The grunge movement was a subgenre of heavy metal and rock music that emerged in the Pacific Northwest of the United States during the mid-1980s. It has been credited for reviving “the Seattle sound” which had been largely forgotten since the late 1970s, and has continued to be a staple of popular music into the modern era. The movement arose out of Seattle’s independent music scene. Bands such as Green River, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam and Nirvana all called the Seattle area home at some point during their career. The success of these bands led to their signing to major labels and dominating the radio waves in the early 90s. In this article, we will detail the 10 best grunge bands of the 90s.
10. Stone Temple Pilots
Although Stone Temple Pilots did not record a single song that broke the top ten in Billboard Magazine’s mainstream rock chart, the band was popular enough to headline tours around the world and sell over eight million albums. The band is most famous for their unique blend of elements from grunge, heavy metal and alternative rock. Their first album, Core, was a huge hit and made an immediate impact. The album went platinum within six months of its release. The band’s next two albums, Purple and Tiny Music were also huge hits as well. The band enjoyed some mainstream success with their 1996 single “Big Empty”, but most of their success came from the constant touring they had been doing since the bands inception.
9. Alice in Chains
Alice in Chains is a prime example of a group that was successful for well over a decade before they began making waves on the radio. The band had released their first album, Facelift, in 1990 but had very limited success. It wasn’t until the release of their second album, Dirt, that the band started to make an impact on the music scene. Dirt was a huge hit for the band and was certified diamond by the RIAA. The album spawned several hits for the band, including “Them Bones” and “Would?”. The band also won two Grammies at that years ceremony. The band released four more albums before they called it quits in 2000. Alice in Chains is still considered one of the most influential groups of the grunge era.
Soundgarden was not a band that enjoyed great success in the early 90s. They were not hitting the top forty charts with songs like Nirvana and Pearl Jam, but they were a huge influence on those artists. Soundgarden never had much mainstream success until 1994 when their fifth album Superunknown went multiple platinum. The band recorded two more albums before they broke up in 1997, but they remain one of the most influential groups in grunge.
7. The Smashing Pumpkins
Although many people would argue that the Smashing Pumpkins were not a grunge band, they played a huge role in the movement’s overall success. The Smashing Pumpkins, along with Nirvana, were the bands that started the grunge movement. The band formed in 1988 and released their first album Gish in 1991. The album was not a major hit for the band, but it did help established the band as part of the grunge movement. The band went on to release two more albums before they temporarily called it quits in 1999.
6. Screaming Trees
Screaming Trees was one of the few grunge bands that recorded a song that made it to the top ten. The band recorded “Nearly Lost You” in 1992 and it reached #6 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart. They had several other songs that reached the top thirty, but never saw much mainstream success outside of that. Screaming Trees broke up in 2000 and do not seem to have any plans of reuniting anytime soon.
Mudhoney is one of the most influential bands in the grunge era and is still active to this day. The band released seven studio albums between 1988 and 2000 before they went on hiatus. Mudhoney was a major influence on the group Nirvana and the band took many of their members when they broke up. Mudhoney was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001 after winning seven Grammy’s.
4. Pearl Jam
Pearl Jam was one of the most successful bands to ever grace the grunge music scene. The band saw massive success during their early years and continue to be a successful band. The band is still active today and is one of the most popular bands in rock music. Pearl Jam has had four gold records in the United States and is one of the most successful groups around. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017.
Hole was one of the most successful and controversial bands to come out of the grunge movement in the ’90s. Hole originally formed in 1989 as a solo project by Courtney Love, but evolved into a band over time. The band has seen massive success and is the reason Love became successful afterwards. Hole is still active today, but are not quite as relevant within the music world. The band has gone on hiatus several times in the past, but they have never broken up for good.
Hammerbox is one of the most influential grunge bands to come out of Seattle, WA., and is one of the best known bands from the late 1980s and early ’90s. Hammerbox has been around for over 30 years, and have gone through several different lineups over the years. The band broke up in 2012.
Nirvana was arguably the most influential grunge band of the late ’80s and early ’90s. The band is responsible for introducing alternative music and alternative rock to the mainstream, and has been a huge influence on many modern artists. The band, and its three members, Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl, and Krist Novoselic, have gone on to become rock legends. Kurt Cobain’s legacy has been widely recognized in popular culture, and he has been awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Novoselic was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.