From funky beats to dancing treats, whether its folk, rock, dance, pop or punk, Scotland's musical stars are covering it all.
The acts you will know
Hailing from the tiny village of Auchtermuchty in Fife, identical twins Charlie and Craig Reid formed The Proclaimers in 1983. This iconic duo has since gone on to release 11 studio albums, all characterised by their unmistakable Scottish accent. Along the way, they’ve provided us with global smash hits like ‘Sunshine on Leith’, ‘I’m on My Way’ and 'I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)' which have appeared in movies, TV shows and adverts around the globe.
Born in Bathgate, just outside Edinburgh, Lewis Capaldi’s emotional ballads, combined with his very Scottish sense of humour, have seen him become a global superstar across social media and the music charts. In 2019, with his song ‘Someone You Loved’, he became the first Scottish solo artist to secure a US number one since Sheena Easton in 1981. It’s fair to say that Lewis Capaldi is a star on the rise, and another of Scotland's great gifts to the world.
Born on Christmas Day in Aberdeen, Annie Lennox is one of Scotland’s best-known musicians. As one half of Eurythmics, Annie ruled the 80’s with hits like ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)’ before embarking on a solo career that has seen her win Grammys, Golden Globes, and even an Oscar for her musical work. When she isn’t wowing fans on stage, Annie is also a tireless social and political activist and was awarded an OBE for her charity work in 2011.
Technically AC/DC are an Australian creation, but Scotland had a massive part to play in the formation of one of rock and roll’s greatest bands. AC/DC were formed by Glasgow-born brothers, Angus and Malcolm Young, with another Scotsman – lead singer Bon Scott – performing with the band until his death in 1980. The band have sold more than 200 million records, with ‘Back in Black’ being the highest-selling album in the world by any band.
Originally from Dumfries, in the Scottish Borders, Calvin Harris is a DJ, record producer, songwriter and singer. In 2007, Harris released his debut album ‘I Created Disco’, which included two top ten singles, and has never looked back. With a string of number one hits across the globe under his belt, his rise to DJ superstardom has seen him work with some of the biggest names in music, including Rihanna, Dua Lipa, Katy Perry and Ariana Grande.
Formed in Glasgow in 2011, Chvrches are a Scottish electronic band consisting of lead singer Lauren Mayberry, Iain Cook and Martin Doherty. Chvrches came fifth on BBC's Sound of 2013, which lists promising new talent, before releasing their debut studio album ‘The Bones of What You Believe’. Since then, Chvrches have toured all over Europe, the USA, Canada and Japan, releasing follow-up albums ‘Every Open Eye’ in 2015 and ‘Love is Dead’ in 2018.
Formed in 1995, when lead singer Simon Neil was just 15 years old, Biffy Clyro are a rock band from Kilmarnock and a product of acclaimed student-run Scottish record label, Electric Honey. This multi-award-winning trio are known for an eclectic style that covers all-out rock anthems alongside haunting ballads. Most summers you’ll find them at some of the biggest festivals, where their loyal fans will be shouting the famous chant 'mon the Biff'.
Yes – we know that Snow Patrol have a strong Northern Irish contingent. However, if it wasn’t for Scotland then we might not even have this stellar indie-rock band - they are also another Electric Honey alum. Formed in 1994 while studying in Dundee, Snow Patrol have achieved phenomenal success around the world thanks to hits like ‘Chasing Cars’ and ‘Run’. This Grammy-nominated band have since gone on to sell nearly 20 million records.
Formed in Glasgow in 1977, Simple Minds achieved worldwide popularity throughout the 80s and early 90s, racking up several critically acclaimed albums. To this day, they are perhaps best known for their number one single ‘Don't You (Forget About Me)’ that featured in John Hughes' iconic film ‘The Breakfast Club’. The band has since gone on to sell more than 60 million albums and continues to perform and tour today.
Formed in 1986 in Glasgow, Texas are a Scottish pop-rock band known primarily for the stunning vocal talents of lead singer Sharleen Spiteri. The band have released an impressive nine studio albums, and are still working on new music and touring today. Hit songs such as ‘I Don’t Want a Lover’ and ‘Black Eyed Boy’ have seen the band achieve impressive international success, selling more than 40 million records around the world.
Another Glasgow offering, Scottish rock band, Travis, formed in the city in 1990 and have been treating fans to incredible music ever since. Known for tracks including ‘Why Does It Always Rain on Me’, ‘Turn’ & ‘Flowers in the Window’, this quartet have enjoyed success on an international level and helped pave the way for bands such as Coldplay and Keane.
Born in Edinburgh, KT Tunstall’s alternative/folk rock sound is adored by millions throughout Scotland and around the world. She rose to fame after a performance on Jools Holland’s ‘Later..’ show in 2004 and hasn’t looked back since. Perhaps her most well-known song, ‘Suddenly I See’ has appeared in countless movies and TV shows, including ‘The Devil Wears Prada’, ‘Ugly Betty’, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and ‘Love, Rosie’.
After being inspired to try her hand at music by watching the Scottish band, Travis, Amy Macdonald started playing her father’s guitar at the age of 12 and has gone on to achieve incredible successes since. To date, she has sold more than 12 million records worldwide and when she isn’t touring festivals with her unique folk/rock sound, she can usually be found at Scotland’s international sporting events, belting out the national anthem before matches.
Belle & Sebastian
Led by lead singer Stuart Murdoch, Belle and Sebastian are a Scottish rock band that were formed in Glasgow in 1994 and are yet another Electric Honey success story. These days, the band are regularly considered one of the greatest indie pop groups of all time and have gained an incredibly passionate fan base thanks to their distinctive style. The band have released eight studio albums and are still producing new music nearly 30 years after it all began.
Bay City Rollers
Formed in Edinburgh, and known as much for their tartan outfits as they were for their musical talents, the Bay City Rollers enjoyed international teen idol status throughout the 1970s. Although the band has changed line-ups on several different occasions, they were adored across the UK, North America, Australia and Asia. The band released an incredible 13 studio albums and were at one point heralded as ‘the biggest group since The Beatles’.
An influential rock band formed in Glasgow in 2002, Franz Ferdinand won the Mercury Music Prize in 2004, and two BRIT Awards in 2005 for Best British Group and Best British Rock Act. NME also named their eponymous debut album as Album of the Year thanks to classic songs like ‘Take Me Out’. The band has been nominated for several Grammy awards, making them one of the few Scottish bands or artists to enjoy that honour.
Formed in Glasgow in 1982, rock band, Primal Scream were a key part of the 1980s indie pop scene. However, it wasn’t until 1991, when they met up with DJ Andrew Weatherall who introduced a dance music element into their music that the band really took off in the mainstream consciousness. The band have achieved impressive success throughout their years, thanks in part to classic tunes including ‘Movin’ On Up’ and ‘Rocks’.
Formed in Bellshill near Glasgow in 1989, the band emerged from a scene that was heavily influenced by The Beach Boys and the Byrds. Once described by Nirvana frontman, Kurt Cobain as ‘the best band in the world’, the band have gone on to release 11 studio albums cementing their place as influential alt-rock legends.
Although technically an American rock band, Garbage would be nothing without the enigmatic vocals of Scottish lead singer, Shirley Manson. The four-piece have released six studio albums, selling nearly 20 million records thanks to hits like ‘Stupid Girl’ and ‘Only Happy When it Rains’. Garbage even have the honour of providing one of the iconic James Bond themes, performing ‘The World is Not Enough’ for the 1999 movie of the same name.
Average White Band
Best known for their 1974, million-selling US no.1, ‘Pick Up The Pieces, Dundee’s finest export (other than jam, jute and journalism) had a run of three US top ten albums in a row with a unique blend of funk and soul. The band’s legacy has seen them influence acts including the Beastie Boys and Public Enemy.
The acts you should know
Consisting of front man Sam McTrusty, lead guitarist Barry McKenna, bass guitarist Ross McNae and drummer Craig Kneale, Twin Atlantic were formed in 2007 in Glasgow. The band have enjoyed tremendous success, regularly playing large music festivals including Belladrum, Sonisphere and Glastonbury. They have also toured with some of music’s biggest names, including Smashing Pumpkins, My Chemical Romance and Biffy Clyro.
Nutini is a singer/songwriter and musician from Paisley who has achieved wide international acclaim. His songs regularly infiltrate US TV shows, featuring on Scrubs, One Tree Hill, Grey's Anatomy, CSI:Miami, CSI:NY. He supported the Rolling Stones in Vienna and has also graced the stage of the Carnegie Music Hall in New York, Montreux Jazz Festival, Glastonbury and Live Earth at Wembley.
Hip Hop may not be a music genre you immediately associate with Scottish Bands, but you should definitely check out Scottish Hip Hop band, Young Fathers. Formed in Edinburgh in 2008, the trio started performing in nightclubs when they were just teenagers and have since gained a passionate base of fans. In 2014, the band won the prestigious Mercury Music Prize and performed on no less than six tracks on the soundtrack for the hit movie, Trainspotting 2.
The Twilight Sad
Post-punk/indie-rock five-piece, The Twilight Sad, were formed in Kilsyth back in 2003. The band are notorious for their ‘completely ear-splittingly loud’ live performances as well as lead singer James Graham’s thick Scottish accent. They have drawn widespread acclaim for their unique sound, which they describe as ‘folk with layers of noise’. The band have released five studio albums to date and are a regular at music festivals around the world.
Formed in Selkirk in 2003, indie-rock band Frightened Rabbit started life as a solo passion project for singer and guitarist, Scott Hutchison. Their music has been described as ‘bleak but also utterly beautiful and impossibly grandiose’ Sadly, the untimely death of Scott in 2018 means the band are no longer performing, but they continue to have an impact, both through their music, and through the Tiny Changes mental health charity set up in Scott’s honour.
Scottish post-rock band, Mogwai, were formed in Glasgow in 1995. The band are known for producing lengthy, guitar-based instrumental pieces that incorporate the use of heavy distortion and effects. The band’s music has appeared in everything from massive Hollywood blockbusters to acclaimed documentaries, notably Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait and numerous TV shows They have released nine albums to date.
Four-piece art-rock band, Django Django were formed in 2009, when the members all met while studying at Edinburgh College of Art in Scotland’s Capital. Comprised of two Scots, an Englishman and a Northern Irishman, the band have released three studio albums since their formation. Django Django are primarily known for their ability to seamlessly fuse both incredible sounds and beautiful visuals to create incredible artistic statements.
Formed in Glasgow in 1985, Deacon Blue are a Scottish pop rock band who have released 10 studio albums during a career that has spanned more than three decades. Selling more than 6 million records, with 12 UK top 40 singles and two number 1 albums, Deacon Blue are one of Scotland’s most iconic bands from the 1980s. With mega hits such as ‘Dignity’ and ‘Real Gone Kid’, Deacon Blue continue to populate the playlists of DJs and fans to this day.
Formed in Scotland’s capital city of Edinburgh back in 1995, Idlewild are a 5-piece rock band that have released nine studio albums to date. The band have come a long way since performing to a group of 30 friends in Edinburgh’s Subway club in 1996 and now regularly sell out large venues when touring around the world. Known for their sweeping, melodic sounds, Idlewild continue to be a firm favourite with music lovers everywhere.