All Women's Talk

21 Amazing Rock Songs of the '90s ...

By Madison

Rock songs of the '90s featured more of a grungy, experimental sound than previous decades. Hair bands were becoming a thing of the past, which left a void many talented bands tried to fill. What we got as a result was a fresh new sound. Nothing takes me back to my childhood more than these 21 amazing rock songs of the '90s! Please note that some of these songs do feature strong themes or language.

1 Semi-Charmed Life – Third Eye Blind

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Semi-Charmed Life is perhaps the most pop sounding rock song of the '90s on this list. The catchy chorus and the upbeat music distract from the dark lyrics of the song. One thing is for sure, you won’t be able to resist singing along with the “do do dos” of this song!

2 Creep – Radiohead

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Creep was first released in 1992 but gained little success. Radiohead re-released Creep in 1993, however, and it became a worldwide hit. This song got so famous that crowds at Radiohead concerts would show no interest in any of their other songs. Because of this, Radiohead dropped Creep from their set lists for many years. Go to a Radiohead concert nowadays, though, and you may get lucky enough to hear it!

3 Black Hole Sun – Soundgarden

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Soundgarden was instrumental in creating the grunge era of rock. They became the first grunge band to be signed to a major record label. While Soundgarden had great success, Black Hole Sun is perhaps their most iconic hit. The song topped Billboard's Mainstream Rock charts for 7 weeks!

4 Sabotage – Beastie Boys

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The Beastie Boys created a sound that was different than anything else at the time. The Boys had created a name for themselves before Sabotage hit the airwaves, but it seems to be their defining song.

5 Man in the Box – Alice in Chains

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Man in the Box was released in 1991 as a single after being featured on Alice in Chain’s debut album, Facelift. While this song only peaked at #18 on the Billboard Rock Charts, it is considered to be Alice in Chain’s signature. Man in the Box was even nominated for a Grammy award.

6 Bittersweet Symphony – the Verve

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Bittersweet Symphony was a hit in the US, but it was more successful in England where the band is from. Bittersweet Symphony is credited with helping create the “Britpop” era of music. Now The Verve is known as a one-hit wonder, but what a hit it was!

7 Come as You Are – Nirvana

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You can’t talk about '90s rock songs without including Nirvana. Come As You Are was the second single from the bands debut album, Nevermind. The song reached #32 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.

8 Hey Jealousy – Gin Blossoms

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The lead guitarist for Gin Blossoms wrote Hey Jealousy and was fired from the band shortly after it was recorded for their second album. I wonder how he felt after his song started climbing the charts around the world?

9 Killing in the Name – Rage against the Machine

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Rage Against the Machine is known for their distinct sound and politically charged lyrics. Killing in the Name is no exception. The song is about police brutality and institutional racism. The distinctive guitar rift in Killing in the Name helped make this Rage’s most defining song.

10 Santeria – Sublime

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Sublime was the most popular ska band of the '90s. Santeria is one of their biggest classics. The lyrics are about a man stealing another man’s girlfriend. Who would have known the lyrics were so angry with such an upbeat tempo?

11 Zombie – the Cranberries

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Zombie is a protest song by Irish rock band The Cranberries. The lyrics are about the Easter Uprising of 1916. Those are some pretty serious lyrics for such a poppy rock song, but it works.

12 Mr. Jones – Counting Crows

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Mr. Jones was the Counting Crows' first radio hit and remains their most popular song today. Mr. Jones peaked at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. The week it reached #1 was the same week of Kurt Cobain’s death. Adam Duritz, the lead singer of the Counting Crows, was very shaken up by the news, along with the rest of the world.

13 Tubthumping – Chumbawamba

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Chumbawamba is a British anarcho-punk band. Tubthumping remains their biggest hit, peaking at #6 in the United States. The word Tubthumping refers to people who jump on the bandwagon of a popular notion or idea. Some people find the hook of the song to be annoying. Tubthumping has been placed on a couple “Worst Songs” lists. I disagree, however. What do you think? Do you find the song annoying or do you love it like I do?

14 Sex and Candy – Marcy Playground

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Sex and Candy was the breakthrough single for Marcy Playground. At the time, it set a record by staying at #1 for 15 weeks on Billboard’s Modern Rock Tracks chart. It passed Oasis’s record of staying at #1 for 10 weeks. After all these years, I still wonder where I can find some disco lemonade.

15 Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Deep Blue Something

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Breakfast at Tiffany’s is Deep Blue Something’s only hit. It peaked at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. The lyrics are about a man who wants to break up with his girlfriend because they have nothing in common, but then they remember the movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and how they “both kind of liked it.”

16 Wonderwall – Oasis

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I can’t help but sing along whenever I hear Wonderwall on the radio. Noel Gallagher, lead guitarist for Oasis, wrote the song. When it first came out, he said it was about his then-girlfriend Meg Matthews. The couple got married but ended up divorcing in 2001. After that, Gallagher’s story changed. He said it was actually about an imaginary friend. Either way, this song is still one of my favorites!

17 Fly Away – Lenny Kravitz

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Fly Away had success all over the world but it was especially popular in the UK, where it reached #1. Fly Away landed Lenny Kravitz a Grammy Award in 1999 for Best Male Rock Performance. The huge success of the song has made it one of Kravitz’s most notable songs.

18 Enter Sandman – Metallica

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Enter Sandman was the first single for Metallica’s eponymous fifth album. The lyrics of the song deal with the concept of children’s nightmares. Enter Sandman is one of Metallica’s most critically acclaimed songs. The band has performed this song live 1,112 times!

19 The Freshmen – the Verve Pipe

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The Freshmen peaked at #5 in the United States. Brian Vander Ark, the band’s lead guitarist and vocalist, wrote the song. He has given many different reports about the meaning of the song. First he said it was about a girl he dated that committed suicide, and later he claimed that it was about an abortion his girlfriend got. He later admitted that both accounts were false. While the song is technically about an abortion, it isn’t based on real life.

20 Just like Heaven – the Cure

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Just Like Heaven was the first US hit for The Cure. The song peaked at #40 on the Billboard charts. The song was inspired by a trip the band’s front man, Robert Smith, took to the seashore with his girlfriend. This song has been praised by critics and remains one of the most defining songs of The Cure.

21 Hurt – Nine Inch Nails

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The song Hurt was written by Nine Inch Nails lead singer, Trent Reznor. Many people speculate that the song is about depression or suicide but Reznor has never confirmed these theories. Hurt has been covered by several artists, most notably by Johnny Cash. When Cash asked Reznor if he could use his song, Reznor admitted to being a little skeptical. When he watched Johnny Cash’s music video for Hurt, his opinion changed. “I pop the video in, and wow... Tears welling, silence, goose-bumps... Wow. [I felt like] I just lost my girlfriend, because that song isn't mine anymore... It really made me think about how powerful music is as a medium and art form.” No matter whose version you prefer, one thing is for sure, Hurt is a powerful song.

These 21 amazing rock songs of the '90s make for a fun playlist that will take you back. Each of the songs is unique and made a lasting contribution to music history. What’s your favorite rock song of the '90s?

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