Rock music has had a long and winding road in the music industry over the decades. But when it comes to these 15 alternative bands of the 2000s, I believe they took the genre to new levels of creativity and popularity. So let’s pay them a little respect, shall we?
Best Alternative Bands of the 2000s
Let’s begin with the Arctic Monkeys.
1) Arctic Monkeys
The Arctic Monkeys are a band that benefited greatly from the 2000s internet boom. When they broke into the industry in the mid-00s, they used the power of the internet to reach a wider audience in both the U.K. and the U.S. Rock fans on both sides of the pond have continued to love this band’s creative style of alternative indie rock.
My favorite Arctic Monkeys Song: “Do Me a Favour” – Favourite Worst Nightmare, 2007. Upbeat drums and a dark guitar riff help paint the picture laid out by lead singer Alex Turner’s lyrics.
2) The Strokes
The Strokes were a driving force of the early 2000s rock rebirth that saw alternative rock begin to take back the genre from styles of the 90s. Their flair, energy, and addictive lyrics made audiences reminisce about the glory days of rock music. The Strokes helped pump life back into rock music and were prominent plays in shaping the sound of alternative rock music in the 2000s.
My favorite The Strokes song: “Reptilia” – Room On Fire, 2003.
This awesome upbeat song has an addictive guitar riff that switches to an even funkier guitar rhythm during the chorus. Julian Casablancas’s gritty, slurred, vocals are a perfect topping to this epic song.
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3) The Killers
The Killers are one of the best bands of the decade. The band hailed from Las Vegas but it was the British airwaves and fans that led to the group’s eventual success in the US. They were originally signed to an independent British label and toured throughout the country which caught the attention of American A&R execs.
Their American sound took influence from British rock and their position as Americans in the British market provided them great success around the world. They even were named the World’s Best Selling New Group at the 2005 World Music Awards.
My favorite The Killers song: “When You Were Young” – Sam’s Town, 2006.
4) The White Stripes
The creative duo of Jack and Meg White aka The White Stripes are two of the leaders of the early 2000s rock revival. Their raw sounds and simple yet artistic conceptualization have helped define the rock sounds of the 21st century. The “garage rockers” were heavily influenced by blues and a minimalist approach to arranging and performing music. Meg is an iconic drummer and Jack is an eccentric vocalist and guitarist. Their stripped-down rock and roll have made them one of the best musical duos of all time.
My favorite The White Stripes song: “Seven Nation Army” – Elephant, 2003. Jack’s iconic guitar riff is legendary and carries throughout this song
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5) Linkin Park
The blending of genres was a common theme in 2000s music. No alternative rock band did this better than Linkin Park. Their fusion of nu-metal, heavy hip-hop beats, punk energy, and electronica made them one of the most unique and successful groups of the early 21st century. This group is more than just “rap-rock”. Led by the vocals of the late Chester Bennington, Linkin Park belted aggressive ballads with strong underlying meanings.
Listeners can truly feel the real pain, anger, and struggle behind each song. After the passing of Chester, these songs hold an even more powerful meaning for fans old and new. This group has helped countless fans express vulnerability through their sound.
My Favorite Linkin Park: “Point of Authority” – Hybrid Theory, 2000.
Easily one of Linkin Park’s hardest songs. Chester effortlessly crosses between his melodic voice and screamo before Mike Shinoda finally raps over one of the best beats out at the time. The blended version on the Jay Z x Linkin Park: Collision Course album features Mike Shinoda rapping Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” ahead of HOV doing his thing. One of the craziest collaborations of all time.
Muse is an epic British rock band that incorporates themes from classical music and science fiction into their music and performances. Lead singer Matt Bellamy’s falsetto pairs well with the often out-of-this-world instrumentation. Together the group paints pictures that mix sci-fi with relevant themes of today like government corruption, drone warfare, and simulations. Since 2003 they have released 7 consecutive number-one albums in the U.K. and have cemented themselves as one of the best live acts on the planet.
My favorite Muse song: “Knights of Cedonia” – Black Holes and Revelations, 2006
Like a song out of a video game, “Knights of Cedonia” is one of the best examples of how Muse’s music can transport you into a different world.
7) Foo Fighters
Alt-rock exploded during the 1990s and the Foo Fighters were one of the leading groups emerging from that decade. Founded by Dave Grohl, the former drummer of Nirvana, the Foo Fighters’ music features heavy rock guitars and drums, and punk (and sometimes pop) melodies to create memorable modern rock songs.
My Favorite Foo Fights song “The Pretender” – Echos, Silence, Patience, & Grace, 2007. These songs slow build leads to a driving rock banger in a classic “loud-quiet-loud” style akin to Nirvana.
This is one of the most popular alt-metal rock bands at the turn of the 21st century. Their 1999 mulit-platinum album, Make Yourself separated Incubus from the rest of the pack of alternative and indie rock bands trying to make it in to the mainstream. They amassed a strong following across multiple genres due to their relentless touring that put their music in front of diverse audiences. That diversity is reflected in their music which fuses elements of a wider variety of genres to create Incubus’s timeless sound.
My favorite Incubus song: “Wish You Were Here” – Morning View, 2001.
Lead singer, Brandon Boyd describes picturesque scenery in this song about sharing those special moments with loved ones while you can.
You don’t get much more alternative than a British “Virtual Band” whose members consist of fictional characters. The band was formed by musician Damon Albarn who is the only permanent (human) contributor to the group. Way ahead of their time, the GORILLAZ universe spanned music, videos, comics, and cartoons.
The band has collaborated with a wide variety of well-known artists and is able to effortlessly crossover genres ranging from rock, to hip-hop, electronic music, and other genres from around the world.
My Favorite Gorillaz Song: “DARE” – Demon Days, 2005. This is a super funky glitch-pop inspired track.
Blink-182 made a name for itself in the Southern California punk scene from the mid to late 90s. They released two albums and a EP ahead of their 1999 success, Enema of the State, which trusted them into the mainstream. They led the way when it came to edgy pop-punk-rock that became insanely popular during the time. Much of their success came thanks to MTV where their videos for “What’s My Age Again? And “All the Small Things were hugely successful as well.
My favorite Blink-182 song: “I Miss You” – Blink 182, 2003.
One of their more somber songs, “I Miss You” is another classic that is almost irresistible to sing along to.
11) My Chemical Romance
This group was instrumental in the rising popularity of goth and emo rock during the 2000s. Over the top vocals, hard core instrumentals, and themes of self loathing were staples in their sound that built them a strong fan base of teens and adult rockers alike.
My favorite My Chemical Romance song: “Helena” – Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, 2004.
This song showcases the sometimes theatrical nature of the groups music. Something that would be showcased on their next album, The Black Parade.
12) Queens of the Stone Age
This band has seen a number of interations of band members throughout its existence. The only original and long time member, is lead vocalist, guitarist, and founder, Josh Homme. Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters has even been a recurring member of the band as a drummer. QOTSA’s “robot rock” style can be attributed to traditional heavy rock mixed with a more modern structure from electronic music.
My favorite Queens of the Stone Age song: “Go With The Flow” – Songs For The Deaf, 2002. This was the second single off of the QOTSA successfully 2002 album and was even nominated for a “Best Hard Rock Performance” grammy in 2004.
13) Three Doors Down
The southern alternative rock group help lead the way for post-grunge groups in the 2000s. Their first single, “Kryptonite” was an immediate smash hit, helping their debut album, The Better Life go 7x platinum in the U.S.. Their southern hard rock sound struck a different chord than many of the bands on this list which helped them secure a faithful fanbase through the 2010s to now. They have sold over 30 million records as a group and have embarked a number of successful worldwide tours.
My favorite Three Doors Down song: is “When I’m Gone” – Away From The Sun, 2002.
Coming out of the tale end of 2001, patriotism was at the forefront of of American minds. This song is often associate with the military and that help lead to its longstanding success.
14) Dashboard Confessional
This emo alternative rock band was a mainstay in popular culture during the 2000s. It was their performance on MTV unplugged that helped swing the audiences to their music. Hit singles like “Streaming Infidelities” and their most commercially successful album, A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar (2003), was followed by a recording of “Vindicated”, a single for the Spiderman 2 movie. Dashboard Confessional brought a more tamed version of emo-rock that proved that was a nice balance to the songs of Chemical Romance.
My favorite Dashboard Confessional song: “Hands Down” – A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar, 2003.
One of the bands most popular songs and one of the staples of the emo rock genre. Hands down on one of the best emo songs of all time.
15) Good Charlotte
The Madden brothers, twins Joel and Benji,brought their hip-hop influenced edgy punk style to the forefront of alternative rock music during the 2000s. Heavily influenced by hip-hops acts like the Beastie Boys the band was well known for their rap-like cadence over grungy rock riffs.
This was another group helped by the MTV platform. The brothers actually worked as VJs for the network which allowed them to infiltrate the network with their music videos. Once the mainstream audience got a look and listen of Good Charlotte, they were hooked.
My favorite The Good Charlotte song: “Girls & Boys” – Young & Hopeless, 2002. This song pulls from funky pop rock of previous generations for a classic fun song.
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