15 Of The Greatest And Most Famous Rock Bands Of The 2010s

Written by Dan Farrant
Last updated

Rock has been one of the most diverse music genres and continues to surprise us with new styles and subgenres. The 2010s saw the rise of newer bands on the scene that weren’t afraid to explore different sounds and showcase themselves to the world in a unique manner.

Here, we will look into 15 of the greatest and most famous rock bands of the 2010s. Read on to learn about them!

1. The Black Keys

Childhood friends Patrick Carney and Dan Auerbach formed the Black Keys in Ohio in 2001. Their start was slow at first as they worked the early years playing live and recording. They eventually caught the attention of a major label and released the album Attack & Release in 2008.

Two years later, the Black Keys broke big with Brothers, the album that put them on the map. The song “Tighten Up” from the album went on to top the Alternative Songs chart, staying there for 10 weeks.

The duo released two more albums in the 2010s, earning five Grammys in the process, not to mention a slew of other awards and many good reviews from the critics.

2. Twenty Øne Piløts

Another Ohio rock duo that made a massive mark on rock music in the 2010s, twenty øne piløts began as a traditional four-piece band. When two guys left, Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun decided not to replace them and soldiered on as a two-person act. 

Their 2015 album Blurryface put them in rare company with the performance of its singles. Two of them—“Heathens” and “Stressed Out”—appeared simultaneously in the top-five spots on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. Before them, the only other acts to achieve this had been Elvis Presley and the Beatles.

With one Grammy and an armload of other awards, twenty øne piløts remained a viable act through the 2010s.

3. Vampire Weekend

New York-based troupe Vampire Weekend remains one of few bands to land an album (2010’s Contra) in the #1 spot on the Billboard 200 chart despite not being signed to a major label.

The band’s sound is quirky but not in an annoying way. The group combines disparate styles like Afropop and indie music into a truly unique style.

They spent the 2010s storming the charts and the hearts of critics, kicking off the decade by playing major festivals all over the world: Bonnaroo and Coachella in the States, Groovin’ the Moo in Australia, Glastonbury and Latitude Suffolk in the UK, the Jisan Valley Rock Festival in South Korea, and Peace and Love in Sweden. These were all in addition to regular touring gigs.

The hard work paid off, as the band gained huge audiences. Vampire Weekend remains active today.

4. Arcade Fire

Texas-born Win Butler formed Arcade Fire in Canada at the turn of the 21st century. The 2010s for them was highly successful with all three of their albums released in the decade—The Suburbs, Reflektor, and Everything Now—topping charts.

The group has also become known for its large number of performers and stunning variety of unusual instruments.

Almost every member of the band (seven official, but more people appear onstage in live shows) is a multi-instrumentalist. In addition to bass, drums, and guitar, you can hear accordion and hurdy-gurdy on their records and when you see them live. It’s an unusual mix.

However odd, it works. Critics love them, their fans are quite dedicated, and the group has virtually swept the Juno Awards—Canada’s version of the Grammys.

5. Florence And The Machine

One of the few rock bands out there to have a harpist as a member, Florence and the Machine released a debut album in 2009, meaning they roared into the 2010s on a roll.

One of their biggest hits, “Dog Days are Over,” played over several scenes in various TV shows, pushing the band’s reach past only music lovers.

Led by Florence Welch’s voice, the band navigated the 2010s by releasing three more albums—Ceremonials; How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful; and High as Hope— each garnering Grammy nominations.

All told, the band has received more than 100 awards nominations. Welch’s presence onstage hearkens back to Stevie Nicks and Siouxsie Sioux—strong women in music who were a little eccentric.

6. Imagine Dragons

Based on sales, the Las Vegas quartet Imagine Dragons was crowned the Biggest Band of 2017 by Billboard. Before that, though, they had to rely on a twist of fate to get some notice.

During Las Vegas’ 2009 Bite of Las Vegas Festival, the lead singer for rock band Train fell ill at the last minute, and Imagine Dragons filled in for them. This put their music in front of more than 25,000 people. They made an impression, as two years later, the group had a record deal with Interscope Records.

The 2010s were big for this group. Four of their singles shot to #1 on Billboard‘s Rock Songs list. “Radioactive” (2012), “Believer,” and “Thunder” (both 2017) were considered to be the best performing rock songs of the decade.

7. Greta Van Fleet

Our next rock band, Greta Van Fleet, consists of three brothers—Josh, Jake, and Sam Kiszka—and drummer Danny Wagner. The Minnesotans formed the group in 2012, and while they didn’t spend the entirety of the 2010s on the charts, they made a pretty big splash toward the end of the decade.

After the release of the second EP, From the Fires—which landed the group a Grammy for Best Rock Album—Greta Van Fleet made enough of an impression on Elton John that the British singer asked them to play his Oscars after-party in 2018.

After this, they released their first studio album, Anthem of the Peaceful Army, which debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200 chart. The band has been compared to Led Zeppelin and is often classified as progressive rock.

8. Maroon 5

A pop rock band from Los Angeles, Maroon 5 recorded and released an album under a different band name while the members were still in high school. The record did poorly, and Reprise Records dropped them.

They reconfigured some elements of their sound and, in 2002, released “Songs about Jane.” It took two years, but the album eventually charted, putting Maroon 5 at the lead of a pack of blue-eyed soul bands and singers.

Frontman Adam Levine recruited Christina Aguilera in 2011 for a duet in “Moves Like Jagger” that went to #1. He followed by appearing as a judge on NBC’s The Voice, further pushing Maroon 5 into the public eye. 

The group had several top-ten singles during the decade, including “One More Night,” “Sugar,” and “Girls Like You.” Maroon 5 closed the 2010s by playing the halftime show at Super Bowl LIII in 2019.

9. The 1975

Brit rockers The 1975 debuted in 2013 with a sophisticated sound that had a dance feel while still being rock music. And there were killer hooks. 

Their eponymous debut album went to #1 in the UK and sported three hits. Three years later came “I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It,” which topped the charts in the US and several other countries, making 2016 the year of The 1975.

Critical reception has been generally positive, and most critics agree that the band’s sound is unique. Public reception has been mixed at best. The 1975 seems to engender extreme feelings—listeners usually love them or hate them.

10. The Lumineers

Folk rock band the Lumineers released a self-titled debut album in 2012, which had a lukewarm reception. However, they continued touring and kept up the buzz on social media, and those efforts paid off.

The first single, “Ho Hey,” first appeared at #90 on Billboard Hot 100 but eventually rose to #5. Their debut album went to #2.

The band consists of two Denver musicians (and a third, a cello player, for a time) who perform stripped-down and raw music. They have been active in discouraging cellphones at their concerts, even providing locking pouches to keep everyone mentally present at the show.

11. Alabama Shakes

Arguably the best thing to come from Alabama since the Crimson Tide, Alabama Shakes features blues guitar and vocals from frontwoman Brittany Howard and has received nearly universal acclaim.

The band got discovered by an LA music blogger who played one of their songs on his SiriusXM show, and the next day, Alabama Shakes was fielding calls from record labels.

They reached mainstream success in 2012 with their album Boys & Girls, which received 3 Grammy nominations. Three years later, they released their second album, Sound & Color. This became their first #1 album and landed the group 3 Grammy Awards.

While many pigeonhole the band as blues-rock or from the Muscle Shoals musical tradition, Howard cites David Bowie as one of her main influences. The band went on hiatus in 2019.

12. Fun.

A trio of New York musicians formed fun. in 2008 and released a moderately successful album in 2009. However, 2012’s Some Nights propelled the band to stardom with three top 20 singles—”Carry On,” “Some Nights, and “We Are Young.” The latter went to #1 on Billboard‘s charts.

In the 2013 Grammy Awards, the band received Best New Artist. The song “We Are Young” also won Song of the Year.

After this, fun. went silent. Jack Antonoff has been busy producing for other artists, multi-instrumentalist Andrew Dost remains busy scoring films, and singer Nate Ruess has been pursuing solo work.

Despite the band’s small catalog, fun. was a radio mainstream in the mid-2010s and made a big mark on the music scene during that decade.

13. Mumford & Sons

Formed in London by California musician Marcus Mumford, Mumford & Sons combined multi-instrumentalists and folk sensibilities into a sound that resounded well with the record-buying public as the ‘00s concluded. 

The group’s first album, 2009’s Sigh No More, sold well and got them a reputation for playing well live and writing solid songs. They toured extensively in support of the album, then dropped Babel in 2012. It nabbed them eight Grammy nods and an Album of the Year win.

As the de facto leaders of the West London folk music scene, Mumford & Sons have brought a much-needed inflection of new sounds and ideas to rock music.

14. Haim

Three sisters comprise Haim, a band that started as something fun to do with their parents. Este, Danielle, and Alana Haim played in a cover band their parents fronted, as the whole brood was musically inclined.

The sisters had no plans to make a living from their band, but they enjoyed playing around Los Angeles while they went about their lives.

Danielle earned a reputation as a touring guitarist, and the sisters eventually decided to make a go of it. They self-released an EP titled Forever in 2012, whose sales were bolstered by an appearance at South By Southwest.

The trio spent the rest of the decade writing, recording, touring, and playing with everyone from Taylor Swift to Ringo Starr.

15. Foo Fighters

Formed in 1994, Foo Fighters might seem an odd choice for a band of the 2010s. Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl formed the band after Kurt Cobain’s death. 

But, the band roared into 2010 by releasing its seventh album, Wasting Light, then two more albums during the decade. Wasting Light peaked at #1, while the other two, Sonic Highways and Concrete and Gold, were #2 and #1 in the US charts, respectively.

Sales for the Foo Fighters’ music have never really flagged, and although the group was long-established before many others on this list had even started, they still left a lasting mark on the decade’s music.

Sadly, the band’s future has become uncertain following the 2022 death of drummer Taylor Hawkins.

Summing Up Our List Of The Greatest 2010s Rock Bands

These 15 bands spent the 2010s making lasting music and representing the musical ideas that powered the decade.

We hope that this list has helped you discover or even renew new fave bands for you to listen to.

As there are many rock bands creating great music, chances are that we omitted your favorite, so let us know who defined 2010s rock for you, and we’ll add them.

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.