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The Best Alternative Bands/Artists

Updated March 14, 2020 211.4k votes 17.7k voters 424.4k views421 items

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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  • 1
    Nirvana is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
    3,749
    2,081
    Nirvana was an American grunge band that was formed by singer/guitarist Kurt Cobain and... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 2
    The Cure is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
    1,814
    1,024
    The Cure is an English rock band formed in Crawley, West Sussex in 1976. The band members have... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 3
    The Smashing Pumpkins is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
    The Smashing Pumpkins (or Smashing Pumpkins) are an American alternative rock band from... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 4
    Soundgarden is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
    1,560
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    Soundgarden was an American rock band formed in Seattle, Washington, in 1984 by singer and... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 5
    The Clash is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
    988
    565
    The Clash were an English rock band formed in London in 1976 as a key player in the original... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 6
    Green Day is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
    2,914
    1,955
    Green Day is an American rock band formed in 1986 by lead vocalist and guitarist Billie Joe... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 7
    Red Hot Chili Peppers is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
    Red Hot Chili Peppers are an American rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1983. The group's... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 8
    Alice in Chains is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
    Alice in Chains (often abbreviated as AIC) is an American rock band from Seattle, Washington,... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 9
    Foo Fighters is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
    2,367
    1,575
    Foo Fighters is an American rock band, formed in Seattle in 1994. It was founded by Nirvana... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 10
    Talking Heads is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
    Talking Heads were an American rock band formed in 1975 in New York City and active until... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 11
    Radiohead is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
    2,972
    2,134
    Radiohead are an English rock band formed in Abingdon-on-Thames in 1985. The band consists of... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 12
    The Cranberries is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
    The Cranberries were an Irish rock band formed in Limerick, Ireland in 1989 by lead singer... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 13
    The White Stripes is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
    The White Stripes were an American rock duo formed in 1997 in Detroit, Michigan. The group... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 14
    Depeche Mode is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
    1,055
    720
    Depeche Mode () are an English electronic band formed in Basildon, Essex, in 1980. The group... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 15
    David Bowie is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
    1,266
    495
    David Robert Jones (8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016), known professionally as David Bowie (,... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 16
    Rage Against the Machine is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
    Rage Against the Machine is an American rock band from Los Angeles, California. Formed in... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 17
    Pixies is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
    1,485
    1,089
    The Pixies are an American rock band formed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1986. The group... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 18
    R.E.M. is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
    1,874
    1,418
    R.E.M. was an American rock band from Athens, Georgia, formed in 1980 by drummer Bill Berry,... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 19
    Arctic Monkeys is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
    2,222
    1,612
    Arctic Monkeys is an English rock band formed in Sheffield in 2002. The group consists of Alex... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 20
    Linkin Park is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
    2,126
    1,149
    Linkin Park is an American rock band from Agoura Hills, California. The band's current lineup... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 21
    Joy Division is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
    Joy Division were an English rock band formed in Salford in 1976. The group consisted of... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 22
    Pearl Jam is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
    2,120
    1,656
    Pearl Jam is an American rock band, formed in Seattle, Washington, in 1990. Since its... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 23
    Cage the Elephant is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
    Cage the Elephant is an American rock band from Bowling Green, Kentucky, that formed in 2006.... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 24
    Ramones is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
    640
    367
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  • 25
    Blink-182 is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Alternative Bands/Artists
    1,357
    1,046
    Blink-182 is an American rock band formed in Poway, a suburb of San Diego, California in 1992.... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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