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Greatest Rock Artist Of The 90’s

The era that brought us both grunge and rap-rock, but who is the best to come out of the decade full of flannel shirts, pepsi clear and 90210?

Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam continue to rock audiences across the world. Photo by Jo Hale/Getty Images

I feel like there are so many unique and different artists to come out of the 1990’s I don’t even know how you would begin to countdown who the best is.  I feel it is more opinion based than anything else because some people may throw a band like Radiohead in the top spot and others would give it to Nirvana.  Both bands deserving of the title but then again there are so many others in there too.  Pearl Jam, Sonic Youth, Janes Addiction, Alice in Chains, how do you choose?  Influence? Longevity?

I think that the most recognizable artist of the decade and will be regarded as the most influential to come out of it is Kurt Cobain.  Love him or hate him, he is one of the best to come out of the Seattle grunge scene.  If not for Kurt Cobain we

Kurt Cobain may be the most influential artist of his time. Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images

would all still be teasing our hair, putting on leather pants and throwing up the lighter to “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn”.  Yuck.  He continues to be a huge influence to this day both here in the states and over seas.  Now he may be the most influential to come out, but I don’t think I can consider Nirvana the best of the decade.

Other bands were making big noise too.  Pearl Jam is one of my favorite bands and have had a huge impact on music around the world.  Eddie Vedder’s voice is one of the most recognizable and you can’t argue with the success 1991’s Ten.  The singles from that album are still played over and over again on rock radio to this day.   Other bands to come out the Seattle scene that are still huge to this day are Soundgarden and Alice In Chains who also need to be put in the conversation of best artist of the 90’s.  I think the biggest mistake people make when talking about great artists of the decade is only focusing on the Seattle music scene, which had a massive impact but more was going on than just that.

Jane's Addiction still out performing. Photo by Getty Images

A lot of alternative bands came out of the 90’s like Jane’s Addiction, Oasis, Radiohead, Sonic Youth, Smashing Pumpkins, The Pixies and so many more.  I think the bottom line is that the 1990’s produced some of the most unique music ever.  How about other bands like Rage Against The Machine, The Beastie Boys, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Green Day?  Couldn’t the be considered?  I think that instead of taking an overall best of the decade maybe breaking things down to categories would be better.  Obviously you can’t please everyone so I also leave this up to you.  So by breaking them down into categories I think you have more of an equal balance of best talent.  So many genres came between 90 and 99 that it is way to difficult to pin point one artist, so here they are broken down as best of each category.  Top three of each.


  1. Nirvana
  2. Pearl Jam
  3. Soundgarden


  1. Red Hot Chili Peppers
  2. Sonic Youth
  3. Radiohead


  1. Green Day
  2. Offspring
  3. Blink-182


  1. Metallica
  2. Pantera
  3. Sepultura

Industrial Metal:

  1. Tool
  2. White Zombie
  3. NIN


  1. Korn
  2. Linkin Park
  3. Limp Bizkit


  1. Stone Temple Pilots
  2. Bush
  3. Creed


  1. Rage Against The Machine
  2. 311
  3. Suicidal Tendencies

Wild Card:

  1. Dave Matthews Band
  2. R.E.M
  3. Phish

*Honorable mentions to Alice In Chains, The Beastie Boys and Sublime.

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