10 Bands that Rocked the 90s
The 1990s was a huge burst of light for the Rock world, and ten bands pretty much led the way.
The 90s was a huge decade for rock music. Most of its epic bands that rocked that decade are still being played on mainstream radio with modern rock. Yes, a lot of the epic tunes that were born in the 90s are still being heard through the airwaves throughout the world as if the songs were just released like they were back in that manic decade. That is how good the 90s had it with rock music!
There were plenty of bands that made the 90s the decade that it was, but 10 bands stand out as the most influential ones for those monumental ten years. This blog will name the ten but in no particular order. Still, see if you agree with this list of the 10 bands that rocked the 90s.
Founded in Seattle by the legendary Kurt Cobain, this band brought down the hammer on the rock world and established the Grunge genre. While the band was around since 1989 with its first album Bleach, it did not establish true popularity until its second album, Nevermind, released in 1991. With the hit song and video Smells Like Teen Spirit, the album made the top charts and established total popularity practically overnight.
The song and video were such a huge hit that it killed Glam Metal in just weeks and paved the way for the Seattle movement known as Grunge. In 1994, singer Kurt Cobain committed suicide and was considered to be a huge hit for the rock world. However, other bands kept the spirit alive for Rock including his own drummer, David Grohl, who eventually started the Foo Fighters.
Many argue that Pearl Jam is the true leader of the Grunge movement. The band was formed in Seattle as well and made it big with its debut album Ten, released in 1991. Pearl Jam moved on to be one of the best in rock history due to the fact that they are still around and mostly with their original members.
During the 90s, Pearl Jam had success with their Vitology, Vs., No Code, and Yield albums. Singer Eddie Vedder is still held as one of the best rock singers and maintains a throne. The band is still releasing rockin’ hits and is still held with high esteem throughout radio airwaves.
Red Hot Chili Peppers
These crazy dudes from Hollywood, California, made their name in the 1980s with their first real big LP Mother’s Milk in 1989, their fourth album. However, the Red Hot Chili Peppers followed up with Blood Sugar Sex Magic in 1991. This album really made them stand out with their funky genre, and they did it while the Grunge scene was huge. The Red Hot Chili Peppers were among the best in the 90s, as they were representing Los Angeles. The songs from their 1991 release were hitting the charts hard and were thriving with the best from Seattle.
Singer Anthony Kiedis, drummer Chad Smith, and bass player Flea kept their status at bay even after losing their guitar player John Frusciante, considered a prodigy, by taking in Jane’s Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro. Together they released One Hot Minute in 1995. The album was not as huge as the former LP, but it was enough to represent Southern California with a strong stance. The Red Hots closed the decade with a solid fist by reuniting with Frusciante and releasing another epic album Californication in 1999.
Another giant that was spawned from Seattle. This group had a heavier sound than most Seattle bands that tended to lean towards punk. Soundgarden was the new modern age Black Sabbath with vocals by Chris Cornell that were phenomenal.
Soundgarden was the first from Seattle to be signed by a big record company with their album Louder Than Love. However, the album that put the band on the map was Badmotorfinger, which laid out the carpet for the two following albums Superunknown and Down On The Upside. Soundgarden is hailed as one of the best rock bands of the 90s and held a high rank for the next two decades. The suicide of singer Chris Cornell brought the band’s run to an abrupt ending. Still, Soundgarden rocks on and Cornell is one for the ages.
The metal band that blended an artsy style to its sound. Tool also touch the spiritual realm and made it successful among the bohemian scene by sounding a bit psychedelic. Their music was super metal with the vibrations that took listeners to a spiritual realm. Tool was very unique and very dark at the same time. Their style was very creative and was held highly respected by metal listeners as well.
Their first album Undertow was released in 1993 and hit the main charts. Their popularity was also helped with their touring with the most popular rock festival of the decade, Lollapalooza. Their next album, AEnima, was a huge hit as well, and it carried the band throughout the 90s on a very strong note. The two albums released by Tool in the 90s are a perfect example of what the decade had to offer rockers. It offered pure creative hard rock.
Rage Against the Machine
Another band that came out with a wicked new style. This band approached with a harsh political point of view and used that platform to fuse heavy rock with rap. Frontman Zack de la Rocha had rhymes galore and had them make very harsh statements about society. Guitarist Tom Morello played his guitar to sound like a turntable at times while providing plenty of hard metal riffs.
The band came out of Los Angeles, like Tool, and hit the charts hard with their first self titled album. Their rap-rock style paved the way for a new genre of music and Rage Against the Machine was the perfect example of pure rage coming from LA streets. They came from a town that was inundated with Hip Hop and Rock at the time, and the band was a perfect reflection of it.
The three rhyming stooges from New York thrived in the 90s with their funky style, and they did it well. The Beastie Boys were already big from the 80s with their albums License to Ill and Paul’s Boutique. However, in the 90s, the B-Boys changed up their style and went back to their roots of punk rock. Yes, they went back to playing like a rock band while spitting out rhymes like masters.
Their album Check Your Head was another Hip Hop album but rockers embraced it as the LP had some rocking jams to it. The trio followed up with Ill Communication and kept their fans happy with funky jams, a couple of punk songs, and, of course, rap. The Beastie Boys mixed it all up and took Hip Hop and Rock to another level. Their live performances were also a huge show as they brought in people with different backgrounds to the playground. They were one of the first to unite two genres and be very successful at it.
While Seattle had the grunge movement cracking and LA had different styles of bands shining in the spotlight, the Smashing Pumpkins came out to join the noise straight out of Chicago. The Pumpkins introduced a melodic style to rock while still able to riff out some badass guitars.
The Smashing Pumpkins also showed that geeks could rock out and they did it with plenty of harmonics and heavy guitars. While their album Gish is considered a masterpiece, it was not until Siamese Dreams that the Pumpkins made the scene nationwide. The following album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness was even bigger and paved the way for the rest of the 90s. The band is still making waves for themselves, but the 90s was their best decade and made sure that they will be remembered.
Another heavy-hitting band that crossed the line and took Rock to another level. Korn is pretty much the creators of Nu Metal. Their self titled debut album hit the charts and hit hard. Their new sound of heavy riffs with a Hip Hop funk style to it was pretty new. Yeah, Rage Against the Machine was touching those grounds, but Korn was not rapping to their music.
Frontman Jonathan Davis stayed true with heavy metal singing while his band rocked out with heavy metal riffs and soulful drumming. Korn’s lyrics were also very disturbing as it usually dealt with mental disability due to abuse by society or by someone. Korn was dark but rocked out! Plus, their style of looking somewhat-like 80s rappers was quite a nice touch to it as well, wearing a lot of Adidas threads and all.
The last of the decade is left to Sublime who came out straight out of Long Beach. While their city is part of Los Angeles, Long Beach is a species of its own, and Sublime represented that very well. Sublime kept the rocking scene alive after the grunge scene started dying out towards the end of the 90s.
Sublime’s music still prevails throughout radio stations across the world as their music is enriched with that skater, punk LA flavor. Skaters are still very much alive and Sublime made a huge stamp in the scene. Their beach-loving style was also embraced by rockers as Sublime did it all with heavy riffs, punk, ska, and reggae-infused guitars. They had the street attitude that LA bands had and that was enough to keep rockers rocking until the decade ended.
Frontman Bradley Nowell died of an overdose in 1996, and it hurt the rock community badly. Their albums still remained at the top for years to come, and the band had also opened up the doors for Anaheim-based band No Doubt, who closed out the decade for LA.
Other Bands to Mention
Again, the 90s was a heavily enriched decade that had the rock world stomping. While the Hip Hop world was also jamming during that decade, Rock took its own genre to different sub-genres like Grunge, Alternative, Alternative Rock, and Nu Metal.
The decade was filled with rocking bands and these are others that also made the 90s into a giant music wave that crashed onto the next two. Bands like Weezer, Jane’s Addiction, Alice in Chains, No Doubt, Foo Fighters and Primus were huge in the 90s as well. Nine Inch Nails, Beck, Alanis Morissette, and Blind Melon were others. Old school bands like U2 were big as well, and the beginning of Marilyn Manson were also there in the 90s. All of these artists mentioned in this blog, plus others that I forgot to mention, and their songs from that decade are still being played with modern rock today! The 90s rock scene was quite a shine for Rock music, and the light from that burst is still refusing to dim.