What Were the Top Musical Groups of the 2010s


Numerous musicians and bands burst onto the scene in the 2010s, attracting listeners worldwide. The decade witnessed a proliferation of various musical talents, from mainstream superstars to underground darlings. Amidst this plethora of musical options, a handful of bands emerged as industry heavyweights, capturing listeners with fresh takes on old favorites and topping the charts. This article reviews some of the most prominent musical acts of the 2010s, delving into their meteoric ascent to prominence, groundbreaking contributions to the music industry, and far-reaching effects on popular culture. Get cozy because we’ll be listening to the music of a decade and thinking back on it.

1. Imagine Dragons

Dan Reynolds, Wayne Sermon, Ben McKee, and Daniel Platzman make up the pop rock band Imagine Dragons, which is located in Las Vegas. Hit hits like “Radioactive” and “Demons” from their debut album propelled them to stardom. In addition to being awarded “Breakthrough Band of 2013” and “Biggest Band of 2017” by Billboard, they have won a Grammy and nine Billboard Music Awards.

Both Smoke + Mirrors and Evolve, their second and third studio albums, were commercially successful. Evolve, in particular, yielded three number-one singles. Four Imagine Dragons songs have surpassed one billion streams on Spotify, and the band has sold over 75 million CDs worldwide. Billboard has recognized the rock songs “Believer,” “Thunder,” and “Radioactive” as the best-selling of the decade.

Imagine Dragons in 2017

2. Twenty One Pilots

American musical duo Twenty One Pilots are Columbus, Ohio natives Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun. With an earlier lineup, the band first came together in 2009, releasing two albums independently before getting signed to Fueled by Ramen in 2012. 

Their breakthrough came with their fourth album, Blurryface (2015), which featured the hit songs “Stressed Out” and “Ride” and was the first album to have every song certified at least gold by the RIAA. At the 59th annual Grammy Awards, the duo won the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance award for their song “Stressed Out.”

As the album’s second successful single, “Heathens,” made the band the first alternative artist to simultaneously have two top-five singles in the Billboard Hot 100 and only the third rock act in history overall, after the Beatles and Elvis Presley, to accomplish this feat.

Twenty One Pilots in 2016

3. Arcade Fire

The Canadian indie rock band Arcade Fire is well-known for its unique style, which blends dance-pop, art-pop, and baroque pop. They are noted for using unusual instruments, including accordions, mandolins, hurdy-gurdies, and violins, in their music, which is characterized by danceable rhythms, emotional lyrics, and melodies. Although they have experimented with different styles, the band’s characteristic utilization of instruments and danceable beats have always remained at the heart of their sound.

Win Butler and Régine Chassagne are the band’s primary members after founding member Josh Deu left in 2003. They’ve been going strong since their inception in 2001, and albums like The Suburbs and Reflektor demonstrate their impact on the music of the early 2010s. Arcade Fire has become one of the most revered and influential indie rock bands of the 21st century, thanks to their forward-thinking sound and willingness to explore.

Arcade Fire in 2017

4. Coldplay

Coldplay, a band that has been around since 1996, is well-known for its own style of music, which features grandiose orchestrations and catchy pop tunes. There have been no changes to the lineup of Will Champion, Johnny Buckland, Chris Martin, and Guy Berryman since the band’s start.

Coldplay released albums, including “Mylo Xyloto,” “Ghost Stories,” “A Head Full of Dreams,” and “Everyday Life” during the 2010s, demonstrating their commitment to musical diversity. Each album added to the band’s canon by including new musical styles, such as jazz fusion, ambient, pop, progressive rock, electronica, and R&B.

Approximately 100 million records have been sold by Coldplay, making them one of the most successful bands of the 2010s and the 21st century. Coldplay’s influence on the music industry will last forever because of the group’s fresh take on songwriting and eclectic sound.

Coldplay performing in Barcelona during Twisted Logic Tour in 2005

5. Florence + The Machine

English indie rockers Florence + The Machine have been influential in shaping the genre since their formation in the 2010s. They have a unique sound that features Florence Welch’s commanding vocals, a stomp-clamp jangly rhythm, rousing choruses, and unusual instruments like harps and ukuleles.

The band released their debut album titled “Lungs” in 2009, which featured the radio hits “Dog Days Are Over” and “You’ve Got the Love.” Their subsequent films, “Ceremonials” (2011) and “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful” (2015), were also commercially and critically successful. The band’s effect on the Indie Rock scene is unmistakable, and their sound has been compared to that of Arcade Fire and The Lumineers. Welch’s expressive and passionate vocals contribute significantly to Florence + The Machine’s distinctive sound, which has helped the band win numerous awards and garner a devoted fan following.

Lead vocalist Welch performing live in Singapore, 2010

6. Slipknot

American heavy metal band Slipknot is well-known for its aggressive music and elaborate live shows. The band has become known for its outlandish performance outfits and terrifying masks. However, their music speaks for itself, with style dubbed “groove metal,” which is a type of heavy metal that incorporates funk and other styles to create a new sound. The band’s music stands out among metal acts due to its crushing riffs, pounding drums, and aggressive vocals.

Paul Gray, Shawn Crahan, and Joey Jordison were among the original members of the band when they first got together in 1995 in Des Moines, Iowa. Slipknot maintained their popularity in the 2010s with albums like “The Gray Chapter” and “Antennas to Hell,” despite taking multiple extended gaps during their career. These records demonstrated the band’s maturation and expansion into a new musical territory, such as electronica. Because of their original sound and exciting live shows, Slipknot has amassed a massive global fanbase and sold over 30 million records to date.

Slipknot performing in 2019

7. Foo Fighters

After the death of Nirvana leader Kurt Cobain in 1994, Dave Grohl established the Foo Fighters, who swiftly became a rock music standard. While their early work contained grunge characteristics, the band’s sound evolved into a sophisticated and intricate blend of pop-rock, post-grunge, and hard rock. Grohl formed the Foo Fighters as a solo project before bringing on guitarist Pat Smear, bassist Nate Mendel, and drummer William Goldsmith to round out the group. However, the band’s lineup has changed multiple times over the years, including the departure of Goldsmith and the inclusion of Taylor Hawkins on drums and Chris Shiflett on guitar.

With the release of their seventh studio album, “Wasting Light,” in 2011, the Foo Fighters’ fame lasted well into the 2010s. Butch Vig produced the album, which was a return to the band’s earlier sound, and it received multiple honors, including five Grammys. The band has made a number of EPs, including “Saint Cecilia” and “Sonic Highways,” the latter of which was backed by an HBO documentary series. The Foo Fighters are well-known for their high-energy live shows and are one of the most successful rock bands of the twenty-first century.

Foo Fighters performing live in 2007

8. Fall Out Boy

The American rock band Fall Out Boy is best recognized for its catchy and energetic pop-punk sound, which combines elements of R&B, hip-hop, and electronic music. Patrick Stump (rhythm guitar, lead vocals), Pete Wentz (bass guitar, backup vocals), Joe Trohman (lead guitar, backing vocals), and Andy Hurley (drums, percussion) formed the band in Wilmette, Illinois, in 2001.

Fall Out Boy rose to prominence in the mid-2000s with the release of their third studio album entitled “From Under the Cork Tree,” which featured smash songs such as “Sugar, We’re Goin Down” and “Dance, Dance.” Throughout the 2010s, they continued to release successful albums, including “Save Rock and Roll,” “American Beauty/American Psycho,” and “Mania,” all of which made number-one debuts on Billboard 200.

Despite a hiatus in 2009, the band reunited in 2013, and their music expanded to include elements of electronica and R&B while still retaining their characteristic pop-punk sound. Fall Out Boy has received accolades for their high-energy live performances, which frequently include complex stage constructions and pyrotechnics. They have received numerous prizes, including Grammy nominations, and have sold over 10M albums worldwide.

Fall Out Boy in 2006 concert

9. Arctic Monkeys

The Arctic Monkeys were one of the most well-known bands of the 2010s, and their music influenced the indie rock genre. The band formed in 2002 in Sheffield, England, and soon rose to prominence with their debut album that is entitled “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not.” Their second album, “Favorite Worst Nightmare,” solidified their status and reputation.

“Suck It and See,” the band’s 2011 release, did not receive the same critical praise or commercial success as their prior efforts. They resurfaced in 2013 with the publication of their fifth album, “AM.” This album had a deeper and more complex sound that appealed to both fans and critics. The album’s lead single, “Do I Wanna Know?” became a big global hit.

The Arctic Monkeys’ sixth album, “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino,” was released in 2018 and marked a dramatic shift from their prior sound. The album was driven by piano and featured the band’s more experimental and artistic side. Despite critical acclaim, the album got mixed reviews and demonstrated the Arctic Monkeys’ capacity to develop and innovate within their genre.

Arctic Monkeys performing at the Roskilde Festival in 2014

10. Thirty Seconds to Mars

Thirty Seconds to Mars was established in Los Angeles, California, in 1998 by brothers Jared and Shannon Leto. The name of the band is a reference to a Harvard professor’s study that indicates humans only require thirty seconds of exposure to music to experience an emotional response.

The band’s music is largely alternative rock, but they also incorporate elements of emo, post-grunge, and electronic rock. They are well-known for their experimental sound and live theatrical performances, which frequently feature elaborate sets and costumes.

While their early albums gained critical acclaim, including their self-titled debut and ‘A Beautiful Lie,’ it was their third album, ‘This is War,’ that propelled them to widespread recognition. “Kings and Queens,” the album’s debut track, proved a hit, reaching the top ten on the US Alternative charts.

Frontman Jared Leto and drummer Shannon Leto performing in Padua, Italy in July 2013

In conclusion, the 2010s were a time of tremendous expansion and progress in the music world, and the decade’s best musical groups were at the forefront of this shift. The decade was defined by various musical styles and influences, ranging from the indie rock sounds of Arctic Monkeys and Florence + The Machine to the pop-punk influences of Fall Out Boy and the eclectic mix of genres from Twenty One Pilots. These bands not only delighted us with their music but also challenged us and broadened our idea of what music can be. Their influence and impact on the music industry and culture, in general, will be felt for many years to come.

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