10 Best 90’s Alternative Songs

Let the flashback begin with this list of the 10 best 90’s alternative songs. Alternative music (also called alternative rock) emerged in the 80's but grew in popularity in the 90's. This genre of music includes various different sub-genres.

  1. "Smells like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana (1991). Lead singer, Kurt Cobain, said he was aiming for a song with a style similar to the Pixies, an alternative 1980's band, when he wrote this song. The title comes from a prank by Cobain’s friend Kathleen Hanna. The songs instant popularity was very much a surprise to the band and they later even grew uncomfortable by the extreme fame they reached.
  2. "Jeremy" by Pearl Jam (1992). This is one of the band’s best-known songs. It is reported that the song is loosely based off of the story of a 16-year-old boy that killed himself in front of his English class. Eddie Vedder, who wrote the song, also said that it was based off of a kid he went to high school with.
  3. "Closer" by Nine Inch Nails (1994). This is probably one of Trent Reznor’s, front man for the band, best known song. The song gained popularity quickly but there was a media storm of controversy over the sexual explicit lyrics. With lines like “I want to feel you from the inside.” It’s not a shock that the song had to be heavily edited for it to be played on MTV and the radio.
  4. "No Rain" by Blind Melon (1993). This song was written by the band’s bass player, Brad Smith, about a former girlfriend. Smith’s girlfriend reportedly dealt with depression but Smith said while he was writing the song it hit him he was writing it about himself. The video featured a girl in a bee suit, Heather DeLoach.
  5. "You" by Candlebox (1994). This is the band’s second single off of their self-titled first album. Although it only hit 78 on the charts it was under heavy rotation on MTV. Many fans believe the song deals with drug addiction.
  6. "Losing My Religion" by R.E.M. (1991). The song was written by Peter Buck as he sat around watching TV with the band, learning to play the mandolin he’d just bought. The title is actually an expression in the south that means to lose your temper.
  7. "Possum Kingdom" by Toadies (1994). The song is based off of folklore surrounding the band’s native state of Texas. The title comes from a lake near Fort Worth.
  8. "Ironic" by Alanis Morrissette (1995). This is the fourth single off of Morrissette’s album Jagged Little Pill. It got a lot of radio play in the 90's and gained more popularity than even the artist could have imagined. Critics of the song say that the situations described in the lyrics are not examples of irony. There have been many parodies of this song because of that.
  9. "Karma Police" by Radiohead (1997). The song is about a joke among the band about calling “the karma police” when they do something wrong. It’s also about the stress of dealing with societies reaction towards behavior that is not considered socially acceptable.
  10. "I Will Buy You a New Life" by Everclear (1997). Lead singer Art Alexakis wrote this song. Reportedly after his daughter was born he would drive around with his girlfriend in a rich area of Portland, Oregon, the West Hills. The couple would dream of living in the area and being able to provide their daughter with a different kind of life. With the success of Everclear, Alexakis bought a house in the West Hills.
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