Alternative Music The Best College Rock Bands/Artists  

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4.5k votes 444 voters 41.2k views 99 items

Popular in the 1980s and 1990s, college rock bands were some of the first alternative rock bands before the genre shot to prominence. College radio programmers who eschewed the mainstream rock of that time often leaned on these quirky bands that didn't quite squeeze into the mainstream. College rock bands primarily consisted of bands whose music had traces of post-punk rock, new wave with traces of catchy indie pop. Yet, they were underground rock bands. Thus, due to their popularity on campuses, these were called college rock bands. Over the years, college rock has expanded and the genre includes all bands who are played on college radio. But, many college rock bands graduated from college rock and became more mainstream. For that, they can thank their friends and champions who support them from those lean early years when commercial radio wouldn't play their music.

So, what are the best college rock bands? No list of college rock would be complete without the inclusion of R.E.M., the Pixies, Sonic Youth and the Replacements. All of these great rock bands owe a slice of their success to college radio. Without being labeled as college rock, it's unlikely that these alternative bands would have been able to build a fanbase on their own. Thus the best college rock bands are well known among music fans. Even today, with satellite radio, college rock is more easily accessible than it was when it first became an important, tastemaking genre.

Ultimately it's up to you to decide what are good college rock bands. By nature, college rock is exactly what it is described as. But, if you notice a college rock band that isn't on here, feel free to add them. This list answers the questions "who are the best college rock bands of all time?" and "who is the greatest college rock musician ever?" If you know enough about the genre, please vote based on the quality of the band's music instead of just voting for the most popular college rock bands that you might've heard of. (99 items)
list ordered by

1
150 50
R.E.M. is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
Jangle pop, Alternative rock, College rock

2
132 51
Pixies is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
Experimental rock, Grunge, Noise

3
75 25
The Cure is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
New Wave, Gothic rock, Rock music

4
92 44
The Replacements is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
Jangle pop, Pop punk, Heartland rock

5
85 40
The Smiths is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
muzziac added Jangle pop, Indie pop, Alternative rock

6
87 46
Sonic Youth is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
Noise rock, Rock music, No wave

7
46 23
The Jesus and Mary Chain is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
JacobHuneycutt added Indie pop, Shoegazing, Alternative rock

8
57 36
Dinosaur Jr is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
muzziac added Noise rock, Grunge, Alternative rock

9
61 40
Hüsker Dü is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
muzziac added Alternative rock, Punk rock, Post-hardcore

10
64 46
Violent Femmes is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
Alternative rock, Punk rock, Folk punk

11
48 31
Echo & the Bunnymen is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
muzziac added New Wave, Neo-psychedelia, Alternative rock

12
61 44
They Might Be Giants is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
Experimental rock, Children's music, Alternative rock

13
42 26
The Lemonheads is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
Alternative rock, Punk rock, Indie rock

14
36 21
XTC is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
Indie pop, New Wave, Psychedelic pop

15
49 34
Guided by Voices is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
tommythettones added Indie pop, Alternative rock, Indie rock

16
48 35
The Smithereens is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
Jangle pop, Rock music, Pop rock

17
36 23
Camper Van Beethoven is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
Pop music, Ska, World music

18
52 40
10,000 Maniacs is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
Jangle pop, Rock music, Folk rock

19
32 20
Midnight Oil is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
Rock music, Alternative rock, Progressive rock

20
42 35
U2 is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
stepbystep added Rock music, Alternative rock, Punk rock

21
30 23
Descendents is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
Pop punk, Melodic hardcore, Skate punk

22
28 21
Minutemen is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
Dance-punk, Experimental music, Alternative rock

23
30 24
Hoodoo Gurus is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
New Wave, Rock music, College rock

24
31 26
Siouxsie & the Banshees is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
New Wave, Gothic rock, Alternative rock

25
31 27
Love and Rockets is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
Gothic rock, Alternative rock, College rock

26
34 31
Superchunk is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
slackMFr added Pop punk, Emo, Alternative rock

27
31 28
Butthole Surfers is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
Noise rock, Rock music, Neo-psychedelia

28
30 28
Dead Milkmen is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
Pop punk, Alternative rock, Punk rock

29
32 31
Yo La Tengo is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
CoryRodgers added Noise rock, Shoegazing, Experimental rock

30
36 36
Sebadoh is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
slackMFr added Indie rock, Lo-fi music

31
29 28
Tom Waits is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
stepbystep added Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

32
27 26
Mazzy Star is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
tommythettones added Indie, Psychedelic folk, Shoegazing

33
24 23
Throwing Muses is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
slackMFr added Alternative rock, Post-punk

34
27 27
Ween is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
Rock music, Experimental rock, Neo-psychedelia

35
29 30
The Connells is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
Jangle pop, Rock music, Power pop

36
24 24
Concrete Blonde is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
tommythettones added Alternative rock

37
28 30
The Pogues is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
Celtic punk, Celtic fusion, Folk rock

38
25 28
Blake Babies is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
muzziac added Rock music, Grunge, Alternative rock

39
21 23
Rilo Kiley is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
slackMFr added Indie pop, Alternative rock, Indie rock

40
21 23
Buffalo Tom is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
CarloMarinello added Rock music, Alternative rock

41
24 28
PJ Harvey is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
tommythettones added Punk blues, Grunge, Electronica

42
2 0
Matchbox Twenty is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
Dave Banker added Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock

43
32 39
Cake is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
Country rock, Post-grunge, Alternative rock

44
21 25
The Housemartins is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
Jangle pop, Pop music, Alternative rock

45
26 32
The Mighty Lemon Drops is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
Jangle pop, Indie, Alternative rock

46
21 26
The Fall is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
muzziac added Alternative rock, Punk rock, Avant-garde

47
23 29
The Feelies is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
New Wave, Rock music, College rock

48
2 2
The Sisters of Mercy is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
Patti St Marie Wilson added Gothic rock, Rock music, Alternative rock

49
2 2
Guadalcanal Diary is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
Patti St Marie Wilson added Jangle pop, Pop music

50
17 22
Old 97's is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
slackMFr added Country rock, Alternative country, Country