Top 20 90s Alternative Rock Bands

Criteria for determining these bands include popularity, critical acclaim, lasting appeal, creativity, importance/influence, proficiency during the decade, and lastly, my personal taste. I will stay away from the big four grunge bands (Nirvana, AIC, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam) as I want to stick with a strict definition of 'alternative rock.' Indie Rock and Lo-Fi bands like Neutral Milk Hotel or Built to Spill are also not included.


1) Smashing Pumpkins- Come on, who else would be number one? Stretching from Gish to Adore, this band produced a slew of masterpieces that influenced pretty much every band you see now, and undeniably were the poster boys for 90s alternative rock. The abomination that was Zeitgeist only makes me cling tighter to their incredible 90s output. They get the nod over the next band by a hair, mainly just because I like them more.

Best Album- Siamese Dream

Best Songs-

1) Bullet With Butterfly Wings

2) 1979

3) Cherub Rock

4) Mayonaise



2) Red Hot Chili Peppers- In terms of popularity they were (and probably still are, among 90s alt. rock bands) number one. Blood Sugar Sex Magik defined early 90s alternative while Californication dominated the late 90s scene. With each release they reinvented themselves and their creativity is unquestioned. My personal indifference towards BSSM as well as my obsession with the Pumpkins prevents them from being number one.

Best Album- Californication

Best Songs-

1) Otherside

2) Californication

3) Under the Bridge

4) My Friends



3) REM- It says a lot that these guys would also be top five on my 80s alternative rock list. Clearly proficiency was never a problem for this group of prolific musicians who released five albums during the decade. The dawn of the 90s marked the pinnacle of their slow climb towards widespread popularity. While they peaked at the beginning of the decade with Out of Time and Automatic for the People, their later work is solid as well.

Best Album- Automatic for the People

Best Songs-

1) Losing my Religion

2) Find the River

3) Drive

4) What’s the Frequency, Kenneth



4) Radiohead- Personally, I totally disagreed the direction that Radiohead went after the dawn of the new millennium. I’m very glad that Radiohead didn’t taint the 90s with one of their quirky, unappealing electronic albums. 90s Radiohead was smart while also being catchy (the latter cannot be said with much of their recent work). Each 90s release from Pablo Honey to The Bends and finally OK Computer was better than its predecessor. Their influence on today’s music and popularity is unparalleled. I miss the old Radiohead.

Best Album- OK Computer

Best Songs-

1) Karma Police (#1 on Greatest Songs of all time)

2) Paranoid Android

3) Lucky

4) My Iron Lung



5) Oasis- Americans may refer to them as Britpop, but in all essence they are British alternative rock. Nobody claims they like the Gallaghers, but few can say that they dislike their music. Morning Glory is one of the epic releases of alternative rock and their three other releases (counting The Masterplan) continued to show flashed of brilliance. Perhaps their creativity can be questioned (they often toed the line between plagiarizing the Beatles), but their importance cannot.

Best Album- (What’s the Story) Morning Glory

Best Songs-

1) Wonderwall

2) Don’t Look Back in Anger

3) Morning Glory

4) Champagne Supernova




6. Stone Temple Pilots- I like to think that STP made Core (which is a grunge record not an alt. rock one) to gain a mandate to create the type of music that they really wanted to make- alternative rock. Few can deny that their extremely influential album Purple and less notable albums like Tiny Music… and No. 4 fit snugly into the alternative rock category. Had Core been included within the criteria that I used for this list, STP would be number two or three. Sans Core, however, the next three albums are strong enough for a spot at number six.

Best Album- Purple

Best Songs-

1) Unglued

2) Interstate Love Song

3) Sour Girl

4) Big Empty



7) Toad the Wet Sprocket- I like to remind people in every list that includes this band (which is a lot) of how underrated these guys are. Especially in the context of alternative rock, these guys are just so perfectly representative of this genre. They had four strong albums and a distinct sound that led to a ton of great songs. You always see at least one TTWS song on every 90s era alternative list, but you never see them get their credit as a band. Hopefully I can start a trend.

Best Album- Dulcinea

Best Songs-

1) All I Want

2) Crazy Life

3) Woodburning

4) Hold Her Down



8) Weezer- They display a heavier sound than most bands on this list, however they are just as much an alt rock staple as any band on this list. Weezer was always about guitars first, and that is huge reason for their success. They mainly makes the list on the strength of their seminal Blue Album. It’s that good folks. They do suffer from a lack of consistency, as their next two releases had their moments, but were generally unsatisfying.

Best Album- Blue Album (duh)

Best Songs-

1) Buddy Holly

2) Say it Ain’t so

3) The Good Life

4) Holiday



9) Counting Crows- Relying heavily on the distinct and soulful vocals of Adam Duritz (a Jewish guy with dreads?? So 90s) and melodic, catchy guitars, this band got a lot of bang from their three releases. August and Everything After is another one of those must-hear 90s alternative rock staples. Classics like “Mr Jones” to “A Long December” are all-time favorites for me and they speak volumes about the Crows’ versatility, pop sensibility, and nostalgic appeal.

Best Album- August and Everything After

Best Songs-

1) Mr. Jones

2) A Long December

3) All My Friends

4) Round Here



10) Collective Soul- Another band that deserves to be esteemed in the echelon of bands like Weezer and Counting Crows, but doesn’t get its due. Although they are quite different from Toad the Wet Sprocket, they suffer many of the same injustices. Each of their four releases is very good, however the lack of an epic album kept them languishing as a second tier 90s alternative rock band. Also, the strong religious undertone of many of their songs may have turned some people off.

Best Album- Dosage

Best Songs-

1) December

2) Run

3) Shine

4) Compliment





Next 10 Bands

Comments 

 
+1 #1 Kheldar 2010-09-10 20:49
This was a most excellent list of music that i generally liked when i was a teenager. I can't agree with everything on here (i really didn't like U2, Collective Soul, and a few others) but i understand why they made it to the list. Great job with the consideration put into making this though.
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-5 #2 Mr. Herman 2010-10-06 13:02
Ok, I questioned you at Oasis, frowned at Collective Soul, and knew you were nuts at Third Eye Blind! Take out the Third Eye and put a Melon on the end of that, perhaps then we might have a deal.
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-17 #3 Alec 2010-10-23 16:29
NO NIRVANA BUT THE FOO FIGHTERS WTF FOO FIGHTERS=RIP OFF OF NIRVANA, AND WHERE IS NIN?
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-3 #4 arni 2010-10-29 07:57
wow, great i like this, thank's alot, jgn lupa mampir ya gan, tp artikel q soal film ja hehehe maklum filenya jg nyuri2 hehehe tp q harap agan sudi mampir n koment2 makasih ya, q pingin dpt PR 1 ato lebih soalnya q masih bingung soal SEO
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+1 #5 josh 2011-01-13 05:04
hell yeah, pumpkins number 1.
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+15 #6 ImabitdISTuRbeD 2011-02-20 16:10
Where the fuck is Sublime?!
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+19 #7 tristyn 2011-02-21 18:44
where is Nirvana!!!!
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+8 #8 RE: Top 20 90s Alternative Rock BandsSara 2011-04-25 11:54
Screw Bono. 8) COBAIN FOR LIFE. :lol:
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+4 #9 RE: Top 20 90s Alternative Rock BandsTrent 2011-05-23 09:51
There is no Nirvana, because he was listing Alt bands not Grunge bands. Read the comments.

Great list, thanks for the effort.
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-1 #10 RE: Top 20 90s Alternative Rock BandsThe Rock Czar 2011-05-23 18:18
Thanks Trent, glad you liked it.

TRC
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+2 #11 RE: Top 20 90s Alternative Rock Bandsmikeysoundtrack 2011-06-20 22:45
Pixies? enough said...now shut up.
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+4 #12 RE: Top 20 90s Alternative Rock BandsThe Rock Czar 2011-06-20 23:50
Mikeysoundtrack -

Never really did well in reading classes, huh?

Did you not read the VERY TOP OF THE LIST where I said that Indie Rock bands are not included in this list?

TRC
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-4 #13 RE: Top 20 90s Alternative Rock BandsCarlo Ambruoso 2011-07-06 05:10
:cry: How can you leave out Catherine Wheel and Teenage Fanclub !? :-x
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-3 #14 RE: Top 20 90s Alternative Rock BandsThe Rock Czar 2011-07-13 20:55
Carlo,

Based on the other bands on this list, what would make you think that either of these bands would be on here. Come on man.

TRC
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-2 #15 RE: Top 20 90s Alternative Rock BandsCarlo Ambruoso 2011-07-14 00:32
Quoting The Rock Czar:
Carlo,

Based on the other bands on this list, what would make you think that either of these bands would be on here. Come on man.

TRC

IMO.Rage Against The Machine,Catheri ne Wheel,and Teenage Fanclub should be on this list.Especially when you have :
7) Toad the Wet Sprocket
15) Gin Blossoms
19) Alanis Morissette
20) Tonic
Taking their place.
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0 #16 RE: Top 20 90s Alternative Rock BandsThe Rock Czar 2011-07-14 21:38
Quoting Carlo Ambruoso:
Quoting The Rock Czar:
Carlo,

Based on the other bands on this list, what would make you think that either of these bands would be on here. Come on man.

TRC

IMO.Rage Against The Machine,Catheri ne Wheel,and Teenage Fanclub should be on this list.Especially when you have :
7) Toad the Wet Sprocket
15) Gin Blossoms
19) Alanis Morissette
20) Tonic
Taking their place.


While some lump in RATM into 90s alternative, they're really not. They are a Hard Rock band.

The other 2 bands enjoyed most of their popularity in the UK and barely scrapped the bottom of US charts. I'm not necessarily saying that they're not better than some of the bands on here. However, you have to remember that popularity is one of the most important factors I took into account when making this list.

TRC
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-1 #17 EXCELLENT!JennIsLaughingAtYOU 2011-08-09 00:31
LOL these people cannot read since they're complaining and listing bands of different genres. Great list though! Was born right on 89' lol wish I'd have been a teen in the 90s though -___- lol
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+3 #18 RE: Top 20 90s Alternative Rock BandsThe Rock Czar 2011-08-11 00:14
Quoting JennIsLaughingA tYOU:
LOL these people cannot read since they're complaining and listing bands of different genres. Great list though! Was born right on 89' lol wish I'd have been a teen in the 90s though -___- lol


Thanks Jenn. Ya, I was '86 so I remember most of this stuff. SO much better than the crap on the radio these days. We need another music revolution...

TRC
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-1 #19 RE: Top 20 90s Alternative Rock Bandsasdd 2011-09-11 02:48
counting crows??? third eye blind?? go fuck yourself
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+7 #20 RE: Top 20 90s Alternative Rock BandsThe Rock Czar 2011-09-11 23:14
I really wish some people would get a life and realize that cursing on websites doesn't really accomplish a whole lot. That was already lame in the 90s.

TRC
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