that year. But it was the breakthrough success of the grunge band Nirvana in 1991 that resulted in a large number of American radio stations switching to the format. Modern rock is considered by some to be a specific genre of alternative rock.
The format has gone through two distinct periods with the dividing line being grunge rock of the early 1990s. Up until grunge went mainstream the format featured a wide variety up tempo danceable music from a diverse group of artists that were being played in rock discos and clubs. This was a legacy from New wave music and the Second British Invasion that immediately proceeded it. Out of the top 30 artists in the first modern rock chart only seven were American. Between 1992 and 1994 female and foreign and dance sounds had largely disappeared from the chart. While the chart still featured a variety of sounds it was largely guitar rock created by male Americans. By 1996 the Modern Rock chart was largely indistinguishable from the Album Rock chart and it was surveying what was then mainstream rock music.
See also 
- Alternative rock (genre)
- Campus radio
- Nu metal
- Active rock - a mix of classic rock and modern rock, but trending closer to modern rock.
- Mainstream rock - a mix of classic rock and modern rock, but trending closer to classic rock.
References and Footnotes 
- Simon, Clea (2000-08-21). "MEDIA; Is Modern Rock Radio Getting Old?". NYTimes.com. Retrieved 2007-09-27. "Modern, also called alternative..."
- ""Are We Mot New Wave Modern Pop at the Turn of the 1980s P. 65-69 ISBN 978-0-472-03470-3
- DeRogatis, Jim. Milk It!: Collected Musings on the Alternative Music Explosion of the 90's. Cambridge: Da Capo, 2003. Pg. 357, ISBN 0-306-81271-1 Pg. 287 The author criticizing the music of Third Eye Blind during an interview with the band's frontman.