The most popular rock genres embody the rollicking, freewheeling spirit of rock ’n’ roll in unique and fascinating ways. Whether it’s the head-banging riffs of metal or the drone of goth rock that makes you want to run and put your eyeliner on, all types of rock music connect with audiences on a personal, visceral level.
Rock music genres have always been fluid, with the best artists mixing and matching and forming new styles by forging ahead and just making the music they want to hear. Artists like Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, and Nirvana, for instance, took the parts of punk rock and metal that appealed to them most and helped launch the whole grunge rock movement of the early 1990s.
The list of rock genres is as long as the list of musicians willing to pick up a guitar and try something new. Rock music is not necessarily defined by the driving bass lines and pounding drums of thrash metal, just as it is not defined by the synthesizers and drum machines of the new wave. There is a genre of rock music for any music fan.
So which are the rock genres that best capture the spirit of rock ’n’ roll? Which genres get your heading bobbing to the beat and your fist in the air with devil horns up? Vote below on the best subgenres of rock music.
Popular artists: Nirvana, Hole, Stone Temple Pilots, The Smashing Pumpkins, Alice in Chains, Everclear, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Melvins, L7
Popular artists: Dead Kennedys, The Clash, Ramones, Misfits, Black Flag, The Stooges, Bad Religion, Bad Brains, Rancid, NOFX
Popular artists: Whitesnake, Poison, Guns N' Roses, Mötley Crüe, Ratt, Quiet Riot, Warrant, Dokken, Skid Row, Van Halen
Popular artists: Beck, Weezer, R.E.M., Foo Fighters, The Cure, Muse, The Smashing Pumpkins, Oasis, Pixies, The Smiths
Popular artists: Tame Impala, The Doors, Grateful Dead, The 13th Floor Elevators, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream, Love, The Byrds, Iron Butterfly, Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band
Popular artists: Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Iron Maiden, Pantera, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Led Zeppelin, Slipknot, Deep Purple
Popular artists: Tool, Korn, Alice in Chains, System of a Down, Deftones, A Perfect Circle, Disturbed, Avenged Sevenfold, Stone Sour, Three Days Grace
Popular artists: David Bowie, Alice Cooper, Queen, Slade, Sweet, Motley Crue, Poison, The Darkness, Quiet Riot, Def Leppard
Popular artists: The Beach Boys, The Ventures, Dick Dale, The Surfaris, The Bel-Airs, The Lively Ones, Brian Wilson, The Challengers, The Atlantics, The Trashmen
Popular aritsts: Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Rolling Stones, ZZ Top, The Allman Brothers Band, The Black Keys, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Muddy Waters, Gary Clark Jr.
Popular artists: Journey, Queen, Styx, Europe, Boston, Foreigner, Bon Jovi, Kansas, Night Ranger, Survivor
Popular artists: The White Stripes, The Sonics, MC5, Black Lips, The Kingsmen, The Raconteurs, The Kinks, The Kills, Kings of Leon, FIDLAR
Popular artists: The B-52's, The Human League, Blondie, The Police, Elvis Costello, The Cars, INXS, Culture Club, The Pretenders, Simple Minds
Popular artists: David Bowie, Death Grips, Tom Waits, Björk, Frank Zappa, Throbbing Gristle, Swans, Portishead, The Residents, Nurse with Wound
Popular artists: Disturbed, System of a Down, Mudvayne, Static-X, Sevendust, Staind, Godsmack, Marilyn Manson, Evanescence, Taproot
Popular artists: Rush, Dream Theater, Soft Machine, Porcupine Tree, Kansas, Gong, Supertramp, Spock's Beard, Roger Waters, The Nice
Popular artists: Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Saxon, Satan, Angel Witch, Witchfinder General, Savage, Cloven Hoof, Blitzkrieg, Raven
Popular artists: Grateful Dead, The Doors, Pink Floyd, Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, Iron Butterfly, Blue Cheer, Steppenwolf, The Seeds, Grace Slick
Popular artists: "Weird" Al Yankovich, Tenacious D, Gwar, Spinal Tap, Frank Zappa, The Dead Milkmen, Flight of the Conchords, Steel Panther, Ween, Bloodhound Gang
Popular artists: Billy Joel, Air Supply, Hall & Oates, Chicago, Elton John, Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Phil Collins, Rod Stewart, Carpenters
Popular artists: They Might Be Giants, Devo, "Weird Al" Yankovic, Oingo Bongo, Thomas Dolby, Cake, Barenaked Ladies, Ween, OK Go, Ben Folds Five
Popular artists: Green Day, blink-182, Sum 41, Paramore, New Found Glory, Jimmy Eat World, Yellowcard, All Time Low, Taking Back Sunday, The Offspring
Popular artists: Interpol, Arctic Monkeys, The Killers, Bloc Party, Editors, The Rapture, The National, Kaiser Chiefs, She Wants Revenge, The Hives
Popular artists: Pantera, Lamb of God, Gojira, Five Finger Death Punch, Soulfly, Machine Head, Exhorder, Chimaira, Prong, DevilDriver
Popular artists: New Order, Gorillaz, Pet Shop Boys, M83, MGMT, Björk, Hot Chip, Passion Pit, The Chemical Brothers, Electronic