Top 20 90s Alternative Rock Bands (11-20)
11) Third Eye Blind- I like this band so much that they’re not even a guilty pleasure anymore. Had they been able to squeeze one or two more albums into the 90s their placement would be significantly higher. Another record as strong as their eponymous debut would have made them a top five candidate. Third Eye Blind contained seven songs that I consider 90s alternative rock essentials, which is damn near OK Computer territory. Blue is somewhat underrated, but not on par with their debut. Also, they rock live.
Best Album- Third Eye Blind
1) Semi Charmed Life
2) Never Let You Go
4) Losing a Whole Year
12) Foo Fighters- It’s somewhat debatable whether these guys are alternative rock or not. Though today they probably fit into the mainstream rock category their 90s efforts as well as the amazing “Everlong” puts them squarely in the alt. rock camp. Each of the Foo’s three albums had about four or five quality songs, with “Everlong” representing the pinnacle. The reason I have them lower than many other lists is the lack of a great album; that and the fact that they were only around since ’95 and are slightly overrated (likely due to the Nirvana effect).
Best Album- The Colour and the Shape
2) Next Year
3) Learn to Fly
4) For all the Cows
13) Live- To me, Live will always be one of the classic 90s alt. rock bands. Although they finished the decade with several poor efforts, their Throwing Copper album alone would have gotten them the top 20 nod. Add to that, their underrated debut Mental Jewelery and you have the explanation for their appearance. Ed Kowalczyk’s emotive voice commands attention, and the lyrics are worth of that attention for the most part.
Best Album- Throwing Copper
1) I Alone
2) All Over You
3) Selling the Drama
4) Pain Lies on the Riverside
14) Screaming Trees- They got mixed up with the grunge hoopla because they were a Seattle band. However, they were really a blues, psychedelic, and folk inspired alternative rock bands. Led by the smooth yet growling vocals of Mark Lanegan the band produced three albums in the 90s. Of which “Sweet Oblivion” and “Dust” are quite good. What gets them this high is their creativity and Mark Lanegan’s amazing vocals.
Best Album- TIE Sweet Oblivion and Dust
1) Nearly Lost You
2) All I Know
4) Dollar Bill
15) Gin Blossoms- Another prototypical alternative band, they burst out of nowhere with four strong singles from 1992’s New Miserable Experience album. They were without a doubt one of the leaders of the 90s alternative moment, but internal problems limited them to two releases. Also, their somewhat formulaic music makes their sound tiring at times and led to criticism from people who questioned their limited versatility. Their propensity for adult contemporary sounding songs also hampers their standing in my book.
Best Album- New Miserable Experience
1) Found Out About You
2) Until I Fall Away
3) ‘Til I Hear it from you
4) Allison Road
16) Beck- Beck definitely makes the list based on his creativity, productivity, and influence. I have to admit that I’m not a big Beck fan, although I cannot ignore the immense credentials that got him on this list. Beck had some of the most unique, idiosyncratic music of the decade, and was distinct enough to be called an alternative to alternative music. Additionally, Beck’s Mellow Gold and Odelay albums are two of the most critically acclaimed albums of the decade.
Best Album- Odelay
1) Devil’s Haircut
3) The New Pollution
4) Sexx Laws
17) The Cranberries- Another one of those bands that will always come up in your head when you think about 90s alternative rock. The Cranberries rode Dolores O’Riordan’s unique and unrivaled vocals along with beautiful hits like “Linger” and “Zombie” to prominence in the 90s. The Cranberries mixed in a healthy dose of Irish influences and politics into their unique alternative rock recipe. They also released four successful albums and numerous catchy singles during the decade.
Best Album- No Need to Argue
3) When You’re Gone
18) U2- Having them this low may lead to some death threats sent to my house, but I just think they are overrated. Calm down everyone, this is just my opinion! Unfortunately I have to pay them their due, because they score highly on every other criterion that I use to compile this list. Another reason why they are so low is that I really think the 80s was when they released their best work. Still, Achtung Baby is quite a good album, and they did have a couple of good singles.
Best Album- Achtung Baby
1) Mysterious Ways
19) Alanis Morissette- Eh, so I had to put another chick in there. NOT. I was totally enamored with Alanis’s Jagged Little Pill when it came out, and more than ten years later it’s still up there on my favorite albums list. “You Ought to Know,” “Ironic,” “Hand in my Pocket” are just iconic 90s songs and remind me of happy times. She does lose points for 1998’s Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie which was almost a total disappointment. Overall though, you cannot ignore Alanis’s contribution to 90s alternative rock.
Best Album- Jagged Little Pill
1) You Ought to Know
3) Hand in my Pocket
4) You Learn
20) Tonic- I wanted to finish off the list with one of those classic 90s alternative bands that most people don’t know about. People only remember them when they hear “If You Could Only See” or, to a lesser extent, “Open Up Your Eyes” on the radio. Then I get to hear my friends ask me “who the hell is the one hit wonder band that sings this?” At those times, I swallow my pride and answer them, fervently adding that they are not a one hit wonder, and in fact had a bunch of good songs (to no avail).
Best Album- Lemon Parade
1) Casual Affair
2) If You Could Only See
3) Open Up Your Eyes
4) You Wanted More
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