Essentially, college rock is the (largely) alternative music that dominated college radio playlists from the rise of alternative rock (circa 1983-84) through the '80s. Most college rock was born in the confluence of new wave, post-punk, and early alternative rock. College rock's poppiest bands didn't fit into the mainstream the way new wave did; although it could be arty, it wasn't quite as experimental or detached as much post-punk; and where much early alternative/American underground rock was rooted in punk and hardcore, not all college rock necessarily was (though many of those early alternative bands fit the definition nicely). Early college rock's two most influential groups were R.E.M. and the Smiths, who paved the way for countless practitioners of jangly guitar-pop from the U.S. (the dB's, Let's Active) and U.K. (Housemartins, La's). But college rock encompassed much more. There was the burgeoning, post-hardcore American underground rock scene (Hüsker Dü, Sonic Youth, the Minutemen, the Meat Puppets, Dinosaur Jr., the Replacements); the quirky, cerebral British pop of new wave survivors XTC and Robyn Hitchcock; similarly quirky American artists like They Might Be Giants, the Violent Femmes, Camper Van Beethoven, and the Pixies; literate folk-rock (Billy Bragg, he Waterboys, 10,000 Maniacs); post-punkers who added more pop dimensions to their music (the Cure, Siouxsie & the Banshees); synth-based dance-pop with moody, introspective lyrics (New Order, Depeche Mode); and bands who blended pop hooks with ear-splitting guitar noise (the Pixies, the Jesus & Mary Chain). College rock also included a few mainstream stars like U2, Peter Gabriel, and Sting, whose thoughtful lyrics and socially conscious idealism made them favorites on college campuses. College rock's heyday essentially ended with Nirvana's breakthrough in 1991, which opened mainstream ears to the more accessible side of alternative rock; as college radio playlists began to resemble commercial alternative radio, the more experimental branches of alternative and indie rock were driven even further underground.