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100 Best Modern Rock Bands


Although a number of formats have emerged in the realms of rock music, one of the most popular rock formats to gain widespread success is modern rock. While the many shades of modern rock manifest primarily in the alternative genre, over the years diverse influences have shaped the sound in a contrasting manner.

The list below showcases an epic collection of modern rock bands from different decades. If you are a fan of this music format, you will have a lot to say. Feel free with your views, opinions, and band suggestions in the comments section.

Top 10 Best Modern Rock Bands

  1. Linkin Park
  2. Foo Fighters
  3. Red Hot Chili Peppers
  4. Nirvana
  5. Arctic Monkeys
  6. System of a Down
  7. Radiohead
  8. Green Day
  9. Shinedown
  10. Incubus

What Is Modern Rock?

Modern rock—which is also known as alternative radio in music circles—is a rock format that showcases a wide range of musical styles in alternative genres. The popularity of alternative music played at college radio stations and commercial radio stations propelled this music format in mainstream. Often the term “modern rock” is used generically to differentiate specific music styles from classic rock.

While classic modern rock tradition showcased rock acts from a wide genre of influences, the current format is a diverse confluence of alternative music, grunge, punk rock, and indie rock. The characteristic modern rock style is a riff-based, guitar-driven sound with heavy and melodic interplay of drums, bass, and keyboards. A number of bands and artists associated with modern rock have had considerable chart-topping success in mainstream. Soft melodic passages interspersed with a sophisticated heavy rhythm section augment the signature identity of bands associated with this tradition.


11. My Chemical Romance

12. Imagine Dragons

13. Avenged Sevenfold

14. Soundgarden

15. 3 Doors Down

16. Lamb of God

17. Papa Roach

18. Three Days Grace

19. Dirty Honey

20. Queens of the Stone Age


How New Modern Rock Formats Gained Mainstream Popularity

A number of new rock formats that have had mainstream success owe it to radio airplay. Radio stations such as KROQ-F, XETRA-FM, WLIR, KQAK, and WFNX, played a pivotal role in propelling modern rock formats towards mainstream success in the ‘80s, ‘90s and 2000s. A number of these radio stations promoted rock music in a big way. A great number of alternative acts of the ‘90s, and alternative metal bands of the 2000s gained prominence with repeated airplay on radio stations.

In the year 1988 Billboard magazine introduced the Modern Rock Tracks a music chart that ranked the most played rock songs on college radio stations and commercial radio stations. Over the years this format has transitioned to Alternative Airplay. Because of segmented radio airplay and online streaming, a number of non-mainstream acts have been able to achieve considerable success in multiple rock formats. While modern rock radio stations may not have received due credit for popularizing new rock formats, the fact remains that these radio stations single-handedly changed the blueprint in the alternative music industry.


21. The 1975

22. Pearl Jam

23. The White Stripes

24. Snow Patrol

25. Muse

26. Arcade Fire

27. The Killers

28. Slipknot

29. Twenty One Pilots

30. Of Monsters and Men

31. Panic! at the Disco

32. Nine Inch Nails

33. Black Stone Cherry

34. Evanesence

35. Green Day

36. Thirty Seconds to Mars

37. Yungblud

38. Korn

39. The Black Keys

40. Matchbox 20

How Local Radio Stations Helped Unsigned Rock Bands Find a Foothold

The multiple music formats played at radio stations was a major boost for alternative music. A number of unsigned musical rock acts gained a cult following with airplay on college radio stations. Among the many alternative bands of the ‘90s and 2000s, only a small number of modern rock bands were actually able to strike recording deals with major record labels. A large number of bands promoted their music independently at local concerts and gigs.

Although certain bands found success promoting their songs on music streaming services, a great number of emerging alternative rock acts, local bands, and unsigned bands, found their foothold in the music industry due to the help of small commercial radio stations and college radio stations. Alongside commercial singles of established bands, these radio stations started playing multiple format songs of unsigned bands and upcoming bands in the neighborhood. A number of unsigned rock bands earned a reputation in the music industry with their songs achieving success on radio stations.


41. The Strokes

42. Disturbed

43. Limp Bizkit

44. The Neighbourhood

45. Greta Van Fleet

46. Cage the Elephant

47. Pop Evil

48. Weezer

49. Fall Out Boy

50. R.E.M.

51. Creed

52. Third Eye Blind

53. Stone Temple Pilots

54. Kings of Leon

55. Pixies

56. All That Remains

57. Stained

58. Coldplay

59. The Offspring

60. Buckcherry


Modern Rock in Different Decades

Although the classic modern rock format in the ‘80s comprised of a number of new wave acts, the ‘90s witnessed alternative and grunge emerge big in mainstream. With alternative airplay reaching its pinnacle in the 2000s, a number of post-grunge, nu metal, rap-rock and alternative metal bands became the signature identity in modern rock formats. Aside from alternative bands, a number of pop punk bands, post punk bands, and indie rock bands started being associated with the active rock formats in the 2010s.

The indie-driven sound has become the present-day flavor in a number of new radio formats around the world. Some of the new rock bands are known for their hard-edged melodic breakdowns and dynamic tempo shifts. With every decade new formats in rock music have emerged through diversified airplay on radio stations. The format of modern rock charts has evolved significantly, thanks to radio airplay and video streaming services across the world. Although new formats in rock music showcase a highly diversified sound from mainstream and non-mainstream genres, the true essence of these formats is embroiled in the heart of classic alternative.


61. Skillet

62. Rise Against

63. Audioslave

64. Puddle of Mudd

65. Barenaked Ladies

66. Godsmack

67. Killswitch Engage

68. Goo Goo Dolls

69. A Perfect Circle

70. Portugal. The Man

71. Royal Blood

72. Nickelback

73. Bastille

74. Saliva

75. Lifehouse

76. Silversun Pickups

77. Awolnation

78. Fuel

79. AFI

80. Rammstein


81. Highly Suspect

82. The Pretty Reckless

83. Jane’s Addiction

84. Young the Giant

85. Bring Me the Horizon

86. P.O.D.

87. Hoobastank

88. Death Cab for Cutie

89. Five Finger Death Punch

90. Rage Against the Machine

91. Paramore

92. Chevelle

93. Finger Eleven

94. Theory of a Deadman

95. Oasis

96. Seether

97. Stone Sour

98. Deftones

99. Nightwish

100. In This Moment

Other Notable Modern Rock Bands

  • New Found Glory
  • Japandroids
  • Volbeat
  • Breaking Benjamin
  • Atlas Genius
  • Story of the Year
  • Foals
  • Rival Sons
  • The Revivalists
  • Vampire Weekend
  • Daughtry
  • 311
  • Fun
  • Sonic Youth
  • Grouplove
  • Eve 6
  • Live
  • X Ambassadors
  • Silverchair
  • All Time Low
  • Neon Trees
  • Primitive Radio Gods
  • Nothing but Thieves
  • 12 Stones
  • Tool
  • Chumbawamba
  • Sum 41
  • Alabama Shakes
  • Lit
  • Wolfmother
  • Bush
  • The Cranberries
  • Jet
  • Black Pistol Fire
  • Anberlin
  • Coal Chamber
  • Semisonic
  • Blacktop Mojo
  • Jimmy Eat World
  • Phantom Planet
  • 10 Years
  • Sugar Ray
  • Crazy Town
  • The Smashing Pumpkins
  • Dishwalla
  • Velvet Revolver
  • Asking Alexandria
  • Rancid
  • Thrice
  • Flyleaf
  • Alter Bridge
  • The Wrecks
  • Sevendust
  • Collective Soul
  • Kaiser Chiefs
  • Hinder
  • Disciple
  • Train
  • Mudvayne
  • The All-American Rejects
  • Simple Plan
  • Fever 333
  • Good Charlotte
  • The Fray
  • Suede
  • Our Lady Peace
  • Marcy Playground
  • Red
  • Walk the Moon
  • American Head Charge
  • Yellowcard
  • The Raconteurs
  • Bullet for My Valentine
  • Vertical Horizon
  • Keane
  • The Ataris
  • Hawthorne Heights
  • Local H
  • Filter
  • TV on the Radio
  • Kaleo
  • White Zombie
  • Sleater-Kinney
  • Tonic
  • Parquet Courts
  • The Dandy Warhols
  • Everclear
  • The Struts
  • Bloc Party
  • The Fratellis
  • Dirty Heads
  • Cane Hill
  • Blue October
  • Ill Nino
  • Hed PE
  • A Day to Remember
  • The Calling
  • Placebo
  • Smash Mouth
  • Franz Ferdinand
  • The Stone Roses
  • Mushroomhead
  • Supergrass
  • Otep
  • Type O Negative
  • Remy Zero
  • The Distillers
  • Alice in Chains
  • Primer 55
  • Bones UK
  • The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
  • No Doubt
  • Letters to Cleo
  • Static-X
  • Lostprophets
  • The Crash Kings
  • Better Than Ezra
  • Public Image Limited
  • Stitched Up Heart
  • Eagles of Death Metal
  • The Used
  • Alien Ant Farm
  • Beck
  • Saving Abel
  • Deerhunter
  • Alkaline Trio
  • Nine Days
  • Cracker
  • Spirit Box
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  • The Breeders
  • Halestorm
  • My Bloody Valentine
  • Stereophonics
  • One Minute Silence
  • Unwritten Law
  • The Kooks
  • Falw
  • Nada Surf
  • Switchfoot
  • Cleopatrick
  • Wilco
  • Ministry
  • The Union Underground
  • Counting Crows
  • Superchunk
  • White Reaper
  • Alt-J
  • Taking Back Sunday
  • Seven Mary Three
  • The Cure
  • Crossfade
  • Interpol
  • Superchick
  • Life of Agony
  • The National
  • Default
  • The New Pornographers
  • Starset
  • Adema
  • They Might Be Giants
  • Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
  • Nonpoint
  • Thousand Foot Krutch
  • Mumford & Sons
  • Tame Impala
  • Drowning Pool
  • Snot
  • The War on Drugs
  • Blur
  • Kittie
  • Jars of Clay
  • Cake
  • The Donnas
  • Fear Factory
  • Against Me!
  • Taproot
  • Helmet
  • The Libertines
  • Kongos
  • Candlebox
  • Smile Empty Soul
  • Trapt
  • Demon Hunter
  • Hole
  • Primus
  • The F-Ups
  • Band-Maid
  • Soul Asylum
  • Inhaler
  • Flaw
  • New Years Day
  • Kutless
  • Powerman 5000
  • Florence and the Machine
  • The Shins
  • Spineshank
  • O.A.R.
  • The Strumbellas
  • Gin Blossoms

© 2021 Ansel Pereira