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90's Best Rock and Grunge Songs

Updated on September 10, 2014

The Best Songs from 90s Alternative Rock and Grunge

90s Alternative Rock and Grunge Songs

The 90s produced what is quite possibly the best rock music since the beginning of the genre. I can understand an argument can be made that the 50s, 60s and 70s were each great in their own right. They each took rock music and basically invented and re-invented it. For those rockers in the 60 and 70s there was really nothing to copy. The 80s were a decade of utter crap. Synth pop and heavy metal hair band garbage. It seemed as though rock had killed itself with nothing new...until grunge and alternative rock.

Alt rock crept up into the scene in the 80s. College radio played stuff that mainstream radio would never put on their playlist. It was hit or miss but fun to discover new bands. But then a breakout occurred with the so-called "Seattle sound". It was a different kind of rock. Guitar solos came to an end following the gratuitous hair band metal sound. It was glorious.

The sound was heavy and sludgy. 90's grunde bands like Alice in Chains and Soundgarden were rocking just before Nirvana exploded onto the scene. Then "Smells Like Teen Spirit" changed everything that was rock for a decade. When else has that ever occurred? Has a sound ever crossed into mainstream from college radio to rock stations to pop. Grunge and alt rock was radio in the 90s.

The 2000s have so far been a lost decade for rock. Pop and hip-hop has dominated the airwaves and mainstream for a long time unfortunately. Rock is dead in the 00s, but there is great music to discover from 90s grunge bands and alt rock, some of which I am going to splash onto this lens.

Smashing Pumpkins - 10 Favorite Alternative Rock Songs from the 90s
Smashing Pumpkins - 10 Favorite Alternative Rock Songs from the 90s

10 Favorite Alternative Rock Songs from the 90s

"Disarm" - This was a lovely slow rocker from Smashing Pumpkins. Still a favorite tune.

"Desperately Wanting" - Better Than Ezra. Smooth rocker.

"How's It Going to Be" - Why Third Eye Blind never made it to super-stardom I'll never know. Love this song. Slow build up to the rocking end.

"Santa Monica" - Is this really alt rock? I dunno. It seemed to get plenty of alternative airplay. Love how it builds to a crunchy end.

"I Was Wrong" - Social Distortion. One of my top 5 bands from the 90's. Hard to say which band I've listened to more from the 90's AIC or Social D.

"Don't Wanna Be Here" - Quite possibly my favorite alt rock album of the 90s was by Cool for August. The band came and went with the one album. Sadly they could have been great.

"Where the River Flows" - Living in Georgia in the 90s you would hear a lot of Collective Soul from the alt radio and college stations. This nifty rocker was a fave.

"Loser" - Beck was so cool in the 90s.

"Live Forever" - Oasis. Classified as alt rock? Tough call but I liked them anyway in the 90s.

"Gone Away" - Huge number of songs from The Offspring that got my toes tapping in the 90's. More punk than alternative but they make my list anyway.

Top 10 Best Grunge Songs
Top 10 Best Grunge Songs

Top 10 Best Grunge Songs

"Smells Like Teen Spirit" - No list will ever go without the breakout sludgy rocker from Nirvana.

"Down in a Hole" - Alice in Chains bluesy rocker is a favorite. I could have played it safe and added "Man in the Box" but frankly there were a lot of great songs from Alice in Chains during the 90s.

"Little Things" - Bush was always compared to Nirvana and not exactly in a good way. I personally thought their music was more fun and really enjoyed this song a lot.

"Cumbersome" - Seven Mary 3 was a great band. This was a great song. Gravelly vocals. Hard rocker.

"Spoonman" - I know I am supposed to like Soundgarden but this is about the only song that really did it for me.

"All I Know" - Screaming Trees never made it big out of Seattle. Pity. They were the Seattle sound. Among the Godfathers of grunge.

"Sex Type Thing" - Stone Temple Pilots had plenty of popular songs in the 90s. This rowdy, maybe sexy, rocker, was the best.

"Would" - Multiple tunes by my favorite 90s band, AIC, would necessarily end up here. This was a lovely song from the movie "Singles" which tried to chronicle the era. It mostly failed.

"Low" - Cool song by Cracker. I doubt they would classify themselves as grunge but this tune certainly sounded like it.

"Tomorrow" - Silverchair were kids when they came up with this tune. The lyrics are stupid. Guitars rock hard. Good enough.

Best 90's Rock Albums

90s Grunge and Alternative Music Poll

Who is Your Favorite Grunge Band From the 90's

See results

Favorite Smashing Pumpkins Video

Smashing Pumpkins "Disarm" from Siamese Dream

Favorite Alice in Chains Video

Down in Hole from the Dirt album. Moody and melodic this has been my favorite AIC song to this day.

Social D - I Was Wrong

Local H - High Fivin' MF

This song is awesome. So much noise. Excellent cynical lyrics. Two guys? Really? Loved this band. Man, where did this type music go?

What do you think about 90's grunge and alt rock?

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    • goodbetterbestr profile image

      goodbetterbestr 4 years ago

      The 90's did produce some great music. I love Soundgarden and Stone Temple Pilots. The 80's weren't total crap though - We had Guns 'n Roses, Metallica, Van Halen, Kiss.....just to name a few off the top of my head.

    • profile image

      TanoCalvenoa 4 years ago

      I liked it back then...

    • Otto Phillips profile image

      Otto Phillips 4 years ago

      I agree with you about Alice In Chains being the best Grunge band. My favorite song from them would have to be "What the Hell Have I?". I have all the albums listed in your 10 best albums list. Great Music and a Great Lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I think Nirvana was the best band ever. R.I.P. Kurt Cobain

    • profile image

      Chris1970 4 years ago

      Awesome choices.I wasn't too into it back then,but as time has passed I really have grown to love 90s music.

    • rstaveley lm profile image

      Richard Staveley 4 years ago from Burley in Wharfedale, Yorkshire, England

      Give me 60s and 70s any time - showing my age here!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      90's grunge & alt rock was the best & still d best!! just love to hear them, lot of GREAT songs to pick..

    • TheLittleCardShop profile image

      Malu Couttolenc 5 years ago

      Excellent pickz! :)

    • TheLittleCardShop profile image

      Malu Couttolenc 5 years ago

      Excellent pickz! :)

    • TheLittleCardShop profile image

      Malu Couttolenc 5 years ago

      Excellent pickz! :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I agree with crowleysghost, it's a shame there's no pixies.

    • profile image

      angelatvs 5 years ago

      Need to update my iPhone with some of these!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @FestivalGirl: You are so hot!

    • profile image

      sailor_man 5 years ago

      I spend a lot of time writing them just like you

    • profile image

      sailor_man 5 years ago

      I spend a lot of time writing them just like you

    • duzyatko profile image

      duzyatko 5 years ago

      Thanks for your lens I discovered Alice in chains. Great lens!

    • CrowleysGhost profile image

      CrowleysGhost 5 years ago

      No Pixies? Shame.

    • Fcuk Hub profile image

      Fcuk Hub 5 years ago

      I'm huge fan :)

    • BunnyFabulous profile image

      BunnyFabulous 5 years ago from Central Florida

      I love 90's grunge and alternative rock. It was the soundtrack to my college years and early adulthood. I like your take on it.

    • whiteskyline lm profile image

      whiteskyline lm 5 years ago

      Love 90's grunge rock

    • profile image

      havokxtian 5 years ago

      Great lens. I love Nirvana

    • terrywoodhouse lm profile image

      terrywoodhouse lm 5 years ago

      great bands - looking forward to Noel's High flying Birds tonight on tv

    • FestivalGirl profile image

      FestivalGirl 5 years ago

      Great songs :)

    • profile image

      MarjorieWard 5 years ago

      Great list! All of these are personal favorites. Although I believe Smashing Pumpkins should rightfully hold at least the top 3 spots...

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      1. Better than ezra does not belong here IMO. 2. Third Eye Blind did make it to superstardom.

    • betty-tailor profile image

      betty-tailor 5 years ago

      Very interesting read - I enjoyed this. I like your insight into music :)

    • katesawyer profile image

      Kate Sawyer 5 years ago from Nashville

      Thanks for the love guys. I love this music and was happy to share my faves.

    • heehaw lm profile image

      heehaw lm 5 years ago

      thanks for sharing the grunge back in the 90's.

    • profile image

      TBrennan0101 5 years ago

      Nice lens! Im a huge fan of the 90's rock sound. You gotta give Soundgarden another try. They were a great album band.

    • profile image

      Terrie_Schultz 5 years ago

      That was a great era, nothing today comes close. Soundgarden is one of my favorite bands.

    • profile image

      george914 5 years ago

      Great lens! love 90s rock and grunge

    • profile image

      JSchaper LM 6 years ago

      A fine lens indeed.

      I grew up listening to grunge and metal and I will always love it.


    • TheLastResort LM profile image

      TheLastResort LM 6 years ago

      Soundgarden is awesome! Great lens, but consider adding more youtube videos of these bads!

    • profile image

      foxx2jett 6 years ago

      Great lens. 90's Alternative Rock, brings back so many great memories!

    • GabStar profile image

      GabStar 6 years ago

      You've got all the music I love on here - good job

    • profile image

      bokal99 6 years ago

      Screaming Trees were really great, as their following projects and solo albums (as Mark Lanegan)

    • profile image

      Obscure_Treasures 6 years ago

      90's Best Rock and Grunge Songs are my favorites. Nirvana is the band which I have always favored. Good job.

    • profile image

      kelli320 6 years ago

      Great picks. Some of these songs I haven't heard forever. Very cool. Good memories.

    • gamecheathub profile image

      gamecheathub 6 years ago

      Great topic! Screaming Trees, STP and 3EB were my favs of the ones you had listed. Good stuff!