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Most Underrated Bands of the 90s

Shrouded by boy bands and grunge, the most underrated bands of the 90s deserve more love than they got.

By Skunk UzekiPublished 7 years ago 7 min read

One thing that I'm thankful for, as a Millennial, was my ability to be alive during the 1990s. It was a glorious age —, especially for the arts. The 90s was a time when music was really at its pinnacle. You had amazing subcultures blossoming thanks to the creativity that the overall social climate encouraged.

Rap was in its heyday, with major acts like Biggie and Tupac making headlines and scoring hits. Pop music was flourishing, thanks to the rise of boy bands and female pop singers. Rock music was at an all-time high thanks to Nirvana.

Heck, even the goth scene was beginning to see a renaissance of sorts, especially thanks to the invention of the cybergoth movement.

Since there were so many great bands cropping up during this time, there wasn't enough spotlight time to feature all the bands that deserved admiration. This meant that many excellent bands didn't get the attention they deserved.

The most underrated bands of the 90s really got fleeced in terms of attention and fame. If you'd give them a listen, then you'd probably agree.


Cake is a band that had a number of really popular hits in the 90s, but faded into obscurity shortly after the decade ended. Their music was suburban in nature, with just a little bit of a California twist.

Their guitar riffs were alternative, their drum beats usually stayed a bit "hippie-like," and their deadpan vocals somehow really spoke to the often disaffected teen audiences who loved their music.

The best part about Cake wasn't the vocals, though. It was their dry, insanely witty and sarcastic humor that they regularly added into their lyrics. Sadly, Cake is one of the most underrated bands of the 90s — primarily because so few people really picked up on their humorous side.

Sneaker Pimps

One of the 90s music genres that still lingers around today is trip hop, and no one quite seems to have ever done it better than Sneaker Pimps. Despite the fact that they totally nailed the seductive, mellow-electric coffeehouse vibe that trip hop was all about, they remain one of the most underrated bands of the 90s.

Sneaker Pimps had it all — sultry vocals, sexy music videos, and electronic beats that were way ahead of their time. Unfortunately, because they were so ahead of their curve, it would take a long time before people would actually get the full scope of their talent.

Nowadays, Sneaker Pimps are considered to be major in their music genre, but they still aren't as appreciated out in the mainstream. This is a shame, because their music is really incredible.

Nada Surf

Nada Surf was one of many awesome alt-rock bands to be part of the 90s music scene. They had the broody, edgy anger of any good 90s alt-rock band with a softer, smoother sound. Better still, they had the creativity to back up their awesome music, too.

It's easy to see why Nada Surf is one of the most underrated bands of the 90s. They had a melancholy, just-under-the-skin rage that came through in their songs. Their lyrics were creative, and somehow, just perfectly captured what high school in the 90s and 00s really felt like.

This was most visible in their hit song, "Popular," which poked fun at how shallow high school life really was — and how often the most attractive people can get away with hurting others.

If you love to rage out to music that just understands what it's like to be an outcast, then you'll adore Nada Surf.


90s boy bands were a dime a dozen, and they went far beyond the standard Backstreet Boys and NSYNC offerings we all tend to remember today. One of the most forgotten boy bands of this era had to be LFO, a group which had scored a number of popular hits.

In many ways, one of the reasons why LFO ended up being one of the most underrated bands of the 90s was because they were hard to pick out from a crowd. Their music was catchy, fun to listen to, and was just 90s boy band goodness. They also had the generic boy band look.

But, what set them apart was their lyrics. Unlike other boy bands of the time, LFO seemed just a little bit more sincere than others — even though they admitted that they liked girls who wear Abercrombie and Fitch.

Fans who miss the bubblegum feel of 90s boy bands should check them out. They're deliciously retro.


Perhaps this doesn't really count on a standard list of the most underrated bands of the 90s, but frankly, it's a band that says volumes about what the 90s music industry was really like.

The band in question is called 2gether — and they were originally a fictional band that was put together in 1999 by MTV. The reason television executives placed the guys in a band wasn't to release music; it was for a show that aired poking fun at the popularity of boy bands.

Even though they technically weren't a real band, they still had a number of hits that were somewhat catchy. They also were hilarious to watch, especially when you realize that the old guy in the band is actually Chris Farley's brother.

A lot of people didn't really appreciate the snide remarks that the show (or the band) made about 90s music. However, this is one of those things that seemed to get better (or worse) with age — and it's actually retro comedy gold these days.


Yes, there's a good chance that Courtney Love killed Kurt Cobain. Yes, everyone in the grunge scene seems to hate her on principle alone. Yes, she has a lot of drug issues and doesn't look so good.

But, despite all the reasons to hate Courtney Love, you need to give her band a listen. Hole was, and still is, one of the most underrated bands of the 90s. The reason why is obvious. It's a pretty stigmatized band, being led by a very stigmatized woman.

Hole had some pretty amazing songs, many of which reflected the same anger and disillusionment with life that Nirvana had. Fans who love 90s alt-rock with sludgy, slippery, and downright gritty riffs will like their work. Also, if you're a fan of raw vocals, then Hole will definitely not disappoint.


Orgy was one of the most underrated bands of the 90s goth and industrial scene — despite the hand they played in bringing cybergoth to mainstream media.

Often despised for being "too weird" for mainstream rock, and derided for being "too boy bandy" for goth rock, Orgy was an industrial band that was heavily focused on cybergoth aesthetics, industrial covers of new wave hits, and chunky electronic noise as part of their songs.

They weren't quite rock, nor were they industrial, nor were they even pop. Their sound, which is totally unique to them, is what frontman Jay Gordon described as "death pop."

Their 90s music was intense, often heavily sexual, and also sparked thousands of goth girl crushes. Yes, they were the "pretty boys" of 90s goth music — but they also were an incredibly talented band.


Most people will recognize Ween as the stoner rock band that helped make the soundtrack to Dude, Where's My Car?, or from their hit "Voodoo Lady." Oh, but they're so much more than just that.

Though they've been around since the 1980s, the trippy alt-rock band is really one of the most underrated bands of the 90s. This was, in fact, the best time of their music career — up until recently.

Ween's 90s releases involved loads of comedy, fun photoshoots, highly experimental tracks, and a totally mixed grab bag of music. One moment, they would be lo-fi, the next, you'd see them jamming out to something in a tropical beat.

The sheer level of creativity that Ween displayed during this time in their career is downright mind-boggling. If you like country, humor tracks, psychedelic goodness, or slightly punk work, there is a Ween track for you.


Jellyfish is one of those bands that is tragically underrated, and really deserves more attention than just being plopped on lists of the most underrated bands of the 90s.

They were a truly timeless group that recreated the cheerful, psychedelic, and just delightfully retro sounds that came from bands like the Beatles, Electric Light Orchestra, Queen, and Cheap Trick.

It's really striking how talented Jellyfish was. If you listen to some of their tracks, you'd almost swear that Queen had decided to take a lighter take on music for a brand new release.

They brought power pop to the forefront at a time when people just weren't feeling it. Sadly, the world wasn't quite ready to hear that kind of joyful rock once again — and as such, Jellyfish stayed obscure throughout the years.


Morphine is the kind of band that really didn't quite fit into any particular genre of music. Their music was definitely rock, but not hard enough to be alternative. They were bluesy, melancholy, and just a bit soulful — but not country enough to be considered blues.

Strong acoustic guitar riffs, slightly gravelly vocals, and just a hint of speakeasy charm made Morphine a superb band in the Boston alt-rock scene. Sadly, they never quite got enough attention to get the notoriety of other bands in the 90s.

They were jazzy, sexy, smoky, and had that perfect rock sound. However, they are one of the few bands that seems to be more popular after the leader's death than before. As a result, they quickly became one of the most underrated bands of the 90s — and a cult favorite among music critics.

90s musicbands

About the Creator

Skunk Uzeki

Skunk Uzeki is an androgynous pothead and a hard partier. When they aren't drinking and causing trouble, they're writing articles about the fun times they have.

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  • Forrest Browning3 months ago

    Look, I'll give you Jellyfish but the list should only contain one band's name and that is Failure, end of story. They ultimate underrated band of the 90's.

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