Alternative music was a major force in the ’90s, combining multiple rock traditions into an exciting and contemporary sound. In this article, we’re taking a look at some of the best 90s alternative songs that remain beloved today by fans.
“Creep” is a timeless classic of the genre, featuring Thom Yorke’s distinctive guitar riff, powerful vocals from him, and poignant lyrics about alienation.
Cannonball Adderley’s two decades in the spotlight saw him transcend post-bop modernism into jazz fusion that appealed to popular audiences. A saxophonist of formidable intellect and incorruptible soul, Adderley left an indelible mark on jazz history.
In 1955, the saxophonist relocated to New York City and quickly secured a gig with bassist Oscar Pettiford at Cafe Bohemia.
Cannonball joined Miles Davis’ quintet in 2005, becoming an essential member of their album “Kind of Blue,” a landmark in both jazz and Cannonball’s career.
At Davis, Adderley made a name for himself as an innovator on his saxophone. He explored rhythms and electronic devices, touring worldwide and appearing on numerous television programs.
2. Black Hole Sun
Black Hole Sun is one of the classic songs from the ’90s. A top 40 hit on Billboard rock charts and Grammy Award winner, it continues to captivate audiences around the world with its timeless beauty.
Chris Cornell’s song lyrics are an incomprehensible mess of clever phrases that is simultaneously deeply moving. Written in just 15 minutes, it has become one of his most iconic works.
Soundgarden’s most successful album Superunknown was released in 1994 and lead single “Black Hole Sun” quickly went viral. It spent seven weeks at number one on rock charts around the world and continues to be beloved by music fans to this day.
The music video for this song is an artistic triumph, featuring special effects and graphics that are both unsettling and haunting. Directed by Howard Greenhalgh – a British visual artist known for his work with Pet Shop Boys and Nius X – it captures all of these elements perfectly.
3. Under the Bridge
Under the Bridge is one of the iconic songs from the 1990s, its powerful emotional message having endured throughout time.
It was released in March 1992 as a single from Red Hot Chili Peppers’ album Blood Sugar Sex Magick and has become an iconic rock classic. Although this song can be challenging to play on guitar, with patience and willingness to put in effort, you can learn it.
This song explores the loneliness felt by a drug addict trying to move forward from his past. It also warns against drugs and their potential to take away one’s dignity. Anthony Kiedis’ vulnerability shines through in this poignant piece, which remains one of his best ever compositions.
4. Buddy Holly
Buddy Holly, a singer/songwriter who produced some of rock music’s most distinctive and influential work, is remembered by many as a hero. Though tragically tragically lost at 22 in a plane crash with Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper in 1988, his legacy lives on through those whom he inspired.
Buddy Holly and the Crickets had multiple hit singles in America, but their fame was mostly limited to teenagers and hardcore oldies listeners. In Britain however, his influence can be felt through John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s careers.
Buddy Holly’s career was marked by his remarkable breakthrough in the charts, becoming one of the first bands to consistently reach number one with original compositions. This feat was unheard-of at that time and became a signature element in his music.
5. Doll Parts
In the early 90s, bands like Hole were pioneering avant-garde imagery and decapitation/destruction. Frontwoman Courtney Love was an expert of her craft; her 1994 album Live Through This featured numerous standout tracks including “Doll Parts.” Although simple in structure, its combination of seductiveness and disquietingness is truly remarkable.
Last week, Miley Cyrus covered the iconic 90s alternative track “Love,” and got approval from Love herself on Instagram. She described it as a “sweet version” and expressed her delight. You can watch Cyrus’ rendition below. If you enjoyed it, be sure to check out other great 90s alternative songs we’ve collected here! For new ones every Wednesday, follow us on Spotify! Let us know your favorites in the comments section below!
6. The Distance
Distance in mathematics refers to the length of a straight line connecting two points. It’s commonly used in physics and metric spaces.
In everyday conversation, however, distance can also be seen as a qualitative measurement of separation between objects or points. For instance, in psychology and human geography, distance is frequently used to indicate psychological or social distance between people.
Nanci Griffith recorded “Lay Down Your Heart” for her 1987 album Lone Star State of Mind and it has since become one of the most beloved 90s alternative songs. In fact, it reached #11 on the UK Singles Charts and number 16 in Ireland; furthermore, it won the 1990 Grammy Award for Best Female Vocal Performance. Additionally, this popular selection is often included among induction candidates at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremonies.
7. You Get What You Give
In 1998, The New Radicals released Their Signature Song “You Get What You Give”, quickly becoming a global hit. Charts across Canada and America saw it peak at number 36 on Billboard’s Hot 100.
This classic song has endured for generations and continues to be played today. Its upbeat message inspires listeners to “press on” and never give up on what they believe in.
It’s an inspiring reminder of the power of positivity in life, motivating you to make a difference and make the world better. The song should be on everyone’s playlist because it brings such positive vibes wherever they go – making it perfect for anyone looking to improve their lives! Plus, with its timeless appeal, you can listen anytime anywhere and reap its lessons about life’s lessons.
8. Self Esteem
Self-esteem is an integral component of happiness and wellbeing. Studies have demonstrated that it can influence many areas of life, such as social connections, school performance, work performance, and physical health.
People who possess high self-esteem usually feel good about themselves and believe they are competent at what they do. On the contrary, those with low self-worth may struggle to feel confident in themselves or their abilities.
Songs that promote self-love can be an uplifting boost in confidence and inspire you to stop allowing other people’s negative comments affect how you view yourself.
Superorganism’s “It’s All Good” is an inspiring example of music that encourages positive thinking and self-love. The chorus repeats the phrase “it’s all good” with urgency, encouraging listeners to let go of any negative aspects and embrace life’s blessings instead.
9. Flagpole Sitta
In the 1990s, alternative music reached a crucial juncture. Pop punk, nu metal and adult alternative – alt-rock’s more whimsical cousin – were all on the rise.
In 1998, Harvey Danger’s hit single “Flagpole Sitta” revolutionized alternative music with its infectious melody and timeless hook. It served as a wakeup call to other artists that this genre wasn’t going away anytime soon.
After 17 years, No Sleep Records has finally re-released the song on vinyl through their label. This feat is particularly noteworthy considering how difficult it can be for bands to get their catalog onto record store shelves. Nelson feels gratified that their hit has lasted so long; adding that “it really helped with visibility for some other stuff we did.” It serves as a prime example of how having a hit can keep a band relevant and successful.
The 90s alternative music scene was a fertile ground for creativity and innovation. From grunge to punk rock and ska, there was something for everyone on this eclectic landscape.
Seether are a South African post-grunge band formed in 1999 that has sold 5 million albums worldwide. Touring tirelessly to gain recognition and build their fan base, Seether continues to tour today with their iconic stage presence.
This song boasts an infectiously catchy guitar riff that can be ridden all the way to its powerful guitar solo, plus some poignant lyrics. This timeless classic is beloved by many Seether fans as one of their top alternative songs.