The 2000s were a revolutionary time for the evolution of rock music, largely due to the many unique 2000s bands. With the maturity of the internet and file sharing, it became easy to explore new music, making the '90s feel like The Stone Age.
So check out the best rock bands of the 2000s!
There is a case for declaring indie rockers Spoon to be one of the best 2000s bands. According to the review aggregator website Metacritic, the band's '00s output was consistently the highest rated. Their streak of albums from Girls Can Tell to Transference is reminiscent of the Rolling Stones' classic '70s run of critical acclaim.
The band's Texas roots and love of '80s college rock are apparent, but the way they employ these influences make them one of a kind. Their songs' Lone Star State confidence has an effortless charm, but they painstakingly craft their off-the-cuff aesthetic.
Weezer rode to fame in the '90s on a wave of classic alternative rock albums. But after the release of 1996's Pinkerton, the band vanished from sight. Singer Rivers Cuomo entered a period of deep depression that saw him painting his walls black and blocking out the light from his windows.
The band returned to the studio in 2000 and recorded The Green Album, a back-to-basics alternative rock album that featured the hit single “Island in the Sun.” Two years later, the band would score a Billboard Modern Rock number one with their alternative rap song “Beverly Hills.”
3. Fall Out Boy
Starting out as a side project for various members of Chicago's hardcore punk scene, Fall Out Boy became one of the most influential pop punk 2000s bands. Their albums Take This to Your Grave and From Under the Cork Tree took the baton from the genre's '90s forebearers and added extra depth.
By 2007, the band had earned a Grammy Award nomination and the top spot on the Billboard 200 album chart. Their emo-inspired version of pop punk has inspired aspiring musicians to this day.
4. Green Day
Green Day was instrumental in bringing a punky version of pop rock to the masses in the '90s, with their hit album Dookie becoming a defining album of the alternative era. While some bands might rest on the laurels of the massive success of hits like “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life),” Green Day had other ideas.
2004 saw the band release their iconic punk rock opera “American Idiot.” The political album was a shift for the band and garnered the band a Grammy Award and a second act as rock elderstatemen.
5. Jimmy Eat World
Arizona emo rockers Jimmy Eat World found themselves at a crossroads at the beginning of the Millenium. After being dropped by their label, the band's artistically inclined and sprawling emo sound would have to tighten up as they self-financed a record to keep the band afloat.
The result was the terse and tough-sounding LP Bleed American. The record's blazing power pop sound helped the band find the charts and a new audience, and they rode that emo wave through the decade.
6. The Killers
Though they're from the neon-laced dessert terrain of Las Vegas, The Killers started their career sounding more like a British-inspired new wave act. Their debut album, Hot Fuss, was a blast of disco beats and synthesizers that catapulted the band into the spotlight.
The band spent the remainder of the decade rectifying their surroundings with their sound, and the result found them flirting with an updated take on heartland rock. Their albums Sam's Town and Day and Age topped the charts globally.
Coldplay ruled the rock charts during the 2000s with their lyrical and artistically inclined brand of British rock. Starting the decade with the iconic single “Yellow,” the band never faltered commercially while continually pushing the boundaries of their sound.
From their acoustic inclined beginnings to their experimental works with famed producer Brian Eno, Coldplay consistently married critical and commercial success. Their sound would further develop into electronica and pop in the '10s, further proving the band's unrelenting artistry.
Radiohead ended the '90s with their landmark album OK Computer. But much like the band did when they changed gears from the earlier grunge success of the single “Creep,” they took a left turn and delivered the difficultly minimalist, electro-jazz record Kid A.
Bands that are truly free to chase their muse are rare, but Radiohead spent the '00s doing just that, tearing through preconceived notions of their sound. As a result, they freed themselves from constraints while producing wildly successful albums that defy classification.
9. The White Stripes
As part of a surge in rock and roll's popularity in the '00s, The White Stripes were the most successful bands of the garage rock revival. Their barebones lineup, just a guitarist and drummer, was often imitated. But their punkish energy and blues minimalism were never equaled.
The band was instrumental in ending the late '90s fad of glossy pop and uninspired rap rock. They were mainstays at the top of the charts and music awards ceremonies. Their song “Seven Nation Army” has become ubiquitous as a stadium anthem.
10. OK Go
There must be something in the water in Illinois. OK Go's catchy brand of power pop comes from the same state as genre pioneers Cheap Trick. While OK Go didn't reinvent the rock and roll wheel, the true importance of the band in the '00s was their full embrace of technology.
OK Go's viral music videos were ahead of their time and helped change the way bands market themselves. Their utilization of blogs, filesharing, and video hosting paved the way for DIY in the tech generation.
11. Modest Mouse
Modest Mouse spent the '90s toiling away in obscurity while becoming the indie rock darlings of the music press. After the band signed with Epic Records in 2000, their releases began to get more exposure, setting the stage for a career breakout.
2003's Good News for People Who Love Bad News went platinum and yielded Modest Mouse two hit singles and Grammy nominations. Their follow-up, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, featured famed Smith's guitarist Johnny Marr and debuted at the top Billboard spot.
12. My Chemical Romance
While many bands contributed to the rise of the emo subculture, none were as instrumental to its mainstream success as My Chemical Romance. Formed by Gerard Way shortly after the September 11 attacks, the band's theatrical approach to screamo hit a nerve with the Myspace generation and brought the subculture above ground.
With the multiplatinum success of Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge and The Black Parade, the band became a teenage phenomenon. Their edgy black hair, piercings, and goth makeup became the standard uniform of the culture.
Blur frontman Damon Albarn and Tank Girl comic book creator Jamie Hewlett met at the end of the '90s and formed the virtual band Gorillaz. Utilizing computer-generated graphics and music videos, the band consisting of cartoon characters has sold over 25 million records worldwide.
While cartoon bands have existed before, most notably in Archie comics and Hanna-Barbera cartoons, none have had the critical success of Gorillaz. Albarn's use of electronica, hip hop, and rock creates a unique sound that stands alone as a work of art.
Nickelback's sound was ubiquitous amid all the other 2000s bands. The Canadian rockers have sold over 50 million records on the strength of the popular singles “How You Remind Me,” “Photograph,” and “Rockstar.”
The band takes a surgical approach to rock music, hitting all the right notes of rock and roll tropes while draping their songs in melodic hooks. The formula made them the best-selling band of the decade. Their high profile and notoriety continue to this day through meme
15. Death Cab For Cutie
Death Cab for Cutie helped popularize indie rock with their literate and catchy songs finding placement on the hit TV show The O.C. With the help of the show's reputation as a bellwether of youth culture, the band's bookish sound charmed audiences. By the time they released their major-label debut, Plans, the band was ready to explode.
The rest of the decade found Death Cab for Cutie consistently nominated for Grammy Awards while reaching the top of the Billboard album charts.
16. Kings of Leon
Initially lumped into the garage rock revival of the new Millenium, Kings of Leon spent the decade fine-tuning their Southern rock and blues-inspired sound into a lean brand of arena-ready alternative rock.
The band received glowing press from the U.K. early in their career, selling ten times more records than in America. With the release of 2008's Only by the Night, the band finally broke through in the U.S. Thanks to their hit single “Sex on Fire” and the Grammy-winning “Use Somebody,” the band became rock royalty.
17. Foo Fighters
While the Foo Fighter's career has spanned three decades, their most fertile period was in the 2000s. During the decade, starting with the November 1999 release of There is Nothing Left to Lose, the band would shed leader Grohl's association with Nirvana while keeping the flame lit for rock and roll.
The band's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2021 was a foregone conclusion, completing their journey from '90s alternative band to rock heroes.
18. The Stokes
The Strokes were one of the biggest bands to come from the garage rock revival, with their New York City brand of cool echoing '70s bands like the Velvet Underground and Television. Their sinewy guitar lines and howling vocals ushered in a new wave of bands trying to imitate their sound.
Their classic 2001 record Is This It was a critical and commercial success. The landmark LP often tops surveys of the best albums of the decade.
Beck's brander of slacker alternative rock helped define a generation. In particular, his hit single “Loser” is an anthem of '90s alternative rock. That he was able to stage a second act in the '00s is an impressive feat, and it's thanks in large part to the singer-songwriter's chameleon-esque qualities.
Starting the decade off with Sea Change, Beck moved away from electronics and crafted a confessional and pastoral break-up album. It was critically acclaimed but followed up by another sharp left turn with the 8-bit sounds of Guero. To cap off the decade, Beck worked with famed producer Danger Mouse on the traditional rock sounds of Modern Guilt.
20. Queens of the Stone Age
In a decade full of indie rock stars and emo scenesters, The Queens of the Stone Age were unique for keeping their rock songs riff-oriented. Though it's not to say the band was boring, as their unique sense of timing and exotic scales gave their reading of classic rock and roll an exciting edge.
Increasing the band's profile was their collaborations with rock royalty. Their 2000 record Rated R featured vocals by grunge legend Mark Lanegan. And 2002's Songs for the Deaf benefitted from the thundering drumming of Nirvana and Foo Fighter veteran Dave Grohl.
British rockers Muse built their reputation around radio-friendly arena rock anthems that employ so many textures and styles that they never sound boring or contrived. From classical song structures, lush orchestration, electronic dance beats, and hard rock riffs, the band is a proverbial catalog of Western musical ideas.
On the strength of their anthems “Butterflies and Hurricanes” and “Supermassive Black Hole,” the band has sold over thirty million albums and two Grammy Awards. Their lyrical imagery and musicianship have positioned them as 21st-century torchbearers for progressive rock, along with the band's incorporation of touch-screen controls built into their instruments.
22. The Black Keys
There are many similarities between The White Stripes and The Black Keys. Both are duos with color-coded names that came to prominence during the garage rock revival. But of all the bands to come out of that scene, few were as true to their sound as The Black Keys.
While the band's biggest hits would come in the '10s, they laid the groundwork for this success with a string of critically acclaimed records in the '00s. Their albums Thickfreakness and Rubber Factory would cement them as serious musicians, and the success of their 2008 single “Strange Times” set the stage for their 2010 commercial breakout.
23. Linkin Park
The late '90s were full of derivative rap rock bands, but Linkin Park set itself apart. The band's thoughtful songwriting incorporated electronic flourishes with its crushing guitar work, giving the band a unique sound to build their raps around. Offsetting these rap verses were soaring, sing-along choruses.
Their 2000 debut, Hybrid Theory, was a smash hit. The album spawned three hit singles and was certified Diamond for sales of over ten million. Their success and their sophomore record Meteora, which sold over sixteen million copies worldwide, cemented the group as one of the best-selling artists of the 21st century.
The post-hardcore sound of the New Jersey band Thursday set the stage for a decade dominated by emo and screamo bands. Starting with the band's independent album Full Collapse, the dynamic and aggressive tones of emo and hardcore became a common sound in mainstream music, something that was unthinkable a decade earlier.
After the surprise success of their singles “Understanding in a Car Crash” and “Cross Out the Eyes,” the band signed with a major label. The resulting album, War All the Time, cracked the top ten on the Billboard Top 200 and garnered the band comparisons to U2.
25. LCD Soundsystem
New York City hipster James Murphy had toiled away in multiple indie bands before finally finding his songwriting voice with the electronica and dance punk-influenced group LCD Soundsystem. The band's inventive brand of textures, repetition, and world-weary lyricism led to their '00s albums becoming some of the most critically acclaimed of the decade.
Starting with their self-titled debut, LCD Soundsystem set themselves apart as a thinking person's dance band. Their singles “Daft Punk is Playing at My House,” “All My Friends,” and “Drunk Girls” are ironic but literate, making them indicative of the early 21-century's zeitgeist.
From the ashes of alternative country pioneers Uncle Tupelo rose the alternative rock band Wilco. The Chicago-based band spent the '90s shedding their country roots, and by the '00s they had become one of the most experimental and exciting bands in rock.
The band's 2001 masterpiece Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is widely praised as one of the best albums ever for its juxtaposition of organic and experimental sounds. The band would explore this territory further with their darker tinged follow up, A Ghost Is Born, which won a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Album.
27. The Flaming Lips
The Flaming Lips' brand of alternative psychedelia matured into an eclectic brand of pop rock that created some of the era's best-loved singles. The band's 2002 release Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots is one of the best albums of the decade and includes their classic, life-affirming single “Do You Realize??”
The Flaming Lips would win two Grammy Awards during the '00s. While reaching a peak in popularity, the band would end the decade with another change course, recording the sprawling and experimental 2009 album Embryonic. It would become the band's highest-charting record.
28. Against Me!
Against Me! began the decade as an anarcho-folk band from Florida that performed at laundromats and ended it as a major label rock band with multiple albums gracing the Billboard 200 album chart. The band's success was hard-earned but not unforeseen, as even their most politically radical songs were rooted in classic structures and melodies.
2007's New Wave was the band's breakout album, with its single “Thrash Unreal” finding heavy airplay on alternative radio stations. The band's sound is unique for being pop-friendly and punk while eschewing the sound of pop punk.
29. The All American Rejects
Alternative rock band The All-American Rejects scored a string of arena rock anthems in the '00s with their romantic lyricism and punk-influenced sound that often found them added to the list of bands in the emerging emo style.
From their earliest single, “Swing, Swing,” it was clear that the band had their finger on the pulse of teenage romance. But with their multi-platinum 2008 single “Gives You Hell” hitting number one, the band proved their maturation into a mainstream rock juggernaut.
30. Red Hot Chili Peppers
The Red Hot Chili Pepper's '90s success carried over into the '00s on the strength of their critically and commercially acclaimed album Californication. The subsequent decade found the band topping the Billboard Top 200 for the first time with their double album Stadium Arcadium.
Much of the group's 21st-century success is thanks to a mellowing of their traditional funk-rock sound for a more mellow and contemplative rock sound. The singles “By the Way,” “Dani California,” and “Snow (Hey Oh)” stand as some of the best of the band's celebrated career.
The heavy metal band Slipknot is one of the most outrageous-looking 2000s bands. The band's terrifying stage masks resemble something from a horror film, which is a perfect complement for their muddy, heavily percussive brand of rock.
Their nu metal album Iowa is a classic of the genre and helped catapult the band into the mainstream despite its dark imagery. The band's final album of the decade, 2008's All Hope is Gone, topped the Billboard 200.
Top Rock Bands of the 2000s, Final Thoughts
Listeners began democratizing their listening habits like never before in the 2000s. Through the power of MP3s and iPods, the ability to hear music outside of the influences of corporate radio stations was easier than texting on a flip phone.
Whether you like heavy metal, indie, or art rock, 2000s bands proved full of innovative artists that pushed rock into exciting new directions and made the new Millenium totally fetch.