5 Other Words for ‘Grunge Music’

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, you know that the genre is so much more than just angry, distorted guitars and angsty lyrics. There’s a lot of nuance and emotion in grunge music, and to truly appreciate it, you need to understand the language. Here are 5 other words for “grunge music” that will help you appreciate the genre even more.

Seattle Sound

In the early 1990s, the media called it the “Seattle Sound”, a reference to the city’s close proximity to Seattle, Washington. The terms “grunge” and “alternative rock” were used interchangeably in the early 1990s, but gradually became distinct from each other by 1994. Alternative rock replaced punk rock as grunge’s main musical genre and came to include a wide range of styles.

In 1991, Nirvana’s album Nevermind was released and became a commercial and critical success. Nirvana was later tagged as “the band that started it all”, leading to an influx of new alternative bands signed to major record labels. Pearl Jam’s debut album Ten followed in 1991 and achieved widespread commercial success. Other Seattle grunge bands such as Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, and Mudhoney also achieved mainstream success in the early 1990s.

Alternative Rock

Grunge music is a subgenre of alternative rock that emerged in the mid-1980s. It was initially defined by its dissonant, dark, and heavier sound when compared with other alternative rock styles. Grunge music artists often dressed in flannel shirts, ripped jeans, and Doc Martens boots to generate an “anti-fashion” look.


Post-grunge is a subgenre of alternative rock and hard rock that emerged in the 1990s. It is derived from the Seattle sound and style of grunge music, but with a more radio-friendly polish. The genre boasts a more conventional sound than grunge, often characterized by tame guitars, drum tracks, and vocal melodies. Post-grunge artists such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, Alice in Chains, and Soundgarden were highly successful in the early-to-mid 1990s.


Grunge-funk is a type of music that combines elements of grunge and funk. It is characterized by its strong guitar riffs and its use of heavy bass lines. Grunge-funk is often seen as a more aggressive form of funk.

Nu Grunge

Nu grunge is a subgenre of alternative rock and post-grunge that combines elements of grunge with those of other musical styles, such as punk rock, indie rock, and hard rock.

Nu grunge bands are often characterized by their use of distorted guitars, strident vocal styles, and a swampy, heavy sound. The genre emerged in the early 1990s and was initially popularized by American bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, and Alice in Chains.

In the UK, nu grunge was championed by bands such as Bush and Feeder.

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