100 Best Ska Bands of All Time! (The Ultimate List)

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There’s something special about ska music. The up-tempo rhythms, the catchy horns, and the feel-good vibes always get people moving. And for over 50 years, ska has been entertaining audiences all over the world.

So, if you’re a fan of ska music, or even new to the genre and looking to expand your music library, this list is for you. We’ve compiled a list of the 100 best ska bands of all time, spanning all sub-genres of ska music.

From classic bands like The Specials and Madness to newer groups like Streetlight Manifesto and Reel Big Fish, you will definitely find a ska band on this list to suit your taste.

So without further ado, here are the 100 best ska bands of all time.


Top Best Ska Bands of all Time

Being a genre that is over half a century old, it’s difficult to pin down the top ska bands of all time. So we decided to do something a little different. We’ve compiled this list, based on popularity, critical acclaim, influence, and album sales. So here it is.

  1. The Specials
  2. Madness
  3. Less Than Jake
  4. Toots and the Maytals
  5. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
  6. The English Beat
  7. The Skatalites
  8. The Slackers
  9. Streetlight Manifesto
  10. Sublime

90’s ska bands

The 90s were a golden age for ska music. It was the era when 3rd wave ska really took off, with bands like Sublime, No Doubt, and Reel Big Fish leading the charge.

The popularity of ska music in the 90s led to a resurgence in interest in 2nd wavebands like Madness and The Specials.

Although the 90s are often considered the heyday of ska music, the genre has continued to evolve and grow in popularity. In recent years, we’ve seen the rise of ska-punk, ska-core, and even nu-ska.

So without further ado, here are the top ska bands of the 90s.

  • Reel Big Fish
  • No Doubt
  • Goldfinger
  • Rancid
  • Skankin’ Pickle
  • Mustard Plug
  • The Aquabats
  • Mad Caddies
  • The Slackers
  • Buck-O-Nine

80s Ska Bands

The 80s were a tough time for ska music. 2nd wave ska was on the decline, and 3rd wave wouldn’t explode until the early 90s. However, there were still a few great ska bands in the 80s worth checking out.

The English Beat and Madness were two 2nd wave ska bands that continued to find success in the 80s. The Specials also released a handful of new singles in the 80s, including their classic “Free Nelson Mandela”.

These bands helped popularize ska music in the UK and laid the foundation for the 3rd wave ska movement that would take off in the early 90s.

In addition to their music, these bands were also known for their fashion, which was heavily influenced by the Mod subculture.

  • Bad Manners
  • Operation Ivy
  • The Selecter
  • Fishbone
  • The Scofflaws
  • Bim Skala Bim
  • Let’s Go Bowling
  • Los Fabulosos Cadillacs
  • Desorden Público
  • The Untouchables

Ska Punk Bands

Ska-punk is a subgenre of ska that combines the fast tempos and catchy melodies of punk rock with the horns and 2-tone rhythms of ska.

Ska-punk emerged in the late 70s and early 80s, with bands like Operation Ivy, Rancid, and NOFX leading the way.

But it was the mid to late 1990s when ska-punk really took off, with the release of albums like Doubt’s Tragic Kingdom and Sublime’s self-titled album.

Today many of the ska-punk bands have broken up or gone on hiatus. However, there are still a number of great ska-punk bands keeping the music alive.

Here are some of the best Ska Punk bands of all time.

  • The Interrupters
  • Mustard Plug
  • Ska-P
  • Save Ferris
  • Big D and the Kids Table
  • Catch 22
  • We Are the Union
  • Dance Hall Crashers
  • Leftöver Crack
  • Against All Authority

Christian Ska Bands

Christian ska is a subgenre of ska music that addresses Christian themes. The earliest Christian ska bands were active in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Bands like The Insyderz, The O.C. Supertones, and Five Iron Frenzy were at the forefront of the Christian ska movement.

The late 1990s and early 2000s saw a resurgence in popularity for Christian ska, with bands like Relient K and Rx Bandits leading the way.

Although Christian ska is not as popular as it once was, there are still a number of great Christian ska bands making music today.

Here are some of the best Christian ska bands of all time.

  • The O.C. Supertones
  • Five Iron Frenzy
  • Flight 180
  • The Insyderz
  • The Dingees
  • Bunch Of Believers
  • Buck Enterprises
  • Sonseed
  • Seekersplanet
  • October Light

Victory Records Ska Bands

Victory Records is an American record label that was founded in 1989 by Tony Brummel. The label is home to a number of great ska bands, including streetlight manifesto, catch 22, and mustard plug.

Victory Records has been instrumental in helping to keep ska music alive while also championing new and upcoming ska bands.

The label has released some of the best ska albums of the last 20 years, and they continue to sign new and up-and-coming ska bands.

Not to mention, Victory Records has their own ska Fest which is always a great time.

  • A Day to Remember
  • Streetlight Manifesto
  • Silverstein
  • Voodoo Glow Skulls
  • Chase Long Beach
  • Thursday
  • Aiden
  • Bad Brains
  • Burning Heads
  • June

Japanese Ska Bands

Emerged in the late 1980s and early 1990s the Japanese ska scene is characterized by its own unique sound and style, which has been heavily influenced by both American and British ska music.

Japanese ska bands often incorporate elements of rock, punk, and metal into their music. While some Japanese ska bands sing in English, many sing in Japanese.

Despite the fact that the Japanese ska scene is not as large or as well-known as the American or British ska scenes, this genre has a devoted following in Japan.

And over the years, a number of great Japanese ska bands have emerged. Here are some of the best ones.

  • Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra
  • Oreskaband
  • Kemuri
  • Potshot
  • Gollbetty
  • Oi-SKALL Mates
  • 175R
  • Yum!Yum!ORANGE
  • Ska Ska Club
  • Mongol800

Female Ska Bands

While ska music has historically been a male-dominated genre, there have always been a number of great female ska bands. From The Slackers to No Doubt, female ska bands have been making great music for years.

And although the number of female-fronted ska bands is still relatively small, there are a number of great ones making music today.

Here are a few best ones that you should check out.

  • The Interrupters
  • No Doubt
  • The Bodysnatchers
  • Screaming Females
  • Hans Gruber and the Die Hards
  • The Distillers
  • Yum!Yum!ORANGE
  • F-Minus
  • Althea and Donna

Houston ska bands

Houston has a surprisingly vibrant ska scene, with a number of great ska bands emerging from the city in recent years.

These bands often have a punk rock influence, and many of them sing in Spanish.

The Houston ska scene is relatively small, but it’s still possible to find a great ska show if you know where to look.

  • Free Radicals
  • JAM-X Band/Coral Sea Entertainment
  • The Gratitude Steel Band
  • Profile Reggae Band
  • Reel Ting Steel Drum Band
  • Oasis Island Sounds
  • The Suspects
  • THE SKATASTROPHICS

Ska Reggae bands

Reggae and Ska have always had a close relationship, with many ska bands incorporating reggae into their music.

Both genres share a similar laid-back and easygoing vibe, which is why they go so well together.

The only difference between ska and reggae is that ska is generally faster-paced and has a stronger focus on the horns.

But at their core, both genres are about having a good time and enjoying life.

And while there are many great ska bands that incorporate reggae into their sound, there are also a number of pure ska reggae bands that focus exclusively on this genre.

Here are some of the best ska reggae bands around.

  • Bob Marley and the Wailers
  • Hepcat
  • UB40
  • Pilfers
  • Spring Heeled Jack
  • Big D and the Kids Table
  • The Arrogant Sons of Bit***
  • Skavoovie and the Epitones
  • Bim Skala Bim
  • Skankin’ Pickle

Obscure Ska Bands

It wasn’t all The Specials and Sublime in the’ ’90s ska scene. While those two bands may have gotten all the mainstream attention, there were a number of other great ska bands making music during this time.

These bands may not have been as popular as The Specials or Sublime, but they were still making great ska music.

And although many of these bands have since broken up, there are still a few that are making music today.

Here are some of the best obscure ska bands that you should check out.

  • The Taj Motel Trio
  • Small Town Get Up
  • Life of the Party
  • Half Beat
  • Demon Waffle
  • Pinstripes
  • CBJ
  • Something to Do
  • 4 Aspirin Morning
  • Beat the Smart Kids

List Source – Reddit

American Ska Bands

America has always had a great ska scene, with a number of excellent ska bands emerging from the country over the years.

To be precise, the American ska scene began in the late 1970s and early 1980s in Southern California. This is where bands like The Untouchables, Fishbone, and No Doubt got their start.

Since then, the American ska scene has continued to grow, with new bands emerging from all over the country.

  • Against All Authority
  • The Berlin Project
  • Chase Long Beach
  • The Ernies
  • Five Iron Frenzy
  • Gals Panic
  • Have Nots
  • High School Football Heroes
  • Mad Caddies
  • Mephiskapheles

Spanish Ska Bands

The Spanish ska scene is relatively small, but there are still a number of great ska bands making music today.

Spanish ska bands often have a punk rock influence, and many of them sing in Spanish.

The Spanish ska scene is not as large or well-known as the American or British ska scenes, but it still has a devoted following. Not to mention, a number of great Spanish ska bands have emerged in recent years.

Here are some of the best ones that you should check out.

  • Doctor Prats
  • Hot Numbers
  • La Raíz
  • Obrint Pas
  • Ska-P
  • Skalariak
  • Vendetta
  • Voltor
  • The Locos

70s Ska Bands

The 70s was the time when ska music was at its peak so it’s no surprise that there are a number of great ska bands from this era.

Many of the most popular ska bands today got their start in the 70s, including The Specials, Madness, and The Selecter.

But there are also a number of lesser-known ska bands from this era that are still worth checking out.

Here are some of the best 70s ska bands that you should listen to.

  • The Skatalites
  • Toots and the Maytals
  • Bad Manners
  • Bob Marley and the Wailers
  • The Clash
  • Desmond Dekker and The Aces
  • The Police
  • The Upsetters
  • The Ruts
  • The Members

British Ska Bands

The British ska scene was one of the most vibrant and influential ska scenes of all time. It was in the UK where ska music first gained popularity, with bands like The Specials and Madness leading the way.

The British ska scene continued to be strong in the 1980s and 1990s, with a number of great ska bands emerging from this era.

And although the British ska scene is not as strong as it once was, there are still a number of great ska bands making music today.

  • Random Hand
  • Missing Andy
  • Lightyear
  • Sonic Boom Six
  • Sounds Like Chicken
  • The Skints
  • Ska Cubano
  • Howards Alias
  • Mark Foggo
  • Citizen Fish

Conclusion

So, there you have it – a list of the 100 best ska bands of all time! This list includes a mix of both popular and obscure ska bands, from all over the world.

Hopefully, this list has introduced you to some new ska bands that you can enjoy.

But regardless of whether you’re a ska music fan or not, there’s no denying that this is a genre with a rich history and some great bands.