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Slang, youth subcultures and rock music

God save the Queen
the fascist regime,
they made you a moron
a potential H-bomb.

God save the Queen
she ain't no human being.
There is no future
in England's dreaming

Don't be told what you want
Don't be told what you need.
There's no future
there's no future
there's no future for you

 God save the Queen
'cos tourists are money
and our figurehead
is not what she seems

Oh God save history
God save your mad parade
Oh Lord God have mercy
all crimes are paid.

When there's no future
how can there be sin
we're the flowers
in the dustbin
we're the poison
in your human machine
we're the future
you're future

God save the Queen
we mean it man
there is no future
in England's dreaming

No future
no future for you
no fufure for me

Punks formed a style to disassociate themselves from society. They refused to dress conservatively, wearing clothing such as ripped or torn jeans, t-shirts or button-down shirts with odd and sometimes offensive remarks labeled on them. This clothing was sometimes held together with band patches or safety pins, and the clothing rarely matched; such patterns as plaid and leopard skin was a commonplace. It was not unusual to see a large amount of body piercing and oddly crafted haircuts. The punks dressed (and still do) like this to separate themselves from society norms.
Punks believed in separating themselves from society as much as possible; thus the odd dress and/or rude style. Many times these punks are associated with anarchy. Although most all punks were about anarchy, They believed that government was evil, and that a government society could never be perfect; the government was as far from Utopia as one could get. By the early 1980’s, punk went underground and underwent many changes. These changes were the formation of subcultures.

3.    MOD

Main Entry: 2mod
Function: adjective
Etymology: short for modern
Date: 1964
1 : of, relating to, or being the characteristic style of 1960s British youth culture

Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary

The Mod was a product of working-class British youth of the mid-sixties. The popular perception of the mod was this: "Mod" meant effeminate, stuck up, emulating the middle classes, aspiring to be competitive, snobbish. The old image was one of neatness, of 'coolness'. The music of the Mod was strictly black in inspiration: rhythm and blues, early soul and Tamla, Jamaican ska. The closest thing to a Mod group was probably the Who - the music neatly caught up the 'pilled up'. London nightlife of the mod mythology in a series of effective anthems: 'My Generation, 'Can't Explain', 'Anyhow, Anywhere'. The drug use of Mods was of amphetamines ('purple hearts', French blues', Dexedrine) and pills, uppers and downers, and sleepers. Brake explains why the Mods existed by writing "for this group there was an attempt to fill a dreary life with the memories of hedonistic consumption during the leisure hours...the insignificance of the work day was made up for in the glamour and fantasy of night life." These were working class teenagers whose white-collar office work was a drudgery that, for many, would exist for the rest of their lives. The Mods had their “own” style of life, “own” music and “own” bands. They were different from another fashion victims not only with their clothes (suits, severe ties, long scarfs) but they led a secluded life, they were on bad with the strangers. They spent endless evenings in their “own” bars and had a great passion for scooters.


Main Entry: skin·head
Pronunciation: 'skin-"hed
Function: noun
Date: circa 1953
1 : a person whose hair is cut very short
2 : a usually white male belonging to any of various sometimes violent youth gangs whose members have close-shaven hair and often espouse white-supremacist beliefs

Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary

Skinhead origins begin in Britain in the mid to late 1960's. Out of a youth cult known as the "Mods," the rougher kids began cutting their hair close, both to aid their fashion and prevent their hair from hindering them in street fights. These working class kids adopted the name "Skinheads" to separate themselves from the more dainty and less violent Mods. Huge groups of these explosive youths would meet every Saturday at the football grounds to support their local teams. The die hard support for a group's team often lead to skirmishes between opposing supporters, leading to Britain's legendary "football violence." When night swept the island, the skinheads would dress in the finest clothes they could afford, and hit the dance halls. It was here they danced to a new sound that was carried to Britain by Jamaican immigrants. This music went by many names including: the ska, jamacian blues, blue beat, rocksteady, and reggae. At these gatherings the skinheads would dance, drink, and laugh with each other and the Jamaican immigrants whom brought the music to Britian.

During the 1970's, there were many changes in the "typical" skinhead. For some fashion went from looking smooth in the best clothes you could afford with a blue-collar job, to looking like you were at home, even when you were out. For others the disco craze of the seventies hit hard, resulting in feathered hair, frilly pants, and those ugly seventies shoes. By the late 70's the National Front, Britain's National Socialist party, had invaded the skinhead movement. Kids were recruited as street soldiers for NF. Since skinheads were already a violent breed, the NF decided that if their young recruits adopted the skinhead appearance, the might benefit from the reputation. It was at this point that racism permeated the skinhead cult without the consent of its members.

Also by the mid 70's punk had put the rebellion back in rock-and-roll, opening a new avenue for street kids to express their frustrations. The shifting mindset brought kids into the skinhead movement as yet another form of expression. By the late 70's punk had been invaded by the colleges, and record labels, letting down kids who truly believed in its rebellion. From the streets came a new kind of punk rock, a type which was meant to be true to the working class and the kids on the street. This new music was called "Oi!" "Oi!" is short for "Hoi Palloi", latin for "Working Class", and the name stuck. Oi! revived the breath of the working class kids. Because of Oi! music's working class roots, the media scorned its messages unlike they had done with the first wave of punk. With the change in music came a new kinds of skinheads, and the gaps between the different types widened. Aside from the National Front's skinheads, the movement had been simply a working class struggle, rather than a right-left political struggle. With skinheads forming their own bands, political lines began to be drawn on the basis of right-left and even non-political politics. Politically right groups were often associated with the National Front and had distinct racial messages. Leftist groups looked at the working class struggle through labor politics. Non-political groups often shunned both sides simply because they chose to be political. The Oi! movement consumed most of the 1980's and is still alive today.

Skinheads have spread to every part of the globe. Each country supports an independent history of skinhead goals, values, and appearances. The definition of "skinhead" varies from country to country, which doesn't say too much since it also varies from city to city.

Starting in the late 80's, through present day, there has been a large resurgence back to the "traditional" values and appearance of the 1960's skinhead. This has occurred in Britain, America, as well as most of Europe. This has lead to even more tension, this time between "traditional," and "non-traditional" skins.

Influences of punk can be found in the skinhead culture. Skinheads were in existence long before the punk movement came around, and they were in healthy shape. The split in skinhead culture happened about the same time that the skinheads accepted punk. On one side was the traditional skinheads, known as “baldies”, and on the other was the racist skinheads, known as “boneheads”. Even today there is the negative connotation that skinhead stands for racism, which is hardly the case. But there is also a group that calls itself SHARPs (SkinHeads Against Racial Prejudice; militantly anti-racist skinheads). Skinheads went for a clean-cut look, thus the shaved heads, jeans that fit, plain white t-shirts (sometimes referred to as “wife beaters”), and work boots (“shit kickers”). Tension between the two skinhead cultures exists still today, and an ongoing war is still going on between the white supremacist nazi punk skinheads and the working class anti-racial skinheads.
The names of Oi! bands were sometimes cruel (Dead John Lennons, Millions of Dead Cops). 

5.    GOTH

Main Entry: Goth
Pronunciation: 'gäth
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English Gothes, Gotes (plural), partly from Old English Gotan (plural); partly from Late Latin Gothi (plural)
Date: 14th century
: a member of a Germanic people that overran the Roman Empire in the early centuries of the Christian era

Main Entry: Goth
Function: abbreviation

Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary

Goth emerged in the late 1970’s, branching off of the punk scene. A band by the name of Siouxsie and the Banshees are accredited with the starting of the Goths. Gothic music differs from punk to the effect that it eliminated the chainsaw sound of punk and replaced it with a droning sound of guitar, bass, and drums. The Goths also believed that society was too conservative, but they also felt that no one accepted them, so they viewed themselves as outcasts of society. Goths are preoccupied with introspection and melancholia. They are inclined to speak poetically of 'beautiful deaths' and vampiric sympathies. Theatrical as they are, goths are not (or not only) play-acting and self-dramatizing. The Goths wear almost nothing but black, perhaps with a little white or even red. Goth girls have a penchant for nets and lace and complex sinister jewelry; with their long black hair, black dresses and pasty complexions, they look positively Victorian. Boys have long hair and often wear black leather jackets and can at times be mistaken for heshers. Goths dye their hair black and wear black eyeliner and even black lipstick. They usually apply white makeup to the rest of their faces. The music they listen to also carries the name "goth" and seems to have descended from Joy Division, but typically the vocalist uses an especially cheesy 50's Count Dracula enunciation pattern.

Unlikely as it may seem, this movement, fostered at a London nightclub called the Batcave in 1981, has become one of the longest-enduring youth-culture tribes. The original Goths, named after the medieval Gothic era, were pale-faced, black-swathed, hair-sprayed night dwellers, who worshiped imagery religious and sacrilegious, consumptive poets, and all things spooky. Their bands included Sex Gang Children, Specimen, and Alien Sex Fiend, post-punk doom merchants who sang of horror-film imagery and transgressive sex. When Goth returned to the underground in Britain, it took root in the U.S., particularly in sunny California, where the desired air of funereal gloom was often at odds with the participants' natural teen spirit. English bands like Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and the Sisters of Mercy cast a powerful spell over the imaginations of American night stalkers, and pop-Goth variants the Cure and Depeche Mode filled stadiums. Further proof of the movement's mass appeal was the success of The Crow horror movies (1994, 1996), both of which were suffused with Goth imagery.
Goth provides a highly stylized, almost glamorous, alternative to punk fashion for suburban rebels, as well as safe androgyny for boys. The massive popularity of such industrial-Goth artists as Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, and Marilyn Manson has somewhat validated the Goth crowd's outré modus vivendi, though as industrial rock replaces heavy metal as the sound of Middle America, Goth's dark appeal is blanched. Goth enjoyed a spate of media coverage in late 1996 thanks to such peripherally related events as the Florida "vampire murders" of November 1996. To this day, the movement continues to replenish itself with the fresh blood of new bands and fans.


Music genre that originated in London in 1976 when confrontational noisemakers Throbbing Gristle founded the Industrial Records label. Disappointed that punk rock had joined the rock 'n' roll tradition instead of destroying it, British and American fellow travelers like Leather Nun, Monte Cazzazza, and Cabaret Voltaire aligned themselves with Industrial Records, creating a broad church for (usually rhythmic) experiments with noise collage, found sounds, and extreme lyrical themes. Believing that punk's revolution could be realized only by severing its roots in traditional rock, industrial bands deployed noise, electronics, hypnotic machine rhythms, and tape loops. Instead of rallying youth behind political slogans, industrial artists preferred to "decondition" the individual listener by confronting taboos. Key literary influences were J.G. Ballard's anatomies of aberrant sexuality and the paranoid visions and "cut-up" collage techniques of William S. Burroughs.The industrial subculture (touching on transgressive fiction (Contemporary fiction-writing trend that prowls the psycho-narco-sexual frontiers and "dysfunctional" relationships of the Marquis de Sade, William Burroughs, and serial killers.), S/M (sadism and masochism), and piercing) spread worldwide.


Main Entry: hard core
Function: noun
Date: 1936
1 : a central or fundamental and usually enduring group or part: as a : a relatively small enduring core of society marked by apparent resistance to change or inability to escape a persistent wretched condition (as poverty or chronic unemployment) b : a militant or fiercely loyal faction
2 usually hard·core /-"kOr, -"kor/ chiefly British : hard material in pieces (as broken bricks or stone) used as a bottom (as in making roads and in foundations)

Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary

Following the “death” of punk in the late 1970’s was a hard and heavy form of punk known as Hardcore. Hardcore is faster, louder, and heavier than the punk of the 1970’s, and it gained much popularity over the early and mid 1980’s.  Typically the vocals are screamed and unintelligible, though they frequently give voice to strong political sentiments, the bass is played with a pick and is clear and tonal while the guitar forms a dynamic, often atonal, texture of sound. rock and roll radio. Bands such as Black Flag, D.O.A., Circle Jerks, Fear, Bad Brains, The Meatmen, Agent Orange and Minor Threat were the major influences in Hardcore, and the idea of slam dancing was born in the tradition of punks “pogo dancing”. This slam dancing, or moshing, was done in a mosh pit and was accompanied by the occasional stage diving or crowd surfing. The main message of Hardcore was “DIY”, or Do It Yourself.
The DIY movement was purely in the tradition of punk; punk was a form of music that almost anyone could play, it usually involved only 3-chords and a band could be put together cheaply. It was a not-so-expensive way for youth to put out their message.


The DIY style of Hardcore gave way to other subcultures of punk, one in particular is known as sXe, or Straight Edge. Most of the sXe credit is given to the band Minor Threat after they released their song “Straight Edge”. The song was an outcry against the effects of drugs, and fans of Minor Threat started to quit using non-pharmaceutical drugs like nicotine, alcohol, and marijuana. These Straight Edgers felt that using drugs was a sign of weakness, and they still dressed as normal punks did, but wore anti drug messages on their shirts. The symbol of Straight Edgers is a large X, originally a symbol that clubs would mark on hands if the person was not old enough to (legally) drink. Eventually Straight Edgers started to put the marks on by themselves, even if they were over 21, to signify that they were living drug-free. Other movements that found their way into the Hardcore DIY scene were Green Peace, the Vegan Movement, concerts raising money for the homeless, and the Hare Krishnas, as well as other religious groups.

9.    GRUNGE

Main Entry: grunge
Pronunciation: 'gr&nj
Function: noun
Etymology: back-formation from grungy
Date: 1965
1 : one that is grungy
2 : rock music incorporating elements of punk rock and heavy metal; also : the untidy working-class fashions typical of fans of grunge.

 Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary

Grunge, rock music style of the early 1990s, characterized by a thick, abrasive, distorted guitar sound. Grunge evolved from punk in the Seattle, Washington, area and came to prominence with the chart success of the band Nirvana in 1991. Grunge is said to have originated as marriage between Seattle's hesher and punk scenes. Characteristic of most of these bands is punk rock drums and vocals, hesher hair and guitar, and working-class clothing that is rarely washed. Lyrics frequently confront such uncomfortable subjects as unpopularity, alienation from divorced parents, disease, the hypocrisy and allure of religion, heroin, and raw lust.  Grunge may or may not be a useful term to describe a segment of youth delinquency, but with historical perspective, it is best used to describe a record company phenomenon. Grunge was a revolution, the revolution where punk rock was decisively injected into mainstream rock and roll.

Numerous culture makers embarrassed themselves in the rush to exploit the most vital white youth culture in years. Grunge "fashion"--the perennial flannel shirt/combat boots/ripped jeans uniform of suburban burnouts everywhere--was suddenly used as an exotic novelty by designers.


Main Entry: 1al·ter·na·tive
Pronunciation: ol-'t&r-n&-tiv, al-
Function: adjective
Date: 1540
2 : offering or expressing a choice <several alternative plans>
3 : different from the usual or conventional:as a : existing or functioning outside the established cultural, social, or economic system <alternative newspaper> <alternative lifestyles> b : of, or relating to, or being rock music that is regarded as an alternative to conventional rock and is typically influenced by punk rock, hard rock, hip-hop, or folk music
- al·ter·na·tive·ly adverb
- al·ter·na·tive·ness noun

Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary

Nineties term for counterculture, often of a non-oppositional nature. Current use of "alternative" in the music and youth-culture world originated in the late '70s and early '80s, when it described the strain of post-punk music cultivated by a growing, informal network of college radio stations. The word "alternative" already had a meaning related to culture: commonly associated with the independent, oppositional press of the late hippie era, this counterculture label also came to denote any lifestyle outside the mainstream. As college-rock favorites like R.E.M. and U2 became chart and stadium fixtures in the second half of the '80s, successive waves of newer, rawer bands inherited the "alternative" mantle. However, Nirvana's meteoric rise to the top of the charts in 1991-92 disrupted the ecosystem: suddenly alternative was a musical category as lucrative as hip-hop or metal, as were its country-associated fashions. Record companies, radio, and MTV embraced the "new" form, the Lollapalooza tours enshrined it, and marketers used it as youth bait to sell everything from cars to soft drinks to movies. For those who wrangled with the question "what is alternative?" there was no satisfactory answer-the term was now in the public domain, and dissent from the mainstream was rewarded within a fragmenting mass culture. Alternative - at obvious variance with the mainstream, especially regarding music, lifestyle and clothing. Clothing and the extent of facial piercings are usually the most apparent manifestations of underlying alternative sentiments. But like every other term that may have once had meaning, the term "alternative" has been co-opted by mainstream commercial culture. It isn't easy to maintain a rebellion when you find yourself winning every battle. As the name for a musical genré, alternative is reserved for a type of college radio pop that typically breaks free of such rock and roll rules as the major/blues scales, the 4/4 rhythm, hi fidelity, and the need for rhyming lyrics. There is, however, plenty of "alternative" that is hard to distinguish from classic rock. These days much of the new rock and roll that mainstream rock stations play is stuff that would have been considered alternative only a year or two before.

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