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100 Best Grunge Bands

I have been an online writer for over four years. I am passionate about books, philosophy, music, and the music industry.

100-greatest-grunge-bands-of-the-80s-and-90s

The grunge sound developed in the ‘80s and became a phenomenon in the ‘90s. The roots of grunge emerged in the late ‘80s when bands in the underground movement started experimenting with a heavier sound in alternative subculture. The grunge sound evolved as musicians from varied rock genres formed musical collaborations and started exploring ideas based on a riff-based sound. The diverse collaborations among musicians in alternative genres spawned a new sound that gave grunge its musical identity. Elements of punk rock incorporated in a heavy sound of distorted electric guitar, bass drums and snarly vocals form the core sound of grunge expression.

The list below showcases a diverse collection of bands associated with grunge. If you are a fan of the Seattle sound you will have something to say. Feel free to share your views and opinions in the comments section.

Top 10 Best Grunge Bands

  1. Nirvana
  2. Mudhoney
  3. Alice In Chains
  4. Melvins
  5. Mother Love Bone
  6. Soundgarden
  7. Blood Circus
  8. Tad
  9. Mad Season
  10. Skin Yard
100-greatest-grunge-bands-of-the-80s-and-90s

What is Grunge?

Grunge is a genre of rock music and a subculture that emerged through the Seattle scene in the mid-80s. Also known as the Seattle sound, the grunge movement came into prominence through the underground music scene that flourished in Seattle and its neighboring towns. This hybrid style of metal incorporates core elements of punk and heavy metal fused with a distorted guitar sound syncopated with displaced rhythmic accents of drums, bass and vocals. Grunge has played a pivotal role in influencing different forms of modern rock.

#11—20

11. Stone Temple Pilots

12. Temple of the Dog

13. Love Battery

14. Pearl Jam

15. Jane’s Addiction

16. The Gits

17. Green River

18. Silverchair

19. Candlebox

20. Screaming Trees

100-greatest-grunge-bands-of-the-80s-and-90s

The Emergence of Grunge in the ‘80s

The underground alternative scene in the late ‘80s paved way for the grunge revolution in the ‘90s. Seattle is considered the birthplace of grunge by purists. Towards the late ‘80s, the underground music scene helped many bands emerge on the Seattle Scene with their eclectic mix associated with alternative music. Sub Pop, an independent record label established by Bruce Pavitt and Jonathan Poneman in Seattle, Washington is credited to being one of the early record labels to promote grunge bands in a big way.

The alternative music scene helped many musicians from diverse musical background emerge with their brand of grunge. The Seattle music scene was an amalgamation of varied musical forms coming from diverse musical backgrounds. The collaborations of metal and punk sounds in the ‘80s paved the way for grunge. The post punk garage bands in the local punk scene in many ways helped grunge evolve with a brand new identity. Bands such as The Accused, The Fartz, The U-Men, Fastbacks and 10 Minute Warning played an influential role in helping the grunge sound evolve.

#21—40

21. The U-Men

22. Paw

23. Everclear

24. Dinosaur Jr.

25. Foo Fighters

26. Willard

27. Killdozer

28. Tripping Daisy

29. Bush

30. Hole

31. L7

32. 7 Year Bitch

33. The Smashing Pumpkins

34. Pixies

35. Beasts of Bourbon

36. Sonic Youth

37. Witness

38. Feedtime

39. Seaweed

40. Local H

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The ‘90s Grunge Scene

With the ‘90s came commercial success for grunge bands. Releases by Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains and Stone Temple Pilots propelled the popularity of grunge to new heights. A number of grunge bands achieved phenomenal success with their albums in the ‘90s. The commercial success grunge achieved gave alternative music a boost making the genre popular in mainstream. Kurt Cobain, singer of Nirvana instantly became an iconic figure in the grunge scene, influencing and inspiring a grunge generation.

The introspective and angst-filled lyrics in grunge about socially conscious issues such as apathy, confinement, desire of freedom, neglect, social alienation, psychological trauma, betrayal, depression, self-doubt, emotional isolation, and withdrawal struck the right chords with listeners, especially youth. The explorations of concepts such as being ‘true to oneself’ were aesthetically expressed through lyrics. Grunge phenomena had mesmerized the world.

Major record labels started signing record deals with grunge bands. By the mid-90s grunge had become one of the most popular subgenre in rock. The popularity of grunge globally led to the fall of glam metal and hair metal bands in the ‘90s. Many glam metal bands and hair metal bands disbanded after being dropped by record labels that started favoring grunge acts. Only few glam metal and hair metal managed to survive the grunge onslaught in the ‘90s.

#41—60

41. Babes in Toyland

42. Veruca Salt

43. Toadies

44. Wooden Stars

45. Eric’s Trip

46. Moist

47. Truly

48. The Nymphs

49. Brad

50. Pond

51. Hater

52. The Scientists

53. Ammonia

54. Tree People

55. Dandelion

56. Blind Melon

57. SixTwoSeven

58. Flowerhead

59. Sloan

60. The Presidents of the United States of America

100-greatest-grunge-bands-of-the-80s-and-90s

How Grunge Revolutionized the World

Grunge reached its peak in the ‘90s. The tonal qualities in grunge were awe-inspiring which helped connect with fans of rock music globally. The deep vocal style consisting of gravelly or raspy voice texture formed the characteristic sound along with down-tuned guitar sounds and dark lyrical themes. Moans, screams, groans and mumbles used by grunge vocalists in songs became an excessively popular expression in the realms of alternative music.

Grunge also had a big impact on clothing and lifestyle in the ‘90s. The grunge culture witnessed the ‘everyday style’ showcased in new light. Members of grunge bands and grunge fans typically wore ripped jeans, Doc Martens boots or combat boots, band tees, plaid shirts, and oversized knit sweaters. Grunge actually went onto become an anti-consumerist movement that associated attitude and coolness that represented spending less.

#61—80

61. Flipper

62. Nickelback

63. Cosmic Psychos

64. Sweet Water

65. Meat Puppets

66. Ween

67. Napalm Beach

68. Gruntruck

69. Matthew Good Band

70. Pavement

71. King Snake Roost

72. Wool

73. King Cobb Steelie

74. The Fluid

75. Nudeswirl

76. Cat Butt

77. Dig

78. My Sister’s Machine

79. Wipers

80. Lubricated Goat

100-greatest-grunge-bands-of-the-80s-and-90s

Decline of Grunge

While it seemed the grunge movement would go on forever, the late ‘90s witnessed the decline of grunge. Many grunge bands disbanded as the nu metal sound and post grunge emerged in the ‘90s. The tide had suddenly turned in favor of new rock and alternative rock subgenres that paved a new direction for musical soundscapes.

While the grunge prominence ended towards the end of the ‘90s, the genre remains influential in inspiring a new breed of musicians in post grunge, nu metal and other genres in metal. The glory days for the biggest movement in rock history are over, question is… Will grunge make a big comeback?

#81—100

81. Hammerbox

82. Scratch Acid

83. Dickless

84. Puddle of Mudd

85. Salamander Jim

86. Gas Huffer

87. Treepeople

88. Hazel

89. X

90. Malfunkshun

91. Girl Trouble

92. Creed

93. Fecal Matter

94. Coffin Break

95. Fastbacks

96. Mr. Epp & The Calculations

97. Big Black

98. Marytree

99. Solomon Grundy

100. Failure

100-greatest-grunge-bands-of-the-80s-and-90s

Other Notable Grunge Bands

  • Sunny Day Real Estate
  • Orangutang
  • Sprinkler
  • Kerbdog
  • Rein Sanction
  • Helmet
  • Turfboy
  • Guided By Voices
  • Socotora
  • Barkmarket
  • Splendora
  • The Jesus Lizard
  • Recreator
  • Greta
  • Sharp Nine
  • The Gitas
  • Dover
  • Gumball
  • Thrillhammer
  • Violent Soho
  • Smile
  • My Name
  • 10 Minute Warning
  • Nukeateen
  • For Squirrels
  • Sebadoh
  • Dinosaur Pile-Up
  • Big Stick
  • The Accused
  • Siddharta
  • Volcano Suns
  • The Thrown Ups
  • Silverfish
  • Catherine
  • The Fartz
  • Noiseheads
  • Softy
  • Deb and the Mentals
  • Gravel
  • Bundle of Hiss
  • Nine Black Alps

© 2018 Ansel Pereira

Comments

Ansel Pereira (author) on March 14, 2018:

Hi Dan, Glad you enjoyed the read. The grunge days were special, It was a different vibe. Yes, Blind Melon was so much a part of the entire scene. i do hope the good old days of grunge make a comeback.

Dan Reed on March 14, 2018:

Lived this era. Miss this era. So glad to see Blind Melon on this list...so forgotten. Thanks for the time trip.