VOICE OVER: Ryan Wild
WRITTEN BY: Don Ekama
These acts were influential, critically and commercially successful, and have a built an enduring legacy. For this list, we'll be looking at the best rock groups that were either formed or rose to prominence between 2000 and 2009, and whose presence revitalized the genre during the decade. Our countdown includes The Strokes, Foo Fighters, The White Stripes, and more!
Top 10 Greatest Rock Bands of the 2000s
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Greatest Rock Bands of the 2000s.
For this list, we’ll be looking at the best rock groups that were either formed or rose to prominence between 2000 and 2009, and whose presence revitalized the genre during the decade. We’ve selected these acts based on a combination of their influence, critical and commercial success, and enduring legacy.
Which of these bands helped define the 2000s for you? Let us know in the comments.
#10: The Strokes
With the release of their EP “The Modern Age” in 2001, the Strokes pulled rock music into the 21st century with a fresh yet familiar take. The group, which was formed in New York a few years before the millennium, was influenced by similar acts before them, like the Velvet Underground. Their debut studio album “Is This It” earned rave reviews for its concise and straightforward structure, becoming an emblem of the post-punk and garage rock revival of the 2000s. Their love for catchy guitar riffs, gritty basslines and carefree lyrics was replicated on their follow-up albums that decade, “Room on Fire” and “First Impressions of Earth.” It’s easy to see why they’ve inspired a great many alternative rock musicians.
After the Second British Invasion of the 1980s, the influx of music acts from the UK into the U.S. started to decline. But that all changed with the emergence of English rock band Coldplay. Formed in London in the mid-to-late-90s, they were launched into the stratosphere of superstardom when their first studio album “Parachutes” landed in 2000. It won them their first of multiple Grammys and helped bring their brand of indie-tinged acoustic rock to the mainstream. With each successive album, Coldplay has pushed the boundaries of their sound, experimenting with indie pop, art rock and even afropop music over the years. But through it all, they’ve never let go of the emotional thread connecting them to their beloved fans.
#8: The Killers
When the Killers released “Mr. Brightside,” everyone — from the folks in neon-laced streets of their hometown, Las Vegas, to the ones in London pubs — took notice. The electrifying alternative rock band was off to a great start. Their first album “Hot Fuss” was inspired in part by British new wave music, producing four synth-heavy singles that became radio staples. Not ones to limit themselves, the Killers largely stripped things down as they tackled heartland rock on their next project “Sam’s Town.” They even dabbled in fist-pumping arena music for their third studio album “Day & Age.” Their songs found a home locally and internationally, with the band getting an impressive streak of seven number one albums in the UK.
#7: Arcade Fire
With only two studio albums released during the first decade of the 2000s, Arcade Fire have proven that sometimes, a little goes a long way. Emerging from the blossoming indie scene of Montreal in 2001, it took three years for the band to make their formal debut. That came in the form of “Funeral,” a widely acclaimed album that effortlessly mixes art rock, ork-pop and baroque to create a bizarrely beautiful catalog. Their sweeping anthems, which dwell on themes of death, religion and life in suburbia, easily cemented them as one of the most innovative exponents of indie rock. Throughout the decade, Arcade Fire put in painstaking work, laying the foundation for their eventual Album of the Year win at the 2011 Grammys. Though their legacy was tainted by the sexual misconduct allegations against Win Butler in 2022, there’s no denying Arcade Fire did their best work in the 2000s.
#6: Green Day
The dawn of Green Day first cracked in 1994, when their major-label debut “Dookie” elevated them onto the world stage. But it wasn’t until the mid-2000s that the East Bay, California band truly came to form. With their politically-charged concept album “American Idiot,” Green Day took things to the grandest level possible, exploring a captivating operatic punk-rock sound. It was an international success, topping multiple charts worldwide and earning them the Grammy for Best Rock album. The fact that it later got its own Broadway musical tells you everything you need to know about its impact. With “American Idiot,” and its follow-up “21st Century Breakdown,” Green Day influenced everything from the emo-punk riffs of Fall Out Boy to Lady Gaga’s electro-pop sound.
#5: The White Stripes
The iconic two-piece of Jack and Meg White emerged from Detroit’s garage rock scene back in the late ‘90s. Although married at the time, the White Stripes masqueraded as siblings - an act they kept up even after their relationship, and eventual divorce, were discovered. The duo notably attained critical and commercial success in the early 2000s with their third and fourth studio albums “White Blood Cells” and “Elephant.” Featuring a unique blend of blues, punk and stripped-down garage rock, their music, in all of its red, white and black glory, revitalized the genre throughout the aughts. Winning three Grammys for Best Alternative Music Album, the White Stripes ended the decade, and a highly influential career, with a loud, icky thump!
#4: My Chemical Romance
There is no one who wasn’t living under a rock in the aughts that can claim to not have known My Chemical Romance. The Newark, New Jersey band defined the alternative rock scene in the mid-2000s. They charged their way into the mainstream with a theatrical fusion of pop-punk, gothic rock and emo. The group’s major-label debut “Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge” established their affinity for exploring conceptual albums, while addressing topics of romance, nihilism and death. They revisited such themes on their 2006 magnum opus “The Black Parade.” It received multi-platinum certifications in the U.S. and UK, solidifying them as one of the most ambitious bands to ever walk the earth.
Rising out of the ‘90s skate-punk scene in California, Blink-182 appealed to a large audience with their upbeat tempos, catchy hooks and toilet humor. Going into the 2000s, the band had already amassed a legion of ride-or-die fans who stuck by their side as their sound evolved into the new millennium. 2001’s “Take Off Your Pants and Jacket” rode this wave straight to the top of the Billboard 200, a feat no other punk rock album had achieved upon debuting. Their self-titled follow-up arrived two years later, and was hailed by critics as a more grown-up take on their signature sound. Even with a hiatus during the decade, Blink-182 remains one of the most important punk rock groups of their generation.
#2: Linkin Park
Formed in Los Angeles, California in 1996, Linkin Park spent the first few years of their career struggling to find a label to call home. They eventually signed a deal with Warner Bros. Records, under which they put out their debut effort “Hybrid Theory” in 2000. Not only did that album make them famous worldwide, it also set them apart from other rap rock bands that populated the scene. Linkin Park never let their angsty, heavy-hitting sound overshadow the vulnerability and emotion that served as the foundation for their songs. The band also managed to marry their style with more traditional hip-hop, creating the Grammy-winning classic “Numb/Encore” with Jay-Z.
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
A Truly Unique Supergroup
The Band Revitalized Heavy Metal with Their Experimental Touch
Queens of the Stone Age
They Helped Elevate Stoner Rock to the Billboard Charts
This English Band’s Witty Garage Rock Music Made Them a Phenomenon
They Offered an Electrifying Brand of Alt-Rock Throughout the Decade
#1: Foo Fighters
Following the 1994 death of Kurt Cobain, Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl dropped his sticks to assemble one of the most prolific rock bands of all time. Although the Foo Fighters have been giving us amazing songs for many decades, they really came into their own during the 2000s. That’s when the band proved to be a steady rock hit machine, cranking out hard-edged, punchy singles that have dominated both mainstream and alternative radio stations. Revered by both fans and their industry peers, the Foo Fighters have won the Grammy for Best Rock Album a mind-blowing five times as of 2022. With the loss of their longtime drummer, Taylor Hawkins, in 2022, the band’s future is unclear, but at “times like these” all we can do is blast their absolutely stellar 2000s discography and rock out.