Top 10 British Rock Bands of the 21st Century

This articles is based on my opinions on which Top 10 British rock bands are currently the best ones out there. This list was very hard to make because of the fact that it needed to include bands that were not too old to be considered “modern”, even if they still made music.

This list may change in the upcoming months or years, because everyday there is new music and new talent being discovered. But even though I’m a bit of a music geek, the number of bands to listen to nowadays is huge, there are too many choices and not enough time. If you have any suggestions, please comment below! Top 10 is always open to others’ input.


1. The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones is an English rock band that formed in 1962 in London when instrumentalist Brian Jones and pianist Ian Stewart teamed up with vocalist Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards. Bassist Bill Wyman and drummer Charlie Watts would later complete the early lineup. Stewart, proved inapt, and was consequently removed from the official lineup in 1963 but continued to work with the band as road manager and keyboardist until his death in 1985.

Early on, Richards and Jagger produced a songwriting partnership and soon took over the leadership of the band from the increasingly troubled and unreliable Jones. At first the group chiefly recorded covers for American blues and R&B songs, but since the 1966 album Aftermath, their releases have mostly focused on Jagger/Richards songs. Mick Taylor replaced an incapable Jones shortly before Jones’s death in 1969. Taylor would quit in 1974 and was soon replaced in 1975 by Faces guitarist Ronnie Wood, who ‘s been with the band ever since. Wyman left the Rolling Stones in 1992; bassist Darryl Jones, an official band member, has worked with the group since 1994.

First being popular in the Great Britain and Europe, The Rolling Stones came to the US during the early 1960s with “British Invasion”. The Rolling Stones have released 22 studio albums in Britain and 8 concert albums (nine in the US) and several compilations and have album sales estimated at more than 200 million worldwide. Sticky Fingers (1971) began a string of eight consecutive studio albums that charted at number one in the United States.  In 1989 The Rolling Stones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and in 2004 they were ranked no.4 in Rolling Stone magazine’s 100 Greatest Artists of All Time; a position they deserve very well.

The Rolling Stones are the most celebrated rock group in modern popular music. They’ve assimilated various musical genres into their recording and performance, ultimately making the styles their very own unique one. The band’s career continually references and relies on the musical styles of American blues, country, folk, reggae, dance; world music exemplified by the Master Musicians of Jajouka. The band cut their musical teeth by covering early rock and roll and blues songs and have never stopped playing live or recording cover songs ever since.

The Rolling Stones may not be at their peak anymore, but they still deliver the goods we love to listen to. On tour they are one of the best and never disappoint their fans. Even now well into their 60’s they can still play circles around those half their age. Mick Jagger is very good at keeping himself in shape and always steps up getting into top shape when going on tour. If you have ever been to one of their concerts Jagger goes above and beyond expectations during their two plus hour shows – never a dull moment.


2. Black Sabbath

 Black Sabbath

Black Sabbath is an English heavy metal band, which was formed in Birmingham in 1969, and consisted of vocalist Ozzy Osbourne, guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler, and drummer Bill Ward. The band has since experienced multiple line-up changes, with Tony Iommi the only constant presence in the band over the years. Originally formed in 1968 as a heavy blues rock band was named Earth and only renamed it Black Sabbath in 1969. In 1969, the band began producing occult and horror-inspired lyrics with tuned-down guitars and achieving multiple platinum records in the 1970s. Despite an association with occult and horror themes, Black Sabbath also composed songs which covered issues such as social instability, political corruption, the dangers of drug abuse and the consequences of war.

Black Sabbath is cited as a pioneer of heavy metal. The band helped define the genre with releases such as quadruple-platinum Paranoid, released in 1970. They were classified by MTV as the “Greatest Metal Band” of all time and were second on VH1’s “100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock” list, behind Led Zeppelin. Rolling Stone called the band “the heavy-metal kings of the ’70s”. They have sold over 15 million records in the United States and over 70 million records worldwide.

Ozzy Osbourne got kicked out in 1979 for drug abuse reasons.


3. Coldplay


Coldplay is an alternative rock band, formed in 1996 by lead vocalist Chris Martin and lead guitarist Jonny Buckland at University College London.

Coldplay was made famous in The 40-Year-Old Virgin. You probably remember this infamous line, “You know how I know you’re gay? You listen to Coldplay.” Well, considering that Coldplay’s first album “Parachutes” reached double platinum status and they were also nominated by Rolling Stone Magazine’s readers as the best band of the year in 2003, I’d have to say that they rock big time.


4.  Radiohead


Radiohead is an English rock band, originally from Abingdon, Oxfordshire. The band consists of Thom Yorke (lead vocals, guitar, piano), Jonny Greenwood (lead guitar, keyboards, other instruments), Colin Greenwood (bass), Phil Selway (drums, percussion) and Ed O’Brien(guitar, backing vocals), who all formed the group in 1985. Radiohead released their debut single “Creep” in 1992. The song was initially unsuccessful, but it soon became a worldwide hit after the release of the debut album, Pablo Honey in 1993.

Radiohead’s popularity rose in the United Kingdom with the release of the second album, The Bends (1995). Radiohead’s third album, OK Computer (1997), propelled them to even bigger international fame. Featuring an expansive sound and themes of modern alienation, OK Computer is often acclaimed as one of the greatest albums of the 1990s. Kid A (2000) and Amnesiac (2001) marked an evolution in Radiohead’s musical style, as the group incorporated experimental electronic music, Krautrock and jazz influences.

Overall, Top 10 List finds Radiohead, one of the most talented rock bands in the 21st century. These five multi-instrumentalists don’t care  about the instrument they play, all they care about is to unite all their musical skills and their power to create masterpieces and works of art. They also don’t care about money, fame or pride, all they care about is the beauty of music.

Their style is truly unique and combines elements from classic music, jazz, alternative rock, electronica, ambient music and experimental rock. Not only they’re one of the best modern rock bands, but also one of the most modern of all. Thom Yorke is a singing sensation, his voice is both beautiful and emotional, his guitar and piano playing is simple but good enough to leave an impact. Jonny Greenwood’s multi-instrumentalism is oustanding and valuable, his guitar playing can go from clear and soft arpeggios to raw, aggressive and distorted solos. Colin Greenwood’s presence is insignificant but his performance is a necessity and always heard, Phil Selway’s drumming can go from repetitive to complex and is always 100% precise and solid.

I can go on forever with this list. You probably get the point.  What I am trying to argue here is that Radiohead’s songs sound beautiful, whether they’re simple or complex, calm or loud, acoustic or electronic, relaxing or energetic, raw or processed.


5.  Franz Ferdinand

Franz Ferdinand

Franz Ferdinand is a Scottish band from in Glasgow, Scotland. The band consists of Alex Kapranos (lead vocals and guitar), Bob Hardy (bass guitar), Nick McCarthy (rhythm guitar, keyboards and backing vocals), and Paul Thomson (drums, percussion and backing vocals) as band members.

The band first experienced success with their second single, “Take Me Out”, reached No. 3 in the UK Charts followed by their premier album, Franz Ferdinand, which debuted on the UK album chart at No. 3. The band has won the 2004 Mercury Music Prize and two BRIT Awards in 2005 for Best British Group and Best British Rock Act. NME named Franz Ferdinand as their Album of the Year.

The name of the band was conceived after a racehorse called The Archduke. After seeing the horse win the Northumberland Plate in 2001, the band discussed plans to name their group after Archduke Franz Ferdinand, whose assassination sparked the events of WWI. They thought it would be a good band name because of the alliteration of the name and the implications of the Archduke’s death.


6. Queen


In 2002, Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” was selected as “UK’s favourite hit of all time”] in a poll conducted by the Guinness World Records British Hit Singles Book, and in 2004 the song was added to  the Grammy Hall of Fame.] Acclaimed for their stadium rock, in 2005 an industry poll ranked Queen’s performance at Live

As of 2005, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, Queen albums have spent a total of 1,322 weeks (twenty-six years) on the UK Album Charts, more time than any other musical act.[85][87] Also in 2005, with the release of their live album with Paul Rodgers, Queen moved into third place on the list of acts with the most aggregate time spent on the British record charts.[267]

In 2006, the Greatest Hits album was the all-time best-selling album in UK Chart history, with sales of 5,407,587 copies, over 604,295 more copies than its nearest competitor, The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.[86] Their Greatest Hits II album is the eighth best seller, with sales of 3,746,404 copies.

The group is still active, having made a recent appearance at the London Olympics of 2012.


7.  Muse


Muse is an English rock band who is best known for its very energetic and intense live performances. Their music is often compared to Radiohead, but are way louder and heavier rock tone. Muse actually did not become well-known until they released their third album Absolution in 2003, which contained their hit singles “Time Is Running Out” and “Hysteria.” They also released their fourth album “Black Holes” and “Revelations” in 2006 which reached #9 on the Billboard music chart.


8.  Kasabian


The fashionable guitarist, the presumptuous front man; Kasabian is too often criticized as an Oasis tribute favoured by hooligans. Though that demographic forms part of the Kasabian fan club, the Leicester rockers have more strings to their bow than they are credited with. Their albums offer countless musical experiences, some of which are far detached from the bass-heavy, thundering singles.

Kasabian is not afraid to try something new and something totally different. Their albums do not just contain the big tracks, but also more subtle and stripped back beauties that remain undiscovered by many. Factor in their tightness on the live circuit, and you have a archetypal British rock band that knows how to put on a show.

9. Smokie


 Smokie is an English rock band, originally from Bradford, Yorkshire. They found success at home as well as around the rest of the world after teaming up with Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn. Along the way they have had quite a number of changes and are still actively touring in 2012.

2010 has seen Smokie gain new chart success with a CD of brand new material, Take a Minute. Originally releasec in Denmark, it peaked at number three on the Danish albums chart. Releases in the remainder of Scandinavia and Germany took place later, with the single “Sally’s Song” — a continuation of the story of the other character in “Living Next Door to Alice” — also released. UK release dates have not yet been determined.

10. The Proclaimers

The Proclaimers

The Proclaimers is a Scottish duo –  identical twin brothers Charlie and Craig Reid. They are best known for the songs “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)”  and “Letter from America”. The band tours extensively throughout the world. They have released nine studio albums from 1987 until the present, as well as two compilation albums and a DVD.

In 2011, the band had a notable achievement in Scotland when two of their tracks, “Sunshine on Leith” and “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)”, were featured on Scotland’s Greatest Album (2011).

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