The Greatest 90s Grunge Bands

The 1990s can be described as a chaotic and experimental period in music history, as well as the golden age for grunge bands.

With the twilight of synth-pop and glam-metal in the late 80s, new music genres like grunge, Britpop and alternative rock emerged. At the same time, pop-punk, industrial rock and heavy metal continued to rock in the 90s and enjoyed great success during the decade. Other fusion genres like nu-metal and ska-punk also witnessed their moments of glory.

I often feel nostalgic and get the urge to listen to some 90s music. Many times though, I end up being heartbroken when I find 90s rock playlists with hundreds of songs that have nothing to do with each other. The 1990s are a colorful experimental rock phase so putting Blink-182, Pantera and Natalie Imbruglia in the same basket just doesn’t feel right to me. So I decided to create my own playlist, containing solely 90s grunge songs for those… reflective and slightly bitter moments of life.

Here’s my modest playlist collection of grunge bands that I hope to continue expanding.

Apart from the playlist, I’ve also listed a few iconic grunge bands, together with some short information about them. Still, music speaks louder than my article so I will be short and not bore you with the details.

Top 5 90s Grunge Bands

#1 Nirvana

Nirvana, 90s grunge bands

This is an obvious choice so there’s no need for a long presentation. Formed in 1987, the band had a huge success during the 80s and 90s, even after the death of the frontman Kurt Cobain. Their most commercially successful song was Smells Like Teen Spirit from the album Nevermind, released in 1991. Initially, Come As You Are was the intended single for the album but the audience’s reception had its final word. Smells Like Teen Spirit became so popular, to the point that the band was ’embarrassed’ with it, as everyone’s obsession with the song was sometimes overshadowing the rest of the great grunge songs from the band.

#2 Soundgarden

Soundgarden, 90s grunge bands

The grunge band began its journey in 1984 but gained immense popularity after the release of the Superunknown album in 1994, and specifically with the song Black Hole Sun. The band was blessed with the well-known frontman Chris Cornell. He is remembered as one of the best vocalists of the decade because of his powerful and four-octave-range voice.

#3 Alice In Chains

Alice in Chains, 90s grunge bands
Alice In Chains

The band was formed in 1987 and became particularly famous after the release of the masterpiece Dirt in 1992. The album had five major singles, among which was Them Bones.

Unfortunately, the years after 1996 were dark and silent as the vocalist Steve Huey was struggling with drug abuse. A few years after his death though, the band got back together with a new vocalist William Duvall.

#4 Stone Temple Pilots

Stone Temple Pilots, 90s grunge bands
Stone Temple Pilots

While their recent releases can be categorized as classical or sometimes psychedelic rock, their initial music falls into the grunge genre. In the 90s the band released two successful albums: Core (1992) and Purple (1994). Some of their best hits from the first album include Plush and Sex Type Thing. As for Purple, the song Interstate Love Song enjoyed particular attention and commercial success.

#5 Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam, 90s grunge bands
Pearl Jam

Formed in 1990, Pearl Jam is considered one of the major grunge bands in the movement. Their first album Ten occupied the Billboard200 chart for five years and it is still one of the most sold albums in the US. Some of their famous songs include Even Flow, Black and Jeremy.

Even if some of the above-mentioned grunge bands are not on your top list, the fact that they made this genre so commercially successful and popular in the 90s is undeniable.

Honorable Mentions

Here are a few more “underground” bands that didn’t enjoy the same commercial success as the Top 5, but they still left their signature in grunge history.


Album: Sixteen Stone (1994)

Mother Love Bone

Album: Apple (1990)

Green River

Album: Dry as a Bone/Rehab Doll (1990)


Album: Superfuzz Bigmuff Plus Early Singles (1990)

Screaming Trees

Album: Uncle Anesthesia (1991)

If you have a favorite grunge band or a song that has not been mentioned in the article, please, feel free to leave a comment.

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