Denver is arguably one of the most eclectic music scenes in the country. From the improvisational electronic music of Pretty Lights to the homegrown folk of the Lumineers, Denver’s diverse scene crosses genres and cultures, becoming a truly rich melting pot of sound in the process. There is a plethora of emerging artists across multiple genres continuing to reshape the Denver soundscape, redefining the “Denver sound” as they go along. This article features the best of Denver’s music scene organized into their respective genres. The songs featured are subject to what’s available on Spotify. We love all Denver music, but unfortunately, couldn’t feature every artist or genre. Are we missing someone you’d like us to check out? Feel free to add a link in the comments.

Denver's Best Music

Retrofette at UMS. Photo By Amanda Piela

Denver’s Best Electronic

Denver is known for a very specific brand of electronic music — a funky jam based electronic/acoustic hybrid made popular by the likes of Pretty Lights — that seems as pervasive in Colorado culture as our state’s liberal marijuana use. Go figure. The combo is as conspicuously Colorado as an REI receipt and a muddy Jeep (or Subaru). However, contrary to popular belief, Denver’s electronic music scene is an incredibly imaginative and diverse arena. While this playlist features the usual subjects of GRiZ, Illenium and Big Gigantic, up-and-comers like Maddy O’ Neal, Rumtum and Stélouse are represented, pushing their own brand of electronic music into Denver’s bustling music scene.

Listen below or check out the playlist here.

Denver’s Best Alternative

Alternative music can be a lot of things, but conforming is not one of them. Denver’s Best Alternative playlist is no exception. With huge names like DeVotchKa and Tennis alongside the lo-fi throwback sound of OKO TYGRA and Décollage, this playlist covers the spectrum of Denver’s diverse alternative music scene. If you had any opportunity to check out this year’s edition of the Underground Music Showcase, many of the names on this playlist will read as the who’s who of the festival, and more so who you should be looking to blow up in the near future.

Listen below or check out the playlist here.

Denver’s Best Rock 

The first thing that probably comes to mind when one thinks of Denver rock music is Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats. The Denver-based band has led the charge of bringing Denver’s brand of gritty throwback rock music to the national scale. However, Rateliff and the boys are not the only ones with the swagger to back. On this playlist, you’ll find Brent Cowles and his high-octane thrill ride, Falchemist’s avant-garde jam rock, Muscle Beach’s raucous punk rock haze and many more under the rock umbrella.

Listen below or check out the playlist here.

Denver’s Best R&B

Denver’s Best R&B playlist is one of the most concise but also one that packs one hell of a punch. Having Denver staples, Povi, Sur Ellz and Yasi on one list is good on its own, but coupled with some alt-R&B from Sidmfkid and the forever funky Analog Son among others, they deliver the vibes for any point in time.

Listen below or check out the playlist here.

Denver’s Best Pop

Pop music is a genre that can be virtually anything, and this playlist is no exception. In building Denver’s Best Pop Playlist, criteria of lyrics, melody and general catchiness were taken into consideration. The songs on this playlist have it all. From the ’80s nostalgia of Rumours Follow’s track “Flavor” to OptycNerd’s viral hit “Marathons,” this playlist is meant for the moments nodding your head in your cubicle mouthing the words to what will be your new favorite songs.

Listen below or check out the playlist here.

Denver’s Best Hip-Hop

Denver’s hip-hop scene is undoubtedly a burgeoning one. With hometown hero Trev Rich recently signing with Young Money Records, along with many other contributing factors, Denver is about to hit the spotlight. This playlist is filled to the brim of promising talent ready to carry the torch of putting the Mile High City on the map. This playlist demonstrates the sheer sea of hip-hop talent residing in Denver, with established favorites like The Foodchain presented beside hungry up and comers like Pries and Low Hanging Fruit.

Listen below or check out the playlist here.

Denver’s Best Metal/Hard Rock

Although Denver gets over 300 days of sunshine, there’s a dark swelling undercurrent of gloom and despair thriving in Denver’s eclectic metal scene. So much so, that the scene is catching national press attention on its many emerging stars. While some artists like the Munsens are harder to come across on streaming sites, this playlist does a good job a finding the best in a hopeless place with artists like Khemmis and Screwtape. There’s even a nod to this summer’s (arguably despicable) anthem “Despacito,” performed by Colorado’s own Acaedia.

Listen below or check out the playlist here.

Denver’s Best Country

Being known as the Queen City of the Plains automatically comes with a predisposition to country music — a genre Denver has no shortage of talent in. This playlist features many gems like Ryan Chrys’ bonafide Colorado anthem “Wandering (King of Colfax),” to the sobering “O.D’d In Denver,” by The Railbenders. In fact, Denver’s country music tends to not subscribe to the many worn out tropes of Nashville, allowing the scene to capture something rather unique and quintessential Colorado in the process.

Listen below or check out the playlist here.

Denver’s Best Folk & Bluegrass

If there was any scene permeating the national music soundscape just as much as the metal scene, it’d be Denver’s folk scene. Huge names like The Lumineers are at the forefront, leading the way for Red Rocks headliners Elephant Revival and local-favorite Gasoline Lollipops among others into uncharted territory on a national scale. This playlist features the aforementioned names and more heavy hitters who make Denver’s folk scene as vibrant and successful as it is.

Listen below or check out the playlist here.

18 Responses

  1. Kyle

    Some other up and coming local bands to check out and maybe add to these playlists:

    Tyto Alba

  2. Shayne Martel

    Rob4Real is on Spotify too. Ace Supreme. Avery Shyra etc etc etc etc

  3. John

    – The Midnight Club
    – My Body Sings Electric
    – Nightlove

    All of these are better than most of the stuff on the list. Check them out.

  4. Kerry

    The Violet Tides packed the house on Saturday night at Skylark at UMS! Check out “Afraid of Being Saved” or “Just Another Lie”


    Hip hop list is a joke whoever wrote this clearly doesn’t know Denver rap. You cannot have a Denver list without bring me the chalupa, and many other songs that are missing from this list whoever did this list does not know hip hop in Colorado

  6. Tim

    Where is best Bluegrass?

    Ragged Union
    Chain Station
    Trout Steak Revival
    Lonesome Days

  7. Phil Bohannon

    Um… the Lumineers are not Bluegrass, nor are half the bands that are mentioned in that category. Colorado does have a fair share of newgrass bands.


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