10 Grunge Music Samples You Must Hear

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


If you’re a fan of grunge music, then you know that the genre is all about raw, unpolished sound. And while that might not be everyone’s cup of tea, there’s no denying that grunge can be pretty darn catchy.

To help you get your grunge fix, we’ve put together a list of 10 must-hear grunge music samples. From the classic sounds of Nirvana to the more modern stylings of Foo Fighters, there’s something

Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit

Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was released in 1991 as the first single from the album Nevermind. The song was an instant success, propelling the album to the top of the charts and making Nirvana one of the most popular bands of the early 1990s. The song’s success is often credited with popularizing grunge music, a genre that was already gaining popularity in the Seattle music scene. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” remains one of Nirvana’s most popular songs, and is considered one of the most important songs of the 1990s.

Pearl Jam – Jeremy

Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy” was one of the biggest hits from the Seattle grunge band’s 1991 album, “Ten.” The song is about a high school student who shoots himself in front of his classmates. “Jeremy” was inspired by a true story, and the music video features footage of real-life school shootings.

Alice in Chains – Would?

Taken from their second studio album, Dirt (1992), “Would?” is one of Alice in Chains most enduring tracks. The song was written by guitarist/vocalist Jerry Cantrell as a tribute to his friend, original Alice in Chains singer Layne Staley, with whom he played in the glam metal band Diamond Lie. “Would?” was released as a single in May 1992, reaching number eight on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. The song was included on the soundtrack to the Cameron Crowe film, Singles (1992).

Soundgarden – Black Hole Sun

Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” is one of the most iconic grunge songs of all time. The song’s dark, driving sound is representative of the genre as a whole, and its lyrics deal with dark and depressing themes. The song was released in 1994 as part of the band’s album Superunknown, and it quickly rose to prominence, helping to define the grunge sound.

Stone Temple Pilots – Interstate Love Song

Stone Temple Pilots’ “Interstate Love Song” is a prime example of the band’s signature sound – a mix of grunge, classic rock, and pop sensibilities. With its catchy hook and sing-along chorus, the song became one of the band’s biggest hits, spending 15 weeks at #1 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.

Mudhoney – Touch Me I’m Sick

Mudhoney’s “Touch Me I’m Sick” was the first single released by the Seattle grunge band, and it quickly became an anthem for the entire genre. The song’s raw, distorted guitars and driving drums set the template for what would become one of the most influential subgenres of rock music.

Nirvana – Come As You Are

First released in 1991 as the second single off of Nirvana’s second album Nevermind, “Come As You Are” quickly became one of the band’s most beloved and well-known tracks. Despite claims from some that the song is about Kurt Cobain’s heroin addiction, he always maintained that it was simply a anti-fashion anthem. Lyrically, the song is fairly straight-forward, but it’s the unforgettable guitar riff and Cobain’s raw vocal delivery that make it truly special.

Pearl Jam – Alive

One of the most iconic grunge songs, Pearl Jam’s “Alive” is the perfect example of the genre. With its heavy guitars and angsty lyrics, “Alive” encapsulates the sound and feeling of grunge perfectly.

Alice in Chains – Down in a Hole

Grunge music is often defined by its dark, cynical lyrics, and Alice in Chains’ “Down in a Hole” is no exception. The song is about addiction and depression, and the feeling of being trapped in a cycle of self-destruction. The slow, heavy guitar riff and Layne Staley’s anguished vocals give the song a sense of hopelessness and despair.

Soundgarden – Blow Up the Outside World

Soundgarden’s final album, Down on the Upside, was released in 1996 to critical acclaim but commercial disappointment. “Blow Up the Outside World” was the first single from that album, and though it didn’t perform well on the radio it has become one of the band’s most popular songs. The driving guitar riff and Kim Thayil’s signature solos make this an essential listen for any fan of ‘90s grunge.

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