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Geek rock
Stylistic origins Indie rock, punk rock, alternative rock, power pop, twee pop
Cultural origins Mid-90's North America
Typical instruments Guitar - bass - drums - keyboards/synthesizer -
Mainstream popularity Handful of bands have found mainstream success, though even they are rarely labeled "geek rock".
Other topics
Nerdcore - Grunge - Independent music - Lollapalooza - Progressive music

Geek rock (also known as nerd rock, but distinct from the hip hop subgenre nerdcore) is a musical subgenre of alternative rock, although unlike many genres, the term is somewhat loosely applied as far as the style of music performed is concerned. Rather, the phrase is more often used to describe the artists and performers, whose personalities and/or appearance are considered "geeky" or "nerdy".

However, there are certain common musical traits that many geek rock artists share, although a good number of the bands described as such may display a sound far removed from the considered standard. Such elements include heavy use of synthesisers and electronic keyboards, vocoders, harmonic vocals (and, sometimes, extensive use of female-led backing vocals) and idiosyncratic use of instruments not usually associated with alt-rock, such as accordions. Some mainstream bands that exemplify the geek rock "sound" include They Might Be Giants,[1] Jonathan Coulton,[2] Weezer,[3] Guster,[4] Ben Folds[4], Fountains of Wayne,We are Scientists, Nerf Herder[5], and Barenaked Ladies.[6]

In addition, a number of lyrical themes are quite common to the genre, including themes of isolation, loneliness and failing love lives, and a fascination with "geek" pop culture such as comic books, science fiction and fantasy. In addition, significant doses of irony and humor can be found in many geek rock lyrics.

Bands that are considered in the geek rock genre have been almost exclusively American or Canadian, but there have been a few bands from other countries as well. One noteworthy band is Wir sind Helden (We are heroes) from Germany. Their song "The Geek (shall inherit)" from their third album makes this inclination explicit. Another blossoming scene seems to come from Indonesia where bands like Shorthand Phonetics[7] with their most recent release and Pee Wee Gaskins are releasing albums and EPs within the geek rock domain.


  1. ^ "The AV Club Interviews They Might Be Giants". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2008-02-18.  
  2. ^ "How To Become a Rock Star". Yahoo news. Retrieved 2008-02-18.  
  3. ^ ""Weezer Brings Geek Rock to London". Retrieved 2008-02-18.  
  4. ^ a b "Rufus Wainwright, Guster and Ben Folds 6/13/2004".,-Guster-and-Ben-Folds-6_13_2004.html. Retrieved 2008-02-18.  
  5. ^ Grossman, Lev. "Parry Gripp of Nerf Herder: The Nerd World Interview". Time. Retrieved 10 July 2009.  
  6. ^ "Geek rock that grew in the midst of grunge". Retrieved 2008-02-18.  
  7. ^]

See also

Geek Chic (style)



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