My Top 10 Most Influential Bands

There are so many mediums in entertainment available today that bring joy to so many people. From television, video games, theater to sports, the time and energy that are put into these mediums cannot be understated. However, there is one form that brings me the most joy and holds immense meaning in my life.

Music.

I am a firm believer that music makes the world go round. It brings people together, creates memories and is generally enjoyed by so many. There are so many different genres and sounds that honestly any person can find something they enjoy. From Gospel to Death Metal, genres are becoming more creative as the years go by, bands continuing to create new sounds for themselves. Due to the growing popularity of online streaming services such as Pandora, Spotify and Youtube, access to thousands of bands and solo acts are only a click away.

Music connects with me on a spiritual level. So many bands and specific songs have memories or emotions that have stayed with me for most of my life. Even throughout my childhood, bands such as Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Aerosmith and funny enough, Patsy Cline, have meaning to me.

Here is a list of the Top 10 bands that I have compiled of the bands that I adore, as well as have emotional meaning for me. Every band will have both a small blurb about their past and a video with either my favorite song by the artist or the song that best shows the nature of the band. This list was hard for me to compile, but I believe I have it down! Each band had to have at least three of these criteria to make it onto this list:

  • Relatability
  • Emotional stimulation
  • Message
  • Musical Range
  • Fun and/or lively
  • Replay value

Welcome to my life!

10. Young the Giant

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From doctorates to music, Young the Giant is an Alternative Rock band that has been around since 2004. Formally named The Jakes, an acronym of the original member’s first names, they went through several members before officially falling upon the name Young the Giant in 2009 after being signed by Roadrunner Records. Immediately becoming known for their song “My Body,” they became a sensation throughout America as they steadily moved up through the top Alternative Songs chart. From 2011 to 2018, they have released four albums; Young the Giant, Mind Over Matter, Home of the Strange and Mirror Master, each a masterpiece in their own right.

“Life’s too short to even care at all, woah
I’m coming up now, coming up now out of the blue
These zombies in the park they’re looking for my heart
A dark world aches for a splash of the sun”

-“Cough Syrup,” Young the Giant

Young the Giant slid in at #10 for many different reasons. While I did not hear much of their music until early 2019, they immediately became a relatable band that I kept on repeat for months. There are very few songs on their albums that don’t jive with me. “Cough Syrup” and “Superposition” hit me hard, while “My Body” and “Tightrope” get me hyped to get through the day. Ultimately, seeing them in concert in 2019 sealed this spot on the list.

Overall, there are so many reasons to love this band. From Sameer’s vocal range to the smooth rhythms that Jacob, Eric, Payam, and Francois bring to every song, any fan of the genre should check them out. They are stellar and I can’t gush enough about them!

  • Relatability
  • Musical Range
  • Fun and/or lively
  • Replay value

9. Motion City Soundtrack

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Motion City Soundtrack is an Indie Rock band formed in 1997. Signing to the independent label Epitaph Records, they released their first album I Am the Movie. However, their breakout record ended up becoming their second album, Commit This to Memory. They would go on to release four more hit albums: Even if it Kills Me, My Dinosaur Life, Go and Panic Stations. Writing songs about mental health, as well as upbeat songs that may not make much sense, they have paved the way for musicians to follow in their footsteps.

“I’m sick of the things I do when I’m nervous
Like cleaning the oven or checking my tires
Or counting the number of tiles in the ceiling..
Head for the hills, the kitchen’s on fire!”

“Everything is Alright,” Commit this to Memory

While I didn’t care for Go and Panic Stations, their first four albums kept me on the edge of my seat throughout their emotional journeys. From “Indoor Living” to “L.G. FUAD” to “Delirium,” so many songs have sent me through an emotional rollercoaster since I first heard “Everything is Alright.” Commit This to Memory resonates through my high school years, brings back both good and bad memories.

Motion City Soundtrack is a band that I can turn on at any point and time and never become bored with what I’m hearing. Their music has aged well, and Justin has continuously had that crazy haircut- basically the band’s staple if you ask me. If you want something unique and upbeat to listen to, but also want the undertone of the important messages that they bring to the table, this band may be the one for you. And let’s be real- who doesn’t want to hear a song about reliving the 90’s?

  • Relatability
  • Emotional stimulation
  • Message
  • Fun and/or lively
  • Replay value

8. Oh Wonder

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Hailing from London, Oh Wonder is an Indie Pop male-female duo that came around in 2014. Meeting after they both attended the other’s gigs, they came together to form their band. Starting out as Wonder Wonder, they changed their name after finding a band with a similar name. In their first year, Josephine and Anthony consistently released a new single once a month, forming them into their first self-titled album, Oh Wonder. Since their initial debut album, they have released two additional albums: Ultralife and most recently, No One Else Can Wear Your Crown.

“Lovesick the beat inside my head
Waves struck a sea of bitterness
Lights out solo in the blue
Before I found you.”

“Ultralife,” Ultralife

Oh Wonder will always hold a special place in my heart. “Body Gold,” one of my favorite songs from this duo, played on a station on Spotify and I instantly fell in love. Their smooth music combined with the gorgeous combination of the couple’s voices had me swooning. Honestly, any band that has male-female harmonization instantly captures my heart. On their two more recent albums, some of their songs have picked up in tempo, testing Josephine’s voice patterns and giving her such a different sound that it’s amazing to hear them next to their breakout album.

I can say firmly that this band is the most soulful on this list. Their soft and melodic sound soothes my soul. It is what I listen to when I am anxious, depressed, or just having a rough day. The duo helps me concentrate when doing schoolwork or other mental tasks. Many of their songs resonate with me on such an emotional level that they have brought me to tears. If you are a fan of The Lumineers or Of Monsters and Men, check them out! You won’t regret it.

  • Emotional stimulation
  • Relatability
  • Musical Range
  • Replay value

7. Matt and Kim

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The Dance-Pop duo Matt and Kim met during their time at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Coming from a background with little musical experience, they quickly moved in together and began their journey into stardom. Releasing an EP before their first tour, their first album Matt and Kim dropped shortly after. Signing onto different labels such as FADER Label and Harvest Records, they would quickly go on to release five more albums: Grand, Sidewalks, Lightning, New Glow, and Almost Everyday. Currently, they are working on their newest album.

“And in the daylight we can hitchhike to Maine
I hope that someday I’ll see without these frames
And in the daylight I don’t pick up my phone
‘Cause in the daylight anywhere feels like home.”

“Daylight,” Grand

Matt and Kim are fun. They exude a lively energy that you can’t help but rock out to, and seeing them work together is incredible. Honestly, I didn’t fall in love with their music first- I fell in love with their vlogs. They’re so goofy and fun-loving, and I couldn’t help but binge-watch every one. Hearing the music in the background of every video inspired me to want to watch their music videos, and my husband and I went through every single one they had posted. I immediately fell in love with their track “Hey Now,” which has stayed my favorite song. It gets me pumped! While they have an upbeat, and sometimes even insane sound, they also have a softer side that was brought to light in Almost Everyday. Their song “Happy if You’re Happy” stole my heart immediately. Their new album was written entirely while they were on a small hiatus from their tours and features real-life issues and struggles.

I have a lot of respect for this duo beyond a music standpoint as well. Going through a serious ACL injury during a concert, Kim went through nine months of intense physical therapy after surgery to repair her knee. Seeing the vlogs that Matt would make of her progress was an emotional rollercoaster, and reminded me of all the times my husband had to take care of me after surgeries and when I was sick.

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If you want a band that you can jam out to, dance and get your groove on, Matt and Kim are a top pick! Oh, and if you get a chance to go to a concert… Well, let’s just say it’s a wild ride!

  • Relatability
  • Musical Range
  • Fun and/or lively
  • Replay Value

6. AJR

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Adam, Jack, and Ryan, or AJR, is a brother’s trio band that came out of the living room of their shared apartment in New York. Doing street performances when Jack was just 8 years old to afford recording equipment, they quickly moved to do covers, producing the album Venture (though now removed from production). Taking their inspiration from numerous bands, they fit into many genres such as electropop and doo-wop. With their breakout single, “I’m Ready,” they quickly moved up the charts and began amassing an internet following as they went on to open for other bands, such as Fitz and the Tantrums and American Authors. Each brother can move between each instrument seamlessly, making them incredibly versatile. To date, they have released three albums: Living Room, The Click, and Neotheater. Focusing on lyrics that hit on topics such as mental health, friendship, loss and the toll of a career in music, their music continues to push the envelope in bringing both every day and deeper issues into the light.

“What, am I normal or not?
Am I crazier than other patients?
Right, I’ve done everything right
So where’s the karma doc, I’ve lost my patience.”

“Karma,” Neotheater

AJR is one of those bands that speaks out about most issues that I experience personally- anxiety, depression, stress, self-worth and experiencing Imposter Syndrome. It’s incredible how much I can relate to a band, and they hit the top mark. Their newest album, Neotheater, came out in a time of my life that I needed it most; after my brother’s death. Specifically, “Karma” was one of the songs that hit the hardest to describe how I was feeling at the time and affects how I handle things now.

Hearing about their story told through songs and how they moved up in their careers as a family is heartwarming. It was hard to choose one song to put with this band, but it is one of the most influential tracks they have released.

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If you need a band that you can get down to, but also want relatability, this is a fantastic band to try on for size.

  • Relatability
  • Emotional stimulation
  • Message
  • Musical Range
  • Fun and/or lively
  • Replay value

5. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

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The Heartland Rock band Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are the most well-known band on this list. Formed in 1976, the band has gone through numerous member changes, due to members moving on and unfortunate deaths. Throughout the band’s long run, they have released thirteen albums, have placed a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, produced numerous platinum records, participated in countless charities and have been witnessed by millions of people across the world. Singing about everything from happiness to sadness, stress, and anxiety and love and loss, they have been very versatile and adaptive throughout their 40+ year span. Tom Petty would eventually go on to release three solo albums: Full Moon Fever, Wildflowers, and Highway Companion, becoming a sensation on his own as well.

“I wanna glide down over Mulholland
I wanna write her name in the sky
I’m gonna free fall out into nothin’
Gonna leave this world for awhile.”

“Free Fallin'”, Full Moon Fever

What can I say about the Heartbreakers? This is the first band that I fell in love with, back when my father and I listened to them on repeat. I fondly remember riding around in his 94’ Ford Ranger and singing at the top of my lungs to “Free Fallin’.” My first album that I ever bought was their first Greatest Hits (I still have it almost 20 years later!) and is the only band that I have a full playlist of their songs on Spotify. They are chill, they are groovy and they sing about everything under the sun. I could, and do, listen to Tom’s voice for days on end. His solo song “You Don’t Know How it Feels” was played at my brother’s wake.

All in all, this is an absolutely fantastic band, and I will be surprised if someone hasn’t heard their name. As one of the influential bands of all time, they deserve all the recognition that they have received. Please, go get your groove on!

  • Relatability
  • Emotional stimulation
  • Fun and/or lively
  • Replay value

4. OTEP

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OTEP is a controversial band that hit the scene in 2000, using her powerful voice to get across hot button issues about abuse, sexual assault, and political corruption. A genre is not something that this band can be identified under, as they have created their own. Mixing nu-metal, grunge and rap into one, they wowed the Osbourne family at their opening for Ozzfest, resulting in an immediate signing to Capitol Records. Going through numerous member changes, female singer Otep Shamaya has a tendency to tour with different musicians but now sticks with eViL j, Moke, and Rob. During their time, they have released ten albums, each with their own theme.

“You’re perfectly flawed
You’re perfectly incomplete
A work in progress
Imperfections will keep you unique.”

“Perfectly Flawed,” The Ascension

Most notably, OTEP has been banned from streaming services, such as YouTube, several times due to her harsh lyrics about the corruption in politics. She is has become a prominent figure in the LGBTQ+ community, as well as women’s advocacy, never shying away from the public with her views.

OTEP has been a band I’ve listened to since her first album, and a singer I respect. Even though I don’t agree with everything that she views, I respect her open nature. Being open about her past abuse, mental health issues and sexuality is inspiring on more than one level. Throughout the three bands that I was a part of, she was one of my inspirations in both vocal and musical styles. Whenever my emotions peak, I can let out my anger and frustration through her music. It has gotten me through a lot of hard times in my past and I have a lot of fond memories associated with her music.

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I have seen her twice in concert now, and I can say that they were absolutely amazing. Seeing her work is a spectacle, especially with all of the props and methods that she uses. In 2012, I was privileged enough to finally meet her! She was really nice, even though I only got to talk with her for a moment. I ended up buying one of her notebooks- she had them for sale with one of her drawings, which are equally as unique as they are puzzling.

OTEP is a crazy band that has a lot of strong messages. While this band is not for everyone (trust me, she is not for everyone), if you like some heavy rap metal and a really cool chick, she’s the way to go! Just go look at her Instagram… she is the definition of a strong, independent woman.

  • Relatability
  • Emotional stimulation
  • Message
  • Musical Range
  • Replay value

3. twenty one pilots

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In 2009, the pop-rock-piano-rap band twenty one pilots moved into the public with only a few songs under their belt and high hopes. Self-producing albums under the newly named band, they played several free shows around Columbus, Ohio before they began officially touring around the state. Playing a sold-out show at the Newport Music Hall, they quickly gained the attention of major labels in the area, being picked up in 2012 by Atlantic Records. After promoting their music through free releases through email to subscribers, as well as releasing Vessel, their first commercially produced album, Tyler and Josh would fly to the top of the charts. To date, they have released three other albums: twenty one pilots, Blurryface and Trench.

“There are things we can do
But from the things that work there are only two
And from the two that we choose to do
Peace will win, and fear will lose
There’s faith and there’s sleep
We need to pick one please because
Faith is to be awake
And to be awake is for us to think
And for us to think is to be alive
And I will try with every rhyme
To come across like I am dying
To let you know you need to try to think.”

“Car Radio,” Vessel

twenty one pilots have been a very influential band in my life since they dropped “Car Radio.” I remember seeing the music video for the first time on YouTube shortly after it was uploaded and was wowed. The lyrics to every song that they have put out have been impactful and full of undertones that can have meaning to anyone. The use of poetic words that touch on topics such as fear, depression, anxiety, hatred, love, self-harm and suicide resonate with me. However, their message of having self-love and hope is apparent even through their deep lyrics.

“Ode to Sleep” is the song that I resonate the most with. The feeling of losing your mind while simultaneously finding ways to cope and move through it is apparent in my own life. I’ve told many people that this song speaks to how my Bipolar Disorder is for me. I haven’t found another song that really gives me an insight into how I’m feeling when I begin to shift between depression to mania. One major thing that stands out to me about this band is the ability to make me feel every emotion at any given time, depending on the song that comes on. “My Blood?” Love and the fear of losing someone. “Ride?” Hope. “House of Gold?” The intense love for my mother. “Jumpsuit?” Just about every emotion throughout the song. “Trees?” Well, let’s just say that I can’t make it through the song without screaming out the lyrics and crying.

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It was hard to decide whether to put twenty one pilots in the 2nd or 3rd spot on this list. In terms of musical style, lyrical value, emotional strings, and memories, this band takes the cake. If you haven’t listened to twenty one pilots, get ready for a trip through figuring out who you are and how to cope with the trials that we all deal with in life. Put on your jumpsuit, boys and girls.

As a final note, if you haven’t seen them in concert… Go. Seeing them in concert was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life! I felt at points that I was in a dream, listening to their albums as they played. I can’t even explain the emotions that poured into their work.

  • Relatability
  • Emotional stimulation
  • Message
  • Musical Range
  • Replay value

2. Panic! at the Disco

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Way back in 2004, four childhood friends came together to form the international Baroque Pop sensation Panic! at the Disco. Coming out with huge hits one after the other, P!ATD has flown up the charts, throwing out their first smash hit “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” on their first album, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. After moving through several members, Brendon Urie has stayed constant as the lead singer throughout the band’s active years, using his incredible vocal range to the band’s advantage. To date that has released five more albums: Pretty. Odd, Vices & Virtues, Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!, Death of a Bachelor and Pray for the Wicked. From 2006 to 2019, the band has been nominated for 61 awards, winning 21 of them.

“Mama said, don’t give up, it’s a little complicated
All tied up, no more love and I’d hate to see you waiting
They say it’s all been done but they haven’t seen the best of me
So I got one more run and it’s gonna be a sight to see”

“High Hopes,” Pray for the Wicked

Since my high school years, the band has moved from a more ’emo-pop’ style to the melodic rifts that they are so well-known for today. While personally Panic! at the Disco may not have a lot of the emotional and deep messages in many of their songs, their style has always kept me coming back for more. Urie’s voice and personality are unmatched by many of the artists that are emerging today and he constantly changes it to adapt and stay relevant. With the release of Death of a Bachelor, they bulldozed their way back into my life when I had put them on the shelf for so long. Songs such as “High Hopes” and “Hey Look Ma, I Made It” help me remember how far I’ve come in my life; mentally, physically and through my career. “Ready to Go (Get Me out of My Mind)” gets me hyped and lifts my spirits any day of the week.

This band was the hardest to pick a song for. There isn’t one song that I dislike from them and so many that I love. I had to consult many fans of the band to try and come to an answer.

Honestly, give P!ATD a shot! They are fun, they are exciting, and Urie’s voice will memorize you. Ride the waves of their sound on the rollercoaster that they provide for you. You won’t be disappointed.

  • Relatability
  • Musical Range
  • Fun and/or lively
  • Replay value

And finally…

1. Bad Suns

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After heavy inspiration from the 1970’s era of music, Bad Suns emerged on the scene in 2012. Placed in the unique genre of Dream Pop, they quickly released their first EP Transpose, pulling from many post-punk bands that Christo listened to as a child. Signing to Vagrant Records, and soon after Epitaph Records, the band would record “Cardiac Arrest” and release it to the online masses. It quickly became a viral hit. 2014 would come quickly and so would their first full-length album, Language & Perspective. In the next five years, they would release two more albums: Disappear Here and Mystic Truth.

“Look in the mirror and tell me
What it is like to be free
How do I grasp reality
When I don’t have an identity!”

“Salt,” Language & Perspective

Bad Suns was the one band I didn’t have to think about placement for. They are absolutely at the top of this list with no question. Honestly, while they do fit in with a lot of the other bands on this list, they would more closely fit in with bands such as Coin, Vinyl Theatre and Smallpools. I fell in love when their track “Swimming in the Moonlight” played on one of my stations on Spotify. Their music is both powerful and fun, thrilling and chill. On every album, each song can be a 180 from what you heard the track before. All three albums have songs that I absolutely adore and so many that get me through the day. One that always comes to mind for me is “Salt” off their first album.

They cover many different topics in their songs, many with undertones of deeper meanings, such as “This Was Our Home Once.” Love, heartache, and self-reflection are some of their constant themes. They are wholeheartedly a band that I can listen to and find myself grooving along to their lyrics and music. I was privileged to see them twice in the last year in concert, and they were absolutely fantastic. The finale to their first concert was “One Magic Moment” and it still gives me goosebumps when I think about it!

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If you want to mix a little pop with some chill guitar grooves, it’s just a moment away!

  • Relatability
  • Emotional stimulation
  • Musical Range
  • Fun and/or lively
  • Replay value

Here are some honorable mentions:

Chris Stapleton, Eskimo Callboy, In This Moment, Halsey, City and Colour, My Chemical Romance, Reliant K, She Wants Revenge, Every Time I Die

So, here’s my list! Are there any bands that you love here? Maybe some other suggestions of bands that are similar? Please let me know in the comments! I am always down to listen to something new.

If you liked this and want to see other posts like this, definitely let me know what you want!

-K

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