The Best of Alternative Rock and Grunge Rock

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


A blog dedicated to the best of alternative rock and grunge rock music from the 90s and 2000s.

Nirvana- Smells Like Teen Spirit

Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is one of the most defining songs of the Alternative Rock and Grunge Rock era. The song was released in 1991 on Nirvana’s album Nevermind, and it instantly become a hit. The song’s success made Nirvana one of the biggest rock bands of the 1990s. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is known for its catchy melody, powerful guitar riff, and angsty lyrics. The song is a perfect example of the Alternative Rock and Grunge Rock sound that dominated the early 1990s.

Alice in Chains- Would?

The song “Would?” by the American rock band Alice in Chains, was released as a single in May 1992 and is the third track on the band’s second studio album, Dirt (1992). The song was written by guitarist and co-lead vocalist Jerry Cantrell as an ode to his friend and fellow musician Andrew Wood, who died of a heroin overdose in 1990.

The song was well received by music critics. In 2005, VH1 ranked “Would?” number 31 on their list of the 100 Greatest Songs of the ’90s. In 2009, it was named the 34th best hard rock song of all time by VH1. In January 2011, Rolling Stone placed the song at number 33 on their list of “100 Greatest Metal Songs of All Time”, calling it a “thrash classic”.

Pearl Jam- Jeremy

“Jeremy” is a song by the American rock band Pearl Jam, with lyrics written by vocalist Eddie Vedder and music written by bassist Jeff Ament. “Jeremy” was released in 1992 as the third single from Pearl Jam’s debut album, Ten (1991). The song was one of Pearl Jam’s biggest hits, reaching number five on both the Mainstream Rock and Modern Rock Billboard charts. The song won Pearl Jam a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance in 1993. The video features clips of school violence such as the Columbine High School massacre.

The song is about a high school outcast named Jeremy Dunlop who takes his frustration out on himself and others, eventually killing himself in front of his classmates. Vedder intended the song to be an indictment of America’s gun culture and how young children are exposed to guns at an early age. He has said that he wrote the lyrics quickly, in about ten minutes.

Soundgarden- Black Hole Sun

“Black Hole Sun” is a song by American rock band Soundgarden. Written by frontman Chris Cornell, the song was released as the third single from the band’s fourth studio album Superunknown (1994) on July 18, 1994, through A&M Records. It is one of the band’s most well-known and most popular songs. The main riff was written by Kim Thayil while he was watching television with Cornell and Soundgarden drummer Matt Cameron.

The song topped both the US Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks and Modern Rock Tracks charts, peaked at number six on the US Billboard Hot 100, and remained atop the Alternative Songs chart for seven consecutive weeks. Worldwide, it was a number-one hit on the UK Singles Chart as well as charts in Australia, Canada, France, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand and Spain. A remixed version featuring Steve Durand was included on Soundgarden’s rarities compilation album A-Sides (1997). “Black Hole Sun” won Grammy Awards for Best Hard Rock Performance and Best Metal Performance at the 37th Annual ceremony in 1995.

Stone Temple Pilots- Interstate Love Song

On this song, the California band Stone Temple Pilots offer a radio-friendly tribute to the open road, with its references to “rolling wheels” and “heading home.” The song was a hit for the band, reaching #1 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and #3 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Silverchair- Tomorrow

Grunge and alternative rockers Silverchair emerged as Australia’s biggest musical export since AC/DC with their multi-platinum debut album, Frogstomp. Although their career was just getting started, the members of Silverchair — singer/guitarist Daniel Johns, bassist Chris Joannou, and drummer Ben Gillies — were only 15 years old when the album was recorded. All three members had been playing together since they were 12, when they began performing Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins covers under the name Innocent Criminals.

Bush- Glycerine

Bush is a British rock band formed in London, England in 1992. The band found their immediate success with the release of their debut album, Sixteen Stone, in 1994. The album brought the band to public attention and became a commercial success, selling over 8 million copies in the United States alone. Bush went on to release five more studio albums, all of which have been commercially successful. “Glycerine” is a song from Bush’s second album, Razorblade Suitcase. The song was released as a single in 1996 and reached number one on the US Alternative Songs chart.

Foo Fighters- Everlong

The Foo Fighters are an American rock band, formed in Seattle in 1994. The band was founded by Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl as a one-man project following the dissolution of Nirvana after the death of Kurt Cobain. The group got its name from “the foghorn-like noise made by UFOs and advanced aircraft”. Grohl recruited bassist Nate Mendel and drummer William Goldsmith, both of whom he had played with in the band Sunny Day Real Estate, as well as a guitarist, Pat Smear. The first Foo Fighters album, Foo Fighters (1995), was Grohl’s calling card as a songwriter — all 13 tracks were written and performed by him.

Smashing Pumpkins- Bullet with Butterfly Wings

The Smashing Pumpkins are an American alternative rock band from Chicago, Illinois. Formed in 1988 by frontman Billy Corgan and James Iha, the band included D’arcy Wretzky and Jimmy Chamberlin in its original incarnation. It has undergone many line-up changes since, with the current lineup being Corgan, Chamberlin, Iha and bassist Nicole Fiorentino. Chamberlin left briefly in 2009 but rejoined in 2015. Wretzky did not rejoin the band following her 1999 departure.

“Bullet with Butterfly Wings” is a song by American alternative rock band The Smashing Pumpkins, written by frontman Billy Corgan. It was the first single and second track from their 1995 album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, as well as the lead single from its first disc, “Dawn to Dusk”. The song peaked at number 22 on the US Billboard Hot 100. In 2007, Pitchfork Media ranked it No. 93 on its list of the top 200 tracks of the 1990s. In 2012, NME placed it at number 179 on its list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.

Weezer- Say It Ain’t So

Weezer is an American rock band formed in Los Angeles, California, in 1992. The band members are Rivers Cuomo (vocals, lead guitar), Brian Bell (rhythm guitar, backing vocals), Scott Shriner (bass, backing vocals), and Patrick Wilson (drums). ====== Weezer has released eleven studio albums, six of which have been certified at least gold and three of which have been certified platinum. ====== The band’s sixth studio album, Pinkerton (1996), was a commercial disappointment but is now often cited among the best albums of the 1990s. Its follow-up album, the self-titled “Green Album”, was a return to commercial success. ==== After achieving commercial success with the “Green Album”, Weezer took a hiatus before returning with Maladroit (2002). ==== These albums were less well received than the “Green Album”, but still achieved platinum status. ===== In 2016, Weezer released their eleventh studio album titled Weezer; it debuted at number one on Billboard 200 chart and became the band’s fourth album to do so.

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