Top 10 Greatest Music Artists and Bands of the 90s

The Top Ten
1 Nirvana Nirvana was an American grunge band that was formed in Aberdeen, Washington in 1987. Nirvana disbanded after Kurt Cobain committed suicide in 1994. The drummer of the band, David Grohl, went on to start the Foo-Fighters, an alternative rock band... read more

Nirvana didn't invent grunge. The grunge sound probably existed way before Nirvana, perhaps in some kid's garage in Japan or maybe Seattle. However, it was Nirvana that changed the entire landscape of music and defined an entire generation's apathy, inspiring people like me who may not have been born in Gen X but still resonate with their message. Without Nirvana, bands like Soundgarden, Smashing Pumpkins, and Alice in Chains wouldn't have received the same acclaim they did for collectively making the alternative sound. In my opinion, Pearl Jam is a close second. Additionally, bands like Weezer and Thirty Seconds to Mars wouldn't be as heavily acclaimed for carrying on the alternative sound.

2 Alice In Chains Alice in Chains is an American grunge/alternative metal band formed in Seattle, Washington, in 1987 by guitarist and songwriter Jerry Cantrell and original lead vocalist Layne Staley.

Alice in Chains is one of the most underrated bands, period. And that's talking about a band that sold millions of records. Layne Staley was one of the most amazing poets in music. His material was dark, and that does not appeal to everyone. Perhaps that contributes to them not receiving the recognition they deserve. But I challenge anyone to read up a bit on Staley, his life, and his struggles, and then read his lyrics. They are incredible.

Jerry Cantrell is a musical genius. He is an amazing songwriter and guitar player, and the combination of him and Staley was like lightning in a bottle. It's unfortunate the way things went with the band, but I suppose that's rock and roll for you.

PS - If you are an Alice in Chains fan, specifically of the Layne Staley era, check out Mad Season's Above album. You won't be disappointed.

3 Soundgarden Soundgarden was an American grunge/alternative metal band formed in Seattle, Washington, in 1984 by singer and rhythm guitarist Chris Cornell, lead guitarist Kim Thayil, and bassist Hiro Yamamoto. Chris Cornell died on May 17th, 2017.

Soundgarden didn't get the same attention as Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam, and Nirvana because their songs tended to be more complex and often didn't have the "catch" that the mainstream desires. However, musically, Soundgarden is hands down the best band of the nineties. Their music speaks on a whole different level. I don't understand why Nirvana was so popular.

Now this is a bit more realistic list! Soundgarden for the best band in Rock 'N' Roll, PERIOD! Only Led Zeppelin can be on that throne with Soundgarden.

4 Metallica Metallica is an American Heavy/Thrash Metal band formed in 1981. The original lineup was James Hetfield (Vocalist and Rhythm guitarist), Dave Mustaine (Lead Guitar), Lars Ulrich (Drums), Ron McGovney (Bassist). The group came into mainstream from their Self-Titled album and the hit single "Enter Sandman"... read more

HAHAH! Can't stop laughing! 9th?! This must be a joke! They sold the most albums in 1991 with "Metallica" or the "Black Album," and you don't see that as great? God, this world is getting weirder by the day!

This is one of my favorite bands of all time!

5 Michael Jackson Michael Jackson (Michael Joseph Jackson; August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009) was an American singer, dancer, and songwriter. He passed away from cardiac arrest caused by a propofol and benzodiazepine overdose on June 25, 2009. He donated (at least) a remarkable 500,000,000 dollars to charity. Michael... read more

He's my idol. Everything he ever did, he gave it 100%. He didn't just film a bunch of half-naked women on a yacht dancing to his music and call it a video! He employed some of the most talented people in the world to help create something larger than life! He didn't just find any woman with a sexy voice to talk or sing on his track. He hired the Princess of Monaco to record the voice-overs for "In The Closet." Everything he did was larger than life, and I love, respect, admire, and thank him for every bit of it. Ever since I was a little kid, I've been captivated by his moves and his music. He is and will forever be my idol.

6 A-ha A-ha is a Norwegian band formed in Oslo in 1982. The band was founded by Morten Harket, Magne Furuholmen and Pål Waaktaar-Savoy.

A-ha encompasses the entire rock genre from the past until now, not only the 90s. Hear the guitarist's compositions from their first album in 1980 before A-ha (a timeless LP with psychedelic, rock, and melancholic vibes). The songs exist in a magical place between 70s rock and the 80s new wave explosion. A brilliant album completely on its own merit. The guitarist also runs another band since 1995 (Savoy). A-ha is still going on nowadays. A-ha doesn't make rock. A-ha IS rock.

Ok, so you only know "Take On Me." What a shame! The real A-ha are so much more than catchy eighties synth-pop tunes - deeper, darker, better - 90s! Go and get their extraordinary 1993 album "Memorial Beach" and be surprised! A-ha rock!

7 2pac Tupac Amaru Shakur, also known as 2Pac, was an American rapper and actor born on June 16, 1971 in East Harlem, New York. Tupac sold over 75 million records worldwide and has been referred to in multiple major publications such as Rolling Stone as one of the greatest music artists of all time. 2Pac was... read more

Definitely the best rapper of the 90s.

8 Green Day Green Day are an American pop punk/punk rock band formed in East Bay, California in 1987. The members include Billie Joe Armstrong (vocals and guitar), Mike Dirnt (bass), Tré Cool (drums) and Jason White (guitar). Green Day are associated with punk rock, pop punk and alternative rock. Some of their... read more

My favorite band of all time is The Clash. Green Day is probably the closest thing we have ever gotten to a second coming of The Clash (well, at least early Clash). Also, I don't get all of the hate for this band. Sure, they sold out, but they made some of the best punk albums since the early days of punk. Dookie, American Idiot, Insomniac, Warning, Nimrod - all great albums.

Honorable Mentions: Weezer, Nirvana, Pearl Jam

Green Day is an amazing band to listen to at any time, no matter the emotion, because their songs range from depressed, enraged, and bursting with glee. No one can experience the band the same way as their musical style, both now and then, was and still is highly unique. I love Green Day.

9 Red Hot Chili Peppers The Red Hot Chili Peppers is an American funk-rock and alternative rock band, that was founded in 1983.

The band's members are Anthony Kiedis (Vocals), Michael "Flea" Balzary (Bass), Chad Smith (Drums) and numerous guitarists, most well-known being John Frusciante.

The band is among the... read more

With awesome songs like Californication, Breaking the Girl, Under the Bridge, Scar Tissue, and Give It Away, this band truly is diverse with their music. Not one of the songs I listed sounds alike in any way.

With songs like Californication, Otherside, and Can't Stop, these guys deserve to be #2, with exactly 5 votes less than Pearl Jam.

I can't think of another band that is on the same level as RHCP. Their top 3 albums all came out in the 90s, and it was their prime. Nirvana is not number one because they weren't around long enough. In the top 5 should be RHCP, Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, Radiohead, Jane's Addiction.

10 Pearl Jam Pearl Jam is a grunge/alternative rock Band formed in Seattle, Washington in 1990. The band had comprised of Eddie Vedder, Mike McCready, Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament... read more

Eddie forever! The first time I heard Alive, it gave me shivers. Great voice, intelligent lyrics.

A-ha? At two? Pearl Jam throws A-ha on a grill, overcooks it, then hands it out to people who don't listen to good music.

Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, and Nirvana changed music forever in the 90s. They should be in spots 1, 2, and 3. I don't care about the order.

The Contenders
11 Oasis Oasis were an English britpop band formed in Manchester in 1991. Developed from an earlier group, the Rain, the band originally consisted of Liam Gallagher (vocals and tambourine), Paul "Bonehead" Arthurs, Paul "Guigsy" McGuigan, and Tony McCarroll. Noel Gallagher (Liam's Brother) served as the primary... read more

Seriously, is Oasis the 40th? I don't think so. Just look at some records they made and listen to the first and second album (Definitely Maybe and Morning Glory). These two albums are in the top 20 of the best albums in history, so Oasis can't be the 40th. They are in the top 5 for sure.

Oasis probably is where they are because they didn't get the exposure in America. Note most of the bands topping this list are American. But these guys were like Coldplay on steroids. Noel Gallagher is a god-like genius.

Musically, I'd say Oasis and Nirvana. Green Day probably comes after that. Most of the voters in this list are probably typical Americans. If we had more British voters, Oasis would've been at number 1.

12 Radiohead Radiohead are an English rock band from Abingdon, Oxfordshire, formed in 1985. The band consists of Thom Yorke (lead vocals, guitar, piano, keyboards), Jonny Greenwood (lead guitar, keyboards, other instruments), Colin Greenwoood (bass guitar), Phil Selway (drums), and Ed O'Brien (guitar).

I'd usually vote for the RHCP because overall, I know and enjoy them more than Radiohead. I need to be in the right mindset to listen to Radiohead, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

However, I'll vote for Radiohead because they deserve a way better spot than #14. They make unique, diverse, complex, and beautiful music, the likes of which I haven't really heard since Pink Floyd. Their 90s album "OK Computer" is one of the most highly rated albums of all time, and for good reasons. In my opinion, "The Bends" is just as good.

Plus, I have a huge amount of respect for bands like them who never sell out. They just do what they enjoy doing and don't care whether it'll be popular or not. This also means they have one of the most supportive fanbases I've seen in rock's history.

13 Our Lady Peace

Underrated, most likely due to lack of recognition as a Canadian band in the United States. "Somewhere Out There" had some popularity, but the entire Gravity album just sounded like a marketing ploy. The true gems came from "Clumsy," "Happiness," and "Spiritual Machines." "Naveed" was amazing, but still sounded like a garage band trying to find their niche. "Gravity" wasn't a horrible album, but it really didn't flow with the progression that OLP had developed. Still, they are one of the most amazing bands and one I'll never forget.

14 Stone Temple Pilots Stone Temple Pilots is an alternative rock band formed in San Diego, CA in 1989.

The band currently consists of brothers Dean and Robert DeLeo (guitarist and bassist, respectively), and Eric Kretz (drummer). Their main vocalist from their formation up to 2013 was Scott Weiland. He was fired in... read more

Way better than Pearl Jam and Nirvana. Should be in the top ten at least.

I was surprised to find them so low! They should be in the top 5!

They evolved more than any of the bands that came out at that time. Best and last great frontman in Scott Weiland.

15 Mariah Carey Mariah Carey, born March 27, 1970, is an American singer, songwriter and actress. She is one of the biggest best-selling women in the music industry, with 18 number 1 records to her name. She is regarded as a sex symbol through her songs and music videos, and she is "well known" for her over-the-top... read more

She won an award for the most successful female artist of the millennium by only singing in the 1990s. She is the most commercially successful and has the most #1s. Her song One Sweet Day still holds the record for the song with the most weeks at number 1, which is also the most played song of the decade. Hero is an inspiration for people, Vision of Love influenced a whole generation, and All I Want for Christmas Is You is still the best-selling holiday song.

Come on, Mimi dominated the 90s from 1990 to 1999 with number one hits and albums. She also won Grammys, American Music Awards, and Billboard Music Awards, including Artist of the Decade!

16 Pantera Pantera was an American heavy metal band formed in 1981 by guitarist Dimebag Darrell and drummer Vinnie Paul. The band started out as a glam metal act in the 1980s with little success. After discarding their original lead vocalist and enlisting Phil Anselmo, the band signed a major record deal with... read more

One of the most heavy and influential metal bands ever!

Pantera was metal in the 90s. CFH, VDOP, and FBD were all classics. And Southern Trendkill was dope. They were amazing and did all of their amazing stuff in the 90s. Nobody else did quite what Pantera did in the 90s.

17 Backstreet Boys The Backstreet Boys are an American vocal group, formed in Orlando, Florida in 1993. The group consists of AJ McLean, Howie D., Nick Carter, Kevin Richardson and Brian Littrell.

I have never liked boy bands or pop bands that seem like the only reason they're popular is how they look. For example, One Direction never did it for me. They were cute but too soulless.

Most of my music preferences are in beautiful movie soundtracks and intensely heartbreaking musical theatre songs like I Dreamed A Dream, I'd Give My Life For You, and Down Once More/Track Down This Murderer from Les Miserables, Miss Saigon, and The Phantom of the Opera. I also never thought I would ever like any popular band in whatever popular genre, since it all felt so cheap.

Now, I've never listened to Nirvana or any of those grunge bands or genres surrounding that one since it just isn't my style or that of most people my age. And no, I am not, at the very oldest, in my forties or fifties. I am a later millennial. I'm sure they were amazing, original, and unique, but it doesn't appeal to my interests.

Neither do common pop, hip-hop, rap, or popular music usually, as I stated earlier. But there are rare exceptions, like the Backstreet Boys and a few other people/bands.

I remember I was watching videos of James Corden and the Backstreet Boys from a riff-off between him and Neil Patrick Harris, since I love the Tonys and theatre. And I liked the music. I recognized it and felt my body bobbing a little to the music. Thus, I was on a mission to find out if I should or should not like the Backstreet Boys.

My conclusion? I should. I loved the light but pop yet soulful songs, especially I Want It That Way. I loved the boys in their prime and how their voices sounded both alone and in harmony. I loved how they did not become consumed enough with fame to keep playing to this day together.

I hope that my opinion is taken into consideration, even if you disagree, and thanks for reading!

18 Smashing Pumpkins The Smashing Pumpkins is an American alternative rock band from Chicago, Illinois, formed in 1988. Formed by frontman Billy Corgan and James Iha, the band included D'arcy Wretzky and Jimmy Chamberlin in its original incarnation.

Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness are masterpieces! These albums alone should place the Smashing Pumpkins above Backstreet Boys, who, while having catchy songs, haven't really influenced music, and A-ha. Weren't A-ha an 80s band? Plus, I never heard of a well-known 90s song from them.

Wow. The Smashing Pumpkins, aside from Nirvana, are the best band to come out of the 90s. Why? Just listen to 1979, Soma, or Today. The Smashing Pumpkins are incredible at their high points.

One of the best groups of the 90s that had multiple hits and top-charting albums throughout the decade.

19 Rage Against the Machine Rage Against the Machine is a rap metal band formed in Los Angeles, California. The band consists of vocalist Zack de la Rocha, bassist Tim Commerford, guitarist Tom Morello and drummer Brad Wilk.

How are these guys not first? They're one of the greatest bands of all time and single-handedly changed the music scene in the 1990s. They were able to stop grunge and give people something different to listen to. Zack's vocals were both poetic and angry, while Tom's guitar playing was from another planet. This, combined with Brad and Tim and the messages they conveyed, made them a force to be reckoned with. They deserve to be higher.

Fathers of the whole nu-metal genre. Without them, there would be no System of a Down and Muse. Also, note the strong political (leftist) message!

20 Guns N Roses Guns N' Roses is an American hard rock band from Los Angeles formed in 1985. The classic lineup, as signed to Geffen Records in 1986, consisted of vocalist Axl Rose, lead guitarist Slash, rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin, bassist Duff McKagan, and drummer Steven Adler. Apart from hard rock they are also... read more

Still awesome in the 90s, better than Michael Jackson for sure. Get back together.

21 Garth Brooks Troyal Garth Brooks is an American singer and songwriter. His integration of rock and roll elements into the country genre has earned him immense popularity in the United States.

He won the American Music Awards Artist of the Decade for all music and sold more albums in this decade than anyone. Shouldn't be a contest.

22 Megadeth Megadeth is an American thrash metal band from Los Angeles, California. Megadeth was formed in 1983 by guitarist Dave Mustaine and bassist David Ellefson, shortly after Mustaine was fired from Metallica. They have released 15 studio albums to date, and have gone through many lineup changes, with Dave... read more
23 K.S. Chithra Krishnan Nair Shantakumari Chithra, often credited as K. S. Chithra or simply Chithra, is an Indian playback singer from Kerala. Chithra also sings Indian classical, devotional, and popular music.
24 Bon Jovi Bon Jovi is a hard rock/pop rock band formed in 1983, which had a streak of successful albums in the late 1980s. The band originally consisted of lead vocalist Jon Bon Jovi, guitarist Ritchie Sambora (left in 2013), bassist Alec John Such (left in 1994), keyboard David Bryan, and drummer Tico Torres... read more

They may not be as great as they were in the 80s, but they still had it. Mainly power ballads like Bed of Roses, Always, and This Ain't a Love Song.

Bon Jovi may have mostly been popular in the 80s, but they've got a lot of hits in the 90s, like Bed of Roses, Always, This Ain't a Love Song, etc.

A guy who started out in the 80s (if not in the 70s) and is still vibrating those vocal cords!

25 System of a Down System of a Down, formed in 1994, is an Armenian-American alternative metal group from Glendale, California. The band name is sometimes shortened to System or SOAD. They've always been a very political band since their inception. Often being against genocide and war most notably in songs like: Pluck,... read more

I have every album they ever came out with. I've never been to a concert because I wasn't old enough, then they went on this hiatus, which I'm still not sure if they've come back from. Till then, I bought Serj Tankian's solo album that he made completely by himself, playing every instrument (impressive).

I'm not saying I'm a more hardcore fan than you. I'm saying this band oozes so much talent that every song they wrote is amazing. Seriously, other bands' albums might have one or two hits, and the rest of the music I skip through. But with System of a Down? Nah man, I listen to every song over and over to the point where I memorized every single lyric of every single song. "Chop Suey" was a little hard to catch at first, haha. "War?" is my favorite song from the group, though I love "Sugar" as well for its absolutely psychopathic sound.

The first album I listened to was "Steal This Album," which was the third, I think. I love this group.

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