13 Amazing Bands Similar To U2

Written by Dan Farrant

With over ten chart-topping hits released over their long career, it is no wonder that U2 has been able to rock the world. Since 1976, their alternative rock, and post-punk sound, has influenced a number of people, fans, and musicians alike.

If you’re a die-hard U2 fan and just looking to expand your playlist with bands that share the same vibe, we’ve got you covered. In this post, we will dive into some equally talented and influential artists who have been inspired by or share similarities with the iconic Irish rock band.

From alternative rock to post-punk and new wave sounds, read on to learn about 13 amazing bands like U2 that every fan will love.

U2 by Remy (CC BY 4.0)

1. Coldplay

First on our list is the British rock band Coldplay. This group emerged in the early 2000s and quickly became one of the most popular bands of the decade with their melodic and emotional alternative rock.

Throughout their career, Coldplay experimented with different genres, similar to how U2 changed their sound over time. Notable albums like Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends showcased more diverse musical elements while still delivering anthemic songs that continue to appeal to fans. 

Having sold over 100 million records across the globe, Coldplay is one of the best-selling music groups out there. Grammy has recognized them with seven awards and numerous nominations over the years—a clear sign of their tremendous talent.

2. R.E.M

Formed in 1980, the rock band R.E.M. shares a striking resemblance to U2 in terms of their music style and success. Both bands are rooted in post-punk music, incorporating powerful guitar riffs in songs that have captivated fans across the globe.

Songs like “Losing My Religion” and “Everybody Hurts” perfectly showcased this Georgia-based band’s skills in creating timeless hits. The former song won the group several awards, including Grammys for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals and Best Music Video, Short Form.

Over the years, R.E.M. contributed immensely towards shaping alternative rock as we know it today. With a career spanning over three decades before disbanding in 2011, it is undeniable that R.E.M.’s impact on the music industry has been significant.

3. The Police

In the late 1970s, the English rock band The Police made a remarkable entrance into the music scene, rapidly becoming a pop culture icon. Their music was a captivating fusion of post-punk, pop rock, and new wave, among other genres, creating a distinct and dynamic sound.

Their early hits, such as “Roxanne,” “Message in a Bottle,” and “Every Breath You Take,” became chart-topping successes and are still beloved by fans worldwide.

As their career progressed, The Police continued to experiment with different styles. Albums like Ghost in the Machine showcased more intricate arrangements while maintaining their signature sound. The band’s ability to evolve and adapt their music over time is reminiscent of U2’s artistic progression.

Despite their relatively short-lived time as a band, The Police left an enduring legacy in the music industry. Their influence can still be felt today.

4. Radiohead

One of the most influential and critically acclaimed bands in modern rock history is Radiohead. Formed in 1985 in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, England, this British band is known for their artistic expression and experimental soundscapes.

With hits like “Creep,” they gained fame in the ’90s, but it was albums like The Bends and OK Computer that solidified their status.

Radiohead’s sound evolved, embracing electronic elements in albums like Kid A and Amnesiac. Each studio album they released—nine in total—is distinctively different from the last while still maintaining their core identity as a band dedicated to artistic integrity.

With a rich discography spanning over three decades, Radiohead remains a significant force in the world of alternative and experimental rock.

5. Simple Minds

Next up is a Scottish rock band that formed in Glasgow in 1977. Simple Minds is often compared to U2 due to their big sound and iconic voices. The reciprocal relationship between the two bands is widely acknowledged, and they have even toured together.

The lead singer of Simple Minds, Jim Kerr, has been friends with Bono for years, and this friendship has helped foster a good relationship between the two bands. Both Kerr and Bono are known for their powerful stage presence and passionate performances that energize audiences around the world.

Overall, if you’re a fan of U2’s soaring vocals and epic anthems, then Simple Minds is definitely worth checking out. If you are not sure where to start in their discography, try their multi-Platinum album Once Upon a Time.

6. Echo & The Bunnymen

Post-punk rock band Echo & The Bunnymen hailed from the Liverpool music scene. They were often compared to U2 due to their unconventional combination of psychedelic rock and orchestration.

Three years after their debut album in 1980, Echo & The Bunnymen released their most commercially successful album, Porcupine. It features their first top-10 single, “The Cutter.” Following a brief hiatus and lineup changes in 1993, Echo & The Bunnymen returned with Evergreen in 1997.

Although not as commercially successful as U2, the career of Echo & The Bunnymen has spanned several decades. To this day, they continue to release new music and perform live, and they remain an essential part of the post-punk and alternative rock landscape.

7. The Killers

Next up is The Killers. They are one of the more popular rock bands of recent times, and their musical influences have often been compared to those of U2. In fact, lead singer Brandon Flowers is known for his love for U2 and has been inspired by their music.

The Killers’ artistic inspiration encompasses a variety of styles, including post-punk and indie rock. They gained widespread attention with their debut album, Hot Fuss, in 2004. It featured two Grammy-nominated hits, “Mr. Brightside” and, “Somebody Told Me.”

Having won 32 awards over their career, The Killers have solidified their position as one of the leading rock bands of their generation. To this day, they continue to release new music and tour.

8. Oasis

British rock group Oasis is one of the most famous bands to come out of Manchester’s thriving music scene in the 1990s, starting with their debut album, Definitely Maybe.

Oasis reached new heights of success with their follow-up album, What’s the Story) Morning Glory? in 1995. The album’s iconic singles “Wonderwall” and “Don’t Look Back in Anger” became anthems of a generation, and the album itself became a global phenomenon, selling millions of copies worldwide.

Despite their success, Oasis was also known for the tensions and conflicts within the band. These disputes ultimately led to their breakup in 2009.

9. The Waterboys

Under the leadership of Scottish musician and songwriter Mike Scott, the British-Irish rock band The Waterboys formed in London in 1983. Their early sound was often compared to U2, and their first album included the song “December,” which perfectly encapsulates this.

They followed this up with many well-received albums and singles. The breakout hit “The Whole of the Moon” from their album This Is the Sea, in 1985, remains one of their most beloved songs.

Over the last three decades, The Waterboys have consistently explored new sonic territories across the globe while mixing different genres. Recently, they released their 15th album entitled All Souls Hill (2022).

10. Depeche Mode

The renowned English electronic band Depeche Mode shares some similarities with U2 in terms of their post-punk and pop-rock influences. However, they carve out their distinct identity by infusing their sound with elements of synth-pop and electronic rock, resulting in a unique musical experience.

Since the release of their debut album, Speak & Spell, in 1981, they have become one of the most successful bands worldwide, with record sales surpassing 100 million copies.

They followed this success with 14 more studio albums, all of which landed in the top 10 of the Billboard 200 chart. Such great work earned them a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2020.

11. The Cure

In terms of similarities to U2’s post-punk, alternative rock sound, British band The Cure should be mentioned. They have been around since the late ‘1970s punk rock era. The band’s sound and style have made them one of the most recognizable groups in British music history.

After having released seven albums beforehand, the band released their most commercially successful album, Disintegration, in 1989. Featuring the iconic “Lullaby,” it further elevated their status.

The Cure followed this up with their only chart-topping album, Wish, which holds their greatest song to date, “Friday, I’m in Love.” The highly catchy track won European Viewer’s Choice for Best Music Video in 1992.

12. The Smiths

Hailing from the Manchester music scene, The Smiths were one of the most influential British alternative rock bands of the 1980s. Known for their post-punk revival sound and melancholic lyrics, they reached a cult following across the globe.

The band’s discography, including albums like The Queen Is Dead and Strangeways, Here We Come, became touchstones of alternative music. Many of their singles topped charts during that decade, like “This Charming Man” and “How Soon Is Now?”

Sadly, after the release of Strangeways, The Smiths separated due to tensions in the group. Despite their relatively short existence, The Smiths left an enduring legacy.

13. New Order

English rock band New Order was formed in 1980 by members of Joy Division after the death of their lead singer Ian Curtis. Like U2, they became known for their post-punk-influenced alternative rock sound. However, they carved out their own identity by incorporating elements of dance rock and electronica.

Their breakthrough came with the album Power, Corruption & Lies in 1983. It features their most iconic track, “Blue Monday,” which remains one of the best-selling 12-inch singles of all time.

New Order’s innovative use of synthesizers, drum machines, and electronic instrumentation had a profound impact on the music industry. To this day, they continue to influence countless bands, artists, and fans worldwide.

Summing Up Our List Of Bands Like U2

This diverse array of bands all share similarities with the iconic U2, from alternative rock to post-punk, new wave, and beyond. Yet, as you have read, each one of them brings their own unique blend of musical influences to call their own.

We hope that this article has introduced you to some exciting new musical discoveries. Whether you’re a devoted U2 fan or simply seeking to expand your musical horizons, we encourage you to explore the works of these remarkable bands—perhaps you’ll find new favorites among them. Happy listening!

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.