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?"

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

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#19 of 2,186 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #127 of 465 The Best Current Pop Groups/Singersfeaturing The Best Nirvana Songs

2
Red Hot Chili Peppers is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
CilasLee added
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

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#46 of 2,186 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #104 of 465 The Best Current Pop Groups/Singersfeaturing Totally Bizarre And Insane Stories About Red Hot Chili Peppers Frontman Anthony Kiedis

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 formed in Abingdon-on-Thames in 1985. The band consists of Thom Yorke (vocals, guitar, piano, keyboards), brothers Jonny Greenwood (lead guitar, keyboards, ...more

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#134 of 283 Musicians Who Belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame #36 of 2,186 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Timefeaturing The Best Radiohead Songs of All Time

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

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#81 of 2,186 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #32 of 2,219 The Best Rock Bands of All Timefeaturing The Best Pearl Jam Songs of All Time

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 by lead vocalist and guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong and bassist Mike Dirnt. For much of the band's career, they have been a trio with drummer ...more

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#126 of 2,186 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #87 of 465 The Best Current Pop Groups/Singersfeaturing The Best Green Day Songs of All Time

6
Foo Fighters is listed (or ranked) 6 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

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#59 of 283 Musicians Who Belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame #198 of 2,186 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Timefeaturing The Best Foo Fighters Songs of All Time

7
The Killers is listed (or ranked) 7 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 members Brandon Flowers (lead vocals, keyboards, bass) and Dave Keuning (lead guitar, backing vocals). Mark Stoermer ...more

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#281 of 2,186 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #137 of 465 The Best Current Pop Groups/Singersfeaturing The Best Killers Songs of All Time

8
The Cure is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
FabianMariani added
The Cure is an English rock band formed in Crawley, West Sussex in 1976. The band members have changed several times, with guitarist, lead vocalist, and songwriter Robert Smith the only constant ...more

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#11 of 283 Musicians Who Belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame #70 of 2,186 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Timefeaturing A Timeline Of Robert Smith's Beef With Morrissey

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 drummer Bill Berry, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist/backing vocalist Mike Mills, and lead vocalist Michael Stipe. One of ...more

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#124 of 2,186 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #46 of 2,219 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #28 of 505 The Greatest Musical Artists of the '80s

10
Weezer is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
but chickens double d added
Weezer is an American rock band formed in Los Angeles, California in 1992. Since 2001, the band has consisted of Rivers Cuomo (lead vocals, lead guitar, keyboards), Patrick Wilson (drums), Brian ...more

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#90 of 283 Musicians Who Belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame #344 of 2,186 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #119 of 2,219 The Best Rock Bands of All Time

11
The Smiths is listed (or ranked) 11 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 group consisted of vocalist Morrissey, guitarist Johnny Marr, bassist Andy Rourke and drummer Mike Joyce. Critics have ...more

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#60 of 283 Musicians Who Belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame #91 of 2,186 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Timefeaturing The Best Smiths Songs of All Time

12
The Smashing Pumpkins is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
The Smashing Pumpkins (or Smashing Pumpkins) are an American alternative rock band from Chicago, Illinois. Formed in 1988 by frontman Billy Corgan (lead vocals, guitar), D'arcy Wretzky (bass), ...more

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#81 of 283 Musicians Who Belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame #200 of 2,186 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Timefeaturing The Best Smashing Pumpkins Songs of All Time

13
Arctic Monkeys is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
RobDiLorenzo added
Arctic Monkeys is an English rock band formed in Sheffield in 2002. The group consists of Alex Turner (lead vocals, guitar, piano), Matt Helders (drums, vocals), Jamie Cook (guitar, keyboards) ...more

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#301 of 2,186 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #191 of 2,219 The Best Rock Bands of All Timefeaturing The Best Arctic Monkeys Songs of All Time

14
Coldplay is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
Coldplay are a British rock band formed in London in 1996. The four members – which include lead vocalist/pianist Chris Martin, lead guitarist Jonny Buckland, bassist Guy Berryman and drummer ...more

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#194 of 283 Musicians Who Belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame #143 of 2,186 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Timefeaturing The Best Coldplay Songs of All Time

15
The White Stripes is listed (or ranked) 15 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 (songwriter, vocals, guitar, piano, and mandolin) and Meg White (drums and ...more

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#206 of 2,186 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #262 of 353 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands #116 of 2,219 The Best Rock Bands of All Time

16
Pixies is listed (or ranked) 16 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

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#102 of 283 Musicians Who Belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame #102 of 2,186 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Timefeaturing The Best Pixies Albums of All-Time

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 band from Long Beach, California, formed in 1988. The band's line-up, unchanged until their breakup, consisted of Bradley Nowell (vocals and guitar), Eric Wilson ...more

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#370 of 2,186 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #228 of 2,219 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #38 of 410 The Greatest Musical Artists of the '90s

18
Oasis is listed (or ranked) 18 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 (lead vocals, tambourine), Paul ...more

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#195 of 283 Musicians Who Belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Famefeaturing The Best Oasis Songs of All Timelisted on The Best English Boy Bands

19
The Arcana is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
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 Matt Bellamy (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards), Chris Wolstenholme (bass guitar, backing vocals), and ...more

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#199 of 2,186 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #131 of 2,219 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #59 of 626 The Greatest Live Bands of All Time

21
Soundgarden is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
Soundgarden was an American rock band formed in Seattle, Washington, in 1984 by singer and rhythm guitarist Chris Cornell, lead guitarist Kim Thayil (both of whom are the only members to appear ...more

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#29 of 283 Musicians Who Belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame #113 of 2,186 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #72 of 2,219 The Best Rock Bands of All Time

22
The Clash is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
but chickens double d added
The Clash were an English rock band formed in London in 1976 as a key player in the original wave of British punk rock. They have also contributed to the post-punk and new wave movements that ...more

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#54 of 2,186 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #114 of 353 The Greatest Classic Rock Bandsfeaturing The Best Clash Albums of All Time

23
Talking Heads is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
ryanjjjj8 added
Talking Heads were an American rock band formed in 1975 in New York City and active until 1991. The band comprised David Byrne (lead vocals, guitar), Chris Frantz (drums), Tina Weymouth (bass), ...more

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#76 of 2,186 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #65 of 2,219 The Best Rock Bands of All Timefeaturing The Best Talking Heads Albums of All Time

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 from Garden Grove, California, formed in 1984. Originally formed under the name Manic Subsidal, the band has consisted of lead vocalist and guitarist Bryan ...more

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#156 of 465 The Best Current Pop Groups/Singers #122 of 2,219 The Best Rock Bands of All Timefeaturing Whatever Happened To '90s Band The Offspring?

25
Linkin Park is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
BayzidAnando added
Linkin Park is an American rock band from Agoura Hills, California. The band's current lineup comprises vocalist/keyboardist/rhythm guitarist Mike Shinoda, lead guitarist Brad Delson, bassist ...more

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#210 of 2,186 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #93 of 2,219 The Best Rock Bands of All Timefeaturing The Best Linkin Park Songs of All Time