The 100 Most Popular Rock Music Genres, Ranked

List Rules
Vote up the rock subgenres that get your head banging and your fist in the air

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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.

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Ranked by
  • Alternative Rock
    1

    Alternative Rock

    1,229 votes

    Popular artists: Beck, Weezer, R.E.M., Foo Fighters, The Cure, Muse, The Smashing Pumpkins, Oasis, Pixies, The Smiths

    Rank the best alternative rock bands here!

  • Heavy Metal
    2

    Heavy Metal

    1,213 votes

    Popular artists: Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Iron Maiden, Pantera, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Led Zeppelin, Slipknot, Deep Purple

    Rank the best heavy metal bands here!

  • Grunge
    3

    Grunge

    1,116 votes

    Popular artists: Nirvana, Hole, Stone Temple Pilots, The Smashing Pumpkins, Alice in Chains, Everclear, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Melvins, L7

    Rank the best grunge bands here!

  • Blues Rock
    4

    Blues Rock

    921 votes

    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.

    Rank the best blues rock bands here!

  • Punk Rock
    5

    Punk Rock

    940 votes

    Popular artists: Dead Kennedys, The Clash, Ramones, Misfits, Black Flag, The Stooges, Bad Religion, Bad Brains, Rancid, NOFX

    Rank the best punk rock bands here!

  • Progressive Rock
    6

    Progressive Rock

    959 votes

    Popular artists: Rush, Dream Theater, Soft Machine, Porcupine Tree, Kansas, Gong, Supertramp, Spock's Beard, Roger Waters, The Nice

    Rank the best progressive rock bands here!