Fifty Rock Songs That Defined the 90s

smells like teen spiritWith the decade winding down, let’s take a look back at… the 90s. Oh, the memories. So not to flood this list with, say, 5 songs by Green Day, for example, each band will appear only once with its 90s signature song, listed alphabetically by song. I’m purposely leaving out heavy metal acts (my favorite), and bands such as Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Aerosmith that put out great albums during the 90s but are not really known as ’90s’ bands.

1979 – Smashing Pumpkins

The 90s wouldn’t have been the same without the Smashing Pumpkins, and there were many songs to chose from, but I’d say this was the most popular. Who’da thunk that a guy who looks like Uncle Fester would be the lead singer of a popular band.

3 A.M. Matchbox 20

Bawitdaba – Kid Rock

To me, this is Kid Rock’s one and only good song. This should have been included on Gunaxin’s Top Ten Songs to Fight to list.

Bittersweet Symphony – The Verve

The best part of the film Cruel Intentions.

Black Hole Sun – Soundgarden

Again, many songs to choose from but Black Hole Sun rocked the most.

Bound for the Floor – Local H

And you just dont get it

You keep it copacetic

And you learn to accept it

You know its so pathetic

Clumsy – Our Lady Peace

Creep – Radiohead

Cumbersome – Seven Mary Three

This song has the coolest guitar riff to start a song.

Everlong – Foo Fighters

Good to see Dave Grohl prove once and for all that Kurt Cobain wasn’t the only musical genius in Nirvana.

Far Behind – Candlebox

I saw this band live, filling in for Alice in Chains, with Metallica as the headliner. Though Candlebox has some decent songs, that was the wrong crowd for this band.

Firestarter – The Prodigy

Smack My Bitch Up is also cool. Fat of the Land is a great album from start to finish.

Fly – Sugar Ray

Fly Away – Lenny Kravitz

I like this one better than Are You Gonna Go My Way but close enough.

Hey Man, Nice Shot – Filter

Hold My Hand – Hootie and the Blowfish

Gotta put Hootie in here. Everyone thought this band would last but they only put out one good album. Ugh.

I Alone – Live

Take your pick of hits from this band (I’m more partial to Lightning Crashes), but I’d say I hear I Alone on the radio today more than other Live songs.

If You Could Only See – Tonic

Iris – Goo Goo Dolls

Jeremy – Pearl Jam

Ten is one of the best albums I’ve ever heard, and this song stands above them all.

Loser – Beck

Losing My Religion – R.E.M.

Machinehead – Bush

Another great album, and several hit songs to choose from, but this one rocked the hardest.

Man in the Box – Alice in Chains

Another Seattle band, this one a lot harder and perhaps belongs in the heavy metal category, but several of their songs have a soft side.

Mr. Jones – Counting Crows

My Own Prison – Creed

Nookie – Limp Bizkit

I’m not a fan of this band at all but I’ll give Fred Durst credit for making a name for himself in the 90s and headlining those Family Values tours.

Plush – Stone Temple Pilots

Lots of hits by this band as well.

Popular – Nada Surf

I’m not sure if this was a hit in the 90s but when I got a hold of it and realized it was the soundtrack to my high school life (1991-1994), I had to put it on here.

Runaway Train – Soul Asylum

Self Esteem – The Offspring

Love The Offspring, and lots of hits to choose from. Ixnay on the Hombre… yeah buddy.

Semi-Charmed Life – Third Eye Blind

Silent Lucidity – Queensryche

This doesn’t sound like a 90s song to me but it’s so good I couldn’t resist putting it here.

Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana

The decade of music didn’t begin until Kurt Cobain and company played this song on Saturday Night Live, putting a nail in the coffin of 80s glam metal, making Seattle the Mecca of grunge and spurning countless imitators.

Sober – Tool

I never really got into this band, and didn’t even enjoy their concert when I saw them in Baltimore several years ago, but Sober is such a good song that I’d hate to leave it off this list. Schism rocks too but that wasn’t until the 00s.

Stupid Girl – Garbage

This self-titled album is a masterpiece. Oh yeah, and Shirley Manson is HOT.

Tomorrow – Silverchair

An imitation grunge band. Still, this song sounds good, though.

Touch, Peel and Stand – Days of the New

Tubthumping – Chumbawamba

I get knocked down!

Two Princes – Spin Doctors

Under the Bridge – Red Hot Chili Peppers

I’d say this is one of the top ten songs ever.

Violet – Hole

I’m convinced that Kurt Cobain wrote this album and Courtney Love just sang the songs. Violet and Doll Parts sounds exactly like Nirvana.

Walkin’ on the Sun – Smash Mouth

This band got even bigger when the Shrek came out.

Welcome to Paradise – Green Day

Of all the 2-minute songs that Green Day put out that got airplay, I’d say Paradise was the most popular, closely followed by Basket Case.

What Do I Have to Do? – Stabbing Westward

What I Got – Sublime

What It’s Like – Everlast

To think this is the same guy who sang that House of Pain song Jump Around.

Wonderwall – Oasis

Oasis had a few other hits and at one point were deemed ‘The next Beatles’ but a falling out between the Gallagher brothers did this band in.

You Outta Know – Alanis Morissette

Alanis put out one of the top selling albums of all time, fueled by a song about going down on a guy in a theater.

Zombie – The Cranberries

Ultimately a band that played soft music, The Cranberries had their share of harder songs which somehow got mixed in with the same crowd that liked to mosh. I remember hearing about a concert where the crowd got so unruly that they stopped the show mid-song.