13 Amazing Bands Similar To The B-52’s

Written by Dan Farrant

Drawing inspiration from the retro-pop culture of the 1950s and 60s, The-B52’s created an iconic musical style that blended elements of new wave, surf rock, and post-punk. Formed in Athens, Georgia, in 1976, the band gained widespread attention with their self-titled debut album.

Since then, The B-52’s have created several hit songs, including “Rock Lobster,” “Whammy Kiss,” “Love Shack,” and the pop-culture classic “Meet The Flinstones.” The band is notable for its quirky lyrics, “thrift shop aesthetic” outfits, and unusual piano- and guitar-driven instrumentation.

But if you love their music and want to find some similar bands, where should you look? Well, in this post, we’ve put together a list of bands like The B-52’s that you’re sure to love. Let’s get started.

The B-52’s by John Begalke (CC BY 2.0)

1. Talking Heads

As one of the most iconic bands in alternative rock history, Talking Heads shares several similarities with The B-52’s. Both groups emerged from the late ’70s punk rock scene, combining elements of new wave, art pop, and dance rock, along with a quirky sense of humor incorporated in their songwriting.

Talking Heads was formed in 1975 in New York City, initially exploring a raw, minimalist punk sound. As the band progressed, they ventured into new sonic territories, incorporating funk, African rhythms, and electronic music elements into their compositions.

The Talking Heads’ legacy includes groundbreaking hits like “Psycho Killer,” “Life During Wartime,” and “Once In A Lifetime.” Moreover, Talking Heads’ success extended beyond these individual hits. Albums like Remain In Light and Speaking In Tongues further solidified their influence and reputation.

Even after their disbandment, Talking Heads’ music has endured and continues to inspire subsequent generations of artists, including The B-52’s.

2. Devo

Taking inspiration from the theme of “de-evolution,” Devo is an American new-wave band that gained popularity in the early 1970s and 1980s with their unique style, combining elements of punk rock, art rock, and electronic music.

One of Devo’s most distinctive features is their focus on satirical themes and outlandish visuals in both their songs and stage attire. This aspect of their performance resonates well with The B-52’s fans, who also appreciate unique concepts rooted in avant-garde aesthetics.

One of Devo’s most well-known songs is “Whip It,” released in 1980. The song became a hit and helped solidify the band’s place in popular culture. They also spurred other hits over the years, including “Beautiful World” and “Working In The Coal Mine.”

While their commercial success declined in the mid-1980s, Devo continued to create music and perform live shows, maintaining a dedicated fanbase. Even today, Devo’s music and style continue to inspire and resonate with fans of alternative and experimental music.

3. Blondie

Another iconic band hailing from the new wave music scene, Blondie shares similarities with The B-52’s in terms of style and influence. Like The B-52’s, Blondie drew inspiration from the vibrant energy of the late 1970s downtown New York City scene. They embraced a more polished and accessible sound,

Led by the charismatic frontwoman Debbie Harry, Blondie incorporated elements of punk, pop, disco, and reggae into their music. Her undeniable presence paved the way for many women in future co-ed bands such as The B-52’s, The Pretenders, and Talking Heads.

In comparison to The B-52’s quirky soundscapes, Blondie infused disco beats into their songs like “Heart Of Glass,” which showcased their versatility while maintaining an unmistakable new wave DNA.

Some of Blondie’s other hit songs include “One Way Or Another,” “Dreaming,” and “Call Me,” all of which capture the raw energy and infectious spirit that defined Blondie’s music.

4. Oingo Boingo

Originally part of a surrealist street theater group called The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo, the new-wave band Oingo Boingo emerged in 1979, led by composer and frontman Danny Elfman.

Oingo Boingo gained popularity in the 1980s with their energetic and quirky blend of new wave, rock, ska, and pop music. Their eclecticism and inventiveness in musical style are additional aspects that contribute to their distinctiveness as a band.

Their songs, such as “Dead Man’s Party,” “Only A Lad,” and “Weird Science,” often featured thought-provoking lyrics that incorporated dark humor, which fans of The B-52’s might find interesting.

After more than a decade in the music industry, 1995 marked the end of Oingo Boingo as a collective unit, and the members went on to pursue various individual endeavors. However, their music has remained influential and continues to resonate with fans even after their disbandment.

5. The Go-Go’s

Breaking barriers as the most successful all-female rock band, The Go-Go’s was initially a punk-rock band in their early days in the late ’70s. As their music career peaked in the ’80s, they went on to weave new wave, power pop, and pop rock into their music, shaping their signature sound.

The Go-Go’s overall upbeat style is often comparable to The-B52’s. Both bands infuse their songs with vibrant and pulsating rhythms that make it almost impossible to resist the urge to dance. They also share a penchant for crafting playful lyrics, creating a sense of fun and relatability for listeners.

Their hit songs “Our Lips Are Sealed,” “We Got The Beat,” and “Head Over Heels” all exemplify the band’s signature blend of punk rock and pop, which helped define the new wave and power pop genres in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

After achieving tremendous success in the early 1980s, the band faced internal conflicts and decided to disband in 1985. However, they have reunited multiple times since then for tours and performances.

6. The Human League

Considered among the pioneers of what is considered the Second British Invasion in the 1980s, The Human League is synth-pop band hailing from South Yorkshire, England. Formed in the late 1970s, the group had their big break in 1981 with their hit song “Don’t You Want Me.”

The band started out as an avante-garde electronic music band, gaining a reputation among their circle of friends through word of mouth. Their music was a departure from the conventional guitar-driven rock sound of the era, making them stand out in the underground music scene.

As their popularity extended outside of the UK, the band created more hits like “Love Action (I Believe in Love),” “Fascination,” “Mirror Man,” and “Human.” Their foray into the new wave genre and the incorporation of pop into their music have garnered them a reputation that’s often comparable to The B-52’s.

While their commercial success reached its peak in the 1980s, The Human League’s influence has transcended time, and their music continues to resonate with listeners across generations.

7. The Cars

New-wave band The Cars played a pivotal role in blending the raw energy of guitar-oriented rock in the ’70s with the emerging synthesizer pop genre in the early ’80s. Their unique fusion of these musical elements propelled them to the forefront of the era’s music scene.

The Cars started out their career with a remarkable self-titled debut album in 1978, which earned them Rolling Stone’s Best New Artist award. The band’s popularity grew in the next few years, creating hit songs year after year, such as “Shake It Up,” “Drive,” “Tonight She Comes,” and “You Might Think.”

Like The B-52’s, The Cars incorporated synthesizers into their sound, albeit in a more polished and sophisticated manner compared to The B-52’s playful and quirky style. Fans of The B-52’s will most likely enjoy this aspect of The Cars’ music, as it showcases a different approach to synth-pop.

Despite their disbandment in 1988 and the unfortunate loss of several original members, The Cars’ music has remained enduring and influential through the years.

8. New Order

Arising from the ashes following the tragic death of Joy Division’s lead singer Ian Curtis, New Order is a new-wave rock band created by the remaining members of Joy Division.

The transition from Joy Division to New Order was marked by a shift in sound and the incorporation of electronic elements. This eventually led to the band becoming pioneers of the emerging synth-pop and dance music genres, which were popular in the early ’80s.

The band’s breakthrough came with their single “Blue Monday” in 1983, which became an iconic dance track during that era. New Order went on to create more hits over the years, including “True Faith,” “World In Motion,” and “Krafty.”

While New Order’s and The B-52’s approaches to synthesizer usage may differ, both bands shared a common thread in their ability to create music that was undeniably catchy and infused with a sense of fun and experimentation.

9. The Ramones

Regarded as one of the most influential bands in the history of rock music, The Ramones is an American punk rock band that emerged in the 1970s. In addition to their iconic black leather jackets and trademark bowl haircuts, The Ramones had a look that was just as distinctive as their sound.

Their style was often described as a blend of punk, rock ‘n’ roll, and street fashion, reflecting the rebellious spirit of their music. While The B-52’s drew influences from 1950s rock & roll and dance music, The Ramones were more rooted in the raw energy of punk rock.

Nevertheless, fans of The B-52’s might enjoy the quirky and vibrant fashion sense that The Ramones showcased. Their songs “Pet Sematary,” “Bonzo Goes To Bitburg,” and “Blitzkrieg Pop” all have a unique energy that resonates with fans of The B-52’s.

Although The Ramones have since gone their separate ways, their influence and impact on the punk rock genre and beyond cannot be understated, and their rebellious spirit lives on.

10. The Clash

Another British punk rock band, The Clash, was known for their politically charged lyrics and fierce sound. They were a major influence not just in the punk rock genre but also on British music as a whole.

The Clash’s music is a distinctive blend of the rebellious spirit of punk rock with various other genres, including reggae, ska, dub, new wave, and rap. Alongside their remarkable songwriting, their songs often served as anthems for a generation seeking change and questioning the status quo.

In a similar vein to The B-52’s, The Clash’s music often had a playful and irreverent energy. Tracks like “Should I Stay Or Should I Go,” “Lost In The Supermarket,” and “Rock The Casbah” showcased their ability to combine catchy melodies with witty and sometimes satirical lyrics.

The Clash’s ability to blend genres and deliver socially conscious messages resonates with a wide range of listeners. Many artists have also incorporated elements of The Clash’s sound into their own compositions, paying homage to the band’s distinctive style while putting their own creative spin on it.

11. Duran Duran

English new wave and synth-pop band Duran Duran gained international recognition with their self-titled debut album, released in 1981. The album spawned the hit singles “Planet Earth” and “Girls On Film,” establishing the band’s reputation for their stylish music videos and danceable sound.

As the 1980s progressed, Duran Duran embraced a more mainstream synthetic pop sound while still incorporating elements of their earlier style. This allowed them to create a unique blend of new wave, dance-pop, and rock that made them a huge part of the new-wave movement in the ’80s, similar to The B-52’s.

Both Duran Duran and The B-52’s were known not only for their groundbreaking music but also for their fashion-forward aesthetics. Fans of The B-52’s may also appreciate Duran Duran’s upbeat rhythms and catchy synthpop style.

Duran Duran’s ability to adapt and experiment with different musical styles has been instrumental in their longevity. With each passing year, Duran Duran’s fanbase continues to grow, and their music continues to resonate with both longtime devotees and new listeners alike.

12. XTC

Inspired by the Britpop style of The Beatles and the punk rock sensibilities of New York Dolls, XTC was a British rock band known for their genre-defying blend of pop, rock, and new wave in their music.

Formed in 1972, XTC reached their creative peak in the early ’80s with a string of albums that solidified their reputation as musical innovators. XTC’s most ambitious and acclaimed work came in 1986 with the release of their album Skylarking, featuring the hit single “Dear God.”

Similar to The B-52’s, XTC did not shy away from the unconventional. They often experimented with their song structures, allowing them to create music that was intellectually stimulating and emotionally engaging.

XTC’s output slowed down in the late ’80s due to various factors, including tensions within the band and label disputes. Despite these challenges, XTC continued to release albums throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, each displaying their signature musical craftsmanship and lyrical depth.

13. The Cure

Going to a more gothic rock territory, The Cure is the last entry on our list that fans of The B-52’s might enjoy exploring. While The Cure is often associated with rock, they have explored various musical styles throughout their career, including elements of new wave and pop, much like The B-52’s.

Formed in 1978, The Cure’s breakthrough came with the release of their 1982 album Pornography, which delved into darker and introspective themes. With a discography spanning over four decades, The Cure has also created more upbeat hits like “Friday I’m In Love” and “Close To Me.”

To this day, The Cure maintained their presence in the music industry and continued to captivate audiences over the years. Their longevity and influence have been recognized through various accolades and honors, including an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2019.

Summing Up Our List Of Bands Similar To The B-52’s

So that sums up our list! Our handpicked selection includes some true gems that capture that same infectious energy and unique trademark of The B-52’s.

From the quirky style of Talking Heads and Devo, to the new-wave vibes of Blondie and Oingo Boingo, and to the synth-pop magic of New Order and Duran Duran, these recommendations will surely pique your interest.

However, this compilation barely delves into the vast array of other musical groups that fans of The B-52’s can delight in. Feel free to share your recommendations, and we’ll be glad to add them in!

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.