The 50 Best British Artists of All Time
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30. Duran Duran
Why: These New Romantics from Birmingham helped lead the Second British Invasion in the ‘80s. Hey, good enough for Princess Diana, good enough for us, right?
Essential track: “Rio”
29. Damon Albarn (Blur/Gorillaz)
Why: Long before he was the mastermind behind the world’s greatest cartoon band, Damon Albarn fronted Britpop heavyweights Blur. Ladies and gentlemen, we give you Cool Britannia.
Essential track: “Girls and Boys”
28. Fleetwood Mac
Why: Okay, so they’re not completely from the UK or they’d be higher on this list, but before basking in the California sunshine, Lindsay Buckingham and company came out of the London blues scene. Besides, anyone who spells it “Rumours” has to be considered British, right?
Essential track: “Go Your Own Way”
27. The Specials
Why: These TwoTone titans were one of the first major multiracial acts in England, and they spearheaded the ska movement by melding together reggae and punk sounds.
Essential track: “A Message to You Rudy”
26. Kate Bush
Why: Her unique voice made this delightful weirdo the most successful British female artist of all time.
Essential track: “Wuthering Heights”
25. Roxy Music
Why: Sometimes we have to pinch ourselves to double-check that two legends like Bryan Ferry and Brian Eno were actually in the same band.
Essential track: “Love is the Drug”
24. Belle & Sebastian
Why: Contrary to what you’ve heard in High Fidelity, these Scots are far from “old sad bastard music.”
Essential track: “The Blues Are Still Blue”
23. Arctic Monkeys
Why: Sheffield’s finest exploded onto the scene in 2006 with the fastest-selling debut album in UK history, and their brand of garage-fueled indie rock has been ringing in our ears ever since.
Essential track: “I Bet That You Look Good on the Dancefloor”
22. The Stone Roses
Why: Combining the trippiness of some of their Manchester contemporaries with a pop sensibility, Ian Brown, John Squire, Mani and Reni perfected the alt-rock output of their day.
Essential track: “I Am the Resurrection”
21. The Libertines
Why: They only released two albums before disbanding, but both managed to rank among the best of the past decade. They played in front of a backdrop declaring themselves the “future of rock & roll,” and we believed them. Now every time we hear Pete Doherty’s wail, we can only imagine what might have been had he been able to keep himself together.
Essential track: “Don’t Look Back Into the Sun”