Here Are The Best ’90s Bands You Should Be Listening To

The 1990s were epic because they brought us some of the best TV shows, movies, and fashion of all time, so of course, it is also safe to say that music during that era was fantastic as well. As humanity cruised towards the new millennium, we got to know stars like Britney Spears, Kurt Cobain, and more, who will forever be part of pop culture. So today, we’ll take a look at the 20 best ’90s bands that you should totally be listening to now.

Photo: Courtesy of Wikipedia

#20. Radiohead

Radiohead started out in 1985, but the English band didn’t release its first single until 1992. The single, Creep, was a massive hit worldwide, and the band later released its debut album, Pablo Honey, in 1993. It was then when Radiohead’s popularity was solidified, not only in the UK but around the world.

Photo: Courtesy of Time Out

The band went from a crunchy guitar sound to becoming one of art rock’s most sophisticated innovators, exploring icy electronic futurism sounds with millennial melancholy. Luckily for us, the band is still very much active after more than 20 years together, and they have no plans to slow down.

#19. Smashing Pumpkins

The Smashing Pumpkins got together in 1988 and became extremely successful thanks to their second album, Siamese Dream, which launched them into stardom in mainstream music in 1993. They are also famous for building their audience with extensive touring until they broke up in 2000, unfortunately.

Photo: Courtesy of Time Out

They did get back together, however, in 2006, and underwent many line-up changes. They released several albums all these years and are still filling up venues. Their unique sound, which is a mixture of gothic rock, heavy metal, dream pop, and electronica, made them stand out from all the other ’90s bands.

#18. Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam is, to this day, one of the most successful and memorable ’90s bands, and they have been extremely active since their debut in 1990. Their first album, Ten, skyrocketed them to fame, and they became one of the main bands in the grunge movement of the early ’90s. It’s no wonder they’re considered one of the most influential bands on their time.

Photo: Courtesy of Time Out

What made them stand out was their lyrics, which tackled strong subjects such as depression, loneliness, and suicide. Audiences loved their sensitivity and political awareness, coupled with their varied sound palette, which was very much in line with punk activism.

#17. A Tribe Called Quest

A Tribe Called Quest was a hip hop ground known for helping shape alternative hip hop in the ’90s. They got together in 1985 as part of The Native Tongues, a collective of hip hop artists known for their good-natured, positive, Afrocentric lyrics. A Tribe Called Quest was the most successful out of the groups that emerged from that collective.

Photo: Courtesy of Pitchfork

The group suffered a few line-up changes and broke up in 1998, right after releasing its fifth album, The Love Movement. However, they reunited in 2006 to release their final album, We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service. They are regarded as the most intelligent and artistic hip hop group of their era.

#16. My Bloody Valentine

Irish band My Bloody Valentine emerged in 1983 but didn’t enjoy commercial and mainstream success until 1988, after signing with a new record label. Their three following EPs brought them to fame, thanks to their merging sound of dissonant guitar textures and unorthodox production techniques.

Photo: Courtesy of Time Out

In 1991, their label dropped them because of their album’s, Loveless, extensive production costs. Although they maintained a very successful run throughout the early 1990s, the band broke up in 1997, leaving an unfinished album. Luckily for the fans, they reunited in 2007, and the album was finally released in 2013.

#15. Weezer

Weezer was formed in California in 1992, and just a year after its birth, the band released its first album, known as the “Blue Album“, which became a multiplatinum success and put the band on the map. Thanks to their music videos, Buddy Holly, Undone, and Say It Ain’t So, Weezer became a ’90s icon.

Photo: Courtesy of Entertainment / The Onion

The band enjoyed incredible success during the ’90s, and in 1996 with the release of their second album, Pinkerton, the band explored a more abrasive, darker sound that did not achieve the level of success their first album had. However, it achieved cult status years later after its release. The band is stronger than ever nowadays.

#14. REM

REM was one of the first alternative rock bands to emerge in the ’90s, and stood out thanks to its enigmatic sound that made a huge contrast against the heavy grunge wave of the decade, but also explored the turmoil of late-century existence that was so prevalent at the time. Their most famous song, Losing My Religion, was extremely successful.

Photo: Courtesy of Time Out

The band enjoyed a decade of success, so much so that in 1996, they signed with Warner Bros. for $80 million, the most expensive recording contract in history at that time – and we’re talking about a time when Michael Jackson and Queen were very much active. However, the band called it quits in 2011.

#13. Pavement

Indie rock band Pavement was formed in 1989 and was initially created as a recording project. Although they achieved considerable underground success with their first releases, the band avoided press or live performances. Over time, they evolved into a more polished band and released several albums during the 1990s.

Photo: Courtesy of Wikipedia

Over the course of ten years, the band released five full-length albums, but barely brushed mainstream music. They also remained signed to independent labels in order to maintain their indie status. They were one of the most influential bands of the underground scene but unfortunately disbanded in 1999.

#12. No Doubt

Before becoming an uber-famous pop star and being a judge on The Voice, Gwen Stefani was the lead singer of No Doubt, and she certainly has the band to thank for her later solo success. The band didn’t become mainstream until the release of its third album, Tragic Kingdom, in 1995.

Photo: Courtesy of Consequence of Sound

From that point on, No Doubt became extremely successful and released several hit singles during the ’90s, their most famous one being Don’t Speak. The song was such a hit that it stayed at the number one spot of the Billboard Hot 100 for a whopping 16 weeks. Although they are still together, the members have mostly pursued solo careers over the years.

#11. Foo Fighters

When Nirvana‘s lead singer, Kurt Cobain, passed away in 1994, the band disbanded. But, to the fans’ surprise, a new band emerged, thanks to Nirvana’s drummer, Dave Grohl, who founded the Foo Fighters as a one-man project. Its self-titled first album was released in 1995, and this time, Grohl was the lead singer.

Photo: Courtesy of Time Out

Although the group suffered a few member changes, the band still plays to this day and has released nine studio albums, all of which achieved great mainstream success. Their impeccable career gave four of their five albums Grammy Awards for Best Rock Album, so it’s safe to say they’re one of the best bands of the ’90s.

#10. Oasis

Oasis came out with its debut album, Definitely Maybe, in 1994, and it completely changed the game. The band was an instant hit, as were its following releases. Its second album, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory, became one of the best-selling albums of all time, and the band kept releasing some of the most satisfying tunes of that era.

Photo: Courtesy of Time Out

Oasis suffered many line-up changes, however, and the relationship between its most prominent members, brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher, had countless ups and downs. Following many disputes, Noel announced his departure from the band in 2009 after his relationship with Liam became too much to handle.

#9. Red Hot Chili Peppers

At a time when the rock world was focused on dourness and gloom, Red Hot Chili Peppers brought flamboyance, loudness, and absurdity to the table, and it certainly worked in their favor. With a mixture of funk, punk rock, and psychedelic rock, the band gathered a huge following during the 1990s.

Photo: Courtesy of Time Out

As one of the best-selling bands of all time, the Chili Peppers broke records and toured the entire world, and is still together to this day. After releasing eleven chart-topping albums, the band is said to be recording its twelfth studio album, for the delight of all their fans around the world. To say they’re iconic would be an understatement.

#8. TLC

The incredible TLC was the most successful female group of all time for many reasons. They were the embodiment of strength and female power, and they released hit after hit during the ’90s. Overall, they released nine top-ten hits, four of which reached number one, and all their albums reached multi-platinum status.

Photo: Courtesy of Time Out

In 2002, however, when Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes lost her life, the group took a huge hit. The remaining members, Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins, and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas decided to continue as a duo. After a long hiatus, the duo released TLC’s fifth and final album in 2017, titled TLC.

#7. Gin Blossoms

Although Gin Blossoms came together in 1987, the band didn’t rise to prominence until 1992 with the release of their first major-label album, New Miserable Experience. Their first single, Hey Jealousy, went gold and put the band on the map. Eventually, the album went quadruple platinum, and the rest is history.

Photo: Courtesy of Time Out

Their second album, Congratulations I’m Sorry also reached platinum, and the band enjoyed many years of success together, so much so that they were nominated for a Grammy in 1996. However, at the height of their success, they broke up in 1997. Thankfully, they reunited in 2001, and have been together ever since.

#6. Third Eye Blind

Third Eye Blind started out in 1993, but it didn’t become popular until the late ’90s. Its self-titled album came out in 1997 and was a huge hit. The group recycled some clichés, such as loud-quiet-loud dynamics mixed with half-rap half-sung verses, with a new, energetic vibe that captivated audiences everywhere.

Photo: Courtesy of Time Out

After the release of their second album in 1999, the band started suffering several line-up changes, the biggest one being the departure of Kevin Cadogan, the lead guitarist. After more changes and gaps between releases, the band is still together and will release a new album later this year.

#5. The Cranberries

The Cranberries started out as an Irish alternative rock band in 1989, and they became internationally famous thanks to their debut album, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?. During the ’90s, they solidified their position as a force to reckon with, releasing several chart-topping hits.

Photo: Courtesy of Wikipedia

Although the band self-identified as an alternative rock group, what always made them stand out was their ever-changing sound, which incorporated aspects of post-punk, indie pop, pop-rock, and Irish folk. In 2003, the group split up, and later reunited in 2009. In April 2019, they disbanded again, and this time for good, apparently.

#4. The Flaming Lips

The Flaming Lips were together for almost a decade before they were signed to Warner Brothers, under which they released Hit to Death in the Future Head in 1992. The album was pretty successful and it helped them solidify their following. Their following album, The Soft Bulletin, was even more successful than the first.

Photo: Courtesy of The Flaming Lips

Over the course of their career, they have won three Grammy Awards, including two Best Rock Instrumental Performance. One of their most recent releases was a collaboration with Miley Cyrus in 2013, Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz, which was a 23-track experimental album they co-wrote and recorded together.

#3. Sublime

Sublime was a ska-punk band founded in 1988. During the ’90s, the group released three studio albums. Their first two albums did well, but they didn’t experience great commercial success until the third one was released. However, the album was released after a major event broke the band up.

Photo: Courtesy of Variety

In 1996, one of the band’s three members, Bradley Nowell, passed away, leading to the band’s breakup. They did release a few posthumous songs, such as What I got and Santeria, but they did not make any new music. They briefly reunited in 2009, but the reunion was short-lived due to legal problems.

#2. Ace Of Base

Swedish band Ace of Base followed in the footsteps of ABBA, the most successful Swedish group of all time, but with their own flavor put into their pop tunes. Between 1992 and 2002, the band released four studio albums and reached international success. Their first album, Happy Nation, is one of the best-selling debut albums of all time.

Photo: Courtesy of BBC

Things weren’t the same, however, when one of their two singers, Linn, left the group in 2007. The band continued touring as a trio for a couple of years, until Jenny, their other vocalist, left the group as well. After recruiting two new singers, the group stayed afloat for a while, until they quit too in 2012, marking the end of the group.

#1. Nirvana

Nirvana established itself as one of the ’90s most popular bands, especially as the face of the grunge movement that started in the ’80s and became mainstream a decade later. Their biggest hit, Smells Like Teen Spirit, released in 1991, skyrocketed the band’s popularity all over the world – and that was just the beginning.

Photo: Courtesy of Time Out

The band enjoyed immense success during the early ’90s and popularized alternative rock across borders. But the band’s success was short-lived, as the death of lead singer and guitarist Kurt Cobain led to the band’s separation. Still to this day, their music is heard by millions of people all over the world, who will always remember Nirvana as one of the best rock bands of all time.

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