But top-ten? Immensely more difficult. I went out trying to compile a list of the top ten, but while I thought I had initially succeeded, turned out that I had eight honorable mentions...which kinda sorta means I've more got a top fifteen or so. And it's more or less like this.
1: As stated, Muse. Now, it has to be understood: my introduction to Muse was through the some which right up there with Boulevard of Broken Dreams is among my favorite songs of all time, that being, Knights of Cydonia. Meaning, I was introduced to them at the peak of their career pretty much. When it comes to Muse, though, their first album, they were still finding their way. It was pretty decent, but they were a young band and you can tell. By the time of Origin of Symmetry, they had begun to mature, beginning to find their defining groundbreaking traits, but they weren't quite there, yet.
Absolution is where they really hit their stride, with the whole album really telling a very clear story (whereas the story--while present--in the earlier two was harder to pick up on), and with many killer songs on there that were awesome. With their fourth album, Black Holes and Revelations, this continued: good storytelling, strong singles especially at the beginning, and of course the best song ever to finish it out, Knights of Cydonia. The Resistance, in a way, was them shifting a sound, not necessarily to be weaker, but to be different, so they lost a little bit of their magic, there, unfortunately.
While the beginning of the album, true to Muse form, was filled with great singles, and you could see as the songs progressed and the story progressed the evolving sound in their music, and the evolved sound wasn't bad, it was just a little bit on the...I'm not sure what the word would be. Melancholic side? Somber? Basically, earlier Muse songs held power, and these songs were soft. Soft is not bad. Soft is just different. It's just that soft songs, when they make up the majority of a section of an album, are good for storytelling, not for captivating a music listener long-term.
So while I enjoyed The Resistance, thoroughly, I think that it was at this point my obsession with Muse--and yes, it was an obsession at a point, with me still planning a fanfic crossing the tale of every album and linking it together--began to slowly fade away with the slowly fading music. The singles released for the sixth album were so much uninspiring to me that I'm not even sure we bought the album. Us, the ones who have a universal like for Muse, loving every one of their records, every one of their songs, not buying a Muse track.
So at this point, Muse was mostly cruising by on the grandfather clause. (Same reason Wipeout took so long to drop down on my favorite song list from the #1 spot.) They were very dangerously close to being supplanted by the Black Keys, because I love every Black Keys song I've ever heard, even if I don't own any of their albums. I just know that the Black Keys have a very strong, magical musicality to them that makes their songs, even the weaker ones, be amazing.
...Yet this year, in 2015, Muse bounced back with their seventh album. Every single I've heard from it has proven that they're back in top-form. Even though I'm listening to singles rather than the entire album, I can tell the story's still strong and in full effect. The songs hold immense impact, strength, force to them, to be reckoned with and certainly being memorable. They've brought back some of the classical Muse elements that made Muse be big in the first place, while retaining the maturity of their later songs. In short, it's the best of every world when it comes to their songs, and I absolutely LOVE the sound of it, so Muse is back in business as my favorite band.
2: As alluded to above, The Black Keys. Now, originally, they weren't here. That's because when I first made my top-three bands list, The Black Keys didn't exist. I made the list prior to their conception, and even if I hadn't, I made it prior to them becoming a notable band. But once they earned it...oh, BOY, did they EARN it! Seriously, I love the Black Keys. Their songs are all fantastic, with everything I listen to being great. There's a lot of variety in their songs, and yet there's always a charm about them.
3: Now we get into the more contentious ones. Sitting at number three is the old number four: the Silversun Pickups. I particularly love Panic Switch, but all their songs, which I have heard plenty of, are great. I may not own an album of theirs, listening to them by radio alone, but every song I hear is great, and there's so many of them and so many of them are different in a good way. They're incredible. Plus, I don't think there's any band that has done as many End Sessions as they have, and each time, their end sessions are KILLER good. I just really, really enjoy their music. Like Muse, they risked going down by not having made anything and dropping virtually off the radar for a bit, but once they came back, they gave me a THOROUGH reminder of why they were so good in the first place.
4: Originally my second-favorite band, Linkin Park has fallen down here mainly due to the same reason Muse did: lack of new stuff combined with their newest stuff not having appealed to me the same way their middle stuff did. (Their early stuff was alright, albeit a bit too rappy for my general tastes, but their middle songs are where they peaked.) I keep them at spot number four mainly because of the grandfather clause: they might have fallen down since then, but their music when I was listening to them actively was so good, it was THE reason I began writing poetry and later songs. No, dead serious, having Linkin Park songs stuck in my head is how I began most of my poetry. I've forgotten which songs did which poems, but there were a lot. They also had a big, BIG influence in my writing, with me choreographing entire fight scenes to their songs. I owe them a lot.
5: Right behind them at my original third is Green Day, who suffers from the exact same problem: atrophy, relying on the grandfather clause to stay this high. They also share with Linkin Park the honor of inspiring the majority of my poems and songs, because Green Day songs like 21 guns, Wake Me Up When September Ends, and, of course, Boulevard of Broken Dreams, got stuck in my head ALL the time.
6: My sixth-favorite band is a bit of an unusual choice, in that I've only ever heard two songs of theirs, and they don't really still make songs. They made a huge impact while they were here, though. In this case, I'm talking about The Bravery. You'd think that with only two songs I've heard, and them requiring the grandfather clause at that, they'd not be this high, but seriously. An Honest Mistake and Believe are easily both top-ten favorite songs of mine of all time. Easily. No other band holds that honor, not even close. Their songs are just...well, they make me wish I knew them by more than the radio, so they definitely get at least here.
7: Sitting at number seven is The Offspring. While some of their songs are more okay rather than stunning, they're great musicians. Some of their songs are hilarious, others depressing, most have brilliant reflections of reality, their skills are evident, I love how they sound...and Gone Away is THE most poignant song I've EVER heard; you can FEEL the pain. And it's only my second-favorite song by the band, beaten out by You're Gonna Go Far, Kid. I just think they're great.
8: And continuing a familiar trend while we're at it, let's just say that I love Rise Against. Their songs may lack the variety every other band thusfar on the list has, but it doesn't really matter when every single one of the songs they have is so dang good! Admittedly, they kinda dropped off the radar for a while...but then when I Don't Want To Be Here Anymore came around, I was reminded of EXACTLY why I loved them when they were still played.
9: At nine comes the Imagine Dragons. I don't really have a proper way for explaining this. I just think their music is very, very solid, and they continue to produce solid music throughout the years, which holds an increasing amount of diversity while never losing its strength. Honestly the main reason they aren't higher is because of grandfather clauses being applied TO the higher bands. Given enough time, they will probably rise through the ranks. I doubt they'll pierce into the top-five, but they could get up to seven, maybe six.
10: For slot ten, I have reserved basically what I'm going to call, "generic slot for local bands". Because it'd be a toss-up otherwise. My original top-ten wasn't quite like this (it had a couple of bands that're going to be slightly below), the tenth slot should remain a tie between these bands. Well, not quite bands per se. Basically, I love all music by Ben Gibbard, no matter what band he plays it in. Yet at the same time, I hold an equal amount of love for the Foo Fighters. (I know, technically not local band, but honorary local band, so close enough.) But at the same time, between Peal Jam and Soundgarden, there are a lot of great songs that I feel attached to which I think were important enough to earn a slot, yet not having one of their own, so here they are, basically a three-way tie. (Yes I know, Soundgarden and Peal Jam are two different bands, but they're tightly bound together.)
11: Hands-down, extending the list gives Jimmy Eat World. Frankly, the only, and I do mean, ONLY, reason that they're not higher on the list is because I don't hear their music often enough. (I hear The Middle a fair amount, and yes it's an AWESOME song, but that song alone doesn't represent their strength as a band; you need to hear their other songs. When I do, I love them. It's just that I don't get to hear them often so I don't have them imbued in me as much as I do people further up on the list.) Their songs are amazing. I love them, very much.
12: Now we get tricky, but I'd have to say my twelfth-favorite would have to be Jack White bands. Yes, I'm aware of the irony in liking both his music and that of the Black Keys given an incident I heard about on the radio. (I think it was between those two, anyway.) I've heard him in interviews, and he comes across as a fairly good person, though I personally hold a feeling that were I ever to meet him, we personally would not rub each other the right way. Musically, my feelings about him are about the same as that, actually. When he gets a little caught up in making something "awesome", then he loses musicality. For instance, I absolutely hated the titular song of the album Lazaretto, because it focused on doing 'awesome' guitars at the expense of actually delivering a good song...yet at the same time, Would You Fight for My Love, from that same album, is a GORGEOUS song, one of my favorite songs ever, because it's just so much of a pleasure to hear.
It's true music to my ears. Then there are things that I happen to know he was involved with, like the song Steady as She Goes, which has gotten me through a ridiculously large number of days. Basically, while there are some things to have mixed feelings about when it comes to him, overall, I'd say that his music is great, and he's definitely a favorite.
13: Even trickier, but by a hair, I placed Metric here rather than at 14. Originally, I had Metric at slot seven, though that was before I remembered I loved Jimmy Eat World, Jack White, Offspring, and Rise Against. With those four added, I decided to re-evaluate, and they got bumped down to here. While quite the drop, I still love their songs. They did fade a bit into obscurity for a while, but made a comeback which I was quite pleased to hear.
14: And originally at slot number eight, before I re-evaluated, is Coldplay. I was thoroughly addicted to the album Viva la Vida, especially the titular song from it. The song Paradise has become one of my most life-saving songs (along the same lines as Steady As She Goes above, in that it helps me when I'm in a bad mindset to escape), and their other older stuff is good, too. Frankly, the only reason they're this low is because I decided that while I loved their songs a lot, as a band, they were simply lower than the other 13 slots...albeit not by much.
15: Tempting as it was to place them at an unlucky slot like 13, truthfully, I think this is the best spot for Incubus. I don't really have much to say on this one, other than that Drive was a great song, I think other Incubus songs are pretty decent too, and while they initially faded into obscurity, when they came back, I liked their new stuff, too.
Now the first honorable mention (and thus, the honorable mention that started the whole top-15) is Nirvana. While somewhat covered in the 10-slot, I think they deserve a separate mention on their own. To this very day, all their songs still sound great. Given the passage of time, that is an INCREDIBLE feat. To still be relevant in a good way twenty years later. Most of the bands on the list, be it directly or indirectly, owe something to Nirvana, the groundbreaking band that they were, a big local hit that made all the difference in the world. And they're still good songs.
The second honorable mention is a band that used to make the list, even holding spot number five on it: MGMT. Now, you might be wondering what caused them to fall. And that's mostly that my love for their songs faded with time (though I still like them), I don't have a large sample size (three or four), and there isn't a lot of newer music. All these factors combined meant that the grandfather clause wasn't enough to hold them in position.
The third honorable mention is the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. This is an oddity on the list, in that it's not something spawned directly from listening to The End. That's one of the reasons they're not on the list, though. Basically, they're actually a proper orchestra rather than a true band when you think of it. The scale of their music and their performances extends well beyond that of a normal band. Their music, though, could easily place them as high as two or three slot-wise, because, yeah. Their music is awesome. It's just not in the same genre as the rest of the bands.
I also wanted to make a couple of other honorable mentions, meaning the top-fifteen could technically be a top-twenty, but they're considered honorable mentions because I don't quite hold the love for them to be on the list in the first place, mainly through lack of proper exposure.
The first of these is Garbage, because while I like the Garbage songs that I've heard...I simply haven't heard enough of them! Which is a shame, considering they are a good band.
The second of these is The Cranberries. Basically, the reason why they're here is because I only know two of their songs, and while one of them--Zombie--is not only among my favorite songs of all time but also easily my favorite End Session song of all time, the other one doesn't give them the same level of prestige as The Bravery holds. Their songs are good, yes, but not slot-six good, not from the small sample size.
Soyeah, that's my ramble on music.