Back with more carefully quantified music discourse...related to an important (yet ultimately unanswerable) question: Best American Band?
If we were to reduce the criteria to an American band that has composed a song called "We're An American Band" it would be a knock-down drag-out fight between Grand Funk Railroad and Yo La Tengo. But it's not that simple.
My main takeaway from doing so much thinking about "American bands" is that I hope there is a band out there that sees this list and goes "oh we should try to become the best American band ourselves." Like, there's a lot of room for aspirations of "best" currently. It's time to stop saying "aw shucks" and "we're just trying to make music with our friends" and become more like U2 when they put out All That You Can't Leave Behind. Does anyone out there have a competition in them??
My own vote for best American band is Prince & the Revolution :)
Graph of bands that got more than 1 vote — congratulations to R.E.M., the best American band as voted via democracy!
Honorable mentions (bands with one vote)
The Beach Boys
Blue Oyster Cult
Booker T and the MGs
Ezra Furman and the Boy-Friends
Hot 8 Brass Band
Jimi Hendrix Experience
mewithoutyou "(intentionally annoying answer)"
Nine Inch Nails
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Trout Mask Magic Band
The White Stripes
Yo La Tengo