"I've escaped it, a life wasted/And I'm never going back again." - Pearl Jam, "Life Wasted"

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Top 10 Grunge songs

Before I go in my next list, just wanna qualify what I would deem as worthy of my list. The song has to make me perk up (not an easy thing =D), listen through and at least make me ponder at the lyrics or marvel at the music. The best songs usually feels like an electric jolt - either you want to twitch your body to the music, or just stare into space in "shock".

Anyway, I'm starting with genres that have a specific time frame, like the top 15 modern rock list where most songs come from the late 1990s to this decade. These are easier to compile.

So we have grunge, which specifically belongs to the early 1990s. This is the era when alternative rock met mainstream rock, when punk met metal. The result is a superb collection of songs culled from some top-notch rock bands. Most grunge songs are gloomy, but they portray an honest view of life that was sorely lacking in the mainstream at that time.

Since the actual time-span of grunge lasted about five years, there are not much songs to choose from. So there's only 10 in this list.

10 Days Of The New - Touch, Peel And Stand
A very quaint band, led by a young, depressed man called Travis Meeks. After their debut album, containing this song, was released, he sacked the whole band, and produced two more albums all by himself. All three albums are eponymous. Weird guy. This song stands out because amid all the electric guitar murk of grunge, this is completely acoustic. Not to say it's not heavy - in fact, this tale of seething anger is more chilling with the acoustic guitars banging away. Spine-tingling moment: The beautiful guitar solo, a rarity in grunge.

9 Mudhoney - Overblown
The prime jokesters of grunge, Mudhoney's sarcasm knows no boundaries. This one, on the Singles OST, gives the finger to all the posers who hopped onto the grunge bandwagon. It's hilarious, and scathing in its attack. Spine-tingling moment: The final verse: "Everybody loves us, everybody's getting kind of old, couldn't hold a regular job, long live rock and roll!"

8 Temple Of The Dog - Hunger Strike
A supergroup before the members became famous. This one-off project brought together members from Soundgarden and Pearl Jam to cut a tribute to Mother Love Bone's lead singer Andrew Wood, who OD'ed. The treat is listening to Eddie Vedder and Chris Cornell, two of the best rock vocalists of all time, trade lines and pushing each other. Spine-tingling moment: Vedder's baritone intoning "I'm not hungry" in the chorus, then Cornell's lung-bursting scream to repeat the phrase.

7 Alice In Chains - Would?
Alice In Chains leaned towards metal more than any grunge bands, but their economical riffs and utterly depressing songs never sat well in the hair metal bands. This one is their triumph in their desperate and desolate "Dirt" album, surely the most abject grunge record. A simple riff, coupled with thundering drums, sets the pace for the only optimistic song written by the band. Spine-tingling moment: The coda, where the guitars become more brutal, as Layne Staley asks: "Am I wrong, have I gone too far to get home?" Sad. RIP Layne.

6 Pearl Jam - Love Boat Captain
Ironically, the band who were treated as sell-outs became the genre's longest-lasting band, still churning out top-notch albums. A load of rubbish really, the sell-out claims - Pearl Jam are the flagbearers of honest, emotional grunge. This song, coming 10 years after their first album, is so naked, so assured, that it is still a treat for a long-time fan like me. Spine-tingling moment: When Eddie Vedder whispers: "I know it's already been sung, can't be sang enough. Love is all you need, all you need is love." Simple, yet devastating.

5 Hole - Violet
I never liked Courtney Love, and she's long worn out her welcome on the celebrity stage. But this song, made when her band meant something, is a spellbinding piece of fury. Grunge is noted for its acceptance of women rock vocalists, and Love is positively snarling throughout. Spine-tingling moment: Top-notch bile as Love spits: "Go on, take everything, take everything, I want you to!!!"

4 Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit
Yeah, it's the song that changed the music scene forever. But in truth, it's not the best song on earth. Just happened to be released at the right time. Yes, it's insanely catchy, but that's it. The lyrics don't cut it for me, no matter how many times I headbanged to it. Spine-tingling moment: Plenty, but the clean intro still aptly sets up the thrills to come.

3 Soundgarden - Jesus Christ Pose
Armed with far more musical chops than any grunge band, Soundgarden created albums of wondrously noisy rock. This is one brutal track - feedback-drenched, killer riffing, murderous drumming, and of course, Chris Cornell's majestic wail. It hits you upon first listen, and never lets go, as the dense layers of music form a pummelling sheen for Cornell to spit out his sneering lyrics. A smack in the face, no less. Spine-tingling moment: From the opening feedback, it's a hellacious ride in primal, feral guitar rock.

2 Pearl Jam - Corduroy
Pearl Jam have made better singles, but this is their hidden jewel in the crown. Tucked deep in their "Vitalogy" album, it's the most disarming statement of intent of staying true to one's roots. Guitars intertwine as Vedder screams his list of declarations - "I don't wanna take what you can give, I would rather starve than eat your bread", "I don't wanna be held in your debt, I'll pay it off in blood", "I'll figure I'll be damned, all alone like I began". Tremendous, affecting stuff. Spine-tingling moment: The instrumental coda, no solos needed to ram home Vedder's point.

1 Nirvana - All Apologies
The last song on Nirvana's final studio album, this is the closure to grunge, a monumentally sad song that becomes even more unbearable following Kurt Cobain's demise. Pained resignation emits throughout the gentle song, as Cobain sounds weary of all the pitfalls of fame. Add a spidery guitar line, and it sounds like a goodbye to a wonderful era of music. Spine-tingling moment: "What else should I be, all apologies/What else should I say, everyone is gay" The heartbreaking opening lines.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

dude you are the biggest fucking douche in the world, i like all apologies alot more but teen spirit created and era

8:17 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is just a ridiculous list. pearl jam is one of the best grunge bands of all time, and u choose love boat captain? get ur shit together man

8:13 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jesus Christ Pose? Big Dumb Sex anyday of the week, but all in all good list although I do believe as it was said before Smells Like Teen Spirit should be #1 as it did inspire an era.

2:23 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To be honest, I think this is a fairly good list, if you hadn't included pearl jam twice... although I think Even flow could be considered one of the better songs. the lyrics alone are amazing. But Overall, good list. I agree that SLTS isn't the best but it could have been higher methinks! it did a lot for grunge!

11:47 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

what the hell?
and where the hell is "Freak" by Silverchair?
and how could you put all apologies ahead of smells like teen spirit?

4:50 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dude, there are so many songs on the In Utero album that would kick all apologies ass. It's just main-stream bullshit. Oh, an HOLE SUCKS. Douchebag =) have a nice day.

2:25 AM

Anonymous Jessica said...

I think it's a wonderful and well-thought out list. Thanks for remembering Days of the New. Seems that no one else f***ing does. Hole makes me want to eat my own stomach, and I think Courtney Love is a vapid waste of space, but you make a good point. You have to love Violet, because there aren't that many girls willing to snarl and yell like she does. Kudos, mate.

5:44 AM

Anonymous marty said...

some very interesting deep cuts here. Since i grew up in the 90's it's nice to see some songs here that I've never heard before now.

9:19 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

smells like teen spirit needs to be first. courtney love SUCKS but violet is a pretty good song. hunger strike by temple of the dog is amazing. and where is jeremy by pearl jam and what about black hole sun?!!?

6:05 AM

Anonymous Ally said...

This list is ok, you could have picked better pearl jam songs. Love Boat Captain came out in like 2002 so thats really not in the grunge era, should have picked even flow or jeremy and deff should have picked black hole sun and you only put one song for Alice in chains, are u serious? lammmeeee

10:33 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To be fair I think that everyone who has stated SLTS should be no.1 is falling into the trap of over rating a song just because the damn media went nuts about it and Weird Al did a spoof of it. SLTS is a good song but not a great grunge song, All Apologies is a GREAT grunge song. As for the fact that SLTS started the whole era you are wrong, damn wrong. Grunge was all ready about before nirvana even started. Bands like The Pixies, Butthole Surfers, Screaming Trees, Mudhoney, Soundgarden, Smashing Pumpkins. all those bands were already playing grunge music. Nirvana and SLTS were in the second wave of grunge, the highly public wave of grunge. which in its own way goes against the idea of grunge music. Grunge is a way to express your angst and energy in a creative forum of peers not something you stick onto a cd cover to shift units. Grunge isn't about the mega bucks its about how well the song is written and performed. As for the comment made about 2002 not being in the grunge 'era' who cares its a style unto itself not a period of history to be looked back on and remembered, it is to be lived the only way we know how, pickup a trashed guitar, put you old busted converse on pickup your plaid shirt and go play loud agressive music in a dive and love every minute of it.

Peace, Love, Empathy.
Lucas Taylor

12:10 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lucas Taylor said it all. :D Awesome.


1:22 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lucas Taylor did say it all! Your a smart man, dude. Era's dont die. Its 2008 and Im 17 and this is still a grunge era to me. Its a style and a feeling.

Lucas taylor is a pretty rad soundin dude if you ask me.

3:22 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said, id like to add sumthing as well:
Yes, SLTS was slightly overrated, but an amazing song none the less. Personally i prefer songs such as heart shaped box, rape me and in bloom. (i swear evrytime i tell a person my fav band is nirvana, and he/she says, "ah, u heard SLTS?", i feel like punching them in the mouth.)
Yes, grunge was already present before nirvana, it wasn't a new genre that nirvana created. But face the facts, nirvana revitalized grunge, brought it to fame. Bands such as ALice in chains, soundgarden, babes in toyland, mudhoney, smashing pumpkins all good bands, but in my opinion culdnt do what nirvana has done for grunge.
Though i do not like admitting it, violet by hole is a good song. (i don't exactly like courtney, being an adamant kurt fan, but u noe.. who cares.)
Oh an p.s. i hate pearl jam(a few songs excepted). Why? Cuz kurt did. :P

-The biggest douche in the world(getting that out of the way)

1:35 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you don't like the list then go make your own. Damn. I just came here because I was in the mood for some grunge and I didn't know what to listen to.

1:25 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

great list, but you couldve had more Alice in Chains. I especially like Angry Chair.

You are forgeting a grunge band that was one of the greatest in the grunge era. Mad Season. and one of the greatest songs. River of Deciet. it is such a beautiful song. and a song that spoke for the soft grunge songs.
-Zombie O'Rell-circa Houston Texas.

R.I.P Layne Staley. You will always be in my heart, dude...see you when i die...

11:39 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

lets just agree to disagree god damn it!!!! its all grunge!!!!

10:41 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the first few comments someone said that all apologies was mainstream bullshit. What a monumentally ignorant statement. If you knew anything about nirvana at all, youd of known that that song was Kurts retirment song. Metephoricly saying IM FUCKING DONE. what the fuck is mainstream about throwing down the mike- the guitar- everything becuase your hearts not in it? Kurt cobain is right up thier with hendrix, plant, cash, and all the other greats im forgetting.
To call him "mainstream" is a fucking disgrace, as are you.

8:30 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You obviously can't make a "Top __ List" without having an argument, but I would have liked to see some Puddle of Mudd in there at least, one of the best fucking bands that ever lived (Mainly their first album and you know it)

6:21 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

why does no one ever cite Got me Wrong by Alice in Chains that is the GRUNGE song. but hey the Days of the New was dead on but the tingling moment wasnt the guitar solo it was the whole acoustic flare and its correlation to how raw drug abuse is...but hey man i might be overthinking

9:28 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

how can u leave out Black by Pearl Jam? this list is garbage

6:10 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

how can Alive by Pearl Jam not be at least anywhere on this list. that song is the greatest.

11:52 PM

Anonymous anthony said...

dude. theirs better songs then all apologies. i love nirvana theyre my favorite band. u should hav had the acoustic version to rape me on their or the origonal version of milk it those songs r way better then all apologies

6:21 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

dude you guys are pretty mean....if you disagree just post your own top 10 list somwhere else! anyway, i was kinda surprised you didnt include bush. I think "Glycerine" could have made this list.

12:03 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't agree with the list, but I also don't agree that Smells Like Teen Spirit should be number one, it's an over played song that doesn't do justice to Nirvana's music, any song off of their album Bleach is ten times better than that song. Love Nirvana to death, but that song was way too mainstream to be considered grunge.

1:18 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

chill the fuck out everyone. nobody cares. really. they put what they want to put on the list and if you're going to bitch about it just leave

1:13 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

dude really no glycerine that was the greatest son ever

1:23 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

dude, its a pretty damn fine top 10, you dont deserve that critisizm, but yeah, trying to rate grunge is a fucking HARD thing to do... '
would' hell yes, i know what you mean with the am i wrong bit, its pristine...
all apologies is a very good number one too...
but no sonic youth??? whats the deal there? like 100%.. or youth against facism? or dirty boots? oh and no melvins????????? and no smashing pumpkins???? and no silverchair??? and no pixies??? hahaha, sorry but like i said everyone see's grunge differently, but it would've been good to see a very of them in it especially sonic youth and the melvins...

and if you like your mig muff check then defenatly babes in toyland should be in there... haha, i just cant help my self...

7:42 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Ironically, the band who were treated as sell-outs became the genre's longest-lasting band"

How is that ironic? What is the point of selling out except to ACHIEVE and MAINTAIN success?

The only surprise about Pearl Jam lasting this long is that Vedder never did the "screw you guys, I'm going solo" thing.

Otherwise they've always been a pretty traditional blues based rock band.

3:40 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

honestly, would by alice in chains shouldn't be there, two songs that should are man in the box and them bones. Whatever though, that's yur opinion.

Long live grunge!

3:23 PM

Blogger MJ said...

Don't Want to Know- Husker Du..

Check it out, came out in the late 80s and set the stage for the grunge scene.

Awesome song, totally underrated band.h

6:55 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice sorta like the list thanks for putting this on the web

12:39 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

these songs all suck there not even grunge system of a down try that thats good music not these lullabies

12:15 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

wrong wrong wrong smells like teen spirit would be #1...too much pearl jam...needs alice in chains....u should redo this

3:35 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

needs more alice in chains and where the fuck is soundgarden i disagree with the people doging all apoligize and the mother fucker talkin shit bout pearl jam needs there ass kicked even though u picked some shitty pearl jam songs there one of the greatest bands of all time take off hole fuck coutney love and also the mudhoney and 10 days of new have no right to be on this list all the dumb ass sayin that slts should be number one are complete dumbass its a good song but not the best plus it didnt start grunge fuck man in a box was out before it this mother fucker dont no nothin cant believe i checked out this page o almospt forgot where stp what a terrible list

12:26 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

o somethin else i forgot to say rip kurt and lanye u all helped me get though some hard times

12:28 PM

Blogger Greebo said...

Why do these lists only ever contain the 90s grunge bands, there are still a lot of really fantastic grunge bands around:

Foo fighters
Puddle of Mudd

Awesome songs:

Pretender - Foo Fighters
Undressing Benn - Nukeateen
Last Train Home - Lost Prophets
Blurry - Puddle of Mudd

10:49 PM

Blogger metsfan110011 said...

these song almost make me cry thinking about my highschool years. nice list thought i like the added part of spine tingling moment.but love boat captin over any other pearl jam song. really? i would definatly put alive in there in place of love boat captin. i am not a big fan of mudhoney either

11:35 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

pretty decent list, and ya smells like teen spirit does not diserve top 1 cause sure its an amazing song that did start the grunge era but it also started a whole bunch of shitty band to rape there queit loud formula,(wich they took off of the Pixies (fav Band))so ya good list :p

7:14 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This list is based on your own opinions not the charts. If smells like teen spirit made number one that is because so many people liked it. And pearl jam should not have been there twice, they are WAY too commercial for the grunge scene. hole is great!

7:08 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice list there. hard to find people who listen to grunge now.

3:09 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

People need to chill in the comments. Grunge is all about letting yourself out and expressing who you are. I believe it's one of the reasons Kurt was sick of the popularity Nirvana was getting. He didn't want to go mainstream and be bound to other people's opinions.

1:28 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah dudes need to chill... its good to hear some other peoples songs... you can listen to whatever you like as much as you want.

nice list man... not 100% what i like, but yeah 80% i fu#*ing like a lot.

12:05 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

it's a list. For the youngen's Soundgarden is the granddaddy's of grundge. In my opinion should have been featured more but what do I know I only lived it..... Nirvana brought it to the mainstream fo sho! even Kurt would say too fuckin' bad, and many other words to colorize the point. Alice in chains seems to be not represented at all....... List maker abviously not from seattle. Yes I am. I'm 40> so suck it. This is my shit. No mother love bone? Not even a hint of candle box....JK! seatt;e will rise again. HENDRIX LIVES!

2:05 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

AHAHA worst list ever, maybe meant to live by switchfoot culda been on there, and smells like teen spirit was the number 1! id revise yoru list!

6:41 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank god you didn't put smells like teen spirit as number 1

10:01 AM

Anonymous *-->Princess Brenda said...

fo all those ppl out ther hating on courtney love n the band hole fuk off.!!.quit writing cmnts and go do something wiff yuhr life.!!!.HOLE isz a great female vocal grunge band.!!
-princess brenda<333

8:03 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

are you a fucking idiot. teen spirit basically created and new era of a different genre. it is and should be the #1 grunge song ever. EVER!!


10:14 AM


whoever made this list should go fuck themselves. this is terrible. all apologies shouldnt even be on here. pearl jams one song shouldnt. wheres stone temple pilots at also? interstate highway or sex type thing should maybe be on here. even creep by stp or creep by radiohead. idk, but this list i would rate a 1 star of 5. there were some good picks but only like 2

10:21 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Lucas Taylor

You're amazing and very smart. Putting that all together made everyone pretty much shut-up about all of the list.

Can anyone please tell me any other amazing songs? I am in the moment of loving Grunge the very most and tbh, I like love lyrics with a type of music sound such as I'm Not There by Sonic Youth.


10:08 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

what about australia in the late 80s, i am currently listening to a compilation, grunge before grunge, sounds like grunge to me and this 1986, and was even mentioned in the press as grunge,

10:02 AM

Anonymous Anisa said...

Dude where's black hole sun? All apologies there's better in utero songs though I still like All apologies.

11:33 PM

Anonymous Adam! said...

Kurt is a dbag, and did not inspire anything about grunge. Just another twat that made it big and killed himself.

smells like teen spirit is a joke. Thanks to kurts death it will be known for best song of the 90s but anybody that has an opinion of there own knows that.

Long live pearl Jam!

12:04 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

nirvana is the best R.I.P kurt

6:51 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Come on man, you've missed out a lot of brilliant songs from this list, what about "Black" by Pearl Jam, "Nutshell" by Alice In Chains, "Plush" by Stone Temple Pilots, these should make the cut in my personal honest opinion.

8:51 AM

Blogger TdM said...

grunge song brazilian http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUoGoQSaSZk play

5:10 AM

Anonymous Jon said...

Hey Adam!, go fuck yourself. Pearl jam is some pussy shit and so are you so go figure why you like it. You talk crap because this is all you have to do besides sitting on your fingers. Anywys, the list is decent. I personally enjoy the song Between the Lines - STP and Scentless Apprentice - Nirvana. Everyone has there own opinion.

2:05 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


8:25 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

No mad season? ABOVE is the best album of the "grunge era" hands down.

2:23 PM


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