Music

The Best College Rock Bands/Artists 

Reference
Updated June 14, 2019 7.9k votes 733 voters 48k 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
R.E.M. is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
2
The Replacements is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
3
Pixies is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
4
The Smiths is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
5
The Cure is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
6
Hüsker Dü is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
7
Sonic Youth is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
8
Violent Femmes is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
9
Dinosaur Jr is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
10
Echo & the Bunnymen ... is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
11
The Jesus and Mary Chain... is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
12
Superchunk is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
slackMFr added
13
XTC is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
14
The Connells is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
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The Smithereens is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
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PJ Harvey is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
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Sebadoh is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
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Buffalo Tom is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
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The Lemonheads is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
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U2 is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
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10,000 Maniacs is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
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Blake Babies is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
muzziac added
23
Camper Van Beethoven is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
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They Might Be Giants is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists
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Midnight Oil is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best College Rock Bands/Artists