The Best of Rock Music in 1989

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


A look at the best rock music of 1989 – a great year for the genre with many iconic albums and songs being released.


The year 1989 saw the release of some of the most influential and enduring rock albums of all time. From Metallica’s ground-breaking ‘Black Album’ to Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’, 1989 was a truly exceptional year for rock music. In this article, we take a look at some of the best rock albums released in 1989.

Metallica – …And Justice For All
Metallica’s fourth studio album, …And Justice For All, was released in September 1988 to critical acclaim. The album features some of Metallica’s most iconic songs, such as ‘One’, ‘Eye of the Beholder’ and ‘ harvester of Sorrow’. …And Justice For All is widely considered to be one of the greatest metal albums of all time, and it cemented Metallica’s position as one of the biggest rock bands in the world.

Nirvana – Bleach
Nirvana’s debut album, Bleach, was released in June 1989 on the independent label Sub Pop. Bleach failed to make much impact upon its release, but it is now considered to be a seminal grunge album. The album features Nirvana’s first hit single, ‘Love Buzz’, as well as the classic tracks ‘About a Girl’ and ‘Negative Creep’. Nirvana went on to achieve global success with their next album, Nevermind.

Guns N’ Roses – Appetite for Destruction
Guns N’ Roses’ debut album, Appetite for Destruction, was released in July 1987. The album was a commercial and critical success, selling over 30 million copies worldwide and Spawning several hit singles, including ‘Welcome to the Jungle’, ‘Paradise City’ and ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’. Appetite for Destruction is often hailed as one of the greatest rock albums of all time, and it cemented Guns N’ Roses’ reputation as one of the baddest bands in the world.

Alice in Chains – Facelift
Alice in Chains’ debut album, Facelift, was released in August 1990. The album was a commercial and critical success, selling over four million copies worldwide and Spawning several hit singles, including ‘Man in the Box’, ‘Sea of Sorrow’ and ‘We Die Young’. Facelift is often hailed as one oFthe finest examples oF early Seattle grunge music

Best Albums of 1989

It was a great year for rock music in 1989. Some of the best albums of the year were released by guns-n-roses, Metallica, and Def Leppard. These albums have stood the test of time and are still considered some of the best rock albums ever made.

Metallica- …And Justice for All

Metallica’s …And Justice for All is one of the best albums of 1989. This album was released on September 24th, 1989 by Elektra Records. It was the first album to feature new bassist Jason Newsted. The album’s artwork created by Stephen Gorman, depicts a statue of Lady Justice being pulled down by chains, symbolizing corruption and oppression.

The album was Metallica’s first studio album to be certified platinum by the RIAA and peaked at number six on the Billboard 200 chart. It has been cited as one of the greatest heavy metal albums of all time by publications such as Kerrang! and Rolling Stone. In 2003, the album was ranked number 336 on Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Guns N’ Roses- Appetite for Destruction

Appetite for Destruction is the debut studio album by American hard rock band Guns N’ Roses. It was released on July 21, 1987, by Geffen Records to massive commercial success. It topped the Billboard 200 and became the best-selling debut album as well as the 11th best-selling album in the United States. With about 30 million copies sold worldwide, it is also one of the best-selling records ever. It was certified diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

The album has been ranked number 252 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and appeared in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Faith No More- The Real Thing

Recorded in just three weeks, The Real Thing is the third studio album by Faith No More. Released in June 1989, it was the first album to feature Mike Patton on vocals.

The Real Thing was a commercial and critical success. It peaked at number three on the Billboard 200 chart and was certified gold by the RIAA. The album was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance.

Patton’s arrival brought a new level of energy and excitement to the band, and The Real Thing is widely considered to be their best album. It features some of their most popular songs, including “Epic,” “Falling to Pieces,” and “From Out of Nowhere.”

Nirvana- Bleach

Nirvana’s debut album Bleach was released in 1989 and is often considered one of the best albums of that year. The album was produced by Butch Vig and featured the hits “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and ” Come As You Are.” Bleach was a critical and commercial success, selling over four million copies worldwide.

Megadeth- Rust in Peace

Rust in Peace is the fourth studio album by American heavy metal band Megadeth, released on September 24, 1990 by Capitol Records. Recording sessions for the album took place in June 1990 at One on One Recording Studios in North Hollywood, California. The album features lyrical themes related to nuclear warfare, political corruption, and religion. Musically, Rust in Peace was considered as an amalgamation of speed metal and thrash metal, with interconnected song structures and guitar harmonies. The album received critical acclaim upon release and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance in 1992. It has been included in several publications’ best-of lists and is considered one of the greatest metal albums of all time. The cover artwork was created by Ed Repka.

Best Songs of 1989

1) “Living in America” – James Brown: James Brown’s song “Living in America” was released in 1985, but it gained popularity in 1989 and was featured in the film Rocky IV. The song is about how great it is to live in America and how anyone can succeed if they work hard enough.

Metallica- “One”

Metallica’s “One”, off of their fourth studio album …And Justice for All, is not only one of the best songs of 1989, but it’s one of the best metal songs of all time. The song is about a soldier who is severely injured in battle and begs God to take his life. It is told from the perspective of the soldier, who is in a wheelchair and cannot speak or see. Despite this, the song is incredibly powerful, with James Hetfield’s stellar vocal performance and Kirk Hammett’s masterful guitar work. “One” is a true classic and one of the best songs of its decade.

Guns N’ Roses- “Welcome to the Jungle”

“Welcome to the Jungle” is a song by American rock band Guns N’ Roses, featured on their debut album, Appetite for Destruction (1987). It was released as the album’s second single on November 7, 1988 and became their first US Top 40 hit.

The song was written by members Axl Rose and Izzy Stradlin during one of the band’s early rehearsals in 1986. It was inspired by an incident in which Rose and a friend were accosted by a homeless man who threatened them with a knife. The man demanded money from them, but Rose and his friend managed to talk their way out of the situation without giving him any money.

The song is narrated from the perspective of a new arrival in Los Angeles (“the jungle”) who is warned about the dangers of the city by a more experienced resident. The lyrics describe the city as a place where “you might as well be dead” if you’re not careful.

Despite its dark subject matter, thesong was popular among fans and became one of the band’s most recognizable hits. It has been used in numerous films and television shows over the years, and has been covered by several artists.

Faith No More- “Epic”

Charting at number nine on the Billboard Hot 100, “Epic” was Faith No More’s first top 10 hit in the United States. The song was originally released as a single in April 1989, ahead of the band’s fourth studio album The Real Thing.

“Epic” is an alternative metal song with heavy metal and punk rock elements. The song’s musical style has been described as rap metal, due to Mike Patton’s rapping vocals. “Epic” also features a prominent horn section, which helped the song to stand out from other rock songs of the time.

The lyrics of “Epic” are written from the perspective of a protagonist who is fed up with his mundane life and yearns for something more exciting. The song’s music video features the band performing in a carnival-like setting, which further emphasizes the song’s message.

Faith No More released “Epic” as a single in April 1989, and it quickly became a hit worldwide. In the United States, “Epic” charted at number nine on the Billboard Hot 100, making it Faith No More’s highest charting single in the country. The song also peaked at number two on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and number four on the Modern Rock Tracks chart.

In Australia, “Epic” peaked at number four on the ARIA Singles Chart and was certified double platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). In Canada, the song peaked at number two on both the RPM 100 Singles chart and RPM Alternative 30 chart. “Epic” was also a top 10 hit in Finland, France, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.

Nirvana- “Smells Like Teen Spirit”

Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” might be the most perfect rock song ever written. It perfectly encapsulates the feeling of being a teenager in the early ’90s: angry, misunderstood, and out of step with the world around you. The song became an instant classic when it was released in 1991, and it has continued to resonate with people all over the world in the years since. If you’re looking for a perfect example of ’90s rock at its best, look no further than “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

Megadeth- “Hangar 18”

One of the most popular and well-known songs in the metal genre, “Hangar 18” was released by Megadeth in 1990 on their album Rust in Peace. The song is based on the conspiracy theory that there is a secret government facility hidden in Hangar 18 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The lyrics describe a battle between aliens and government agents, with the aliens coming out on top. Despite the violence and aggression of the song, it was a huge hit with fans and is still considered one of the best metal songs of all time.


In conclusion, the 1989 rock music scene was characterized by a strong experimental streak, with bands pushing the boundaries of what was considered possible within the genre. While some of the experimentation resulted in brilliant new sounds, other attempts fell flat and failed to make an impact. Overall, it was a fascinating time for rock music and one that paved the way for the genre to evolve even further in the years that followed.

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