When locals think about the Phoenix music scene, it's only a matter of time before someone starts singing "Tune Out" by The Format, "Hey Jealousy" by The Gin Blossoms or "Seventeen" by Stevie Nicks. But the music scene in Greater Phoenix is so much more than just a few hits. In every genre and every decade, you'll find a Billboard hit, a Disney singalong, or just a classic earworm with ties to Phoenix.
There's a lot to pore over — from Glen Campbell to Jordin Sparks and Brockhampton to Megadeth — but don't worry, we did the hard work for you. Check out a breakdown of tunes made by musicians, performers and bands from Phoenix, and enjoy some playlists for those trips you'll be taking.
Did we miss a song? Let us know and we'll get it on a playlist stat!
Country, Folk, and Blues
Because Phoenix is located in the Southwestern U.S., it only makes sense that we have a healthy dose of country and folk music. Phoenix's biggest country star nowadays is Dierks Bentley, an artist who makes the occasional appearance at the annual Country Thunder music festival, and whose name adorns the popular bar, Dierks Bentley's Whiskey Row, in Scottsdale, Tempe, and Gilbert.
But there's a long history of country and folk music in Phoenix. Country stars of the '60s and '70s, such as Waylon Jennings and Glen Campbell, made a name for themselves playing in the city's clubs, and hits including Marty Robbins' "El Paso" and Rex Allen's "Crying in the Chapel" were written here.
Blues music has established strong roots in Phoenix as well, thanks to the work of Bob Corritore and his venue, The Rhythm Room.
Check out our Spotify playlist of country, folk and blues from Phoenix below, or find it on the Spotify app here.
There was a period of time in the grunge era of the '90s when many considered Tempe's Mill Avenue to be the next Seattle, thanks in large part to the success of The Gin Blossoms hit, "Hey Jealousy." The movement, which also shed light on The Refreshments, Dead Hot Workshop and The Meat Puppets, can be experienced at the Tempe History Museum, which has an exhibit showcasing the era.
It doesn't just stop in the '90s though: Alice Cooper and Stevie Nicks are both certified Phoenicians, and Jimmy Eat World dominated airwaves in the early 2000s with their power-pop anthem "The Middle."
You can find a fair share of punk over the decades as well, with Jodie Foster's Army (JFA) in the '80s, Authority Zero in the 2000s or Playboy Manbaby nowadays.
Check out our Spotify playlist of rock from Phoenix below, or find it on the Spotify app here.
Phoenix has had its fair share of pop music over the years, partially thanks to "American Idol" (looking at you, Jordin Sparks, David Hernandez, and Dario). One of the biggest pop hits to come out of Phoenix was CeCe Peniston's "Finally," which dominated club speakers in the early '90s. If you're looking to tap in to that "Night at the Roxbury" kind of sound, you can still see Peniston perform at Phoenix Pride every now and then.
You'll find chart-toppers from the '80s such as "Broken Wings" by Mr. Mister; power-pop bangers from The Summer Set, The Maine, and Anarbor; and some modern chart toppers including "We Are Young" by fun., or "Let Me Down Slowly" by Alec Benjamin.
Check out our Spotify playlist of pop from Phoenix below, or find it on the Spotify app here.
Hip-Hop and Rap
It took a while for the hip-hop community to be recognized in Phoenix, but when it did, it exploded. Groups including Injury Reserve and Brockhampton have become major names in the genre, and sell out shows at The Van Buren in minutes. Hip-hop subgenres such as nerdcore grew in part thanks to artists such as Mega Ran. Even DMX called Phoenix home for a while.
Of course, we can't forget Chester Bennington, and how Linkin Park became one of the most popular groups in music as well.
The future of Phoenix's hip-hop community is kept strong thanks to the annual Arizona Hip Hop Festival, held in downtown Phoenix, where many underground artists and up-and-comers get a chance to lay down some rhymes.
Check out our Spotify playlist of hip-hop and rap from Phoenix below, or find it on the Spotify app here.
Indie music is a tricky genre to pin down, and this playlist is no exception. You'll find electro, folk, Afrobeat, and even klezmer funk in this playlist from a variety of acts — most of whom are either just under the radar of mainstream, or local groups that will pack a venue like The Van Buren, Crescent Ballroom or The Rebel Lounge.
Most of these groups carry weight when you ask local music lovers in Phoenix about them, but for new visitors, here's an opportunity to discover some great music. You'll likely notice the vocals on The Format's "Tune Out" sound familiar: singer Nate Ruess went on to be the frontman for fun., who had their hit "We Are Young" back in 2012. But for locals, The Format is more important than Ruess' later work — it was basically the soundtrack to every millennial's high school days in Phoenix.
Check out our Spotify playlist of indie from Phoenix below, or find it on the Spotify app here.
Soul, Funk, and R&B
Phoenix may not be the capital of soul, but it's hard to deny the talent of these artists after listening to this playlist. Most of these songs were recorded in the '50s and '60s, where inspiration came from touring groups who passed through Phoenix on their way to California.
The most notable hit is "Funky Broadway" by Dyke and The Blazers, which became a hit in the late '60s, and was inspired by Broadway Road, which runs through south Phoenix.
Those with a keen eye may also notice Chuck Womack, the namesake of the popular uptown Phoenix bar, The Womack.
Check out our Spotify playlist of soul, funk, and R&B from Phoenix below, or find it on the Spotify app here.
Hard Rock, Metal, and Hardcore
What is it about the Sonoran Desert that's inspired so many heavy metal and hardcore acts? For one reason or another, Phoenix has fostered its fair share of metal artists, including Megadeth's Dave Mustaine, Judas Priest's Rob Halford and Soulfy.
During the mid 2000s, the Greater Phoenix area was also the birthplace for many of the screamo and hardcore bands that were so popular during that period of time. For those who are looking for something with some intense riffs, throaty screams and headbanging, you'll find what you need with acts such as Greeley Estates, Job for a Cowboy, Eyes Set to Kill and Scary Kids Scaring Kids.
Check out our Spotify playlist of hard rock, metal, and hardcore from Phoenix below, or find it on the Spotify app here.
Many of the singer-songwriters of Phoenix have done their part to make a name for their collaborators more than they've made a name for themselves. Nils Lofgren is known for his work with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Neil Young and Ringo Starr; Lee Hazelwood helped make Nancy Sinatra a star with hits including "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" and "Some Velvet Morning." You'll even find some artists who are better known as entertainers, such as Wayne Newton and Dick Van Dyke.
But if there's one song that's worth a listen, it's Obadiah Parker's cover of "Hey Ya," which dominated the airwaves for a good chunk of time on the local radio stations.
Check out our Spotify playlist of singer-songrwiters from Phoenix below, or find it on the Spotify app here.