Fitting for the end of a century, the music of the nineties was wistful, reflective, and melancholic.
But it wasn’t a dark age, but rather a time of experimentation, cross-pollination, and daring. Rock music achieved new moody, introspective lows and new dreamy, complex, highs.
Either way, the tunes were dynamic, the vocals were emotive, and the guitar was pushed to the limits of what it could achieve.
The nineties were the rich soil where grunge, shoegaze, alternative, and indie truly took root and blossomed.
Enjoy our list of the most enduring, original, and most popular 90s rock bands.
Table of Contents
- 1. Alice in Chains
- 2. Nirvana
- 3. Pearl Jam
- 4. Oasis
- 5. Red Hot Chili Peppers
- 6. Smashing Pumpkins
- 7. Pulp
- 8. Foo Fighters
- 9. Blink 182
- 10. Soundgarden
- 11. The Jesus and Mary Chain
- 12. The Stone Roses
- 13. Hole
- 14. Radiohead
- 15. Green Day
- 16. Third Eye Blind
- 17. No Doubt
- 18. Blur
- 19. Guns N’ Roses
- 20. The Offspring
- 21. U2
- 22. The Cure
- 23. Nine Inch Nails
- 24. Stone Temple Pilots
- 25. Depeche Mode
- 26. The Tragically Hip
- 27. Collective Soul
- 28. Sum 41
- 29. R.E.M.
- 30. The Cranberries
- 31. Sublime
- 32. The Goo Goo Dolls
- 33. Weezer
- 34. The Flaming Lips
- 35. Sonic Youth
- 36. Rage Against the Machine
- 37. Gin Blossoms
- 38. Everclear
- 39. James
- 40. Incubus
- 41. Smash Mouth
- 42. Pantera
- 43. Tool
- 44. Korn
- 45. Jane’s Addiction
- 46. Pixies
- 47. Faith No More
- 48. Garbage
- 49. The Verve
- 50. Blind Melon
- 51. Wilco
- 52. Sugar Ray
- 53. Matchbox Twenty
- 54. Cake
- 55. Pavement
- 56. Mazzy Star
- 57. Bush
- 58. Hootie & The Blowfish
- 59. The Magnetic Fields
- 60. The Black Crowes
- 61. Silver Chair
- 62. Suede
- 63. Dinosaur Jr
- 64. The Lightning Seeds
- 65. Candlebox
- 66. Misfits
- 67. Iron Maiden
- 68. The Wallflowers
- 69. Pale Saints
- 70. Manic Street Preachers
- 71. The Neutral Milk Hotel
- 72. Counting Crows
- 73. My Bloody Valentine
- 74. Social Distortion
- 75. The Prodigy
- 90s Rock Bands – Final Thoughts
1. Alice in Chains
Plaintive, emotive, and occasionally mournful, Alice in Chains pioneered a melodic, intoxicating sound. Quite simply, their moodiness was mesmerizing.
Their songs not only dealt with themes of heartbreak and loss, but also tackled big picture issues like war and conformity.
As far as rock bands in the 90s go, these legends are the undisputed, often underappreciated, masters of the form. Check out their 1994 epic Jar of Flies.
Nirvana needs no introduction.
Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl, and Krist Novoselic were the veritable heart of the grunge movement that emerged in the late 80s and early 90s in Seattle.
Spirited, defiant, and melancholic, their music defined the mood of a generation.
Their acoustic, introspective songs were just as compelling as their restless, frenzied singles.
Their nineties repertoire was impressive, with albums like Nevermind (1991) and In Utero (1993).
3. Pearl Jam
Seattle grunge legends Pearl Jam put a folk-rock spin on the alternative genre.
Eddie Vedder’s baleful, raspy voice was like electricity and added a profundity to their every word.
Their songs were fearlessly political, social, and full of the rage and passion of love, sorrow, and loss.
Songs like “Better Man” (1994) and “Black” (1991) have aged like wine.
A 90s band list wouldn’t be complete without ‘em.
It wouldn’t be a stretch to call Oasis the most famous British band since The Beatles or The Rolling Stones.
Their songs were charged with an unedited emotional weight that transcends time.
“Wonderwall” isn’t one of the most popular karaoke songs of all time for no reason.
Give Definitely, Maybe (1994) a relisten and you’ll be sold on their well-deserved fame.
5. Red Hot Chili Peppers
RHCP are arguably one of the best known 90’s rock bands in the world.
Anthony Keidis and Flea are living legends and for good reason.
They pioneered a fresh, vivacious, lively sound that incorporated unconventional instrumentals and riffs with soft-edged vocals and experimental choruses.
1999’s Californication is pure rock bliss.
6. Smashing Pumpkins
Smashing Pumpkins combined the insouciance, surliness, and haughtiness of adolescence with the emerging alternative sound of the nineties.
Their sound was bewitching, complex, and textural.
They paid homage to goth, skater rock, and shoegaze with their strange sonic blend.
They were one of the most critically successful bands of the nineties, with 30 million albums sold.
One of the most original bands of the 90s, Pulp captured and distilled all the restless ennui and melancholic beauty of a cold British afternoon.
Their wistful, emotionally incisive lyrics and tender melodies make for urgent, yet easy, listening.
Best known for the pub favorites “Common People” and “Disco 2000”, their downtempo songs like “Babies” and “Like a Friend” are just as timeless.
8. Foo Fighters
After his run with Nirvana, Dave Grohl found continued success with Foo Fighters, a band that referenced the best of grunge while retaining an element of energetic optimism.
Indeed, they became one of the biggest 90s bands in their own right.
Grohl et al blended refined, complex instrumentals with eminently catchy chords.
“Learn to Fly” remains one of their most enduring hits.
9. Blink 182
American rock legends Blink 182 were one of the most commercially successful pop-punk bands of the late 90s and noughties.
Their music was packed with relentless energy and cheeky, provocative lyrics.
They took catchiness to a new level and they gave a voice to frustrated, restless adolescents everywhere.
“All the Small Things” and “Dammit” were the songs of the late nineties.
Soundgarden was ushered back into the limelight with lead singer Chris Cornell’s tragic passing in 2017.
They were preeminent Seattle grunge rockers who brought a raw, unrefined urgency to the style.
Even when they were sulky they were absolutely magnetic.
1994’s “Black Hole Sun” best epitomizes their surreal, heavy sound.
11. The Jesus and Mary Chain
Scottish shoegaze legends The Jesus and Mary Chain were one of the most dynamic, compelling groups of the 80s and they came into the 90s hot with their stunning 1994 album Stoned and Dethroned.
Their songs were melodic, their harmonies haunting, and their surf and garage references sophisticated.
12. The Stone Roses
The Stone Roses encapsulated all the unbridled energy and tenderness of Manchester.
Part of the ‘Madchester’ movement that was emerging in the late eighties and early nineties, they encompassed the best tendencies of experimental British music.
If you’re looking for pensive rock stars from the 90s with no pretenses, this is your band.
Courtney Love doesn’t always get the accolades she deserves.
Her dynamic, raspy, feverish voice defined the grunge movement.
Hole created melancholic, stirring songs that were replete with rage and beauty and confusion.
Songs like “Doll Parts” and “Awful” remain as confronting as ever. Hole were 90s rock artists through and through.
90s rock band Radiohead is something of a calling card for those going through a deep, speculative, disconsolate period in their lives.
Their songs are full of candid vocals and pared-down instrumentals.
Songs like “Fake Plastic Trees” and “Creep” indulge in the ennui and isolation that defined society at the turn of the century.
15. Green Day
Rivaling Blink 182 as the plucky, youthful voice of a generation, Green Day had all the reckless charm and frenzied energy of a teen skater living in the California suburbs.
Their rapid-fire, quirky songs and punchy lyrics combined to create a completely fresh sound.
Their album Dookie is a staple of the pop-punk genre and is as invigorating today as it was at its release in 1994.
16. Third Eye Blind
San Francisco nineties staples Third Eye Blind have all the cheerful, self-assured bravado of a geek who became cool overnight.
Their rap-inspired soliloquies and cheeky, zany rhymes will have you looking for some steady ground.
Hits like “Never Let You Go” and “Semi-Charmed Life” are impossible to listen to without singing along and prove that these guys are one of the best 90s bands around.
17. No Doubt
California rockers from head to toe, No Doubt was the stepping stone that launched Gwen Stefani into worldwide stardom.
Their sound was part ska, part bubblegum pop, and part punk but always exuberant and invigorating.
“Spiderwebs” and “Just a Girl” off of their majestic album Tragic Kingdom (1995) give a great introduction to their unique sound.
You wouldn’t be far wrong if you considered them the most popular band of the 90s.
Cheeky British rockers Blur capitalized on a tongue-in-cheek, banter-like humor in their songs that had not been done before.
They were irreverent, uncompromising, and riotous, always shooting from the hip.
We love “Park Life”, a sardonic take on working class life at the end of the century.
19. Guns N’ Roses
Amazing bands of the early 90s? We got you.
The consummate American rock band, Guns N’ Roses were the best in class when it came to sprawling, animated anthems that gripped the listener and refused to let go.
They were occasionally vulgar, often tender, and always completely unapologetic.
Their epic “November Rain” remains one of the most ambitious romance and heartbreak songs of all time.
20. The Offspring
The Offspring were like the darker, bolder, uncouth older brother of skate-rock legends like Blink 182 and Sum 41.
They cut the same surly, insouciant figure, but dialed it up a few notchs.
They were crude, impassioned, and delightfully deranged.
Their songs spoke to the often fractured, chaotic lives of young adults facing down the millenium.
A mid and late 90s band with staying power.
The quintessential rock stars of the 90s, Irish band U2 are regarded as one of the definitive bands of the late twentieth century.
Their earnest melodies and rousing choruses were elevated by Bono’s honeyed voice.
They brought a sophistication and maturity to their songs, and the level of technical mastery is evidenced in their 1991 album Achtung Baby.
22. The Cure
Gothic rock legends The Cure shaped not only a musical genre but also an entire aesthetic with their dark romanticism and offbeat music videos.
Robert Smith’s dreamy voice lent an elevated credence to the band’s uncanny, otherworldly lyrics.
Counterpose their popular “Friday I’m In Love” with their ethereal “To Wish Impossible Things”.
23. Nine Inch Nails
Cleveland industrial 90s rock band NIN pioneered a machine age sensuality with their intoxicating tenor and mechanized instrumentals.
They pull the smoke over the listener’s eyes, blending silky, mournful melodies with discordant, throbbing guitar and drums.
“Sunspots” and “The Perfect Drug” are two favorites.
24. Stone Temple Pilots
Stone Temple Pilots released some unquestioned hits during the nineties, but for some reason their legacy hasn’t endured the way some of their peers have.
Which is strange because their blend of skater-rock and lite-grunge were inimitable.
One only has to listen to their debut 1992 album Core to see why they sold over 40 million albums during their reign.
25. Depeche Mode
How could you enjoy the silence when there is a band like Depeche Mode producing music?
The British new wave icons proved that electronic music need not be light and carefree.
Indeed some of their most impactful, innovative songs were reflective, introspective, and decidedly dark.
They came into the nineties with a bang with Songs of Faith and Devotion (1993).
26. The Tragically Hip
Irreverent and offbeat Canadian legends The Tragically Hip stand alone in their class.
They consisted of Gord Downie, Paul Langlois, Rob Baker, Gord Sinclair, and drummer Johnny Fay.
They were the bestselling Canadian band of the late 90s and they tackled uniquely Canadian topics with their signature humor and oblique philosophizing.
27. Collective Soul
Georgia based rock band Collective Soul came onto the scene hot in 1993 with their stellar album Hints, Allegations, and Things Left Unsaid.
If you don’t know them, you surely know their hit song “Shine”, one of the unparalleled anthems of the nineties.
Their songs combined a mellow, downtempo angst with vibrant, garage-worthy riffs and drum beats.
28. Sum 41
Ontario-born skater 90s band Sum 41 perfectly captured the frantic energy of being young and unencumbered.
Their songs were punchy, offhand, and from the heart.
They were part of a movement towards flippant, delightfully rebellious music with a light-hearted tone.
This was a marked deviation from the melancholic, introspective rock that dominated the early nineties.
Erudite, compellingly cynical, and unconventional, R.E.M. brought their success into the 90s.
In keeping with the times, they took a turn towards moodier territory with their 1991 album Out of Time.
Their earnest, somber odes were intimate in a strange, enticing way. “Losing My Religion” and “Everybody Hurts” are the best examples of their pleading, urgent sound.
Arguably one of the best bands of the 90s.
30. The Cranberries
Irish legends The Cranberries sang otherworldly vocals with lilting Limerick accents.
Their songs were earnest and poignant and captured the uncertainty and growing pains of life and love.
Their serene and nostalgic anthem “Dreams” makes for tender listening then and now.
One of the most dreamy rock bands of the 90s, hands down.
Ska-cum-punk California rock group Sublime are in a league all their own, and one of the greatest 90s bands.
They capture and distill the restless, mellow apathy of the west coast and they never try to be less or more than what they are.
This unabashed, self-assured disposition lends all of their songs a certain patina.
Their 1996 album Santeria remains their most durable classic.
32. The Goo Goo Dolls
You couldn’t have lived through the nineties without hearing “Slide” and “Iris” at least 50 times apiece.
The Buffalo, New York based band blended a rock sensibility with a more upbeat pop-alternative style.
Their songs were evocative, forthright, and proved a hit on college radio stations.
Give 1998’s Dizzy Up the Girl a listen for some nostalgic fun.
Underdog California 90s rock legends Weezer capture the off-the-cuff candor of their generation.
Their songs are avuncular, eminently catchy, and strike a balance between being alternative college-radio friendly and mainstream.
Rivers Cuomo and the gang are often considered the best example of geek rock due to their sincerity and relatability.
One of the most popular bands in the 90s for all the right reasons.
34. The Flaming Lips
Quirky and offbeat like no other band, these neo-psychedelic rockers hailed from the unlikely provenance of Oklahoma.
Transmissions from the Satellite Heart (1993) introduced their music to casual listeners, but they had been producing music since the early eighties.
“Do You Realize?” is a great introduction to their disarming and unorthodox approach.
35. Sonic Youth
New York legends Sonic Youth crushed the eighties and brought that same devil-may-care flair into the nineties.
They became one of the staple 1990s rock bands.
They were certified heroes of the youth and underground subcultures that were coming of the age at the time.
Their noise rock sound and inclusion of unconventional guitar tuning created a distinct new species of rock.
36. Rage Against the Machine
California rockers Rage Against the Machine made a career out of having a bad attitude and heady political leanings.
Their songs blended the frantic, manic tendencies of their milieu with the sardonic, clever lyrics of someone well-attuned to the hypocrisy, viciousness, and greed that reigns in our society.
Their 1991 anthem “Killing in the Name Of” was uncomfortably prescient and remains all too relevant.
37. Gin Blossoms
Arizona based Gin Blossoms were founded in 1987, but got their real taste of indie fame in the early nineties.
Their 1992 album New Miserable Experience summed up the stroppy, angsty mood that had descended over the music world at the time.
Their earnest, downtempo pop hits like “Til I Hear it From You” captured the spirit of a generation.
Portland rockers Everclear are best remembered for their nostalgic, relatable 1995 anthem “Santa Monica” and for bringing a sunnier, more pop-heavy tenor to the grunge that reigned supreme at the time.
They were alternative without being polarizing, and they appealed to fans of rock who wanted a lighter touch now and again.
That being said, their heavier fare like “Heroin Girl” is as good as anything out of Seattle.
Hands down one of the best pop-rock bands in existence.
Irreverent, whimsical, and packed with an insatiable energy, James created a sound so fresh that it must be heard to be believed.
Hailing from Manchester, their offbeat songs became a hit on college radio stations.
Give their irrepressible hit “Laid” a listen – the song exudes British charm.
Popular rock bands in the 90s? Enter California rockers Incubus.
They were founded in 1991 by Brandon Boyd, Mike Einziger, and José Pasillas.
Their 1999 hit “Drive” remains their most popular single, but all of their nineties albums hit the charts and enjoyed commercial success.
They are considered a strong example of nu- and funk-metal because they incorporated various musical styles and instrumental conventions into their hard-hitting sound.
41. Smash Mouth
Cheerful, unrefined and radio-friendly, Smashmouth had a string of hits in the late 90s that defined the age.
They were one of the most enjoyable mainstream 1990s bands.
“All Star” is the veritable anthem of older millennials.
These California performers prove that corny and uncomplicated music can be just as fun as serious, complex hits.
Ain’t nothing wrong with a bit of sugar.
Pantera are considered one of the most important and influential heavy metal bands from the 90s.
They have sold over 20 million albums, a tall order for a formerly niche genre.
They flirted with thrash and groove to create a sound that caught listeners off-guard.
Their real life problems with drugs and conflict became fodder for their music, ensuring a raw and powerful sound.
90s hard rock band Tool blended alternative rock with heavy metal conventions to great effect.
They were erudite and enigmatic, blending in elements of art-rock and psychedelic to create a bizarre, intriguing medley.
While Tool met with commercial success throughout their tenure they have had an ambivalent relationship with the corporate music industry and are something of anti-celebrities.
Nu-metal rockers from Bakersfield, California, Korn captured the dissonance of the nineties and became a voice for disaffected fans everywhere.
They took risks and they were totally brazen with their vulgar, unorthodox lyrics and confrontational sound.
Their breakout album Korn (1994) remains popular with underground metalheads.
45. Jane’s Addiction
Jane’s Addiction came in hot in the nineties with their cult-classic Ritual de lo Habitual (1990).
They had an impertinent, shameless musical sensibility and they fearlessly combined psychedelic and funk metal to create a jangly, addictive sound.
“Been Caught Stealing” is a great intro to their irreverent style.
A great 90s band with creative verve like no other.
The Pixies were OG hipsters, blending a twee introspection with a cooler-than-thou charm.
Their songs were campy, occasionally exasperating, and consistently surreal.
They took on unusual subject matter like aliens and biblical violence in their surf-ska-rock medley.
Their’s has been described as ‘jarring pop’ and we would be apt to agree.
47. Faith No More
San Francisco rockers Faith No More were born in the heady late seventies, but only began to come into their own in a commercial sense in the eighties and early nineties.
They produced music that straddled the boundary between alternative metal and experimental rock.
Most famous for their song “Epic” they were cited as inspirations by both Nirvana and Robert Plant – impressive.
Fronted by Scottish legend Shirley Manson, 90s music band Garbage upended any conventions of female musicians.
Their lyrics and moody vocals were angsty, raw, and confrontational.
They covered psychological, emotionally-driven themes with a biting and cynical wit.
“Only Happy When it Rains” captures all the petulance of the decade.
49. The Verve
One of the best rock bands of the 90s, The Verve are Britpop icons to this day.
You can hardly go to a pub today without hearing their spirited, orchestral anthem “Bittersweet Symphony”.
Their 1997 album Urban Hymns is one of the best selling British albums of all time.
Their songs touched a chord with candid and forthright beauty.
50. Blind Melon
Los Angeles 90s alternative rock bands don’t come more endearing and kooky than Blind Melon.
They’re best known for their radically offbeat song (and music video) “No Rain”.
Their songs had a fiercely original bluesy, psychedelic vibe and songs like “Change” are a wistful, thoughtful take on the alternative genre.
These slacker rockers extraordinaire are currently working on their fourth album.
Folksy indie icons Wilco pioneered a smooth, country-alternative sound that has made them cult favorites.
Their songs are replete with a jaunty yet reflective sensibility.
Their sound is eclectic and sophisticated in turn, with an evidenced handle on various cultural references and influences.
52. Sugar Ray
While Sugar Ray was formed in the late 80s with a focus on nu and funk metal, they truly reached the apex of their success in the late 90s, when a cheerier mood prevailed.
They embraced a pop-forward approach with popular songs like “Every Morning” (1999).
They are best remembered for their laidback, California vibe.
53. Matchbox Twenty
No list of the best 90s rock bands would be complete without them.
Matchbox 20 are the masters of moody songs on unrequited love, loneliness, and relationship drama.
Their songs are raw, urgent, and catchy beyond reason.
They hit the nail on the head when it came to a blend of pop and rock, with a touch of late-nineties slacker energy thrown in.
Popular bands in the 90s? One word: Cake.
Quirky and hip, San Francisco based Cake were the deadpan kings of the emerging indie scene.
They made good use of sarcasm and infused their songs with a healthy dose of Mexican folk, funk, and country.
Their 1998 album Prolonging the Magic was one of their best, and it quickly went platinum.
California bred Pavement, one of the best early 90’s bands, were naturals at downtempo, lazy summer afternoon skater rock.
You can almost feel the confines of a suburban garage in their listless, amiable lo-fi beats.
They’ve achieved a cult following with their nonchalant energy, best captured in Slanted and Enchanted (1992).
56. Mazzy Star
Haunting and wistful, Mazzy Star owed their success to the dreamy vocals of Hope Sandoval.
Their music blended the introspective disposition of shoegaze with the contemplative melodies of dream-pop.
“Fade Into You” has lost none of its magic in the decades that followed.
One of the most luminous 90s alternative bands.
British alternative rockers Bush are best remembered for lead singer Gavin Rossdale’s sensual, lush voice and their doleful hit “Glycerine”.
Their 1994 album Sixteen Stone went multi-platinum and demonstrated their grunge-rock fusion.
They were one of the most popular bands of the 90s. Listen to “Little Things” and you’ll understand why.
58. Hootie & The Blowfish
These guys get the award for the best band with the worst name.
As far as 90s bands names go – yikes.
But semantics aside, they made a major splash during the nineties with their playful, vivacious sound and catchy melodies.
They proved that soft, heartland rock had a place in the rip-roaring, moody nineties.
Their 1994 album Cracked Rear View is the 19th best selling album in the U.S. – of all time!
59. The Magnetic Fields
Boston-based lo-fi alternative band The Magnetic Fields are cult favorites.
Their songs are eminently clever with sardonic, bitter lyrics and referential jokes.
Lead singer Stephin Merritt carried their songs with a nonchalant, disaffected vocal range.
Songs like “Strange Powers” (1994) show off his monotone, nonplussed style and make for great chill listening.
60. The Black Crowes
These Atlanta based rockers were voted Best New American Band in 1990 and their music gives evidence as to why.
They went back to the roots of rock with a southern, bluesy style that was a departure from the kind of rock that was enjoying its moment during the decade.
Give 1990’s Shake Your Money Maker a listen for a taste of updated seventies rock.
61. Silver Chair
Silver Chair were more than just alternative rockers from down under, they were a band constantly on the move, evolving and adapting to new influences as the decade took its course.
Sometimes art-rock, sometimes grunge, but always alternative, Silver Chair still makes the rounds on radio stations internationally.
Doubtless you’ve heard this 90’s music band’s breakout hit “Tomorrow” in your time.
Formed in London (where else?) Suede was comprised of Brett Anderson, Justine Frischmann, and Mat Osman.
In 1992 they were honored with the title for Best New Band in Britain by Melody Maker magazine.
With their zingy, charming style they are considered one of the staple Big Four of the Britpop movement, along with Pulp, Blur, and Oasis.
63. Dinosaur Jr
Tragically underappreciated, Massachusetts nineties band Dinosaur Jr is considered a formative influence on the alternative, shoegaze rock that blossomed in the nineties.
With drawling, emotive vocals and distorted guitar riffs, they made a retrograde, seventies-inspired dent in the indie scene.
64. The Lightning Seeds
Formed in 1989 in Liverpool The Lightning Seeds embraced a starry-eyed wistfulness that felt as pure as their hit single, well, “Pure”.
Their pop-rock sound was interspersed with the synthy relics of the eighties, ensuring a certain cosmic flair.
There was a sense of optimism that pervaded their music, aptly captured in their 1995 hit “Change”.
Candlebox honed their musical sensibility in that nineties hot bed Seattle.
Their songs certainly captured the lo-fi, reflective rainy day energy of the Pacific Northwest.
Candlebox has a certain mature, sophisticated mystique – even at their grungiest.
Their melodic “Far Behind” (1993) is still a college radio staple.
Horror rockers Misfits featured on our list of the best bands of the 70s and 80s and guess what? The nineties didn’t see them slowing down one bit.
This decade emboldened them and their occult horror-rock flair was dialed up a few notches with campy, lowbrow, macabre hits like “Last Caress” and “Saturday Night”.
67. Iron Maiden
Formed in the Britain of the seventies, Iron Maiden found enduring success well into the nineties and beyond.
Their bizarre blend of occultist, historical themes with futuristic symbolism created a mesmerizing fictional world for listeners.
Their chords were as electric as ever during the nineties and they leaned into their niche with full force.
68. The Wallflowers
Bob Dylan’s son Jakob started the folksy-indie 90’s band The Wallflowers.
Their most famous song “One Headlight” deserves its renown, but their other songs are just as simple, lush, and powerful.
Dylan’s vocals are honey-smooth and the guitar riffs and melodies incorporate the best of the rock tradition for a more nuanced, sophisticated taste.
69. Pale Saints
When people consider the rock artists of the 90s they often overlook these amazing musicians.
Shoegaze underdogs Pale Saints were masters at downtempo, lo-fi songs with heart.
Their haunting “Sight of You” remains one of the best examples of the genre.
Formed in Leeds, England in 1987 they perfected a jangly indie pop sound with ethereal melodies and dissonant guitars.
70. Manic Street Preachers
One of the most intriguing, soulful rock groups of the 90s, Welsh group ‘The Manics’ spoke to a broad range of listeners.
Their music hit a nerve, focusing on issues of alienation, ennui, and isolation.
They made social and political allusions in their lyrics, which were always layered between a wall of guitars and throbbing drums.
71. The Neutral Milk Hotel
A geeky dream pop band with an unlikely name, Louisiana-bred Neutral Milk Hotel captured the bittersweet beauty of life in all its auspices.
Their lively, emotive hit “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” is still a deeply affecting listen.
Well worth a stop at the record shop to learn more about this late 90s band.
72. Counting Crows
Another popular 90s band from, you guessed it, San Francisco, Counting Crows are famous for their nineties ballad par-excellence “Mr Jones”.
Their sound had a rich folkiness made for open mic night.
They have stayed under the radar while maintaining steady commercial success ever since.
Proof you can be 90’s rock stars without being theatrical and flashy.
73. My Bloody Valentine
Dublin-based rock band My Bloody Valentine are something of a sleeper hit.
Many in the mainstream don’t know of their music but they have a dedicated fanbase who keep their popularity alive.
They are best known for discordant instrumentals, androgynous vocals, and for pioneering the serene, introspective shoegaze genre.
74. Social Distortion
Social Distortion were pioneers of the late 70s California punk scene, and they only grew more ambitious and technically savvy as the nineties approached.
Their 1990 youth anthem “Story of My Life” captures all the wistful temporality and forlorn nostalgia of being a teen.
They brought a fearlessness and commitment to punk that allowed them to stay relevant for forty plus years.
75. The Prodigy
Controversial doesn’t begin to describe British alternative electronic musicians The Prodigy.
Their hits hurt feelings and led to much pearl-clutching but their industrial dance sound lives on in underground bars the world over.
Their 1997 album Fat of the Land is a good starting point for encountering one of the great bands of the 90s – The Prodigy.
90s Rock Bands – Final Thoughts
Now that we’ve blown your mind with our great 90s rock bands list we expect you to get some new playlists up and running stat.
Go weed through the list and find some new retro faves to vibe to, skate to, or contemplate life to.
Hurry, or you’ll regret it.