Top 10 Alternative Bands of All Time (REDUX)

Encompassing punk, new wave, and rock, while also spawning subgenres like grunge and Britpop, it went from an indie genre to one of the most popular types of music in the 1990s and beyond. For this list, we’ve chosen influential artists who helped define the alternative sound and genre throughout the decades, who were commercially successful and whose music stood the test of time. This is part of a series of videos spanning the decades of alternative rock music from the 1970s to the 2000s, and includes our lists of the Top 10 Alternative Bands of the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s as well as the Top 10 Punk Bands and Top 10 Grunge Bands. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 alternative bands of all time. (REDUX) Special thanks to our users EGFkevin, akt, tawnyspots, Emily Turner, AmaanS, Despair505, waterblonk, ninjakittycat1423, Samier Gonzalez and Gooddog90 submitting the idea on our Suggest Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Encompassing punk, new wave, and rock, while also spawning subgenres like grunge and Britpop, it went from an indie genre to one of the most popular types of music in the 1990s and beyond. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 alternative bands of all time. (REDUX)

For this list, we’ve chosen influential artists who helped define the alternative sound and genre throughout the decades, who were commercially successful and whose music stood the test of time. This is part of a series of videos spanning the decades of alternative rock music from the 1970s to the 2000s, and includes our lists of the Top 10 Alternative Bands of the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s as well as the Top 10 Punk Bands and Top 10 Grunge Bands.

#10: Talking Heads

They may’ve only been together for 16 years, but this New York band managed to become one of the biggest influences ever on subsequent alternative rock acts. Formed in 1975, The Talking Heads managed to hit the mainstream while still maintaining their street cred with the critics during the 1980s. Their brand of new wave incorporated elements of punk, funk, and world music, but still had enough pop sensibility to earn them top 10 singles and a place on our list.

#9: The White Stripes

After getting the Detroit scene buzzing with their first three discs, The White Stripes went from indie garage rockers to one of the most well known alternative rock acts of the early 21st century. And all they needed was a little song called “Fell in a Love with a Girl.” After the breakthrough track, the duo made their major label debut with Elephant and unleashed one of the most memorable – and successful – alternative rock songs of the 2000s. Though they’ve since called it quits, there’s no denying they knew exactly how to get us going with their fusion of garage, punk and blues rock.

#8: Pearl Jam

With a grunge lineage consisting of Green River, Mother Love Bone and Temple of the Dog, it’s no wonder Pearl Jam became one of the alternative rock subgenre’s biggest acts. However, Pearl Jam did this via their own merits, which included memorable hooks and choruses as well as socio-politically driven lyrics. They cemented themselves as one of the Big Four thanks to their classic and punk rock-inspired sound, as well as Eddie Vedder’s often imitated but never duplicated growl. Decades after Ten’s breakthrough success, Pearl Jam is still enjoying popularity.

#7: Depeche Mode

Spearheading the electronic side of alternative rock, Depeche Mode broke onto the music scene in 1981 with Speak & Spell. Despite the departure of Vince Clarke, the group bounced back with a darker sound that captivated teens everywhere and helped the band infiltrate the mainstream. More lineup changes ensued, but the Brits didn’t let that stop them: they’ve since sold over 100 million albums, won multiple Grammys and are still going strong.

#6: Red Hot Chili Peppers

These alternative rockers integrate funk, hard rock and psychedelic rock into their style and that’s exactly what makes them both unique and long lasting. After several years of taking the indie route, the Chili Peppers hit it big in the early ‘90s. The music world soon took a liking to the band’s fusion of styles and evolving sound, which allowed them to find chart and commercial success with albums like Californication and Stadium Arcadium in the new millennium.

#5: R.E.M.

Formed in the 1980s, these guys from Georgia made a name for themselves with their very first album. With the help of Michael Stipe’s hard-to-decipher singing and Peter Buck’s distinctive guitar style, R.E.M. had critics raving while college radio had their backs early on. Extensive touring and a top 10 hit in 1987 soon landed them a major label deal and solidified their status as one of the originators of the genre. Though they broke up in 2011, R.E.M.’s alt rock legacy lives on.

#4: The Clash

As part of the original wave of British punk, The Clash was known for their angsty, dirty vibe and socio-politically charged lyrics. After spreading their musical message on tour, the idealistic musicians struck a chord with Americans by experimenting with genres on London Calling and Combat Rock. Their strong songwriting, musical passion and fearlessness helped The Clash map out the sound of punk rock for decades and it inspired countless artists to come. Is it any wonder they were dubbed “The Only Band That Matters”?

#3: The Cure

Founded in 1976, The Cure first found a home during that decade within the post-punk and new wave movements. The ‘80s saw the English group’s sound take a darker turn and they found themselves categorized as gothic rock. They soon made way for lighter, more radio-friendly fare, which paved the way for the band to take over the airwaves in the early ‘90s, and helped them nab multiple Billboard Hot 100 entries. By gaining popularity right before alt rock hit it big, The Cure helped set the stage for the genre’s imminent explosion and solidified their place in music history.

#2: Radiohead

After making waves with their first two alternative rock efforts, Radiohead proved they weren’t a one-note band with the more complex sound and abstract themes of OK Computer. This cleared the path for the Brits to branch out to other genres and they soon achieved international critical and commercial success. Today, Radiohead continues to be one of the most highly regarded acts in years due to their consistently original and innovative music.

Before we unveil our number one pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- The Smiths
- Ramones
- Tears for Fears
- Green Day
- Sonic Youth

#1: Nirvana

Though drummer Dave Grohl would go on to lead one of the most accessible alt rock acts of modern times, the Foo Fighters never would’ve achieved the success they have today without his former band. For alternative rock and music in general were never the same after Nirvana burst onto the scene. Thanks to Nevermind’s incomparable success and the band’s blend of heavy music with pop tendencies, Nirvana brought the Seattle sound to the masses and became leaders of grunge’s “Big Four” in the process. When it’s all said and done, no other musicians spoke to a generation quite like Nirvana and Kurt Cobain.

Do you agree with our list? What is your favorite alternative rock act? For more entertaining top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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