The 10 best Irish rock bands carry on Ireland's storytelling spirit, mixing popular song with tradition that goes back centuries. Though they might not all sound traditional, there is something about each of these bands that is definitively Irish, something in the spirit and the way they convey emotion. Here are the best Irish rock bands in pop music history:
- The Pogues – The Pogues were strangers in a strange land, Irish immigrants in England. Thus, their take on traditional Irish music was skewed. They infused the old storytelling style with punk rock attitude and changed Irish music in the process. Their influence and impact makes them an easy choice to top the ten best Irish rock bands of all time.
- U2 – The biggest band ever from Ireland, U2 began as post-punk rockers and ended up conquering the world. Infusing rock music with spirituality and creating a number of unforgettable anthems makes them an easy choice for the list of the best Irish rock bands.
- My Bloody Valentine – Inventors of the lush shoegaze sound, MBV are unique among the best Irish rock bands because the lyrics take a back seat to the mood of the music. This is by no means a dig at the band; for mood music, they are among the best.
- Stiff Little Fingers – Irish punks in the vein of the Clash, they came about in the time of the Troubles, and were a punk band that stood by their convictions in a war-torn part of the world. SLF are easily one of the best Irish rock bands ever.
- The Undertones – Another group of punk rockers, the Undertones were different than Stiff Little Fingers, but quite successful in their own right, singing songs about "Teenage Kicks" and girls with a gleeful abandon. These Londonderry lads belong on any list of the best Irish rock bands.
- Thin Lizzy – Classic rockers with a poetic spirit, Thin Lizzy are most well-known for "The Boys Are Back in Town," a rollicking anthem played at many a sporting event. There was a lot more to them than that, however, fusing the Caledonian soul of Van Morrison and the meat and potatoes rock and roll of Bruce Springsteen at his finest. They are truly one of the best Irish rock bands of all time.
- Them – Van Morrison's garage rock band had a number of bona fide classics. "Gloria" alone rates them for the list of the best Irish rock bands ever.
- The Cranberries – The Cranberries broke through in the nineties alternative rock explosion. Their multinational hits place them easily on the list of best Irish rock bands.
- Ash – Pop-punk revivalists Ash were never big in the US, but that does not mean they were not one of the best Irish rock bands to come out of the wider Britpop movement. Their songs were catchy and their guitar riffing furious.
- Therapy? – Dark rockers Therapy? (the question mark is part of their name) emerged from Ireland in the nineties to bring a gloomy, guitar-heavy sound. They close out the list of the ten best Irish rock bands.
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