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Everybody hurts: Who will take alternative '80s crown now that R.E.M. has broken up?




R.E.M. called it quits on Wednesday and the song puns just come pouring down. It's the end of the world as we know it. Michael Stipe and the gang are losing their religion. Shiny, unhappy people. Everybody hurts. Yeah, yeah. All in good fun.

But R.E.M. did hold the title of Kings of College Radio for three decades (long after college radio had died). They were an alternative band in an age of New Wavers, New Romantics and Post Punks.

And now there's a gaping hole where the boys from Athens, Ga., use to awkwardly sway back and forth. 

(By the way, short aside here: Why even bother breaking up? It's not like a band is a marriage. Why formally call it quits? Just stop touring, stop recording and take it easy until the juices begin flowing again. Doesn't that make more sense? End of rant.)

So should we crown the next king of alternative '80s music? Here are some would-be contenders.

VIOLENT FEMMES: Well, we may be too late again here. In 2009, Gordon Gano declared the Femmes are over. The boys from Milwaukee are still peeved at each other that Blister in the Sun was sold to Wendy's for hamburgers ads. I have faith we haven't heard the last of the Femmes though.

MORRISSEY: Okay, maybe this list was a bad idea. The former Smiths frontman is as flaky as it gets when it comes to touring and recording. But he's beloved by legions of fans who'd like to see a lot more of him. 

PSYCHEDELIC FURS: New wave or alternative? Go back and listen to Talk Talk Talk on CD again and you'll say "alternative." Tim and Richard Butler are still loving life on the road, and their catalog is a lot more impressive than just the handful of radio-friendly hits they always overplay on local FM stations.

THE PIXIES: We might have a winner here. Very REM-ish, Black, Kim and the boys are still together and seemingly pretty happy about it. Their climb to fame mirrored REM in many ways. And even when they did break up during the '90s, they kept making music individually.

THE CURE: Robert Smith and the Cure are alternative, right? Or would you call them Goth? He hates that term, so we're sticking with alternative. And unlike any other band on the list, they can pack the same size arenas that R.E.M. booked.

I'm going to dub Depeche Mode and OMD as electronica, thus making them ineligible. And bands like Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet as New Romantics. So what other bands could climb the ranks of alternative music? 

[Last modified: Thursday, September 22, 2011 12:27pm]


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