Radiohead has become one of the most successful bands of the 21st Century on the Alternative scene, with their exceptional mix of Experimental Rock, Electronica, Art Rock, and Alternative Rock. And if you’re a fan of the English band, we’ve put together a list of 25 bands like Radiohead that you should add to your playlists.
Formed in 1988 in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, Radiohead but onto the scene in 1992 with their hit debut single “Creep”, which rose to number two on the US Modern Rock charts. Ever since, band members Thoma Yorke (vocals, guitar, piano, keyboards), Jonny Greenwood (guitar, keyboards), Colin Greenwood (bass guitar), Ed O’Brien (guitar, effects, backing vocals), and Phillip Selway (drums, percussion) have written their name into Alternative Rock folklore.
Radiohead were the natural successors to Pink Floyd, David Bowie, and The Talking Heads who were the biggest names on the music scene in the last decade or two before we started to hear Radiohead’s earlier works on our radios. They had all the talent, creativity, willingness to take artistic risks, and stage presence to announce themselves as the template for what Rock bands would look like in the future.
Following the release of their debut album, Pablo Honey, in 1993, “Creep” became a worldwide chart-topper. The releases of The Bends (1995) and OK Computer (1997) earning critical ovation and tremendous popularity. The band underwent a dramatic style change with their 2000 album, Kid A, incorporating elements of Jazz, Electronic music, Classical music, and the experimental genre of Krautrock, while Amnesiac (2001) maintained this Avante Garde style. Hail To The Thief (2003), In Rainbows (2007), and The King of Limbs (2011) would follow and incorporated further experimentation with looping and sampling sounds – a new step in the evolution of their Alternative Rock and Electronica styles.
However, A Moon Shaped Pool (2016) marked a significant departure and served as a showcase album for Jonny Greenwood’s exploration into incorporating orchestras into Radiohead’s style.
Radiohead stood their ground against the ant-commercial stance that prevailed in the early 90s, took the poor critical reception of their “pop-like” debut single, and figured out what resonates with who really matters, the audience. From there, they have cultivated a uniques style that bands everywhere have tried to replicate to varying degrees of success. However, there is no question that this band is owed a debt of gratitude from every act to follow them in the 21st Century.
It is Radiohead’s persistence at pushing the boundaries of experimental sounds that have earned them no fewer than six Grammy Awards and remarkable popularity among music fans, who have bought more than 30 million copies of their albums worldwide. It is also why Radiohead was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2019.
So if you’re looking for more bands, like Radiohead, we’ve compiled a list of 25 that you should check out.
1. Thom Yorke
Who better to start this list with than the famous Radiohead Frontman himself, Thom Yorke. York has released three solo albums that take the experimental nature of his music with his band to a whole new level, mixing electronics and beats and high-pitched vocals. Yorke’s falsetto has earned him adoration from Radiohead fans who were incredibly excited for the launch of his solo career, with his debut solo album, The Eraser (2006)debuting at number three on the UK charts and at number two in the United States.
It also earned him a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album. It was followed up by the 2014 album Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes and Anima (2019). York has also worked on the soundtracks for a number of films, including Susparia (2018).
2. Atoms For Peace
Thom Yorke’s other band, Atoms For Peace, is more of a supergroup than anything, featuring Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ Flea (bass guitar, melodica, keyboards), Radiohead producer, Nigel Godrich (keyboards, synthesizers, guitars, percussion, backing vocals), R.E.M. and Beck’s drummer, Joey Waronker, and Mauro Refesco (percussions).
They’ve only released one album, Amok (2013), which reached the top ten of the charts in multiple countries (including peaking at number two in the United States) and earned generally favorable reviews. The music resembles a lot of Yorke’s solo work along with what you’ve come to expect from Radiohead, and the band was actually pulled together while Yorke was on tour for the release of his debut solo album, The Eraser.
3. James Blake
An English songwriter, singer, and instrumentalist with a tendency to experiment with sounds that vary between electronic, dance, and bass, with influences from Hip Hop, dubstep, and R&B, James Blake showcases a similar mix of sounds to Radiohead, but with a kind of minimalism that is incompatible with the Alternative Rock genre. Nonetheless, his music very much resembles that of his compatriots. He’s been active since 2009, releasing five studio albums, earning five Platinum certifications. He’s also been nominated for several awards and won a Grammy for Best Rap Performance in 2019.
4. Massive Attack
Also coming out of England and formed in 1988, Massive Attack is a Trip Hop/Electronica band made up of Robert “3D” Del Naja (vocals, keyboards, guitars, programmer, arranger, producer, mixer), Adrian “Tricky” Thaws (vocals, keyboards, bass, producer), and Grant “Daddy G” Marshall (vocals, keyboards, guitars, programmer, producer).
Former band members include Andrew “Mushroom” Vowles (1988–1999), Neil Davidge (1998–2012), Horace Andy (1990–2011), Shara Nelson (1990–1994), Tracey Thorn (1994–1996), and Stephanie Dosen (2008–2010).
Massive Attack has released five studio albums, producing a similar sound to Radiohead, earning six Platinum certifications in the United States alone.
Scottish Alternative Rock band Travis was formed in Glasgow in 1990, who have released nine studio albums, selling over 2.68 million copies in the UK alone.
The band, comprising of Fran Healy (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Dougie Payne (bass guitar, backing vocals), Andy Dunlop (lead guitar, banjo, backing vocals), and Neil Primrose (drums, percussion), produces a very similar sound to Radiohead, with a Britpop element that you may enjoy, using falsetto vocals and electronic-sounding instrumentals and experimenting with different sounds.
Former band members include Geoff Martyn (1990–1996), Chris Martyn (1990–1996), Simon Jarvis (1990), and Catherine Maxwell (1990– 1991).
6. The Smashing Pumpkins
Alternative Rock legends, The Smashing Pumpkins, like Radiohead, were one of the dominant bands of the Alternative era in the 90s. Also formed in 1988 in Chicago, they have sold more than 30 million copies of their 11 studio albums.
The band is made up of Billy Corgan (lead vocals, guitar), James Iha (guitar), and Jimmy Chamberlin (drums), and Jeff Schroeder (guitar, keyboards). Former band members include D’arcy Wretzky (1988–1999), Melissa Auf der Maur (1999–2000), Mike Byrne (2009–2014), and Nicole Fiorentino (2010–2014).
The Smashing Pumpkins were standing right alongside Radiohead in the Alternative Rock heydays as one of the leading artists. Still, their sound is far more explosive and focused on instrumentals, and they experiment far less, particularly with electronic sounds.
7. Nine Inch Nails
Another band from Chicago formed in 1988, Nine Inch Nails features Singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer Trent Reznor ( lead and backing vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, synthesizers, saxophone, piano, programming, drums, percussion) and Atticus Ross (keyboards, synthesizers, programming, bass, backing vocals).
Like Radiohead, they play Alternative Rock music with a healthy mix of Electronic Rock and Ambient music. However, Nine Inch Nails have also ventured into Industrial Metal, giving their music an added element that may supplement your tastes in a way that you may not have expected.
Nine Inch Nails have released 11 studio albums over the years, earning 10 Platinum certifications.
8. The xx
Founded in 2005 in Wandsworth, London, The xx is an Indie Rock band that incorporates elements of Indie electronic, R&B, Indie Pop, Dream Pop, and Electro-Rock to produce music with a stylistic flair that’s reminiscent of Radiohead’s experimental sounds. The band, consisting of Romy Madley Croft (vocals, guitar), Oliver Sim (vocals, bass guitar), and Jamie xx (synthesizers, drums, keyboards, samplers, sequencers, production), has earned three Platinum certifications on their three studio albums released between 2009 and 2017.
Baria Qureshi (2005-2009 is the only former band member.
English Alternative Rock band, Placebo, was formed in 1994 in London and consists of Brian Molko (lead vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, harmonica, saxophone, percussion) and Stefan Olsdal (bass, guitars, keyboards, backing vocals).
Steve Hewitt (1994, 1995, 1996–2007), Robert Schultzberg (1994–1995, 1995–1996), and Steve Forrest (2008–2015) make up former members of the band.
Molko is a strong vocalist, able to reach similar high pitches to Radiohead’s Thom York. The instrumentals and songwriting are almost identical to Radiohead’s Grunge/Alternative tracks, like those on The Bends.
Placebo has released seven studio albums, five of which went multi-platinum, selling more than 11 million copies worldwide.
Formed in London in 1996, Coldplay is an Alternative Rock band that also likes to put in a healthy mix of electronic Britpop sounds, selling over 100 million copies of their nine studio albums to date. The band is made up of Chris Martin (lead vocals, piano, rhythm guitar, keyboards, harmonica), Guy Berryman (bass, backing vocals, keyboards, mandolin, harmonica), Jonny Buckland (lead guitar, backing vocals, keyboards, piano), and Will Champion (drums, percussion, backing vocals, guitar, piano, keyboards).
If “Creep” was the song that made you fall in love with Radiohead and you’re not opposed to slightly commercialized Alternative Rock songs, Coldplay can offer you everything you need for a sound distinctly similar to some of Radiohead’s chart-topping singles.
Mogwai is a Scottish band formed in Glasgow in 1995 that plays in a Post-Rock, Instrumental Rock and Space Rock style. The band was inspired by Radiohead’s unique electronic elements mixed with Alternative Rock, elevating them to cult status as one of the top acts in the Post-Rock genre, and experimented with Art Rock elements.
The band consists of Stuart Braithwaite (guitar, bass, vocals), Dominic Aitchison (bass, guitar), Martin Bulloch (drums), and Barry Burns (guitar, keyboards, synthesizer, flute, vocals). Former band members include Brendan O’Hare (1997) and John Cummings (1995–2015). They have released ten studio albums but haven’t achieved much commercial success, except their tenth album, As The Love Continues, which reached number one in the UK Albums Chart in February 2021.
12. Bon Iver
Formed in Eau Claire, Wisconsin in 2006, two-time Grammy Award-winning Indie Folk band Bon Iver may not have Radiohead’s Alternative Rock style, but they use looping and sampling sounds for a very similar music style to Radiohead’s, but with more chilled tracks that you’d expect from any folk band.
The band’s current lineup features Justin Vernon (vocals, guitar), S. Carey (drums, keyboards, vocals), Matthew McCaughan (drums, bass, vocals), Andrew Fitzpatrick (guitar, keyboards, vocals), and Mike Lewis (vocals, baritone guitar, guitar, violin).
To date, Bon Iver has released four studio albums, receiving 11 platinum certifications.
13. David Bowie
Like Radiohead, David Bowie is an English musician who completely changed music into a new style with his ventures. He led the way forward for Glam Rock in the 1970s and 1980s, which profoundly influenced Radiohead themselves.
Bowie has released 26 studio albums, selling more than 100 million copies worldwide and receiving a plethora of awards, including six Grammys. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.
14. Pink Floyd
If you think Radiohead was ahead of their time, Pink Floyd are the pioneers of experimenting with all kinds of sounds. The English Progressive Rock band formed in London in 1965 is one of the best-selling groups of all time, selling over 250 million copies of their 15 studio albums.
At the height of their powers, the band consisted of Roger Waters (bass, vocals, rhythm guitar), David Gilmour (lead and rhythm guitars, vocals, bass, keyboards), Nick Mason (drums, percussion, vocals), and Richard Wright (keyboards, piano, organ, vocals). The band initially rose to stardom when Syd Barrett was its frontman between 1965 and 1968, and Bob Klose is another former band member who left shortly after it was formed in 1965.
15. Talking Heads
Formed in New York in 1991, Talking Heads rose to stardom at roughly the same time as Radiohead, incorporating a very similar artistic approach to music, blending New Wave with Post-Punk, Art Pop, Avant Funk, Worldbeat, and Dance Rock genres.
After eight studio albums and six platinum certifications, Talking Heads cemented their place in history when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.
The band consisted of David Byrne (lead vocals, guitar), Chris Frantz drums, backing vocals), Tina Weymouth (bass, backing vocals), and Jerry Harrison (keyboards, guitar, backing vocals).
Formed in Dublin, Ireland, in 1976, U2 is an Alternative Rock band that has taken the world by storm with their unique approach that uses sampling, vocoders, and looping, along with distortion pedals to produce an electronic, more commercialized style of music that is incredibly similar to Radiohead.
The band consists of Bono (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, harmonica), The Edge (lead guitar, keyboards, backing vocals), Adam Clayton (bass guitar), and Larry Mullen Jr. (drums, percussion). Dik Evans (1976-1978) and Ivan McCormick (1976) are former band members, but the lineup has largely unchanged.
U2 has sold between 150 and 170 million copies of their 14 studio albums worldwide, picking up no fewer than 22 Grammy Awards along the way.
17. The Pixies
Alternative Rock band, The Pixies, reached the height of their powers in the late 80s and early 90s, along with Radiohead. Formed in 1986 in Boston, Massachusetts, The Pixies essentially mixed up a style from Punk Rock and Surf Rock influences to leave their mark on the Alternative Rock era, creating seven studio albums and earning double-platinum certification on their most successful album, Doolittle (1989).
The band consists of Black Francis (vocals, rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar), Joey Santiago (lead guitar), David Lovering (drums, percussion), and Paz Lenchantin (bass, violin, vocals). Kim Deal (1986-2013) and Kim Shattuck (2013) were also part of the band in the past.
Nirvana laid the foundations for the Alternative Rock era when they spearheaded the Grunge Rock movement in the late 80s and early 90s over a period of just three years as a mainstream act. Their barebones style was not entirely similar to Radiohead. Still, the band’s penchant for creativity and experimentation certainly pleased audiences, with only three studio albums selling more than 75 million copies worldwide.
The band, by the time they had reached superstardom, consisted of Kurt Cobain (lead vocals, lead guitar), Krist Novoselic (bass), and Dave Grohl (drums, backing vocals).
Aaron Burckhard (1987–1988), Dale Crover (1988–1990), Dave Foster (1988), Chad Channing (1988–1990), Dan Peters (1990), and Jason Everman (1989) were also former members of the band.
If Radiohead left an impression on Rock music, Nirvana utterly destroyed it with their seething rejection of making music for mainstream audiences, which, ironically, truly impressed audiences and laid the foundations for the wave of success for Alternative Rock in the 90s, which Radiohead unquestionably took advantage of.
Formed in Machester in 1991, Oasis was a Britpop band that emerged from the UK (and topped the charts) at the same time as Radiohead. The band was led by maverick brothers Liam (lead and backing vocals, tambourine, occasional acoustic guitar) and Noel Gallagher (lead and rhythm guitars, lead and backing vocals, keyboards, bass, occasional drums), taking the UK by storm with their record-setting debut album, Definitely Maybe, in 1994. Seven more studio albums would follow, with Oasis selling over 75 million copies of their albums worldwide.
Other members of the band included Gem Archer (rhythm and lead guitars, bass, keyboards, harmonica, backing vocals), Andy Bell (bass, keyboards, rhythm, and lead guitars), Paul Arthurs (rhythm guitars, keyboards, bass), Paul McGuigan (bass), Tony McCarroll (drums, percussion), and Alan White (drums, percussion). Oasis broke up in 2009 and has come to be recognized as one of the most influential musical acts to come out of the UK in the 90s.
American Alternative Rock band, R.E.M was formed in 1980 in Athens, Georgia. They were also a leading artist in the 1990s, mixing Alternative Rock, College Rock, Folk Rock, Post-Punk, and Jangle Pop together for cool instrumentals like Radiohead’s and compelling, somber lyrics reminiscent of the song “Nude” from the In Rainbows album.
The band consisted of Bill Berry (drums, percussion, backing vocals, occasional bass guitar, and keyboards), Peter Buck (lead guitar, mandolin, banjo, bass guitar, and keyboards), Mike Mills (bass guitar, keyboards, backing vocals, and guitar), and Michael Stipe (lead vocals).
The band broke up in 2011 after releasing x studio albums and selling 85 million copies worldwide.
21. Alanis Morissette
Canadian singer, songwriter, and musician, Alanis Morisette is another chart-topping artist from the 90s who achieved significant success on the Pop Rock scene, blending Adult Alternative Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Post-Grunge and Contemporary Pop/Rock styles for a unique, distinctive, vocally driven music that was a major hit with audiences around the world.
Her nine studio albums released between 1991 and 2020 have sold more than 75 million copies worldwide, and she has been awarded nine Grammys.
22. Sufjan Stevens
American singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, Sufjan Stevens, is an Indie Folk legend, who’s incorporation of electronic elements and high-pitched vocals may make you think you’re actually listening to Radiohead.
He took his first steps in his music career as a member of Dutch Folk-Rock band, Marzuki, in 1995, and he has since released nine albums as a solo artist, winning the praise of critics the world over, and sold over a million copies worldwide.
Thematically, Stevens’ work is almost identical to Radiohead’s. His synthesizers, vocoders, looping, and sampling have shown a unique creative distinction reserved for megastar influencers like Radiohead. Even if he hasn’t achieved the same level of commercial success, he’s widely regarded by critics for his experimental style.
English Alternative Rock band, Elbow, was formed in Manchester in 1997, and they’ve stated that Radiohead played a massively influential role in creating their music. The blend of Alternative Rock, Indie Rock, Art Rock, Progressive Rock, Dreampop, and Britpop, lead to a final product that is strikingly similar to almost all of Radiohead’s music. They have released eight studio albums, earning six platinum certifications.
The band consists of Guy Garvey (lead vocals, guitar), Craig Potter (keyboard, piano, backing vocals), Mark Potter (guitar, backing vocals), Pete Turner (bass guitar, backing vocals), and Alex Reeves (drums, percussion). Former Richard Jupp (1997-2016) is the only former band member with his ventures.
24. Arcade Fire
Formed in Quebec, Canada, in 2000, Arcade Fire has carried the mantle for Indie Rock, Art Rock, Dance Rock, and Baroque Pop for a huge part of the late 2000s and early 2010s. Their use of keyboards and synthesizers, along with numerous orchestral elements, is reminiscent of some of Radiohead’s best work and it should come as no surprise that they have received 13 platinum certifications for their five studio albums released between 2004 and 2017.
Currently, the band is made up of Win Butler (lead and backing vocals, guitar, piano, keyboards, bass guitar, mandolin), Régine Chassagne (lead and backing vocals, accordion, drums, percussion, piano, keyboards, hurdy-gurdy, recorders), Richard Reed Parry (guitar, bass guitar, double bass, piano, keyboards, synthesizers, organ, celesta, accordion, drums, percussion, backing vocals), William Butler (synthesizers, bass guitar, guitar, percussion, sitar, panpipes, trombone, omnichord, musical saw, double bass, concertina, clarinet, gadulka, backing vocals), Tim Kingsbury (bass guitar, guitar, double bass, keyboards, backing vocals), and Jeremy Gara (drums, percussion, guitar, keyboards).
Howard Bilerman (2004-2006), Josh Deu (2001–2003), Myles Broscoe (2002-2003), Brendan Reed (2002), Dane Mills (2002), and Tim Kile (2002) are all former members of the band.
Formed in London in 1989, another Britpop band with Alternative Rock and Art Rock stylistic tendencies can be found in Radiohead’s contemporaries, Suede, who were at the forefront of the 90s Britpop explosion. Countless bands have cited Suede as profoundly influential to their music. They have earned one platinum certification for the third of their eight studio albums, Coming Up, but haven’t yielded much commercial success.
The band consists of Brett Anderson (vocals, tambourine), Mat Osman (bass), Simon Gilbert (drums), Richard Oakes (guitar), and Neil Codling (keyboards, synthesizers, piano, guitars, backing vocals ); while Justine Frischmann (1989-1991), Bernard Butler (1989-1994), and Alex Lee (2001-2003) were also part of the band in the past.
26. The Beta Band
Formed in 1996 in Fife, Scotland, The Beta Band rose to prominence with stylistically diverse “psychedelic Folktronica” and gained a cult following, before disbanding in 2004. They only released three studio albums, all of which broke into the top 20 of the UK album charts.
John Maclean (DJ/Sampler), Richard Greentree (bass), Steve Mason (vocals), Robin Jones (drummer), and Steve Duffield (bass). Founding bandmember Gordon Anderson had to leave the band in 1996 for medical reasons but has enjoyed a successful solo career in his own right and has played with the band in collaborations and live shows since.
The Beta Band released three studio albums but were unable to achieve any meaningful success before plundering themselves into an enormous debt of £1.2 million, which ultimately forced them to disband. However, despite their short-lived careers, The Beta Band managed to create some very well-produced albums that even Radiohead would be proud of.