Alternative rock rose in the 80s, became a craze in the 90s and has remained widely popular ever since. The list we have compiled mostly consists of songs released during the 90s which is considered the golden period in alternative rock. So here are the 10 greatest songs of this popular genre of music.
#10 Black Hole Sun
Written in 15 minutes Black Hole Sun is Soundgarden’s most popular song. It spend seven weeks at number one at the Billboard’s Mainstream Rock charts and received a Grammy Award in 1995. The single has sold over three million copies worldwide.
Upon its release the song was not an instant success and Radio 1 didn’t play it as they found it “too depressing”. After it was played incessantly on an Israeli Radio it became a national hit and then its popularity spread. Later Creep became so popular among the crowd that it made Radiohead to react against it to the extent that it was not played live in the late 1990s. The song was included in VH1’s list of 100 Greatest Songs of the 90s.
Pearl Jam’s first single ‘Alive’ features a guitar solo which was ranked number 44 on Guitar World’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitar Solos”. Alternative Rock at its best, it remains popular two decades after its release.
#7 Come As You Are
This song from Nirvana talks about “people and what they’re expected to act like”. Although it only received moderate success when it was released it went on to become one of the signature songs of the Kings of Grunge.
#6 Where Is My Mind?
Black Francis was inspired to write this song by his experiences in scuba diving in the Caribbean. It has been used countless times in visual media, most prominently in the closing credits of the movie Fight Club. It was voted number 29 in the “Hottest 100 of All Time” music poll conducted by an Australian radio station.
#5 You Oughta Know
Marking the transition of Morissette from bubblegum pop to alternative rock You Oughta Know also won her two Grammy Awards: Best Rock Song and Best Female Rock Vocal Performance. Ranked #12 on VH1’s list of 100 Greatest Songs of the 90s, it is one of the best songs from the queen of Alternative Rock.
#4 Bittersweet Symphony
Bittersweet Symphony is The Verve’s signature song. It was placed by Q magazine in its list of the “Top 10 Greatest Tracks” and Rolling Stone ranked it number 392 on their list of “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”. The song has appeared many times in visual media, most prominently in the 1999 film Cruel Intentions and in an episode of The Simpsons.
#3 How Soon is Now?
“How Soon is Now?” was included in Rolling Stone’s Magazine’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and Q Magazine placed it at number 28 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks. The song has been called “the ‘Stairway to Heaven’ of the Eighties”.
#2 Losing My Religion
The phrase “losing my religion” is an expression from the southern region of the United States that means losing one’s temper or civility. The song became R.E.M’s biggest hit in the United States. The song was nominated for 7 Grammy Awards and the Rolling Stones placed it at number 169 on its list of “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.
#1 Smells Like Teen Spirit
Smells Like Teen Spirit was Nirvana’s biggest hit when it was released and its success is often marked as the point where alternative rock entered the mainstream. Kurt Cobain said that he wrote the song in the style of the Pixies, a band he greatly admired. The song has appeared and topped many greatest songs lists and was ranked 9th in Rolling Stone’s list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.