Top 5 rock bands for rock newbs

bonoIf you’re new to rock music, this post is for you: after carefully reviewing the history of rock ‘n’ roll, I have compiled a list of the top five rock bands you should listen to if you’re interested in getting to know the genre. (Disclaimer: The Beatles are not on the list because I didn’t have room to fit them in, but if you’re interested in the band that became a national sensation and made rock popular in the U.S., pick up the album “Abbey Road.” You won’t be sorry.)

First of all, all true rock songs feature guitar-led melodies and original interpretations of the themes of freedom, love, and power.

While these five bands may not be the best rock ‘n’ roll bands out there, they are essential for every new devotee or curious browser searching for something deeper than mainstream pop.

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1. U2

U2 is probably in the top three when it comes to “best rock bands,” but it’s also important to listen to them because of their profound influence on the music industry. After all, their hit album “The Joshua Tree” is now featured in the National Recording Registry after being dubbed “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant” by the U.S. Library of Congress in 2014.

Recommendations: Listen to “The Joshua Tree,” it’s their most famous album. That should be a good introduction to the world of U2 and classic rock.

Similar bands to check out: R.E.M., Aerosmith, The Goo Goo Dolls

2. Green Day

Green Day is the fast-paced, punk side of rock, and since they have been such a highly successful band worldwide and were recently inducted to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, checking out their stuff is a must. Warning: the band’s songs can be incredibly angsty. Rock is often about angst, so if you’re going to be a rock aficionado, you’re just going to have to deal with it.

Recommendations: The album “21st Century Breakdown” is a good one, as well as the songs “Basket Case” and “Brain Stew,” although I’ve always considered the track “21 Guns” from “21st Century Breakdown” to be the quintessential rock song of the late 2000s.

Similar bands to check out: Pearl Jam, Breaking Benjamin, The Offspring

3. Journey

No rock enthusiast can say he likes rock if he doesn’t listen to 80s classic rock. Journey is one of the best examples of good 80s rock, so if you like synthesizers and jazz accents, this band is definitely for you. Even if you don’t like Journey’s style, several of their songs are essential pieces of pop culture, so you need to listen to them anyway if you want to be a culturally aware individual.

Recommendations: The hit “Don’t Stop Believin'” is an obvious one, but “Anyway You Want It,” “Separate Ways,” and “Open Arms” are also very famous songs you have to check out if you’re serious about rock ‘n’ roll.

Similar bands to check out: Bon Jovi, Queen, Whitesnake, Def Leppard, Led Zeppelin

4. Muse

I wouldn’t be doing the rock industry justice if I didn’t recommend an electronica-rock band. Muse’s sound is definitely different from the traditional perception of rock, but the band is incredibly original and has managed to avoid getting sucked into the mainstream, evidenced by recent albums “The 2nd Law” and most notably, “Drones.”

Recommendations: The band’s three latest albums, “Uprising,” “The 2nd Law,” and “Drones” are all fantastic. Recommended tracks from these albums include “Uprising,” “Undisclosed Desires,” “Madness,” “Dead Inside,” “Mercy,” and “Revolt.”

Similar bands to check out: Radiohead, Coldplay, The Arctic Monkeys

5. Fall Out Boy

Fall Out Boy is on the list because the band is one of the sole survivors of the pop/punk/rock scene of the early 2000s, an evolution of the genre of rock ‘n’ roll. Fall Out Boy’s songs often hit the charts, and while their sound has shifted and evolved over the years, the band’s avoided becoming too mainstream for me to cut it from the list. While Fall Out Boy probably doesn’t qualify for the “top rock bands of all time” list, the buzz-phrase here is “culturally relevant.” You need to know what modern rock is up to, and Fall Out Boy can give you an idea.

Recommendations: Sophomore albums are rarely praiseworthy, but Fall Out Boy’s is arguably the band’s finest work. “From Under the Cork Tree” includes popular singles like “Sugar We’re Goin’ Down” and “Dance, Dance.” Also check out the single “Thanks fr the Mmrs,” recent hit “Uma Thurman,” and the entire album “Save Rock and Roll,” which is fantastic.

Similar bands to check out: Paramore, All Time Low, Yellowcard

Photo credit: By The original uploader was Wikipedia brown at English Wikipedia [CC BY 2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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3 comments to “Top 5 rock bands for rock newbs”
  1. Journey rather than – say – the Rolling Stones or the Kinks or The Who or really just about any big band from the 60’s? You are showing your youth and a very soft ear there, Kate! Not to mention that they were a studio band made up of ex-Santana guys so why not just say “Santana”? And if you like Muse, you would love Queen since Muse is a complete derivative of them…

  2. Journey’s a gateway drug to The Killers. The great thing about Rock is that it’s not an exclusive club. Whatever gets you through the night…

  3. Green Day somehow found the key to writing populist punk… I think I might like Blink 182 a little better. Tough call.

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