Underground Music for Mainstream Listeners

Alanna Weissman


The many genres that collectively comprise underground music often get a bad rep from mainstream listeners. Those who are unacquainted with the lesser-known genres often stereotype them as overly “heavy” (that is, containing shrieking vocals, punishing drumbeats and shredding guitar solos). While this is certainly true of certain underground genres, the vast majority merely incor­porate small amounts of these elements rather than relying on them. In fact, pop-punk – a genre formerly belonging to the underground scene – has gained main­stream listenership and radio play. Below are some of the mainstream bands and artists you likely already know and love, and some underground counterparts that are sure to please.

If you like Lady Gaga, then try Jeffree Star: The current queen of pop and the gen­der-bending maven of underground dance share more similarities than just a wacky wardrobe. Jeffree Star tunes like “Prisoner” evoke thoughts of “Bad Romance,” and any track by either artist is guaranteed to be party perfect.

If you like Lupe Fiasco, then try Mod Sun: The unsigned former drummer of the now-defunct underground heavy­weight Scary Kids Scaring Kids puts out tracks like Lupe’s. The new single “The Show Goes On” is reminiscent of Mod Sun’s self-described “hippy-hop” song “The Path Less Traveled,” while other songs on his five track debut EP make for clear comparisons to The Cool.

If you like Evanescence, then try We Are the Fallen: Perhaps the driving force behind one of the underground’s most successful breakthroughs into mainstream popularity, Evanescence returns once again to their roots with We Are the Fallen. The band is comprised of former Evanescence musicians and a former American Idol contestant as the frontwoman, resulting in a strikingly similar sound, minus the famous name.

If you like Taking Back Sunday, then try Envy on the Coast: Like Evanes­cence and We Are the Fallen, the latter band borrowed members from the first – a band that sits almost squarely on the demarcation between underground and mainstream – to the effect of an almost identical sound.

If you like Coheed and Cambria, then try Closure in Moscow: Closure in Mos­cow, an up-and-comer from Australia, fre­quently draws comparisons to the popular prog-rock group, but tours with and takes significant influence from lesser-known underground acts as well.

Although not all mainstream bands have an underground counterpart (and vice versa), the softer songs at right, 25 choice tracks from underground art­ists – many of which are prominent in their scene – will likely be well-received among fans of all genres, particularly in the mainstream.

“Cold Hands” by AFI

“We Sleep Forever” by Aiden

“I Don’t Care” by Apocalyptica

“Dear Angel” by April Sixth

“Crazy” by Barely Blind

“The Dressing Room” by Breathe Carolina

“A Place Where You Belong” by Bullet For

My Valentine

“Misery Loves Company” by Emilie Autumn

“The Glass of Fashion” by Galt Aureus

“Hollywood and Vine” by Hawthorne Heights

“In Venere Veritas” by HIM

“No. 5” by Hollywood Undead

“They Always Come Back” by I Am Ghost

“Crazy Angel” by Kill Hannah

“I Can Feel It” by Lights Out Dancing

“Every Lie” by My Darkest Days

“Amaranth” by Nightwish

“Love Like Woe” by The Ready Set

“Those Lovely Shark People” by Requiem

for the Dead

“Paralyzed” by Rock Kills Kid

“Deep Down” by Saosin

“The Sky and I” by Scarlet Grey

“My Heroine (Acoustic) (Live)” by Silverstein

“Sidewalks” by Story of the Year

“Angel” by Within Temptation

Contact Alanna Weissman at [email protected].