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Top 20 90s Rock Songs You Forgot Were Awesome

Top 20 90s Rock Songs You Forgot Were Awesome
VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
These underappreciated rock songs are making a comeback! For this list, we'll be looking at great rock songs released in the 90s that deserve to be re-remembered. Our countdown includes The Cranberries, David Bowie, Goo Goo Dolls, Eve 6, Garbage, and more!

Top 20 90s Rock Songs You Forgot Were Awesome


Welcome to WatchMojo and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 20 90s Rock Songs You Forgot Were Awesome

For this list, we’ll be looking at great rock songs released in the 90s that deserve to be re-remembered.

What 90s rock song is a playlist staple for you? Let us know in the comments!

#20: “My Sister" (1993)

Juliana Hatfield Three
Juliana Hatfield was part of multiple notable alternative rock bands, including Blake Babies and The Lemonheads. However, arguably her most-recognized work was with her own band, The Juliana Hatfield Three. Lyrically, Hatfield’s most successful single is about loving one's female sibling, even with her flaws. However, Hatfield isn't exactly singing from personal experience, as she doesn't actually have any biological sisters. But that doesn’t diminish how much raw emotion Hatfield and the rest of the band put into this song. You might not want to sing it at your own sister’s wedding. But you can’t deny the feelings it conjures.

#19: “Down” (1999)

Stone Temple Pilots
Stone Temple Pilots are rightfully recognized as one of the best bands of their era. But their late 90s work deserves as much appreciation as their early 90s material. Case in point: “Down.” Released at the end of the decade, this Grammy-nominated single defied the notion that grunge was a flash-in-the-pan sound. Built on thundering riffs and beats that should appeal to most any metalhead, “Down” is Stone Temple Pilots getting down and dirty, with great results. Scott Weiland's shift between a seductive whisper and a raging bellow lends plenty of atmosphere to a track already full of it. And we can’t forget Dean DeLeo’s scorching guitar solo either. If you’re looking for an incredible blast of pure 90s rock energy, turn up “Down.”

#18: "Free to Decide” (1996)

The Cranberries
Iconic tracks like "Linger" and "Zombie" made The Cranberries a beloved band. And their accomplishments didn't stop there. Like many popular bands, The Cranberries had to deal with their share of scrutiny and negative attention. But they didn’t take it lying down. "Free to Decide” finds the band fighting back and fighting hard. Dolores O'Riordan addresses her critics head on, letting them know that she’s going to do what she wants to do, not what anyone else thinks she should. While she’s not the first artist to address this topic, few have done it with the same level of passion and beauty. Anyone seeking to assert their independence and embrace personal freedom should listen to this song.

#17: "Feel the Pain” (1994)

Dinosaur Jr.
Though the classic Dinosaur Jr. lineup reunited in the 2000s, they went through some drama in the early years. "Without a Sound" was the first Dino Jr. album to only feature one original member: singer and guitar wizard J. Mascis. On this song, he showed how much he could do, even without his old bandmates around. “Feel the Pain” is short on specifics but heavy on resonance. Mascis sings about absorbing others' anguish and the resulting emptiness with undramatic frankness. If that sounds like too much of a downer, he also makes sure to bring in some marvelous guitar and drum work. It might not get you out of a negative mood entirely. But it’ll hopefully help you feel a little less alone.

#16: “Seether” (1994)

Veruca Salt
Though grunge and bubblegum pop might seem like they're genres inherently at odds with each other, skilled artists know how to fuse them together. Case in point: Veruca Salt, who showed that they could be catchy without being sanitized on this song. “Seether” is truly a song for when you're seething. Addressing the needlessly taboo topic of female anger, "Seether" turns rage into a living being that can't be vanquished or ignored. Anger is a natural emotion that should be dealt with in a constructive manner. And this song is a prime example of those feelings being processed through pure creative energy.

#15: "Plowed" (1994)

Sponge
While they might not be the most famous musicians out of Detroit, these rockers still made an impression on the charts. Their biggest hit, "Plowed" feels like it’s driving itself into your mind from beginning to end. Once the momentum starts, it doesn't let up, with raspy frontman Vinnie Dombroski and the rest of the band giving it their all on verses and chorus alike. Although the lyrics aren’t exactly cheerful, they aren’t totally despondent either. "Plowed" is a song for taking what life throws at you and plowing on ahead.

#14: "Midlife Crisis" (1992)

Faith No More
Faith No More got to number one Modern Rock Tracks chart with a song reportedly inspired by another chart-topper. Originally, this song was known as "Madonna." And while it doesn't name-check or even allude to the Queen of Pop, it does show Faith No More’s ability to take inspiration from various sources to create something truly unique. With its blend of metal, hip hop, and prog, "Midlife Crisis" seems like it should be an unholy mess. But there's a method behind this madness, particularly in frontman Mike Patton's full-bodied vocal performance. If only real midlife crises could be as invigorating as this song.

#13: “I'm Afraid of Americans” (1997)

David Bowie
Speaking of midlife crisis, some might think a veteran artist delving into trendy sounds like industrial and drum and bass is a cry for help. But David Bowie was not just any artist. Known for his chameleonic shifts between genres and personas, Bowie proved he was as vital in the 90s as he was in the 70s and 80s with “I'm Afraid of Americans.” A collaboration with long-time creative partner Brian Eno, this song finds Bowie doing what he does best while also trying new things. The result is something that feels both timeless and forward-thinking, much like all his best work. Bowie might have been afraid of Americans. But we’re afraid of a world without this song.

#12: “Supernova” (1994)

Liz Phair
There’s no champagne in this “Supernova,” but it’s still plenty special. On this irresistible cut from her second album, Liz Phair sings about falling in love. But this isn't just any love song. "Supernova" has Phair talking about the object of her affection with unabashed enthusiasm. Though there's talk of things like physical attributes and bedroom skills, the song manages to avoid vulgarity. Instead, it manages to be both effortlessly cool while also heartwarming in its enthusiasm and energy. If you've ever been madly in love, you probably know exactly what Phair is talking about here.

#11: “Pardon Me” (1999)

Incubus
Though Incubus had been around for much of the 90s, it was the end of the decade where things really started to pick up for them. Their first charting single, "Pardon Me" was written at a particularly tumultuous time for Brandon Boyd. And learning about the disturbing concept of spontaneous human combustion helped him to bring this song to life. Its title might sound polite and unassuming, but “Pardon Me” is anything but. Instead, it’s a striking study of early 20s alienation and confusion, one that’s moody, unhinged, and brilliant in equal measure. And even if you’ve made it through a tough period of your life, it should still strike a chord.

#10: “Black Balloon” (1999)

Goo Goo Dolls
When people think of the Goo Goo Dolls their minds inevitably drift to “Iris”, the band’s record-breaking power ballad from 1999. However, that was far from their only 90s era hit, as proven by the brilliance that is “Black Balloon”. The song, which tells the story of a desperate man’s attempts to get his lover off heroin, peaked at number 16 on Billboard Hot 100 charts but never quite matched the hype of “Iris”. Which isn’t exactly a surprise, as “Black Balloon” is modest in its approach, telling a very different kind of story.

#9: "Uninvited" (1998)

Alanis Morissette
Released in 1998, “Uninvited” sold more than 7 million copies, peaked at number one on the Billboard Top 40 and earned Morissette three Grammy nominations. She won two of them, as well as picking up a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Song. You’re probably wondering how anyone could forget how awesome this alt-rock classic is; and to that we have three words: “Jagged Little Pill”. The Canadian singer’s breakthrough album produced a slew of iconic tracks, and more often than not they’re the ones that make it onto the web’s Best Songs of the 90s lists. But we’ve never forgotten this subtle and mysterious tune and continue to play it whenever we can!

#8: "Popular" (1996)

Nada Surf
“Popular” was extremely popular when it first hit the airwaves back in 1996. The track not only served as the obligatory party anthem for teenagers everywhere but also helped to drive Nada Surf’s debut album to number 63 on the Billboard charts. While the band went on to release eight additional albums none of their songs were able to capture the hearts of music lovers quite like “Popular”. Peaking early has been the curse of many bands throughout the years and Nada Surf appears to have suffered a similar fate. As such, we doubt many of you had this track in mind when our video began.

#7: "My Own Worst Enemy" (1999)

Lit
Featuring a driving guitar riff that would blow people’s hair back in any decade, “My Own Worst Enemy” is as awesome today as it was when it was released in 1999. How people forget about this track is a bit of a mystery, as it’s pretty much got it all; relatable lyrics, a memorable hook, and a pop punk sound that while dated, has never lost its flavor. Nevertheless, it’s a throwback that often seems to be overlooked. “My Own Worst Enemy” remains one of the band’s most successful tracks and for good reason.

#6: "Take a Picture" (1999)

Filter
The second single released off of their sophomore album “Title of Record”, “Take a Picture” dominated the airwaves soon after its release in the fall of 1999. The dreamy lyrics were inspired by lead singer Richard Patrick’s own experiences of not being able to remember his drunken escapades and asking his girlfriend at the time to “take my picture, ‘cuz I won’t remember.” We’re going to go ahead and attribute the fact that people forget all about this song to Filter’s lack of a follow up hit in the ensuing years. With that being said, “Take a Picture” is still a blast to listen to thanks to its ubiquitous sound and catchy chorus.

#5: "Inside Out" (1998)

Eve 6
Winning Grammys and breaking records is all well and good, but what’s most important is having good lyrics and a catchy melody. Thankfully for Eve 6, their 1998 alt-rock song “Inside Out” had both in spades. We mean come on, how can you not absolutely love a line like “want to put my tender/ Heart in a blender /Watch it spin round to a beautiful oblivion.” The heartfelt delivery of Max Collins’ eclectic lyrics, combined with the track's driving rhythm, made “Inside Out” one of the 90’s most addictive songs.

#4: "What It's Like" (1998)

Everlast
Six years after dropping one of the most iconic party tracks of all time with “Jump Around”, House of Pain co-founder Everlast decided to branch out on his own. As a solo artist he took his sound in an entirely new direction and the result was songs like “What It’s Like”. A fusion of rock, blues and hip-hop, the song introduces listeners to three different characters all of whom are suffering in one way or another. This melancholy track surprised the music world by being one of the most successful crossover songs of the year.

#3: "Sex and Candy" (1997)

Marcy Playground
The second single off of their eponymous 1997 debut album, “Sex and Candy” proved to be the band’s only major hit; but what a hit it was! The atmospheric track about…well we don’t really know what it’s about…propelled the band to the top of the Modern Rock Tracks chart, a spot they held for a then record 15 weeks. The song features a slow backbeat and some seriously cryptic lyrics, but that just makes the case for “Sex and Candy’s” effortless coolness even stronger. You may still hear it on the radio from time to time, a testament to its staying power.

#2: "Only Happy When It Rains" (1995)

Garbage
If you lived through the 90s then you’ll definitely remember this iconic alt-rock track. “Only Happy When It Rains” was a hit with fans and critics alike, with one going so far as to quip, “if you’re not playing this, you don’t have a pulse.” The highlight of the track is unquestionably Shirley Manson’s vocal performance, which seemingly affirms the grunge music scene of the era. But once you dig a little deeper you’ll find a song that is mocking grunge, alt-rock and even Garbage themselves. The song was a sign of things to come for a band that would ultimately be nominated for seven Grammys.

#1: "Jumper" (1998)

Third Eye Blind
Coming in at number one is a song whose brilliance should never be forgotten. “Jumper” has a message that’s as relevant today as it was in 1998. It’s dark, uplifting, sentimental and catchy all at the same time; a song that’s equally at home being played loudly in the car or on an acoustic guitar around a campfire. The song remains one of Third Eye Blind’s most successful, having peaked at number five on the Billboard Hot 100. With that being said it's the earnest lyrics and smile-inducing melody that make “Jumper” a 90s classic, not awards or commercial recognition.
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