Music

The Best Alternative Bands/Artists  

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At the end of the 1980s, at the peak of glam rock and hair metal, a new genre began to emerge from the underground. Since it served as an option to the bloated sound of those genres that was all over the airwaves and MTV, it was aptly titled alternative rock. Over the years, alternative rock has become part of mainstream rock. But at its beginning, alt rock and all of the alternative artists were on the cutting edge of what was going on in response to those more commercial genres. The origins of the best alternative bands are in cities like Seattle, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and various college towns around the country.

So, who can be considered one of the top alternative bands, or even a good current alternative band? Any list isn't complete without Husker Du and R.E.M., who represent the best college rock musicians. These alternative music bands had a huge impact on the alternative scene and influenced many, if not all alternative rock bands. Jane's Addiction can also be lumped into that category. Other popular alternative artists include Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Oasis, Blur and Smashing Pumpkins. These groups' legacy and impact on alternative music is indisputable and they continue to crank out the hits.

Who is on your top 100 alternative bands list? We know this list isn't 100 bands/artists long. . . we did that on purpose because we're alternative.

Ultimately, it's up to you to decide what is the best alternative band. If you think an alternative artist or band isn't on here and should, feel free to add them to this list. This list answers the questions "who are the best alternative bands of all time?" and "who is the greatest alternative musician ever?"

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list ordered by
1
Nirvana is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
Nirvana was an American grunge band that was formed by singer/guitarist Kurt Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic in Aberdeen, Washington in 1987. Nirvana went through a succession of drummers, ...more
2
Red Hot Chili Peppers is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
CilasLee added
The Red Hot Chili Peppers are an American rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1983. The group's musical style primarily consists of rock with an emphasis on funk, as well as elements from other ...more
3
Radiohead is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
but chickens double d added
Radiohead are an English rock band from Abingdon, Oxfordshire, formed in 1985. The band consists of Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, Colin Greenwood, Phil Selway and Ed O'Brien. Radiohead released ...more
4
Pearl Jam is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
Pearl Jam is an American rock band, formed in Seattle, Washington, in 1990. Since its inception, the band's line-up has comprised Eddie Vedder, Mike McCready, Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament. The ...more
5
Green Day is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
but chickens double d added
Green Day is an American rock band formed in 1986. Green Day's members include Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt and Tré Cool. Green Day was originally part of the punk scene at the DIY ...more
6
The Killers is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
ryanjjjj8 added
The Killers are an American rock band formed in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2001, by Brandon Flowers and Dave Keuning. Mark Stoermer and Ronnie Vannucci Jr. would complete the current line-up of the ...more
7
Foo Fighters is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
FabianMariani added
Foo Fighters is an American rock band, formed in Seattle in 1994. It was founded by Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl as a one-man project following the death of Kurt Cobain and the resulting ...more
8
Weezer is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
but chickens double d added
Weezer is an American rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1992 consisting of Rivers Cuomo, Patrick Wilson, Brian Bell, and Scott Shriner. The line-up has changed three times since its formation ...more
9
R.E.M. is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
R.E.M. was an American rock band from Athens, Georgia, formed in 1980 by singer Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist Mike Mills, and drummer Bill Berry. One of the first popular ...more
10
The Smiths is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
but chickens double d added
The Smiths were an English rock band formed in Manchester in 1982. The band consisted of vocalist Morrissey, guitarist Johnny Marr, bassist Andy Rourke and drummer Mike Joyce. Critics have ...more
11
Coldplay is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
Coldplay are a British rock band formed in 1996 by lead vocalist Chris Martin and lead guitarist Jonny Buckland at University College London. After they formed under the name Pectoralz, Guy ...more
12
Arctic Monkeys is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
RobDiLorenzo added
Arctic Monkeys are an English rock band formed in 2002 in High Green, a suburb of Sheffield. The band consists of Alex Turner, Jamie Cook, Nick O'Malley, and Matt Helders. Former band member ...more
13
The Cure is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
FabianMariani added
The Cure are an English rock band formed in Crawley, West Sussex, in 1976. The band has experienced several line-up changes, with vocalist, guitarist and principal songwriter Robert Smith being ...more
14
The Smashing Pumpkins is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
The Smashing Pumpkins are an American alternative rock band from Chicago, Illinois, formed in 1988. Formed by frontman Billy Corgan and James Iha, the band included Jimmy Chamberlin and D'arcy ...more
15
The Arcana is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
16
The White Stripes is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
muzziac added
The White Stripes were an American rock duo, formed in 1997 in Detroit, Michigan. The group consisted of Jack White and Meg White. After releasing several singles and three albums within the ...more
17
Sublime is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
but chickens double d added
Sublime was an American ska punk and alternative rock band from Long Beach, California, formed in 1988. The band's line-up, unchanged until their breakup, consisted of Bradley Nowell, Eric ...more
18
Pixies is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
The Pixies are an American rock band formed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1986. The group currently consists of founders Black Francis, Joey Santiago, and David Lovering. Co-founder Kim Deal left ...more
19
Oasis is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
Oasis were an English rock band formed in Manchester in 1991. Developed from an earlier group, the Rain, the band originally consisted of Liam Gallagher, Paul "Bonehead" Arthurs, Paul ...more
20
Muse is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
RobDiLorenzo added
Muse are an English rock band from Teignmouth, Devon, formed in 1994. The band consists of Matthew Bellamy, Christopher Wolstenholme and Dominic Howard. They are known for their energetic and ...more
21
Linkin Park is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
BayzidAnando added
Linkin Park is an American rock band from Agoura Hills, California. Formed in 1996, the band rose to international fame with their debut album Hybrid Theory, which was certified Diamond by the ...more
22
The Black Keys is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
but chickens double d added
The Black Keys are an American rock duo formed in Akron, Ohio in 2001. The group consists of Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney. The duo began as an independent act, recording music in basements ...more
23
Soundgarden is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
Soundgarden is an American rock band formed in Seattle, Washington, in 1984 by singer and rhythm guitarist Chris Cornell, lead guitarist Kim Thayil, and bassist Hiro Yamamoto. Matt Cameron ...more
24
The Offspring is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
but chickens double d added
The Offspring is an American rock band formed in Huntington Beach, California in 1984. Since its formation, the band's line-up has included Dexter Holland (lead vocals, guitar), Noodles (lead ...more
25
U2 is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
but chickens double d added
U2 are an Irish rock band from Dublin. Formed in 1976, the group consists of Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen Jr.. U2's early sound was rooted in post-punk but eventually grew to ...more