Thursday, May 14, 2015

Top 10 bands of the 90s

One summer when I was in college, I was working at a job doing research, in which a large chunk of my time waiting for an experiment to run, i.e. twiddling my thumbs. So me and three of my friends from college decided to undertake a momentous task:

We decide to read the top 10 alternative bands of the 1990s.

We took this task incredibly seriously. No less then three dozen long detailed emails were passed between us. Finally, we came up with a definitive list in no particular order:

Red Hot Chili Peppers
Green Day
Smashing Pumpkins
Nine Inch Nails
Stone Temple Pilots
The Cranberries
The Offspring
Pearl Jam

And then we decide to do bands 11-20:

Alanis Morisette
No Doubt
The Foo Fighters
Alice in Chains


  1. Alice in Chains should be in the top 10 list, with Stone Temple Pilots (AIC's aural clone) placed on the 11-20 list

    1. I think STP had more hits than AIC although I'm sure it was close.

    2. STP was more radio friendly, no arguing with that, but they seemed to be mostly copying Alice in Chains.

  2. wow. Seriously bringing back memories! Love your top 10 except STP, not a fan.

  3. That is an okay list but a few major flaws and some minor ones. I recognize that if this was actually done in the 90's you would be more susceptible to what was hot at the time and not have the benefit of how something stood the test of time to sway your judgment. For example, there is no way I would iclude the Cranberries on this list if done now. And Alanis Morisette, if you can't agree she doesn't belong based on her music alone, I think she should be taken off the list for not knowing what "ironic" means. I also have a bit of a problem with REM. By the 90's I would no longer consider them alternative. In my opinion their best work was in the 80's and by the 90's they were pop.

    One addition I would make is the Afghan Whigs. Very underrated band that never quite hit it big but in my opinion the best of the 90's. The most glaring error is not including Radiohead. OK Computer is considered by many publications to be the best album of the 90's even ahead of Nevermind.

    1. I think we made the list during the summer of 2000. So we very well might have been influenced by the more recent bands.

      I agree with you about Radiohead. I have no idea why we didn't include them in the list.  They were actually fairly popular in the late 90s, so I'm not sure what went wrong.  There was a lot of arguing over the list, so I don't know if I was 100% satisfied with it at the end.

      I do maintain that Alanis should have been on the list. She was one of the artists that you always think about when you think about the 90s, whether you liked her or not.

      And definitely disagree on Afghan Whigs, whoever they are. I listened to so much music in the 90s and I never even heard of that band. Maybe they were good, but there are plenty of obscure bands that I liked more than any of the ones on that top 20 list, but I couldn't include them just because they appealed to me personally.

    2. I must take exception to calling the Afghan Whigs "obscure". There album Gentlemen is considered the 7th best album of 1993 for what its worth. They were also on the soundtrack to My So Called Life and what could be more 90's than that. They were frequently played on 120 minutes and the lead singer Greg Dulli even hosted the show. He was also the lead singer for the Backneat band, featuring, Dave Grohl and Thurston Moore.

    3. Well, I watched my so-called life sometimes, and I listened to music nonstop in the 90s (I was a teenager). So name a few songs by them that I would know. Because I'm pretty sure anybody my age would be able to name several songs by any of those 20 bands.

  4. Live? really? I listened to a lot of music in the 90s - and i couldn't place them at all. I googled them and remembered that they did that 'lightening crashes' song, but not really anything else worthy of note. Bush was also kind of a Nirvana copy cat band.

    I personally would move STP and the cranberries to the 11-20 list, and bump Oasis +/- Beck +/- soundgarden up to the 1-10 list. I take this very seriously too.

    1. I admit, Live seems like an odd choice, in retrospect. They did have at least four fairly big hits that I can name: I alone, all over you (possibly biggest hit), lightning crashes, and pain lies on the riverside, spanning two albums.

      I think people are forgetting how big the cranberries were for a while, because they did not stand the test of time. They had two albums that were huge in the 90s with multiple hits from each one.

      STP had a lot of hits: creep, plush, sex type thing, big empty, Vaseline, interstate love song, Big Bang baby... I can see why we decided they should be up there. How many big radio hits did Beck have?  Like, two?

    2. Hmmm...I concede that STP and the cranberries had more hits, but i don't think they were as influential as some of the bands on the 11-20 list. i guess i don't really think of them as 'alternative' (especially 'the cranberries'- i mean 'dreams' and 'ode to my family' were totally pop) but then that gets into the argument of what is 'alternative' - is just any somewhat-grungy looking band in their 20s, or do they have to fit some sort of musical esthetic?

      also, i just realized weezer isn't up there, which is a travesty!

    3. Yeah, where's Weezer? They are my second favorite band so I must have fought for them. I must've been shot down by the others.

  5. still no love for the Afghan Whigs? I guess I should just give it up but I would strongly recommend checking them out.

    If I can't get the whigs how about Soul Asylum. Based on the above criteria they should be there Runaway Train was inescable for a while in the 90's. I wanted to add the Cure though they were better in the 80's (I had to look up that Disintegration came out in 1989). If the Whigs are too obscure then I guess Belly, Bjork, Eve's Plum or the Posies would have no chance. While not a big fan I would have to throw out the beastie boys for consideration

    1. Beastie Boys are rappers.

      I can't have love for the Whigs because I literally cannot name one song that they sang, and now only know that they did the soundtrack for a short-lived 90s TV show. Help me out if you want me to like them.

    2. Sabotage was one of the biggest songs of the 90s. Others i forgot but might argue in favor of rage against the machine and nine inch nails

  6. Geez, why don't you post something less controversial, like vaccination. ;) I have terrible taste in music but was a teenager in the 90s. I definitely am not qualified to give feedback on your list, but enjoyed the trip down memory lane!