13 Incredible Bands Similar To Talking Heads

Written by Dan Farrant

In the diverse universe of music, certain bands have left an enduring impact. One such band is Talking Heads, a vanguard of new wave and post-punk genres.

Their groundbreaking musical style has not only won them a legion of fans but also influenced many contemporary bands. So if you love Talking Heads’ music, then look no further.

In this post, we will delve into the nuances of their influential music and introduce you to 13 incredible bands similar to Talking Heads in styles and sounds. Ready? Let’s get started.

Talking Heads by Michael Markos (CC-BY-SA-2.0)

1. Devo

Starting this list is the new wave band Devo, originating from the late 1970s post-punk movement. They brought a blend of avant-garde sound and artistic experimentation to the music scene.

With their quirky pop melodies infused with synthpop elements, Devo gained recognition for both their musical innovation and outlandish fashion choices, showcasing an anti-establishment ethos that resonated with fans of Talking Heads.

Some of their most notable releases include the popular tracks “Whip It” and “Girl U Want,” which were accompanied by popular music videos that showcased the band’s distinctive style.

2. Blondie

Next up is Blondie, a prominent band that emerged from the same New York City music scene as Talking Heads. The band was founded in New York City in 1974 by singer Debbie Harry and guitarist Chris Stein.

Known for their melodic diversity and compulsively throbbing beat, Blondie graced iconic punk clubs like CBGB alongside other influential bands such as Television and Patti Smith Group.

Blondie is perhaps best known for their hit song “Heart of Glass,” a perfect blend of pop, disco, and reggae music. They have also produced other remarkable songs that topped the charts and resonated with fans worldwide, like “Rapture” and “Call Me.”

3. The B-52’s

Another new wave band echoing Talking Heads’ style is The B-52’s. This group hails from Athens, Georgia, and was formed in 1976.

One of the highlights of The B-52’s discography is their self-titled debut album from 1979, which featured the hits “Rock Lobster” and “Planet Claire.” The upbeat rhythms, playful vocals, and overall zaniness of the record helped establish them as a major force in the new wave scene.

The B-52’s have garnered accolades and honors for their significant influence on the new wave and alternative rock genres. Among other recognitions for their contributions to music, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008.

4. The Velvet Underground

Led by singer-guitarist Lou Reed, The Velvet Underground was formed in New York City in 1964. they soon became known for their fusion of various genres, including rock, experimental, and alternative music.

The band’s debut album, “The Velvet Underground & Nico,” was released in March 1967 with its iconic Andy Warhol-designed, peel-off banana cover.

This album remains a quintessential emblem of countercultural cool, even though it initially faced criticism due to its controversial topics like sexual masochism, prostitution, and drug abuse.

Even after disbanding in 1996, The Velvet Underground’s influence remains pervasive in the music industry. Their story and impact on rock and roll were explored in a 2021 documentary titled The Velvet Underground.

5. Oingo Boingo

American new wave and alternative rock band Oingo Boingo emerged in the late 1970s and gained significant popularity throughout the 1980s, echoing Talking Heads’ style of new wave music but fused with ska and art rock.

Oingo Boingo’s breakthrough came in the early 1980s with the release of their album Only a Lad (1981), which featured the title track as well as fan favorites like “Little Girls” and “Nothing Bad Ever Happens.”

Throughout the 1980s, Oingo Boingo released a series of critically acclaimed albums, including Nothing to Fear, Dead Man’s Party, and Boi-ngo.

Despite their success, Oingo Boingo decided to disband in 1995, with a farewell concert captured on the album and concert film Farewell: Live from the Universal Amphitheatre, Halloween 1995

6. The Cars

Emerging from the new wave scene in the late 1970s, The Cars made their mark. Formed in 1976, the band boasted a talented lineup of musicians: Ric Ocasek (rhythm guitar/lead vocals), Benjamin Orr (bass/vocals), Elliot Easton (lead guitar), Greg Hawkes (keyboards), and David Robinson (drums).

Throughout their career, they released several successful albums. Their debut self-titled album hit the shelves in 1978, followed by Candy-O, Panorama, Shake It Up, and Heartbeat City—all charting in the top 10 of Billboard 200.

Sadly, The Cars disbanded in 1988. After the breakup, various members pursued solo projects. Sadly, in 2000, Orr passed away. The remaining members had two reunions, first in the mid-2000s and then in 2011.

7. XTC

From across the Atlantic, we have the British rock band XTC. Formed in Swindon, England, in the mid-1970s, the band was led by songwriters Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding, who created their own unique sound by incorporating elements of post-punk, new wave, and art rock into their music.

Many fans have compared XTC to Talking Heads due to similarities in their eclectic styles and innovative approaches to songwriting. However, while both bands drew on a wide range of musical influences, they each had their own distinct identities.

Some of their most popular songs include “Making Plans for Nigel,” “Senses Working Overtime,” and “Generals and Majors.” But don’t take our word for it—go ahead and explore their discography!

8. New Order

Our next band, New Order, emerged from the ashes of Joy Division. Bernard Sumner, who played guitar in Joy Division, took up duties on keyboards for New Order while Peter Hook continued to play bass guitar.

New Order gained popularity and critical acclaim with their unique blend of post-punk and electronic dance music that’s been hailed as similar to Talking Heads.

Their biggest hit, “Blue Monday,” became a defining single for the group and caused a sensation, becoming the biggest-selling 12-inch single of all time.

Despite their success, the band faced challenges and tensions, leading to a split in 2007. However, they came together and continued to make music, presenting their latest album Music Complete in 2015.

9. Roxy Music

British art rock band Roxy Music is next. Formed by Bryan Ferry and Graham Simpson in 1970, their sound was a mix of glam rock, new wave, post-punk and experimental music that heavily featured synthesizers.

Debuting in 1972 with an eponymous album, Roxy Music continued to release critically acclaimed albums after another. Their last two, Flesh and Blood and Avalon (released in 1980 and 1982, respectively), topped the UK Albums chart as well as Europe.

Despite only having seven albums, Roxy Music is still considered one of rock and roll’s greatest bands ever, with some loyal fans ranking them second only to the Beatles!

10. Television

The rock band Television was formed in 1973 and played a pivotal role in influencing the birth of punk rock alongside other iconic bands like The Ramones and Blondie.

However, unlike the raw simplicity of their peers, Television’s music was complex and layered, characterized by poetic lyrics, dual guitar interplay, and extended instrumental sections. This distinctive style can be experienced in their critically acclaimed albums, including Marquee Moon and Adventure.

Despite their undeniable influence and success, Television was plagued by internal conflicts and struggles with drug abuse, leading to their breakup in July 1978.

In the years after, the band would get together, but they have not released anything new since their album Live at the Old Waldorf in 2003.

11. The Police

Like Talking Heads, The Police was also a significant new wave band in the post-punk era. The group consisted of Sting (vocals and bass guitar), Andy Summers (guitar), and Stewart Copeland (drums). Copeland’s connection to Talking Heads is particularly noteworthy, as he was a member of both groups.

The Police produced many iconic songs during their heyday, such as “Every Breath You Take,” “Roxanne,” and “Message in a Bottle,” among others. With so many hits to their name, they became one of the biggest bands worldwide during this era.

If you’re looking for bands like Talking Heads or just want to explore more in this genre, checking out The Police could be a fantastic idea.

12. The Clash

The only band that matters makes it on this list: The Clash. This rock band was formed in London in 1976 and was a key player in the original wave of British punk rock.

Their musical style was unique and adventurous, expanding their hard rock and roll with reggae, dub, and rockabilly, among other roots music. This eclectic mix resulted in a sound that was both distinctive and revolutionary, setting them apart from their contemporaries.

With a career that lasted only a decade, The Clash released only six studio albums, but each one was critically acclaimed—from the self-titled debut album to the final release, Cut the Crap. With these, The Clash continues to be remembered and celebrated.

13. Gang Of Four

In their early years, Talking Heads showed post-punk influences, and the English band Gang of Four displays this similarity in their music. Pounding drums, defiant vocals, and stuttering guitars—characteristic of their sound—gained them significant attention in the post-punk scene.

Their debut album, Entertainment! released in 1979, is often considered one of the most important post-punk albums. It was celebrated for its innovative sound, blending punk’s raw energy with funk’s rhythm and danceability. The album includes “At Home, He’s a Tourist” and the chart-topping “Damaged Goods.”

Over the years, the band has had several breaks and lineup changes. Nevertheless, Gang of Four remains a powerful and influential force in the music industry.

Summing Up Our List Of Bands Like Talking Heads

That concludes our list of bands sharing the sound and style of Talking Heads. There are several bands to check out here, so we hope you were able to find new favorites to add to your playlist!

However, with the ever-changing landscape of the new wave and post-punk genres and new bands popping up over the years, we might have missed bands deserving to be on this list. Let us know who so we can add them here!

Photo of author

Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 15 years, helping hundreds of thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. He plays the guitar, piano, bass guitar and double bass and loves teaching music theory.