The 90s was a decade of musical innovation and creativity, marked by the emergence of new genres and the rise of iconic artists who changed the course of popular music.
From alternative rock and hip-hop to R&B and pop, the 90s produced a diverse range of sounds and styles that have had a lasting impact on the music industry.
This article highlights 30 of the best 90s musicians and artists, recognizing their contributions to the world of music and their enduring legacies.
1. Kurt Cobain
Kurt Cobain was the co-founder, lead singer, and guitarist of the American rock band, Nirvana.
He rose to prominence in 1991 with the release of Nirvana’s second album, Nevermind, which features the hit single “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
Cobain was known for his emotive and introspective lyrics, as well as his raw and energetic live performances.
Cobain is widely regarded as one of the greatest musicians of all time, and his impact on the grunge and alternative rock scenes of the 90s is immeasurable.
2. Liam Gallagher
Liam Gallagher is an English singer-songwriter and the lead vocalist of the rock band, Oasis.
He is known for his distinctive voice, energetic live performances, and outspoken personality.
After the breakup of Oasis in 2009, Gallagher embarked on a successful solo career, releasing his debut album, As You Were in 2017.
He is widely regarded as one of the greatest rock frontmen of all time, and an emblem of the Britpop movement of the 90s.
3. Michael Stipe
Michael Stipe is an American singer-songwriter, best known as the lead vocalist and primary lyricist of the alternative rock band R.E.M.
Stipe is recognized for his distinctive voice, cryptic and often oblique lyrics, and innovative approach to music.
He was a central figure in the alternative rock movement of the 80s and 90s, and his contributions to the genre helped shape its sound and style.
4. Thom Yorke
Thom Yorke is an English singer-songwriter, musician, and the lead vocalist of the alternative rock band Radiohead.
He is known for his unconventional singing style and innovative approach to music.
Yorke’s lyrics often deal with themes of alienation, anxiety, and politics.
He is widely regarded as one of the most influential musicians of the 90s, and his contributions to the alternative rock genre helped shape its sound and style.
5. Eddie Vedder
Vedder rose to fame in the early 90s as the lead vocalist of Pearl Jam, one of the defining bands of the grunge movement.
With Pearl Jam, Vedder released ten studio albums, starting with the 1991 debut album, Ten, which has been certified 13x Platinum in the US.
As a solo artist, Vedder has released several albums and collaborated with various musicians.
His first solo album, Into the Wild, was released in 2007 and was inspired by the book and film of the same name.
He has also released the albums, Ukulele Songs and Riot Act.
6. Billie Joe Armstrong
Billie Joe Armstrong is an American singer, songwriter, and guitarist, best known as the lead vocalist and guitarist of the punk rock band Green Day.
He was born on February 17, 1972, in Rodeo, California.
Armstrong formed Green Day in 1986 with bassist Mike Dirnt and drummer Tre Cool.
The band released their first album, 39/Smooth, in 1990 and went on to become one of the biggest and most influential punk rock bands of their generation.
Green Day’s 1994 album, Dookie, broke through to mainstream success, selling over 10 million copies and establishing the band as one of the biggest names in rock music.
7. Billy Corgan
Billy was born on March 17, 1967, in Elk Grove Village, Illinois.
Corgan formed The Smashing Pumpkins in 1988 with guitarist James Iha, bassist D’arcy Wretzky, and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin.
The band released their debut album, Gish, in 1991 and went on to become one of the defining bands of the 90s alternative rock movement.
The Smashing Pumpkins have released several successful albums, including Siamese Dream (1993), Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (1995), and Adore (1998).
Corgan is also known for his unique vocal style, exceptional songwriting abilities, and ambitious musical vision.
8. Mark Hoppus
Mark was born on March 15, 1972, in Ridgecrest, California.
Hoppus formed Blink-182 with drummer Travis Barker and guitarist Tom DeLonge in 1992.
The band released its debut album, Cheshire Cat, in 1995 and went on to become one of the biggest and most popular pop punk bands of the late 90s and early 2000s.
Blink-182’s 1999 album, Enemy of the State, brought the band mainstream success, selling over 15 million copies worldwide.
9. Dave Grohl
Dave Grohl is an American musician, singer-songwriter, and producer, best known as the lead vocalist and guitarist of the rock band Foo Fighters.
He’s also well-known as the former drummer of the legendary rock band, Nirvana.
Grohl joined Nirvana as the drummer in 1990.
After the death of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain in 1994, Grohl formed the Foo Fighters and released the band’s self-entitled debut album in 1995.
10. The Notorious B.I.G
The Notorious B.I.G., born Christopher Wallace, was an American rapper, singer, and songwriter from Brooklyn, New York.
He rose to prominence in the mid-90s as one of the leading voices in the East Coast hip-hop scene.
Biggie’s debut album, Ready to Die, was released in 1994 and received critical acclaim for its storytelling, introspective lyrics, and innovative production.
The album spawned the hits “Juicy” and “Big Poppa”.
Tupac Amaru Shakur, also known as 2Pac, was an American rapper, songwriter, and actor.
Born in East Harlem, New York City in 1971, he rose to greatness in the early 1990s as a member of the hip-hop group Digital Underground.
He later pursued a successful solo career, releasing several critically acclaimed albums, including Me Against the World and All Eyez on Me.
Tupac was known for his socially conscious lyrics and his ability to evoke strong emotions through his music.
12. Dr. Dre
Andre Romelle Young, known professionally as Dr. Dre, is an American rapper, producer, and entrepreneur.
Born in Compton, California in 1965, he came to the spotlight in the late 1980s as a member of the influential hip-hop group N.W.A.
In 1992, he released his solo debut album, The Chronic, which established him as a leading figure in the gangsta rap genre and helped popularize the sound of West Coast hip-hop.
13. Snoop Dogg
Born in Long Beach, California in 1971, Snoop Dogg became acclaimed in the early 1990s as a protégé of Dr. Dre and a member of the Death Row Records label.
He is known for his laid-back delivery and his role in popularizing the West Coast G-funk style of hip-hop.
He is also known for his charismatic personality and his influence on popular culture, having been named one of the “100 Most Influential People” by Time magazine.
14. Lauryn Hill
Lauryn Noelle Hill is an American singer, rapper, and songwriter.
In 1998, she released her solo debut album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, which was met with widespread critical acclaim and commercial success.
The album marked the first time that a woman won five Grammy Awards in one night.
Throughout her career, Hill has been known for her powerful voice, her socially conscious lyrics, and her ability to blend hip-hop, soul, and R&B influences in her music.
15. Mariah Carey
She is referred to as the “Songbird Supreme” by the Guinness World Records and is considered one of the greatest vocalists of all time.
Carey’s self-titled debut album, Mariah Carey, was released in 1990 and included the hit singles “Vision of Love” and “Love Takes Time”.
This album established her as a pop icon and marked the beginning of her successful music career.
Over the years, Carey has released numerous hit albums including Music Box, Daydream, Butterfly, and Rainbow.
16. Whitney Houston
Whitney began singing in the church choir as a child and later went on to become one of the most successful pop stars of the 80s and 90s.
Her self-titled debut album was released in 1985, and it featured hit songs like “Saving All My Love for You” and “How Will I Know.”
Whitney’s iconic rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the 1991 Super Bowl remains one of the most memorable performances in American history.
She won numerous awards throughout her career, including six Grammy Awards, and is widely considered one of the greatest vocalists of all time.
17. Janet Jackson
Janet Jackson began her career as an actress in television and film, but it was her musical talent that ultimately brought her to fame.
Her 1986 album, Control, was a breakthrough success, and it established her as a powerful force in the music industry.
The album was followed by a string of other successful albums, including Rhythm Nation 1814 and Janet.
She has won numerous awards throughout her career, including five Grammy Awards.
Born on August 16, 1958, in Bay City, Michigan, Madonna first gained prominence in the early 80s with her self-entitled debut album.
Throughout her career, Madonna has established herself as a cultural icon, and she has sold over 300 million records worldwide.
Some of her most iconic songs include “Like a Virgin,” “Material Girl,” and “Vogue.”
She also has seven Grammy Awards to her name.
19. Britney Spears
Spears first rose to fame in the late 1990s with her debut single “Baby One More Time”, which topped the charts in many countries and established her as a teenage pop sensation.
She quickly followed up with her second album, Oops!… I Did It Again, which was another huge commercial success and confirmed her status as one of the leading pop artists of her generation.
Britney has released nine studio albums and sold over 100 million records worldwide.
20. Robbie Williams
Robbie Williams rose to fame as a member of the boy band “Take That” in the 1990s.
After leaving the group in 1995, Williams embarked on a successful solo career, releasing his debut album, Life Thru a Lens, in 1997.
Throughout his career, Williams has been known for his flamboyant personality, powerful live performances, and innovative musical style.
He has released fifteen studio albums, sold over 75 million records worldwide, and received numerous awards and accolades, including 17 Brit Awards.
21. Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson is widely recognized as one of the greatest pop icons of all time and referred to as the “King of Pop”.
In the 1990s, Jackson continued to dominate the music industry with a string of hit albums and songs.
One of his most famous albums of the decade was Dangerous which was released in 1991.
This album featured several of his biggest hits, including “Black or White”, “Remember the Time”, “Jam,” and “Heal the World.”
The album sold over 32 million copies worldwide and solidified Jackson’s position as a global pop icon.
22. Christina Aguilera
Christina Aguilera is known for her powerful vocal range and her ability to transition between different musical styles, ranging from pop and R&B to soul and hip-hop.
In 1999, she released her debut album, Christina Aguilera, which was met with commercial and critical success, earning her a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist.
The album spawned several hit singles, including “Genie in a Bottle” and “What a Girl Wants.”
23. Alanis Morissette
Alanis Morissette is a Canadian singer-songwriter, known for her powerful voice and introspective lyrics.
Born in Ottawa, Canada in 1974, she rose to a peak in the mid-1990s with the release of her international breakthrough album, Jagged Little Pill.
The album was a commercial and critical success, selling over 33 million copies worldwide and earning Morissette multiple Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year.
24. Shania Twain
Shania Twain is widely considered one of the most successful female artists in the history of country music and one of the best-selling music artists of all time.
Her album, The Woman in Me, released in 1995, was certified 12x Platinum in the US and marked her breakthrough into mainstream music.
Her follow-up album, Come on Over, in 1997 became the best-selling country album of all time, and is the best-selling album by a female artist in any genre.
With hits such as “Man! I Feel Like a Woman”, Shania Twain established herself as one of the most influential female musicians of the 90s.
Aaliyah’s 1994 debut album, Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number was a commercial success and helped establish her as a rising star in the music world.
Aaliyah’s second album, One in a Million, released in 1996, solidified her position as one of the most talented R&B artists of her time.
Her third album, Aaliyah, was released posthumously after her untimely death in a plane crash in 2001.
It was widely praised and put Aaliyah among one of the most beloved and influential R&B artists of all time.
26. Elton John
Throughout his career, which spans several decades, Elton John has sold over 300 million records, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time.
He is known for hits such as “Rocket Man”, “Tiny Dancer”, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and “Candle in the Wind”.
He has also been involved in various philanthropic and humanitarian efforts and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1998 for his services to music and charity.
Björk is an Icelandic singer, songwriter, and actress who has been at the forefront of avant-garde pop music for over three decades.
It was with the release of her first solo album, Debut, in 1993 that she became an international star.
The Debut was a critically acclaimed album that showcased Björk’s unique and innovative approach to music, blending electronic and pop sounds with her otherworldly vocals.
28. Sheryl Crow
American singer-songwriter and actress Sheryl is known for her bluesy, folksy sound and socially conscious lyrics.
She was brought to the international spotlight in the 1990s with her debut album, Tuesday Night Music Club, which went on to sell over seven million copies and win three Grammy Awards.
Some of Crow’s most popular songs from the 90s include “All I Wanna Do”, “If It Makes You Happy”, and “Every Day is a Winding Road”.
29. PJ Harvey
Harvey’s music is known for its raw, experimental style and its unique, powerful voice.
Some of her most popular songs from the 90s include “Sheela-Na-Gig”, “50ft Queenie”, and “Down by the Water”.
Throughout her career, Harvey has continued to push the boundaries of contemporary music with her innovative and genre-defying sound and has released several more critically acclaimed albums, including Rid of Me, and To Bring You My Love.
30. Celine Dion
Celine Dion began her career in the 1980s but rose to international fame in the 1990s with her albums, The Colour of My Love and Falling into You.
These albums established her as a pop icon, and produced some of her biggest hits including “The Power of Love,” “Because You Loved Me,” and “My Heart Will Go On”.
The latter song was featured in the soundtrack of the 1997 film, “Titanic”.
Best 90s Musicians – Final Thoughts
From Kurt Cobain and Britney Spears to Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston, the 90s was an era of timeless hits, unforgettable performances, and captivating personalities.
These artists continue to inspire new generations of musicians and remain beloved by fans worldwide.
The 30 best 90s musicians & artists stand as a testament to the rich musical heritage of the 90s and a reminder of why this decade remains one of the most celebrated in music history.
You may also like: Best 80s Musicians