27 Best 90s Alternative Bands Ever

Alternative music was a new sound that was made possible by the many forward-thinking bands of the time. Today we’re going to look at some of those groups, specifically the best 90s alternative bands ever.

1. Nirvana

Nirvana rose to prominence in the late 1980s in Aberdeen, Washington. The original members were Kurt Cobain, Aaron Burckhard, and Krist Novoselic. David Grohl eventually joined Nirvana in 1990 after leaving his drumming position in a previous band, Scream.

Nirvana gained popularity in 1990 after recording ten songs in a demo with the help of their producer, Jack Endino. They released their first single, “Love Buzz,” in 1988 and their first song collection in 1990, Bleach.

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” is one of Nirvana’s popular titles from 1991. It peaked at #6 on the United States Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on Billboard Alternative Airplay and hit high on the charts in many foreign countries.


2. Red Hot Chili Peppers

Red Hot Chili Peppers came from Los Angeles, CA, and started their alternative music journey in 1983. Chad Smith headed the drums while John Frusciante played the guitar. Anthony Kiedis did the leading vocals, and Flea played bass.

The first self-titled album debuted in 1984 where they earned royalties from 300,000 album copies sold to fans. Blood Sugar Sex Magik came out later in 1991, selling more than 12 million albums.

Hence, the album was in the top three music charts for United States best-performing albums. Their song hit, “Give It Away” is the song that Red Hot Chili Peppers fans remember the most. No wonder it earned them the Best Hard Rock Performance With Vocal award from the Grammys in 1992.

Red Hot Chili Peppers

3. Oasis

Before changing their name to Oasis, this English alternative rock music group was first known as Rain and originated in 1991 in Manchester, England. Paul Arthurs acted as a guitarist, Tony McCarroll was the drummer, Liam Gallagher played the tambourine and took the role of lead singer, and Paul McGuigan was the bass guitarist.

Definitely Maybe was Oasis’s most popular album as a 90s alternative band which went platinum eight times in the United Kingdom and became a platinum album in America. Singles such as “Supersonic” and “Shakermaker” came from “Definitely Maybe”.


4. Radiohead


Radiohead is an alternative rock band that originated in 1985 in Abington, Oxfordshire. Ed O’Brien was the guitarist and leader for backing vocals. Thom Yorke, keyboard player, pianist, guitarist, and vocalist, Colin Greenwood, bassist, Phillip Selway, percussionist and drummer, and Jonny Greenwood, main guitarist and keyboard player are also original members.

Two years after signing with the EMI record label, in 1993, they released their first song collection, Pablo Honey. The band’s first hit single was “Creep”, which received international attention from music listeners that initiated instant fame amongst 90s alternative bands.

5. 3 Doors Down

3 Doors Down

3 Doors Down originated in 1996 in Escatawpa, Mississippi. The original band members were Todd Harrell, the band’s bassist, Matt Roberts, their guitarist, and Brad Arnold, who was the drummer and main singer of the group.

One of their most prominent song, “Kryptonite,” was released on January 18, 2000, for their first song collection, The Better Life, which has gone platinum seven times in the past couple of decades since its original release. “Kryptonite” reached #3 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

6. Green Day

Green Day

Billie Joe Armstrong played guitar and did lead vocals, Tre Cool on the drums, and Mike Dirnt on the bass while on backing vocals. The band originated in 1987 under the original name of Sweet Children before changing to their current name two years later.

Green Day’s Dookie was their third song collection overall and was the first album released via a high-end label, which was Reprise Records. The album title manifested 10 million albums sold in America. It received the Best Alternative Album accolade from the 1995 Grammys Awards. Singles such as “Welcome to Paradise” and “Longview” were featured on the award-winning album.

7. Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam started at the beginning of the 90s in Seattle, WA. Eddie Vedder was the lead singer and backup guitarist for Pearl Jam. Jeff Ament played bass guitar as Mike McCready was the main guitarist and Stone Gossard played the rhythm guitar. Drummer, Matt Cameron, became a member in 1998.

Ten was Pearl Jam’s first album with singles including “Even Flow” and “Jeremy” as well as “Alive.” 

8. Nine Inch Nails

Nine Inch Nails

Nine Inch Nails goes by NIN with the last “N” set backward. Trent Reznor took on all the band roles as the lead singer playing multiple instruments and writing all the songs for the band when he started the band in 1988. He collaborated with Atticus Ross many times, but Ross did not become a formal member of NIN until 28 years later.

Pretty Hate Machine was the first song collection NIN released independently in 1989. “Down In It” was one of the most popular singles from the album. It spent more than 100 weeks on one of the top album charts, Billboard Hot 200, and was eventually certified platinum. It was the first released album by an independent musician to achieve this title.

9. Weezer


Weezer’s first song collection, the Blue Album released in 1994 and went platinum multiple times. Popular singles from this album included “Buddy Holly” (499 out of 500 on Rolling Stone’s best songs) and “Say It Ain’t So” (#72 on the Rolling Stone list for the 100 best guitar songs). It was not until 2020 that Rolling Stone considered “Blue Album” as the 294th out of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time List.

10. Garbage


Garbage originated in 1993 out of Madison, WI. Shirley Manson from Scotland was in charge of vocals and American members included Duke Vig, producer and drummer, Steve Marker, keyboardist and guitarist, and Duke Erikson, multi-instrumentalist.

Their only self-titled album went platinum twice throughout America, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Four million fans purchased copies upon release. “Only Happy When it Rains” and “Stupid Girl” were notable singles.

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