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Methodology - Top 100 Greatest Alternative Bands/Artists of All Time

Updated: May 20, 2023

This article will describe the methodology, criteria, and scoring for our ranked list of the Top 100 Greatest Alternative Bands/Artists of All Time.

Artist Selection

  • Bands/Artists to be included are considered primarily alternative rock, jangle-pop, new wave, post-punk, indie rock, college rock or shoegaze.

  • Bands/Artists NOT to be included are primarily considered punk rock, grunge, metal, britpop or pop-rock. Additionally, earlier artists who had large impacts on the Alternative Music Scene such as David Bowie, Frank Zappa and Patti Smith have been excluded from this list as they are in a criterion of their own. A few artists of that era have had exceptions made due to their style being much in line with our criteria.

    • The Seattle-Inspired Grunge Scene of the 1990's has been excluded as that is a much more clearly defined genre, and a ranking of grunge bands will be a project for another day.

    • Bands primarily considered punk rock (The Clash, The Ramones, New York Dolls, Dead Kennedy's) but may have also crossed genres have been excluded.

    • Pop-rock bands of the 90's who are only loosely considered "Alternative Rock"(Matchbox Twenty, Goo Goo Dolls, The Wallflowers) have been excluded.

These criteria have been established to keep the intent and spirit of the list celebratory for artists considered part of the Alternative Music Scene. Additionally, results would be skewed if pop-rock and Britpop artists of the 90's were included due to a much higher mainstream appeal of that style of music.

Scoring System

Artists are scored in eight categories compiled in a cumulative legacy score by which they are ranked.

  • Each 10/10 albums scored by Melophobe or general consensus of publications

  • Each massively influential album

  • Monthly listeners on Spotify

  • Influence of the artist on the style of music or on other bands as well as the longevity of the band. This does not necessarily mean how long low the band has been or was active, but also means the longevity of their impact (Joy Division or The Smiths for example)

  • Sales / Chart Success, primarily in the US, Canada and UK

  • Level of talent exhibited by the artist(s)

  • Level of innovation, and creativity

  • General input from us at Melophobe, along with how these artists have performed on similarly published lists, rankings and publications.

Scoring Spreadsheet of the Top 125 Artists

Top 100 Alternative Bands (1)
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A Note About Influential Artists Outside of Our Criteria

Much of what became known as "alternative music" was largely derived from the 70's art-rock, garage rock and punk rock scenes. Additionally, much of the grunge scene of the 90's as well as hip-hop infused rock was outside of our criterion of the list however below is a list of additional artists who were not scored, but influence or level of innovation to rock music ought to be noted. If our criteria had been broader, these artists would likely have been included in the list.

  1. Nirvana

  2. David Bowie

  3. The Clash

  4. Dead Kennedy's

  5. Patti Smith

  6. Soundgarden

  7. Beastie Boys

  8. Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention

  9. Pearl Jam

  10. U2

  11. Foo Fighters

  12. Green Day

  13. The Ramones

  14. MC5

  15. The Doors

  16. Warren Zevon

  17. Public Enemy

  18. Nine Inch Nails

  19. Brian Eno

  20. Tom Waits


2000's alternative & indie rock playlist cover 2.JPEG
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