Top 10 Best Alternative Bands of All Time

Alternative music is not a genre, it's a state of mind. It's about being different, being original, being yourself. It's about challenging the status quo, pushing the boundaries, and making your own rules. And that's exactly what these bands have done.

This list is not just a ranking of the most popular or successful alternative bands of all time. It's a tribute to the bands that have changed the game, defined the culture, and inspired millions. These are the bands that have created their own sound, style, and identity, and have never compromised their vision or integrity. They've rocked the world with their passion, creativity, and courage.
The Top Ten
1 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... read more

It annoys me when people say that Nirvana and Nevermind are both overrated because when they finally offer an explanation, they only have their own opinion of the music to share. That's not what "overrated" means. Calling something "overrated" is to deny the importance of the subject. Liking the music is more subjective, while how under- or overrated a band is takes facts into account.

Nirvana, whether you like them or not, were, and still are, important in popular rock music. The impact of albums like Nevermind can still be felt today in a lot of popular music. They weren't necessarily doing anything that the Pixies weren't already doing, musically speaking, but they certainly popularized it and a subculture of people.

To call a band like that overrated is a bit like denying that the sky is blue or that the grass is green. People enjoy making their arguments stand out as more than just pure opinion by using words like "overrated," but using it in that kind of context doesn't make any sense if you have any clue about what it means. If you don't like Nirvana, simply saying that works better. Your opinion is no better than anyone else's.

Nirvana's importance may have been described a few too many times, but people usually get it right when they talk about it. They are definitely not overrated. The word is misused way too much.

2 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).

This should be higher. I mean, let's be honest:

1. Linkin Park is overrated.
2. Okay, Nirvana has earned this spot, I'll admit.
3. Green Day is a commercial pop-punk band.
4. Coldplay is a knock-off of Radiohead.

Radiohead is personally my favorite band of all time. I'm not upset that they're number 5. I'm upset because of who's ahead of them on the list. Aside from Nirvana, none of these bands have been as unique, powerful, or creative as Radiohead.

They have created eight masterpieces, all of them great in their own way. This band is not restricted by any genre. Thom Yorke does what just feels right. That's true artistic freedom!

3 Linkin Park Linkin Park is an American alternative rock band formed in Agoura Hills, California, in 1996. The current members include Mike Shinoda (vocals, keyboards, rhythm guitar), Brad Delson (guitar), Dave "Phoenix" Farrell (bass), Joe Hahn (DJ), and Rob Bourdon (drums). Linkin Park is associated with a mixture... read more

Linkin Park is perhaps the last great rock band to also cross over into the mainstream. Breaking onto the scene with Hybrid Theory's monumental success, almost all of their subsequent albums have become hits. Sure, In The End and Numb are overplayed, but one thing you can definitely say about the band is that they were unique, and there will probably be nothing that can replicate their unique sound.

Linkin Park and Radiohead should be in the top two. Some people don't know what alternative is. Alternative means combining various elements and genres to create alternative sounds.

For example, alternative rock means incorporating hip-hop elements into rock, like Linkin Park, or incorporating jazz and opera elements, like Radiohead. Or incorporating electronic elements, like both Linkin Park and Radiohead do. They use a variety of instruments rather than just guitars and bass, such as pianos, flutes, and turntables.

Linkin Park and Muse are a few bands that do this. Nirvana is a grunge band, not at all alternative. Green Day is a punk rock band, not alternative.

4 Coldplay Coldplay are a British pop rock band formed in 1996. The band consists of Chris Martin (lead vocalist and pianist), Jonny Buckland (lead guitarist), Guy Berryman (bassist) and Will Champion (drummer and backing vocalist). Manager Phil Harvey is often considered an unofficial fifth member. The band renamed... read more

This is literally the greatest band of all time. Sure, they get a lot of hate for their boring, overrated music, but the only boring and overrated songs are their most popular ones. The only Coldplay songs most people have heard are "The Scientist" and "Fix You." These are okay songs, but they are far from their best.

This band is only good if you dive deeper into their discography. "X and Y" is one of the best and most underrated albums ever. "Clocks" is one of the greatest songs ever written.

Not to mention plenty of other great songs such as Low, Yellow, A Whisper, God Put a Smile On Your Face, Politik, Trouble, Viva La Vida, Life in Technicolor ii. The list goes on and on, and they should be number one.

5 Red Hot Chili Peppers The Red Hot Chili Peppers is an American funk-rock and alternative rock band, that was founded in 1983.

The band's members are Anthony Kiedis (Vocals), Michael "Flea" Balzary (Bass), Chad Smith (Drums) and numerous guitarists, most well-known being John Frusciante.

The band is among the... read more

One of the most inventive bands of their era, the Red Hot Chili Peppers are an eclectic mix of funk, hard rock, and even post-punk. I mean, they have Flea, who is probably the king of bass.

Number six for the Chili Peppers is a joke. They're easily one of the greatest alternative bands of all time. They have smooth transitions, unbelievable lyrics and vocals, amazing rhythm, and soothing beats.

Anthony has poetic and deep lyrics, along with the vocal ability to give them justice. Flea is easily one of the best, if not the absolute best, bassists in the world. Chad Smith keeps an amazing beat while managing not to overpower a song with drums.

Josh Klinghoffer's abilities on guitar speak for themselves through both difficulty and melody. One thing that sets the Chili Peppers apart from other bands is their ability to equally tell the story of their song through each instrument, whether it be vocals, drums, bass, or guitar.

6 R.E.M. R.E.M. was an American alternative rock band from Athens, Georgia, formed in 1980 by lead singer Michael Stipe, lead guitarist Peter Buck, bassist/backing vocalist Mike Mills, and drummer Bill Berry.

How? HOW? How can anyone put R.E.M. low on any list? First of all, they quite literally invented alt-rock. If for some reason that's not good enough for number 1, then I don't know what is.

Even if taste is subjective, that doesn't change the fact that nearly every single album from them is not just good, but amazing. They are probably one of the most underrated bands I know of. But then, isn't that the definition of alternative?

Linkin Park and Coldplay are great bands, but they can't be in the top 10 on this kind of list. Top 50, maybe, but not top 10. As many people here have said before me, R.E.M. invented alternative rock. Of course, there were some post-punk bands before them that set the base for it (Joy Division, The Cure, Talking Heads), but R.E.M. made alternative rock the way we know it today. That's enough reason to get them to #1.

7 Green Day Green Day are an American pop punk/punk rock band formed in East Bay, California in 1987. The members include Billie Joe Armstrong (vocals and guitar), Mike Dirnt (bass), Tré Cool (drums) and Jason White (guitar). Green Day are associated with punk rock, pop punk and alternative rock. Some of their... read more

Green Day has been around for over 30 years and single-handedly revived punk rock's mainstream relevancy in the mid-90s, unleashing blockbuster albums such as Dookie and American Idiot. These two albums defined the popular music of the 1990s and 2000s, respectively.

Seriously?! Oh, come on! Green Day absolutely rocks the alt and punk genres. Starting out as a punk rock band, they expanded album by album into various kinds of rock, and their work just gets better!

Longview, Basket Case, When I Come Around, Boulevard of Broken Dreams, Jesus of Suburbia, Holiday, 21 Guns, Viva la Gloria, Oh Love, Nuclear Family, Stray Heart, X-Kid... No one can have a better track record than this, not even Linkin Park, whose tracks get worse with every album. Heck, Linkin Park sounds even worse live, whereas Green Day sounds even better!

8 Pearl Jam Pearl Jam is a grunge/alternative rock Band formed in Seattle, Washington in 1990. The band had comprised of Eddie Vedder, Mike McCready, Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament... read more

While Nirvana is easily more well-known, Pearl Jam is more successful, and frankly, their catalog is much better. Just listen to Ten. That album has so many hits on it, it's insane. People are also nuts for Pearl Jam live.

How is it possible that the likes of Evanescence and Breaking Benjamin can even be thought of in the same sentence as Pearl Jam? Let alone be rated higher. I'm not even a big fan of Pearl Jam, but come on, people. Pearl Jam is in the top 15 bands of all time, so they for sure deserve a rating higher than 16 for a genre they helped pioneer.

9 Foo Fighters Foo Fighters are an American alternative rock band, formed in Seattle in 1994. The band was founded by Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl after the death of Kurt Cobain and the dissolution of his previous band. The band consists of Dave Grohl (lead vocalist, rhythm guitar, main songwriter), Pat Smear (rhythm... read more

Seventeen, are you kidding me? They've won Grammys, and they keep winning them. First of all, they are already legends, and they will leave a legacy just like Guns N' Roses or Led Zeppelin. My opinion might sound courageous, but they have already won 11 Grammys.

I think that's a huge number, and they continue to perform unbelievable live performances. I even think they are better than Nirvana because they are all about their sound. And I have to add something. It's embarrassing to see Tokio Hotel beneath the Foo Fighters. I mean, come on guys, show some respect.

10 U2 U2 are an Irish rock band from Dublin. Formed in 1976, the group consists of Bono, the Edge, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen Jr. U2's early sound was rooted in post-punk but eventually grew to incorporate influences from many genres of popular music. Throughout the group's musical pursuits, they have... read more

I think they deserve to be number 1.

The most influential band in the world, with a unique sound. When I hear Muse, 30 Seconds to Mars, Linkin Park, Coldplay, just one name comes to my head: it's 'U2'. Look at how they've influenced so many modern bands. They are legends.

Next, are all the Seattle bands like Nirvana, PJ, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, STP, Mudhoney, Fastback. I love grunge. It's one of the music revolutions in the world that I think created modern rock. Oasis: One word for Noel: awesome. Blink 182: I was a big fan of Tom DeLonge. The first time I played guitar, it was just Blink 182's songs.

The Contenders
11 Muse Muse are an English alternative rock band from Teignmouth, Devon, formed in 1994. The members are Matt Bellamy (lead vocal, lead guitar, piano, keyboard), Dom Howard (drums, percussion) and Chris Wolstenholme (bass, backing vocals). They've won several awards including 5 MTV Awards, 8 NME Awards, 2... read more

Muse has got to be one of the greatest and most talented bands on the planet. In a world where auto-tune and lip-syncing are as common as people wearing shoes, this band, along with others, has been rising up against the mainstream media and into the hearts and souls of their many loyal fans.

What makes Muse stand out the most (to me) is that they pour every inch of magic into their songs, causing me to stop whatever I am doing and listen word for word and note for note. Muse brings us combination after combination of different musical styles that no one had ever thought of, and they deserve more than just a Grammy. Truly, they have every right to be honored as the greatest alternative rock band of all time.

12 Alice In Chains Alice in Chains is an American grunge/alternative metal band formed in Seattle, Washington, in 1987 by guitarist and songwriter Jerry Cantrell and original lead vocalist Layne Staley.

In my opinion, many of today's "Alternative" bands wouldn't have the success that they now enjoy without the work of Alice In Chains. This band was one of the best, if not the best, pioneers of alternative music. It's too bad that the media didn't and still doesn't give these guys the credit that they so deserve.

Even without Layne, they are still a really good band, even though it is different than what their fans are used to. They still kick butt. Rest in peace, Layne Staley. You are missed.

Why doesn't the younger generation appreciate the groundbreaking "classic" alternative bands of the '80s and '90s? When I was in my twenties, we always paid tribute to those musicians who had laid the foundations for the bands of our generation. Kids today need to start respecting.

13 My Chemical Romance My Chemical Romance is an American rock band from Jersey City, New Jersey, active from 2001 to 2013, and again from 2019 to present day. For much of their career, the band consisted of lead vocalist Gerard Way, guitarists Ray Toro and Frank Iero, bassist Mikey Way, and drummer Bob Bryar.

My Chemical Romance is so many things. Every band member devoted their life to this band. As Gerard Way (the lead singer) said, This band saved my life, and it's there to save other people's lives.

It is supposed to be inspirational, relevant, and symbolic. I could go on talking about My Chemical Romance for hours. There is so much to it.

You see these modern bands like 5SOS that write songs about how hot their girlfriend is. There's no depth! You want depth? You want to feel like there's someone else in this world who understands you and your struggles? Listen to My Chemical Romance. They might not be making music now, but they are a sight to remember, and each of them is a hero.

14 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.

I was introduced to this band with "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness" for a school project. I could write a book on just that album. This band is pure perfection and needs to be in the top 10.

There are fewer bands with discographies as diverse and high-quality as the Smashing Pumpkins. What sets them apart from many other bands on this list is their flexibility. From the classic fuzzy dream of Cherub Rock to the sweeping orchestral arrangement of Tonight, Tonight, the brooding Cure-esque There It Goes, the saccharine wonderland of Cupid de Locke, the tender beauty of For Martha, the jangly psychedelia of I Am One, and the addictive poppiness of 1979 and Perfect, the Pumpkins have not lost an ounce of their artistic integrity and skill. Regardless of how much they diverged from their most easily associated Siamese Dream sound, they continue to remain distinctly unique in their artistry.

Billy Corgan (perfectionist, prolific songwriting genius, and underrated guitar virtuoso) spearheaded one of the most fluid and honest bands in Alternative Rock. Many bands on this list wouldn't be here if it weren't for the tremendous (and often overlooked) influence the Smashing Pumpkins had.

There's a tenderness to their music that, while subjective, isn't found in most other bands. Not a single song out of their 400+ catalog sounds like another. Beauty can be found in their tenderness. Despite their omnipresent sound, there's a sincerity that anyone from any walk of life can find within their music.

Their songs aren't just songs. Their albums aren't just albums. Everything they make is a journey to behold. Whether or not a listener likes it doesn't matter. Their profound influence and artistry are undeniable.

In all my years of concert-going, I've never once seen a band that matched their stage presence. Ever.

15 The Cure The Cure are an English post-punk/gothic rock band formed in Crawley, West Sussex, in 1978. The band has experienced several line-up changes, with vocalist, guitarist and principal songwriter Robert Smith being the only constant member.

They lasted four decades, fronted by a true artist. A great live band, they made numerous hits that never go out of date, always experimenting and renewing themselves. They kicked the butt of the mainstream machine. It's one of the few alternative bands that defined the alternative scene and deserves to be in the top ten, alongside Velvet Underground and R.E.M.

The Cure were one of the founding fathers of alt-rock. Everyone knows at least 4-5 Cure songs, even if you don't know you would have due to their songs being played in various media. They are basically the band that everyone knows plenty of songs from without knowing the band's name.

Close to Me, Just Like Heaven, A Forest, Love Song, Lullaby, Friday I'm in Love, Why Can't I Be You?, Pictures of You, Lovecats, and In Between Days are all classics.

16 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.

Without the Pixies, alt-rock would suck. They influenced, nay, CREATED Nirvana and a bunch of others, not to mention the killer soft-to-loud formula that made grunge so popular. They worked behind the scenes. There's no reason they shouldn't be worshipped and revered. The few good bands in the top 10 owe their musical careers to these guys.

The Pixies are pure songwriting geniuses. Every song conveys a certain feeling through its lyrics, but if the lyrics were removed, you would still feel the same thing the lyrics conveyed. Nirvana should be number two. How Coldplay even made the list is beyond me. Ninety-nine percent of this list wouldn't even be on here without the Pixies.

17 Weezer Weezer is an American alternative rock/power pop band formed in Los Angeles in 1992, currently consisting of Rivers Cuomo (lead vocals, lead and rhythm guitar), Patrick Wilson, Brian Bell, and Scott Shriner.

Best live act ever. Is it complex? No. Is it fancy? No. Are there all kinds of gimmicks and pyrotechnics? No. Just music that utterly blows you away, even though it in itself is not overly complex.

Then, at the end of the show, their big encore show-ender was to flash the lights on the Weezer logo. Yeah, flashing a few lights. You could hear the crowd in space. They went wild over only this. You know why? Because Weezer is legendary and deserves way more admiration than they get, especially critically.

Factor into the equation that they get taken for granted and that 70% of people are operating at below-average intelligence, which makes no sense but is actually true. Sadly, you can't get blood from a stone, and you can't get a philistine to appreciate something so nuanced, lovely, and significant.

18 The White Stripes The White Stripes were an American rock duo, formed in 1997 in Detroit, Michigan. The duo consists of only a couple married at the time, Jack White, whose real name was Jack Gillis (songwriter, lead vocalist, guitarist, bassist and keyboardist) and Meg White (drummer and backing vocalist). After they... read more

The White Stripes hold that sense of rock and blues foundation that everyone should at least try out. Distinctive, unadorned musical attack with Jack on guitar and vocals and Meg's drumming creates that perfect sense of straightforward, raw alternative rock. The duo is genuine, sticking to their roots and doing their thing like no one else can.

The White Stripes most definitely need to be higher. They have an interesting and unique, simplistic approach to rock music, which few have been able to replicate. Most of all, they manage to make incredibly heavy and large-scale music while only having two members. That in and of itself is a great reason for them to be higher on the list.

19 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.

These guys really need to be higher. I know you'll hear that about every band here, buy these guys were amazing. Their unconventional song structure worked amazingly. You can't name any other band that has to bring nearly a dozen guitars on stage because of tuning. One has three low E strings! And we all know what Thurston did with the screwdriver. Please, don't vote for those higer guys now, just get these lower people where they need to be.

Although I prefer Radiohead, (my favourite band) Sonic Youth embodies "alternative" better than any other band here, let alone Coldplay. Really? People these days have forgotten what "alternative" means. Most of the bands in the top ten are pop rock, art rock, and punk rock. Sonic Youth, on the other hand, are very alternative, and turn noise into music. Listen to them, they are very weird (in a good way).

Absolute best. You cannot doubt the fact their influence is extremely widespread and the bands they influenced spawned great music as well. (Mudhoney, Nirvana, and the good part of the grunge scene, for example)
Why aren't they number one? Right. They didn't sell out and sing crappy pop tunes. They were too good.

20 Imagine Dragons Imagine Dragons is an American pop rock band from Provo, Utah, and are now based out of Las Vegas, Nevada. Imagine Dragons' lineup consists of lead vocalist Dan Reynolds, guitarist Wayne Sermon, bassist Ben McKee, and drummer Daniel Platzman. The band first gained exposure with the release of their... read more

This band, to me, can easily match up with Nirvana, and people in general just have a hard time crowning a new number one because they are stuck in the past. Welcome to the twenty-first century. This band will blow you away.

"It's Time" and "Demons" are two of their hottest songs from their first album, "Night Visions." Then there are "Shots," "I Bet My Life," and "Smoke and Mirrors" from their newest album, "Smoke and Mirrors." They also have great singles like "Roots" and "Monster."

And let's not forget that their most well-known song from "Night Visions," "Radioactive," has been on the Billboard Top 100 for 87 consecutive weeks - longer than any artist in 55 years. On top of that, this band hit stardom just three years ago.

21 Soundgarden Soundgarden was an American grunge/alternative metal band formed in Seattle, Washington, in 1984 by singer and rhythm guitarist Chris Cornell, lead guitarist Kim Thayil, and bassist Hiro Yamamoto. Chris Cornell died on May 17th, 2017.

Soundgarden bridges the gap between alternative rock and heavy metal with songs like Spoonman and Rusty Cage, but also with more introspective songs like Black Hole Sun and Fell On Black Days. While Kurt Cobain and Eddie Vedder may be Gen X icons, there's no denying the late Chris Cornell blew them all out of the water. No one sings like you anymore indeed.

Excuse me, how is Soundgarden not in the top ten, if not ahead of Smashing Pumpkins, of all bands? Ridiculous. I understand about the Foo Fighters, and, of course, Nirvana, but please! Make way for the real god of grunge, Chris Cornell!

He has an awesome voice. He can go high, low, scream. He's the whole package. He's obviously better than the entire lot of Linkin Park and Smashing Pumpkins put together!

Let me remind you of one of their hits - Black Hole Sun: the words dampen your soul with the depression that was felt writing the song. Either that, or Chris Cornell was stringing random words together in a new song. Even if he did, it sounded perfect.

22 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.

37? How? About 60% of bands above them on this list admit to being directly influenced by The Smiths. Considering NME, probably the most significant alt-rock publication, sees The Smiths as the single band with the most influence on the genre. You can surely appreciate that these guys must be top 3 in influence and stature, even if you don't like all their music.

They definitely deserve the number 1 spot. Morrissey is a lyrical genius, and Johnny Marr's guitar work is absolutely incredible. The music and the lyrics complement each other perfectly. They essentially created alternative rock. The Smiths are incredible and definitely worth the listen.

23 Joy Division Joy Division were an English post-punk 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.

Too depressing, especially if you know the backstory about this bunch. It's sad that some have to go before their time. It isn't always possible to know when or where someone will do something.

Also, you have to let people take their own chances in life. They have to figure it out for themselves, not for everyone else. And you can't prevent everything or predict it either.

It is obvious that a "best alternative" list is flawed when Joy Division is not in the top ten. They were one of the founding fathers of alt-rock.

24 Incubus Incubus is an American alternative rock band from Calabasas, California. The band was formed in 1991 by vocalist Brandon Boyd, lead guitarist Mike Einziger, and drummer Jose Pasillas while enrolled in Calabasas High School and later expanded to include bassist Alex "Dirk Lance" Katunich, and Gavin "DJ... read more

Incubus are geniuses.

There is no band in the world that could produce the same music as Incubus.

Incubus never gets old, and although their last album isn't as good as the rest, they are still a band you could listen to over and over again.

They saved my life. I love you, Brandon Boyd. They aren't the best, but should easily be in the top 10 of all time. They are up there with Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Coldplay.

Originality like no other. They are way overlooked and underrated, in my opinion. Guess Justin Bieber lovers outweigh the folks who actually like... well... real music.

25 Arctic Monkeys The Arctic Monkeys, otherwise known as the Death Ramps, are a British indie rock band formed in 2002 in Sheffield, England. The band consists of Alex Turner (lead vocalist, songwriter, electric and rhythm guitarist), Jamie Cook (electric and rhythm guitarist, songwriter), Matt Helders (percussionist,... read more

If you think Arctic Monkeys don't deserve the number 1 spot, that's where you're wrong. You may ask, Who are Arctic Monkeys? Well, only ones who know their music will really appreciate their greatness.

In 2004, they released their demo album 'Beneath the Boardwalk,' and ever since, they have been building their style brick by brick, releasing five studio albums, all containing mad sounds. I've done some brainstorming, and I can think of 505 reasons why they are the best band in the world. I won't write them all. Otherwise, I'd still be here when the sun goes down. But I will tell you that I have a certain romance with their music.

The bad thing about this site is that nobody appreciates good music. Seriously, it's berserk. So snap out of it and vote for the Arctic Monkeys! And if not, do me a favor and leave before the lights come on.

Linkin Park at number 1? Bah! Humbug.

8Load More
PSearch List