Top 10 Classic Alternative Bands


The Top Ten

1 The Smiths The Smiths The Smiths were an English rock band formed in Manchester in 1982. The band consisted of vocalist Morrissey, guitarist Johnny Marr, bassist Andy Rourke and drummer Mike Joyce.

With Morrissey's ability to write songs that would inspire countless other Indie bands through future generations, and Johnny Marr's intricately played, original, hooky guitar riffs, that would inspire the same from guitarists, The Smiths started something in attitude, sound and great live gigs, that few would ever again duplicate. - Bside76

I don't like the music they have done, but they should be there too. No one can argue that they're not one of the most famous British "Classic Alternative Bands" ever. Still, The Smiths are too poppy and I find them and their music too boring. For me it's like watching a Woody Allen movie. Not my taste.
- n00w

The songwriting partnership of Morrissey and Marr is one of the greatest ever. Mike Joyce and Andy Rourke are possibly the most underrated rhythm section and the inspired so many from Noel Gallagher to Bernard Butler.

The Smiths were an amazing band- they seem to stand out against the crap 80s pop that dominated the British charts during the 1980s. They were real people who wrote songs for real people. Irreplaceable.

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2 The Velvet Underground The Velvet Underground The Velvet Underground was an American rock band, active between 1964 and 1973, formed in New York City.

I usually refrain from voting for the winner (i rarely agree, and it is a bit pointless anyway) but the Velvet Underground were so groundbreaking, only rivalled by Captain Beefheart for the most experimental and influential artist of the sixties. "Sister Ray" may be the greatest song of all time.

The ones that started it all. The Velvets mark may not have been left on the charts, but instead left in countless songwriters, bands and artists, music or other, everywhere you look. Every origin in alternative music can be found here. - Bside76

Sorry nirvana I don't even like reed but his band is awesome

Yes! The best to start off the top!

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3 Joy Division Joy Division Joy Division were an English rock band formed in 1976 in Salford, Greater Manchester. Originally named Warsaw, the band consisted of singer Ian Curtis, guitarist and keyboardist Bernard Sumner, bassist Peter Hook, and drummer Stephen Morris.

Although different genre, you should put Joy Division and New order joint first, with Velvet Underground second and a bit of Kraftwerk.
Seriously comparing Nirvana to Joy Division should not be done as not in the same Galaxy let alone same list is absurd. Yes. Velvet Underground were certainly influential but comparing them genius lyricist that underpinned Joy Division, leads to a feeling of relegation in terms of comparison. Also what are the Smiths doing on here above New order?

Originators of the alternative sound we all know today, Joy Division's influence can be heard in every moody, energetic, self reflecting and angst ridden band or song since 1979. Everyone from Bono to Robert Smith owe a great deal to Ian Curtis's stage antics and presence. - Bside76

The Velvet Underground is an excellent choice but Joy Division is even a better one. Others should be there in the list such as Cabaret Voltaire, The Sisters of Mercy, and Einsturzende Neubauten. - n00w

Velvet Underground sounded more "rock" (using that umbrella of a word loosely) if anything, and The Smiths were most definitely Indie Rock, "jangly" Alternative above all. Joy Division, by contrast, was the very rock; the core of alternative music.

They were never "easy" to listen to, most of the lyrics were some sort of puzzle to most, their music in general is not at all exciting to the average person��"this made them an "alternative"; an escape route from the norm to enter a realm where meaning and "good music" and a gentle, sweet melody is not always the answer. Where cloudy melodies, dark music, painful words flourish and give the listen an alternative to conforming��"a breathtaking individuality; a "alternative" hope.

4 Talking Heads Talking Heads Talking Heads were an American rock band formed in 1975 in New York City and active until 1991. The band comprised David Byrne, Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth, and Jerry Harrison.

The parents of new wave!
An enormous band in alternative scene!
Once in a lifetime, road to nowhere, burning down the house!

5 Sonic Youth Sonic Youth Sonic Youth was an American rock band from New York City, formed in 1981. Founding members Thurston Moore, Kim Gordon and Lee Ranaldo remained together for the entire history of the band, while Steve Shelley followed a series of short-term drummers in 1985, and rounded out the core line-up.

Alt tunings, alt song structure, and alt use of feedback and noise. These guy practically invented alternative. Much respect to all the bands on this list though. - mikeford

6 The Cure The Cure The Cure are an English rock band formed in Crawley, West Sussex, in 1976. The band has experienced several line-up changes, with vocalist, guitarist and principal songwriter Robert Smith being the only constant member.

When Robert Smith started The Cure, he envisioned his band as more "Buzzcocks" than "Banshees", but it was the meeting and eventual playing with those very Banshees, that would transform The Cure into a powerhouse of moody lyrics, guitar driven anthems, and catchy pop hits on the darker side. Like Siouxsie, Robert Smiths devoted, look a like fans are everywhere, and so is the cures music to this day. - Bside76

7 Depeche Mode Depeche Mode Depeche Mode are an English electronic and synth-pop band formed in 1980 in Basildon, Essex. The group's original line-up consisted of Dave Gahan, Martin Gore, Andy Fletcher, and Vince Clarke.

Starting out as a pop group of the new romantic scene, Depeche mode was considered a light weight act, doomed to have a short career. 30 plus years on, DM's brand of pop has sold over 100 million albums and have influenced countless Techno and alternative bands everywhere. With there now classic lineup of Gahan, Gore, Wilder and Fletcher, they found a darker, more intelligent brand of Techno pop, ready to take on the masses and succeed. - Bside76

8 Alice In Chains Alice In Chains Alice in Chains is an American rock band formed in Seattle, Washington, in 1987 by guitarist and songwriter Jerry Cantrell and original lead vocalist Layne Staley.
9 The Stone Roses

Following the breakup of fellow Manchester band The Smiths, The Stone Roses set out to conquer all. The influence of this band can be heard and seen in any Brit pop and indie band of the 90's that came after their split. They had great songs like "Waterfall", "Fools gold" and "I wanna be adored", that paved a new path for future bands. Oasis might owe the most to this band and they know it. - Bside76

Ian Brown is a god, so good! Their songs are all meaningful and really well distrobuted! Quality! Love from Lebanon

10 Nirvana Nirvana Nirvana was an American grunge band that was formed in Aberdeen, Washington in 1987. Nirvana disbanded after Kurt Cobain committed suicide in 1994. The drummer of the band, David Grohl, went on to start the Foo-Fighters, an alternative rock band. more.

Huh, why are Nirvana at number 8, Joy Division do not appear in top albums of all time, best bands of all time, essential albums you must own, best songs of all time. Nirvana are possible the best band of all time. I like Joy Division but come on!

They may be alternative, but in no way classic.

This Band is the Best Ever!

This should be number 1... Who made this list?

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The Contenders

11 Stone Temple Pilots Stone Temple Pilots Stone Temple Pilots was formed in San Diego, CA in 1989. more. V 1 Comment
12 Jane's Addiction Jane's Addiction Jane's Addiction is an American rock band from Los Angeles, formed in 1985. The band consists of Perry Farrell, Dave Navarro, Stephen Perkins and Chris Chaney.

Jane's Addiction is the most original, spiritually beautiful and unique rock band of al time. They are also one of the ABSOLUTE best. Even though they got pretty big in the early 90s they should have been MUCH bigger. But most people can't appreciate something this unique and intense.

One of the best

13 New Order New Order New Order are an English rock band formed in 1980, currently comprising Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris, Gillian Gilbert, Phil Cunningham and Tom Chapman.

It's not enough to have Joy Division on the list. New Order should be there, too. Blue Monday, "best-selling 12-inch single of all time" according to Wikipedia, has also been one of the most remixed songs ever. Thousands of bands and performers wouldn't have been inspired to make music without them. - n00w

14 Radiohead Radiohead Radiohead are an English rock band from Abingdon, Oxfordshire, formed in 1985. The band consists of Thom Yorke (lead vocals, guitar, piano, keyboards), Jonny Greenwood (lead guitar, keyboards, other instruments), Colin Greenwoood (bass guitar), Phil Selway (drums), and Ed O'Brien (guitar).

Radiohead should be in the top ten at the very least!

15 Husker Du Husker Du Hüsker Dü was an American rock band formed in Saint Paul, Minnesota in 1979. The band's continual members were guitarist/vocalist Bob Mould, bassist Greg Norton, and drummer/vocalist Grant Hart.
16 Pixies Pixies The Pixies are an American alternative rock band formed in 1986 in Boston, Massachusetts. The group disbanded in 1993 in acrimonious circumstances, but reunited in 2004. The group currently consists of founders Black Francis, Joey Santiago, and David Lovering.
17 Siouxsie and the Banshees Siouxsie and the Banshees

There have been many "strong" women in music before, but maybe no one was ever as blatantly, unapologetic and in your face about it as Siouxsie Sioux was and is to this day. Writing the dark tunes that would inspire countless imitators, some good and some not, the banshees not only made their lasting mark, but wrote made great albums like "The Scream", "Through the looking glass", "Juju" and many more, along the way. - Bside76

18 Yo La Tengo
19 Pavement
20 The Smashing Pumpkins The Smashing Pumpkins The Smashing Pumpkins is an American alternative rock band from Chicago, Illinois, formed in 1988. Formed by frontman Billy Corgan and James Iha, the band included D'arcy Wretzky and Jimmy Chamberlin in its original incarnation. They are also considered to be one of the most influential alternative more.

Classic. Sorry, but the music of one of the most amazing alt. bands will be around much longer than the fad "alt." bands of today.

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List Stats

100 votes
35 listings
6 years, 243 days old

Top Remixes (5)

1. Talking Heads
2. The Cure
3. Pixies
1. The Smiths
2. Alice In Chains
3. Stone Temple Pilots
1. The Velvet Underground
2. Joy Division
3. Sonic Youth

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