Each decade has seen a diversification of musical styles among rock musicians, including 2010s rock bands. While Heavy Metal was the most dominant genre of rock music in the 80s and 90s, a gentler rock sound began developing at the beginning of the 21st century.
Nonetheless, an artistic connection unites all rock music, from the finest rock bands of the past till now.
Reflecting on the past decade, here are some of the best rock bands of the 2010s.
It is unimaginable to have lived in the 2010s without hearing Coldplay's music at some point. Soaring arrangements and orchestrations back the band's pop compositions and melodic sensibilities. Their lineup has remained the same since 1996, when musicians Will Champion, Johnny Buckland, Chris Martin, and Guy Berryman first formed the band.
Throughout the 2010s, Coldplay diversified their music with albums like ‘Mylo Xyloto, Ghost Stories, A Head Full of Dreams,’ and ‘Everyday Life.'
For every album, the band incorporated fresh musical subgenres to the band's initial repertoire, such as jazz fusion, ambient, pop, progressive rock, electronica, and R&B. With about 100M albums sold globally, Coldplay are among the most prominent bands of not only the 2010s but the 21st century as well.
2. Imagine Dragons
Imagine Dragons' sound had a remarkable impact on 2010s radio music. It was quirky, playful, innovative, and immediately recognizable. Their songs are characteristic of theatrical lyrics, and artists do not limit themselves to the traditional pop song subject matter but rather explore more fantasy themes.
Created by Ben McKee, Daniel Platzmanm, Dan Reynolds, and Wayne Sermon, the band comes from Las Vegas, Nevada. Among their most prominent albums are 2012's ‘Night Visions' and 2014's ‘Smoke + Mirrors.'
With such successful albums, Imagine Dragons has scooped multiple awards, notable one Grammy, nine Billboard Music Awards, and three American Music Awards.
3. Twenty One Pilots
Twenty One Pilots' songwriting is always fun and sincere and combines a variety of musical inspirations. Their sound swings from anything resembling Reggae or Dub to straight-up synthpop and is always rhythmically fascinating. Their addictive earworm tunes are easily recognizable by anybody who owned a radio between 2011 through 2017.
Although initially founded in Columbus, Ohio, in 2009, Josh Dun and Tyler Joseph became the band's characteristic two-man act after the departure of two members in 2011. In 2012, with the release of ‘Vessel,’ they achieved commercial success and proceeded to create the number-one album ‘Blurryface’ in 2015.
4. Thirty Seconds To Mars
Thirty Seconds to Mars is one of the rare popular bands whose frontman is a well-known actor, Jared Leto.
The group's alternative rock music borrows inspiration from emo. They are also well known for their powerful live shows and fusion of aspects from a wide range of genres, incorporating the use of theological and philosophical lyrics, experimental music, and conceptual albums.
Hailing from Los Angeles, CA, the founder members of this band are Jared and Shannon. While their earlier albums, '30 Seconds to Mars,’ ‘A Beautiful Lie,’ and ‘This is War’ didn’t receive much commercial success, their break came in 2009 with 2013’s ‘Love, Lust, Faith, and Dreams.’ Another noteworthy album of the band throughout the 2010s is America (2018).
5. Arctic Monkeys
The dominant rock genre of the 2010s was unquestionably indie rock, and the dominant media environment was the web; the Arctic Monkeys were musical leaders in both fields.
Founded in 2002, the band’s current lineup consists of Jamie Cook, Nick O'Malley, Matt Helders, and Alex Turner. While they enjoyed huge success with their debut album ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not,’ and ‘Favorite Worst Nightmare,’ 2011’s ‘Suck It and See’ did not gather as much traction.
Nonetheless, with the breakthrough of their highly praised fifth album ‘AM’ in 2013, backed by the global blockbuster ‘Do I Wanna Know?', the band gained further international recognition. Another notable album is 2018’s piano-driven ‘Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino,’ which significantly shifted from their prior guitar-heavy efforts.
6. Tame Impala
This one-man endeavor successfully introduced current audiences to psychedelic rock in the 2010s. Multi-instrumentalist Kevin Parker produces Tame Impala's music. However, while on tour, Tame Impala tags along several acts, including Jay Watson, Cam Avery, Julien Barbagallo, and Dominic Simper.
The initiative began in 2007 in Perth, Australia. After several EPs and singles, their debut album ‘Innerspeaker’ (2010) was certified gold. Other notable Tame Impala albums from the 2010s include ‘Lonerism’ (2012), which enjoyed platinum status and a Grammy nomination, and ‘Currents’ (2015), which won several awards, including the Album of the Year.
7. The 1975
Lush, occasionally sorrowful, sometimes jubilant, highly produced pop-rock songs characterize the 1975’s music. Typically backed by a strong bassline and drum beat, synths swell in proportion to the naive and youthful emotions they create. Their tunes are extremely catchy, and their lead singer, Matthew Healy, presents them with a great deal of emo soul-baring boldness.
The 2002 founders of this 2010s sensational band include Adam Hann, drummer George Daniel, Ross Macdonlad, and Healey, who hail from Wilmslow, Cheshire, United Kingdom. Among their most renowned albums are ‘for You Are So Beautiful Yet Unaware of It,’ ‘The 1975,’ ‘I Like It When You Sleep,’ and ‘the Facedown EP.’
8. Fall Out Boy
Founded in 2001 in Wilmette, I, this American band consists of rhythm guitarist and vocalist Patrick Stump, Andy Hurley, Pete Wentz, and Joe Trohman. While their style is generally considered Pop Punk, this band also incorporates R&B, hip-hop, hardcore punk, electronic, soul, and Funk elements.
Fall Out Boy had huge success with their debut album ‘From Under the Cork Tree’ and ‘Infinity on High.’ Coming into the 2010s, their 6th and 7th studio albums ‘American Beauty/American Psycho' and ‘Mania’ both landed number one on the Billboard 200 chart.
9. Five Finger Death Punch
Akin to Insane Clown Posse, Five Finger Death Punch appeals to the disgruntled with its bizarre visuals and society-bashing lyrics. They like chugging guitar chords and growling voices. The band has delivered eight studio albums, two compilation albums, one EP, a live album, and about thirty-three singles.
Founded in Las Vegas, NV, this band has significantly tweaked its lineup through the years. They enjoyed success with their first albums, ‘The Way of the Fist, ‘War Is the Answer, ‘and ‘American Capitalist.'
Besides, four other albums released through the 2010s ‘The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Volume 1 & 2,’ ‘Got Your Six,’ and ‘And Justice for None' are certified Gold and Platinum.
10. The Pretty Reckless
This band's music mixes a drumming and guitar tone reminiscent of Metallica with anthemic choruses and dramatic, passionate lyrics. Its music videos feature the main singer Taylor Momsen delivering a dramatic and melodramatic show, backed by the band in the backdrop.
Mark Damon, Jamie Perkins, and Ben Phillips formed the Pretty Reckless in 2009 in New York City. While their first album in 2010, titled ‘Light Me Up,' was quite a masterpiece, it was only until 2014, with their EP ‘Going to Hell,' that the band marked their commercial peak.
11. Arcade Fire
Various sources have labeled the varied Indie Rock sound of Arcade Fire as baroque-pop, dance-pop, and even art-pop. Musically, the band has undergone numerous creative shifts and experimentation.
Nonetheless, their basic sound features danceable melodies and rhythms with emotional lyrics. They helped establish the style of the mid-2000s and early 2010s with various obscure instruments, such as violins, mandolins, accordions, and hurdy-gurdies.
Established in 2001, the band was flying high before the 2010s. However, albums like ‘Reflektor’ and ‘The Suburbs’ still had a significant impact. Arcade Fire's key members are Canadians Régine Chassagne, and Win Butler since founding member Josh Deu quit the band in 2003.
12. Kings Of Leon
The artists who make up Kings of Leon draw inspiration from country music as they listened to this music throughout their young age. This manifests discreetly in their music as basic, compelling melodies and chord progressions underneath their pop sound.
In the 2010s, Kings of Leon began merging their country origins with a pop aesthetic characterized by booming and soaring voices, anthemic choruses, and a vocal style evocative of Eddie Vedder's twang.
Founded in 1999, the band constitutes the brothers from the Followill family of Nashville, Tennessee. Midway through the 2000s, their careers soared, and by the 2010s, Kings of Leon was a globally famous band with hugely popular albums such as ‘Mechanical Bull' and ‘Only by the Night.’
13. Vampire Weekend
Vampire Weekend maintained pop music's young, teenage essence throughout the 2010s by integrating global rhythms and intricate grooves into their brilliant pop songwriting powerhouse. The band's debut album Vampire Weekend (2008) displayed a combination of Afropop, Indie pop roots, and chamber music components and is recognized as one of the finest debut albums.
Founded in New York City, its lineup consists of Chris Baio, Ezra Koenig, and Chris Tomson after Rostam Batmanglij left in 2016. Their second album ‘Contra’ enjoyed considerable commercial success, debuting at the top of the US Billboard 200 chart. Their following albums, 2013's ‘Modern Vampires of the City' and 2019's ‘Father of the Bride,' topped the US album chart, both winning Grammys.
Ghost is a Swedish rock band Founded in 2006 in Linkoping. In 2010, they published a three-track demo, followed by their debut studio album ‘Opus Eponymous.’ 2013’s ‘Infestissumam,' their second studio album and first for a big label, peaked at number one and received the Grammy Award for Best Metal Album.
The band's next album, ‘Meliora,’ was released in 2015 to widespread critical praise and significant record sales, topping the charts and reaching number eight on the Sweden and U. S chart, respectively. The group received the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance for its breakthrough hit, ‘Cirice.'
15. Avenged Sevenfold
Romantic rock ballads and Metalcore have been this band's bread and butter. Metalcore mixes the most intense elements of metal and punk to generate a sound intended for listening whilst mosh pitting. Avenged Sevenfold is a proficient metalcore band whose roots in soft and hard rock render their music more accessible to a broad audience.
Established in 1999 in Huntington Beach, California, the band's mainstream breakthrough occurred in the late 2000s during their Bat Country tour. Their prominence then accelerated in the early to mid-2010s, notwithstanding the passing of key player The Rev with albums such as ‘Waking the Fallen: Resurrected’ and ‘Nightmare.’
16. Florence + The Machine
Florence + The Machine contributed to developing the stomp-clamp jangly rhythm and booming voices that defined Indie Rock throughout the 2010s. Their music was highly influential and resembled bands such as The Lumineers and Arcade Fire in style.
Started in London, UK, the band centered around vocalist Florence Welch, backed by Isabella Summers, Tom Monger, and Rob Ackroyd. However, they have recruited several additional musicians to perform jangly rhythms on unconventional instruments over the years.
By 2008, they began making commercial strides with the album ‘Lungs,’ followed by Ceremonials (2011), then ‘How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful’ two years later.
17. The Black Keys
The Black Keys, a Blues-Rock band, revitalized bluesy songwriting, and guitar playing in the 2010s. This gave their roots a unique twist, promoting them in the new decade. Initially, in their musical growth, the band members took inspiration from vintage Delta Blues records. With time, though, they incorporated indie-garage rock, grunge, and contemporary pop songwriting into the blues.
Hailing from Akron, Ohio, The Black Keys' founder members were drummer Patrick Carney and guitarist Dan Auerbach. Despite their over a decade stay in the music scene, it was not until the early 2010s that the band gained prominence with albums such as ‘El Camino' and ‘Brothers.’
18. Foo Fighters
Established by Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl following the death of Kurt Cobain, Foo Fighters elevated 1990s grunge music to a new level. Pop-rock, Post-grunge, and hard rock all describe the sound of the Foo Fighters, which is more refined and intricate than grunge.
Unlike other bands in this list, Foo Fighters started as a solo act by Dave Grohl before incorporating other acts such as guitarist Pat Smear, bass guitarist Nate Mendel and drummer William Goldsmith.
Foo Fighters underwent major lineup changes throughout the years, as some of these acts left later. Nonetheless, despite being a band from the 90s, they remained prominent into the 2010s with the ‘Wasting Light' album and EPs like ‘Saint Cecilia' and ‘Sonic Highways.'
As its name implies, Disturbed is a heavy metal band. Their music, nonetheless, has a positive core and anthemic, melodic aspects that distinguish it from other metal sounds and make it more appealing to stadium rock. They have made seven studio albums, five of which have topped the Billboard 200 chart.
Formed in Chicago, IL, Disturbed had a flaming career, gaining a legion of devoted fans. Their current lineup consists of Dan Donegan, Mike Wengren, David Draiman, and John Moyer. In 2015, after a four-year hiatus, they resurfaced with the album ‘Immortalized,’ immediately followed by the live album ‘Disturbed: Live at Red Rocks’ in 2016.
MGMT is all about hammering beats and unforgettable synth tunes. Musically, the band combines the best of both worlds: acoustic and electronic instruments, considering its founder members, Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden, are both multi-instrumentalists.
Founded in Middletown, Connecticut, alongside the key members, this American Indie band currently comprises Simon O'Connor, James Richardson, and Alex Wylde. Among their notable albums from the 2010s include ‘MGMT,’ ‘Congratulations,’ and ‘Little Dark Age.’ These albums managed to earn MGMT several Academy nominations and even won a Grammy at the 51st Grammy Awards.
Instantly identifiable for their weird attire and gruesome masks, Slipknot creates music that surpasses their image. The term ‘groove metal’ aptly reflects the band’s unique, funky, and edgy sound. Besides, they are renowned for their explosive and aggressive live concerts.
Established in 1995 in Des Moines, Iowa, the band consists of Paul Gray, Shawn Crahan, and Joey Jordison. Despite several lengthy breaks in their career, this band stayed relevant in the 2010s with albums like ‘The Gray Chapter' and ‘Antennas to Hell.’ To date, Slipknot has over 30M global album sales.
22. Fleet Foxes
This Folk-Rock restoration initiative revives musical concepts from the 1960s and 1970s Folk-Rock, which was itself a rebirth of previous songs and genres. The band is exceptional at generating lush and expansive vocal harmonies, uplifting compositions, terrific folksy rhythms, and heart-wrenching lyrics.
Founded in 2006 in Seattle by Skyler Skjeilset and Robin Pecknold, Fleet Foxes launched their career with the album ‘Fleet Foxes' and ‘Sun Giant.' Both albums garnered much attention via the antiquated communication medium, Myspace. With albums like ‘Shore' and ‘Crack-Up,' they remained popular in the 2010s.
23. Cage The Elephant
This band combines Classic Rock, Blues, Punk, and Grunge to produce an exhilaratingly varied rhythm. Founded in Bowling Green, Kentucky, in 2006, the band consists of brothers Matt and Brad Shultz, Matthan Minster, Jared Champion, Daniel Tichenor, and Nick Bockrath.
Thanks to the albums ‘Thank you, Happy Birthday, 2011, ‘Melophobia’ in 2013, and ‘Tell Me I'm Pretty’ in 2015, Cage the Elephant reached their peak in the 2010s.
24. The Glorious Sons
Founded in 2011, this Canadian rock band hails from Kingston, Ontario. After signing with Black Box in 2013, the Glorious Sons released one EP and two studio albums, ‘The Union' and ‘Young Beauties and Fools.’
‘The Union’ was shortlisted for a Juno Award for Best Rock Album, while the band itself was voted and won ‘Rock Group of the Year' and ‘Group of the Year' at the 2015 Canadian Music Week SiriusXM Indie Awards. Overall, The Glorious Sons have achieved eight straight top-ten rock radio singles in Canada.
25. Bob Moses
The Canadian electronic duo Bob Moses established a sound that is equally appealing to rock music enthusiasts and clubgoers. Initially from Vancouver, the band comprises Jimmy Vallance and Tom Howie. One of their first singles, ‘Tearing Me Up,' debuted at number sixteen on the Billboard Alternative Songs.
RAC's Tearing Me Up remix received the Grammy Award for best non-classical remixed recording. Later, the band released the debut EP ‘Hands to Hold' and followed up with ‘far From The Tree.' Their prominent albums include ‘Days Gone By' and ‘Battle Lines.'
Top 2010s Rock Bands, Final Thoughts
Ultimately, the 2010s witnessed a shift to the conventional ‘Rock and Roll' of bands of the 90s. Today, the genre is quite diverse as artists constantly try new ideas to make Rock music more interesting and reach a broader audience. While many other bands could fit the best rock bands of the 2010s, these picks stand out in terms of their impact and success.