20 of the Best 90s Bands Still Loved by Fans
The 90s was the last great decade of music. It was a period in music history where new genres such as grunge and alternative took over mainstream radio, while hip-hop’s golden age reached its peak and many great artists broke through. It’s also the decade that gave us Britpop and the battle between the world’s biggest bands, Oasis and Blur. And who can forget the surge of pop bands and artists that came to prominence during that time, with the Spice Girls, Britney Spears, the Backstreet Boys, Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, and Destiny’s Child all dominating the charts.
90s bands from that era are still loved by fans today, with the nostalgic factor playing a big part in these acts still performing and touring. While there is no doubt modern bands and artists are making waves, many of them come and go and have nowhere near the impact of classic 90s bands.
So take a trip back down memory lane and celebrate the best 90s bands with us below.
20 of the Best 90s Bands Still Loved by Fans
They may have started in the 80s, but it was during the early 90s when Nirvana rose to prominence. Part of the grunge revolution, lead singer and guitarist Kurt Cobain, bassist Krist Novoselic, and drummer Dave Groh,l changed the face of music with their chart-topping album Nevermind.
Playing angsty rock with catchy melodies and relatable lyrical content, Nirvana captured Generation Z and spoke to millions of teens around the world. But the band’s success was short-lived after Cobain took his own life just two years after the release of Nevermind, although the legacy they created still lives on today.
2. Alice in Chains
Seattle produced the best grunge/alternate bands, with Alice in Chains being one of the city’s leading lights. Much heavier than their grunge contemporaries, Alice in Chains combined hard rock with soothing harmonies, creating a unique sound that has seen them sell over 40 million records worldwide, with their first three albums, Facelift (1990), Dirt (1992) and Alice in Chains (1995), considered classics of the genre.
Sadly things took a turn for the worst in 1996 when co-vocalist Layne Staley found himself in the throws of heroin addiction. The band went on hiatus, with members Jerry Cantrell, Sean Kinney, and Mike Inez pursuing other projects while dealing with their own personal issues.
Staley would die of a drug overdose in 2002, putting an end to Alice in Chains until 2006 when the remaining members reformed and released their long-awaited fourth album Black Gives Way to Blue in 2009. Well received by critics and fans, the band continues to record and tour today, keeping the memory of Staley alive.
3. No Doubt
Before Gwen Stefani struck out on her own as a solo artist and found a new batch of fans thanks to her appearance as a judge on The Voice, she was the lead vocalist of the ska-pop band No Doubt.
Releasing six albums over their two-decade career (the band has been on hiatus since 2015), they hit the big time in 1995 with the album Tragic Kingdom, featuring the hit singles “Don’t Speak,” “Just a Girl,” and. “Sunday Morning.”
Forming in 1992, Weezer is an alternative rock act that also swims in the pop and punk stream of music genres. Coming up around the same time as Jimmy Eat World, Ben Folds Five, and Beck, Weezer captivated with their strange songs about “Buddy Holly” and sweaters containing catchy choruses that you can’t get out of your head.
The band’s best albums both come from the 90s, with their self-titled debut (also known as the Blue Album) and its 1996 follow-up, Pinkerton, containing Weezer’s best tracks. While their output has been constant but lacking in quality over the past decade, they remain a favorite 90s band who are still selling out shows across the globe.
5. Manic Street Preachers
As far as popular Welsh bands go, Manic Street Preachers are at the top of the tree. While their sound is hard to pin down, as they take influence from multiple genres, the Manics write sophisticated music with challenging lyrics that help set them apart from their contemporaries.
Tragedy struck the band on February 1, 1995, when lyricist and guitarist Richey Edwards disappeared. Despite the loss, the Manics decided to press on and released Everything Must Go On, arguably their greatest album to date. The band continues to release music and is one of the biggest British bands from the 90s still out there getting it done.
Alternative rockers Soundgarden came out of the Seattle grunge scene and memorized the music-loving public along with the likes of Nirvana, Alice in Chains, and Pearl Jam in the 90s. Frontman Chris Cornell’s incredible voice was the anchor that kept the band together, with some of their biggest songs including “Spoonman,” “Black Hole Sun,” “Rusty Cage,” and “Jesus Christ Pose.”
Breaking up at the peak of their fame in 1997, the band eventually reformed in 2010 and released their sixth and final album, King Animal, in 2012. The album was well received and proved there was still room for 90s rockers, but the tragic suicide of Cornell in 2017 put an end to the band, with Soundgarden officially calling it quits in 2018.
Oasis was the biggest band to come out of Britain since The Beatles and The Rolling Sontes. They dominated the charts both locally and internationally, releasing three incredible 90s albums; Definitely Maybe (1994), (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? (1995), and Be Here Now (1997).
Founded by brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher, Oasis went through many ups and downs due to the brother’s feuding until things reached a boiling point in 2009 just before they were about to walk on stage to play at a festival in Paris. Noel quit the band that night before their performance, officially bringing Oasis to an end.
Since then both Gallaghers have embarked on solo tours and released their own material and continue to throw jabs at each other in the media. There is little hope of an Oasis reunion, although die-hard fans still have faith the two will reconcile and get the band back together.
8. Pearl Jam
The third band on this list to hail from Seattle, Pearl Jam is still going strong some three decades later. Fronted by enigmatic Eddie Vedder, the rock act has released 11 albums, selling more than 85 records worldwide and winning two Grammy Awards in the process. They have a devoted fan base and are known for their electrifying live performances, with no set list the same.
9. Limp Bizkit
Nu-metal was a new genre of music that had a brief life in the late 90s and early 00s. Bands from that era combined rock and rap to create a sound that the kids loved. Limp Bizkit is one of the biggest acts to make it out alive from that time.
While their 1997 debut, Three Dollar Bill, Y’all, had a heavy metal sound, it was the more rap-focused follow-up Significant Other in 1999 that turned Limp Bizkit and their red cap-wearing frontman Fred Durst into bonafide rock stars.
The album spawned hit singles “Nookie,” “Re-Arranged,” “Break Stuff,” and “N-together Now” with Method Man and Redman and was generally well-received by critics. While the band’s output has been varied over the past two decades, the nostalgia factor makes Limp Bizkit a big draw card on the touring circuit.
10. Green Day
Green Day has gone from an independent punk group to mainstream rockers over a career spanning more than 35 years. It was the group’s 1994 major-label debut, Dookie, that sent them into the music stratosphere, with the three-piece going on to release three more great punk albums – Insomniac (1995), Nimrod (1997), and Warning (2000) – while also dropping the 2004 rock opera American Idiot and a trilogy of albums (¡Uno!, ¡Dos!, and ¡Tré!) in 2012.
The trio of lead vocalist and guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong, bassist Mike Dirnt, and drummer Tré Cool are still mightily popular and influenced a long list of artists, including Sum 41, Blink 182, and even Lady Gaga.
11. Foo Fighters
Rising from the ashes of Nirvana, drummer Dave Grohl decided to branch out on his own. His creation, Foo Fighters, started as a DIY solo project that morphed into one of the biggest bands on the planet. While the band’s self-titled debut is fantastic, it’s the 1997 album The Colour and the Shape that defines the band. It includes the 90s classic “Everlong” and the Kurt Cobain tribute “My Hero” and remains a touchstone of 90s rock.
Over the course of nearly three decades, Foo Fighters have released ten albums and won 15 Grammy Awards. Known for playing sets stretching close to three hours, their live shows are phenomenal. Although the band was rocked by the sudden death of drummer Taylor Hawkins in 2022, the Foo Fighters are set to continue with new material on the horizon.
12. The Smashing Pumpkins
Here’s another 90s band that is still going strong all these years later, proving the 90s was the last great decade of music. Founded by Billy Corgan, who is the one constant of the ever-changing line-up, The Smashing Pumpkins have sold over 30 million records worldwide. Their music floats between dreamy pop compositions and darker alternative rock creations, with The Smashing Pumpkins’ best work coming during the 90s.
That’s when The Smashing Pumpkins released their 1991 debut Gish, follow-up Siamese Dream, and epic double album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness that contains the hit singles “1979,” “Zero,” and “Tonight, Tonight.”
13. Nine Inch Nails
Trent Reznor is an intense guy. While the majority of his work these days is soundtrack-related, contributing music to movies such as The Social Network, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and Gone Girl with musical partner Atticus Ross, he is still best known for his industrial rock act Nine Inch Nails.
During the 90s, NIN helped push industrial metal and experimental alternative music into the mainstream, with the albums The Downward Spiral (1994) and The Fragile (1999) cementing Reznor and his group as groundbreaking. Dark, foreboding, and at times downright depressing, much of NIN’s lyrical content focuses on the underbelly of life, addressing death, greed, nihilism, regret, greed, and more.
While he still continues to release music under the NIN moniker, Reznor is the only original member, with the band’s live performances known for their extravagant light shows and visual components.
14. Stone Temple Pilots
Stone Temple Pilots are one of the best rock bands of the 90s. Starting life as part of the grunge movement, they have evolved into something entirely different over the years, incorporating other genres and styles into their sound Albums Purple (1994), Tiny Music… Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop (1996), No. 4 (1999), and Shangri-La Dee Da (2001) were all well received by both critics and fans and gave us the hit tunes “Plush,” “Sex Type Thing,” “Vasoline,” and “Interstate Love Song.”
The band has split up several times over the journey, with frontman Scott Weiland’s drug use often the cause. He was eventually fired on February 27, 2013, and passed away from a drug overdose two years later. Stone Temple Pilots continues to play live and record new music, helping keep the legacy of Weiland alive.
It’s hard to know how to classify R.E.M. Are they an American rock band? An experimental pop act? An alternative post-punk outfit? What we can tell you is R.E.M. were one of the biggest 90s bands whose hit albums include Automatic for the People, Monster, and New Adventures in Hi-Fi.
Formed in the 80s by university students Michael Stipe, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, and Bill Berry, the quartet had an interesting rock sound rounded out by Stipe’s familiar vocals and at times obscure vocals. The band sold over 90 million records and collected three Grammy Awards before “calling it a day as a band” on September 21, 2011.
While many of the bands on this list actually formed in the 80s, it was the 90s when they made an impact. Case in point Radiohead. These interesting chaps met at a boarding school in 1985, but it wasn’t until 1993 when they dropped their debut album, Pablo Honey, that they started to create a buzz thanks to thanks to the hit single “Creep.”
With the release of The Bends in 1995 and OK Computer in 1997, Radiohead soon found themselves in the discussion of the best band on the planet. Their experimental take on rock and electronic music separated them from the masses and helped art rock become a thing. While Ok Computer is arguably their best album, the 00s have also been great for the British experimental rock band, with Kid A, Amnesiac, and In Rainbows all incredible albums.
17. Screaming Trees
A pioneer of the grunge scene who didn’t achieve the mainstream success as many of their peers, Screaming Trees was an important 90s band. Formed by vocalist Mark Lanegan (who sadly passed in 2022), guitarist Gary Lee Conner, bassist Van Conner (who died in 2023), and drummer Mark Pickerel (who was replaced by Barrett Martin in 1991), the band released four independent albums in the 80s before signing with a major label and dropping Uncle Anesthesia in 1991.
Well received by critics thanks to the single “Bed of Roses,” the 1992 follow-up Sweet Oblivion became as close as Screaming Trees got to mainstream success. They released two more albums but couldn’t replicate the success of their previous work, officially breaking up in 2000.
You can’t have Oasis on a list of the best 90s bands without including their rivals Blur. If Oasis harkened back to 60s rock and the influence of The Beatles, then Blur was their experimental counterpart, taking their sound from classic British acts while also weaving in their own flourishes of indie pop and new soundscapes.
Listen to the six albums they put out during the 90s and it’s hard to pick a favorite, with each showing a different side of the band, from the early indie stylings of Leisure, Modern Life Is Rubbish, Parklife, and The Great Escape to the American indie channeling Blur and experimental electronic of 13.
Since the 2000s they have released two albums and infrequently toured, with the band members focusing on other projects, especially frontman Damon Albarn who is the mastermind behind the animated band Gorillaz.
19. Sonic Youth
For 30 years New York alternative rock act Sonic Youth wowed fans with their experimental sound (thanks to alternative tunings) and the male-female vocals of Thurston Moore and Kim Gordan. While they did release albums in the 80s, it wasn’t until their 1990 album Goo that Sonic Youth started to make waves. The album’s big single, the Chuck D collaboration “Kool Thing,” exploded on college radio and helped get the band’s name out there.
They released four more albums in the 90s and became darlings of the alternative scene, continuing to put out music in the early 00s, until breaking up in 2011 after Moore and bassist Gordan divorced.
20. Guns N’ Roses
A polarising choice due to the band having much success in the late 80s, but it was the release of Guns N’ Roses’ 1991 records Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II that saw them become the biggest band on the planet at that time. “November Rain,” “Live and Let Die,” “Estranged,” and “You Could Be Mine” are just four of the hit songs that came from these albums.
The line-up at that time was vocalist Axl Rose, lead guitarist Slash, rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin, bassist Duff McKagan, and drummer Steven Adler, with Guns N’ Roses seen by many as the last great hard rock band before grunge and hip-hop took over in the early 90s.
The band has gone through several personal changes and taken a number of hiatuses over the years but is currently back together and playing live, although it’s been 15 years since Guns N’ Roses released a new album.
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