I love the 90s, and especially 90s music! Yes it’s was formative years, and yes that means a high nostalgia factor—but that doesn’t mean there weren’t some killer tunes from the decade. In fact, I am certain a good argument could be made that it is THE best overall decade of music and that would include my favorite genre of alt-rock. So I couldn’t miss this chance to compile and rank my favorite songs from my favorite decade. Without any other fanfare or preamble, here is my take on 100 Great Alt-Rock Songs of the 90s.

Spotify Playlist at the bottom of the list if you wanna listen in!

100 Great Alt-Rock Songs of the 90s


100. “Tied to the 90s” – Travis (1997)

99. “All Star” – Smash Mouth (1999)

Perhaps forever tied to the movie Shrek this song is still loads of fun no matter how you slice it.

98. “Return To Innocence” – Enigma (1994)

97. “Save Tonight” – Eagle-Eye Cherry (1998)

96. “Hey Leonardo (She Likes Me For Me)” – Blessed Union of Souls (1999)

95. “I’ll Be There For You” – Rembrandts (1995)

It’s hard to hear this song and not think of the t.v. Show Friends. No, it’s actually impossible.

94. “Ants Marching” – Dave Matthews Band (1994)

93. “You Learn” – Alanis Morissette (1995)

92. “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)” – Green Day (1997)

91. “Unbelievable” – E M F (1990)

First heard this one used in a MLB commercial featuring defensive gems back in the 90s. I’ve loved it ever since.


90. “Everything You Want” – Vertical Horizon (1999)

89. “How Bizarre” – OMC (1995)

88. “Sex And Candy” – Marcy Playground (1997)

Imagine this homeschooled Sunday school Warrior hearing this song and feeling like he was sneaking around/being naughty because it’s a song about sex (nervous giggle) and candy. Haha. Anyway, it has quite the slacker groove to it that makes it infinitely re-listenable.

87. “Falls Apart” – Sugar Ray (1998)

86. “Higher” – Creed (1999)

C’mon. It’s easy to hate on Creed, but this song slaps and you know it.

85. “No Rain” – Blind Melon (1993)

84. “Interstate Love Song” – Stone Temple Pilots (1994)

83. “Everybody Hurts” – R.E.M. (1993)

82. “Everyday Is A Winding Road” – Sheryl Crow (1996)

81. “If I Had $1,000,000 – Barenaked Ladies (1992)

Clever. Witty. Thinking man’s pop?


80. “3AM” – Matchbox 20 (1997)

Quintessential 90s alt rock here if you ask me.

79. “1979” – Smashing Pumpkins (1995)

78. “Barely Breathing” – Duncan Sheik (1996)

77. “Better Days (And The Bottom Drops Out)” Citizen King – (1999)

76. “Hand In My Pocket” – Alanis Morissette (1995)

I’ve always been drawn to this tune though I’m not sure why. It’s Uber-catchy and I like her voice so maybe that’s it.

75. “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” – Deep Blue Something (1995)

74. “Is Anybody Home?” – Our Lady Peace (1999)

This hooky tune captures that yearning search for meaning in a seemingly meaningless world.

73. “Just A Girl” – No Doubt (1995)

72. “Never Let You Go” – Third Eye Blind (1999)

The guitar lick from this one is so dang good.

71. “Meet Virginia” – Train (1998)


70. “Broadway” – Goo Goo Dolls (1998)

69. “I Want You to Want Me” – Letters to Cleo (1999)

68. “Closing Time” – Semisonic (1998)

A song I’ve sung/mumbled many a time under my breathe when working retail at the end of the night.

67. “Counting Blue Cars (Tell Me Your Thoughts on God)” – Dishwalla (1995)

I know I’ve heard this song many times along the way, but it really struck home with me on a deeper lately as I’ve revisited.

66. “Jumper” – Third Eye Blind (1997)

65. “Hold My Hand” – Hootie & The Blowfish (1994)

64. “Run-Around” – Blues Traveler (1994)

63. “My Hero” – Foo Fighters (1997)

I’m not a big fan of the Foo’s (ducks to avoid drumstick being thrown) but I do have a strong affinity for this one.

62. “Someday We’ll Know” – New Radicals (1998)

61. “Song 2” – Blur (1997)


60. “Fly Away” – Lenny Kravitz (1998)

Maybe THE song I remember most from this time period. Seemed like it was playing everywhere/always. Great tune.

59. “Mysterious Ways” – U2 (1991)

It’s a classic for a reason.

58. “Linger” – Cranberries (1994)

As I prepared to write this post I listened to a lot of The Cranberries. I now love The Cranberries. Why haven’t I done this sooner?!

57. “One Of Us” – Joan Osbourne (1996)

Tongue-in-cheek? Playful? Thought provoking? Yes.

56. “If You Could Only See” – Tonic (1997)

55. “Name” – Goo Goo Dolls (1995)

54. “Motorcycle Drive By” – Third Eye Blind (1997)

A deeper cut from a packed album that absolutely moves me everytime.

53. “Inside Out” – Eve 6 (1998)

Is there a better rocking break up song? Doubt it.

52. “Lithium” – Nirvana (1991)

The raw angst appeals to me. In limited doses that is.

51. “Fake Plastic Trees” – Radiohead (1995)


50. “Buddy Holly” – Weezer (1994)

Nerdy and perfect.

49. “Hook” – Blues Traveler (1994)

48. “All I Want” – Toad The Wet Sprocket (1992)

TTWS was a big reason for my all-time favorite band existing so there’s that. There’s also “All I Want” an excellent track.

47. “Follow You Down” – Gin Blossoms (1996)

46. “Zombie” – Cranberries (1994)

One of the few I can play on the guitar, it’s fun to try and sing it with the yodeling yelp while failing miserably.

45. “Love Is Blindness” – U2 (1991)

A deeper cut from an Iconic band that I absolutely love. My favorite U2 songs: Top 20 Songs: U2

44. “Mr. Jones” – Counting Crows (1993)

43. “Slide” – Goo Goo Dolls (1998)

42. “A Long December ‘”- Counting Crows (1996)

41. “Creep” – Radiohead (1992) (Explicit Language Warning)

The jarring guitar stabs and paranoid alienation of Creep are weirdly comforting to me. It’s certainly not their best tune but maybe their most well-known.


40. “Head Over Feet” – Alanis Morissette (1995)

39. “Only Wanna Be With You” – Hootie & the Blowfish (1994)

Hootie has such a great voice. This is my fave Hootie & the Blowfish song.

38. “Peaches” – Presidents Of The USA (1996)

37. “Real World” – Matchbox 20 (1996)

36. “Shine” – Collective Soul (1993)

35. “Someday” – Sugar Ray (1998)

Summery. Wistful. Great pool day jam.

34. “She’s So High” – Tal Bachman (1999)

33. “Smooth” – Santana [+] Rob Thomas (1999)

32. “Lullaby” – Shawn Mullins (1998)

Sing-talk at its finest.

31. “One Week” – Barenaked Ladies (1998)

An I sing along to much of this one? No. Can my wife? Yes. Lyrical genius.


30. “Under The Bridge” – Red Hot Chili Peppers (1992)

29. “What’s Up?” – 4 Non Blondes (1993)

What a perfect anthem for the last few years. “What IS going on?!”

28. “Out of My Head” – Fastball (1998)

Piano organ riff combo is sublime. This one gets stuck in my head for hours at a time.

27. “Wonderwall” – Oasis (1995)

26. “Losing My Religion” – R.E.M. (1991)

25. “All For You” – Sister Hazel (1994)

I heard it for the first time, like, really HEARD it in college in 1999-2000. A staple ever since.

24. “Don’t Speak” – No Doubt (1995)I

It’s the perfect kind of melodramatic that I like to really dig into and belt in the car. I’ll never not love this song.

23. “More Than Words” – Extreme (1991)


22. “Semi-Charmed Life” – Third Eye Blind (1997)

Speaking of so dang catchy…this song has a hook for days. Maybe it was workshopped and crafted in a lab to be the best earworm kind of song. People may not know any other Third Eye Blind but they know this one. They know it.

21. “No Surprises” – Radiohead (1997)

Is it a lullaby? It’s alluring and lulling and excellent.


20. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” – Nirvana (1991)

Maybe the most iconic/recognizable song of the 90s. And maybe the most ironic. Cobain seemed to loathe celebrity/fame/materialism and yet this song and several others from Nevermind propelled them into the mainstream limelight with a mantle too much for him to handle.

19. “Tell Her This”- Del Amitri (1995)

18. “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm” – Crash Test Dummies (1994)

I’m a sucker for a strong baritone, and add these lyrics that paint such vivid pictures of alienation and pain I’m sold.

17. “In The Aeroplane Over the Sea” – Neutral Milk Hotel (1998)

I ritually missed this gem in the 90s. I am totally in love with it since really giving the album a shot in the last few years.

16. “Sunny Came Home” – Shawn Colvin (1997)

15. “Sucked Out” – Superdrag (1996)

A more recent discovery and a great song. I especially love the rasp strain utilized in the chorus as it adds to the exasperation that singer John Davis is communicating.

14. “Undone (The Sweater Song)” – Weezer (1994)

13. “Torn” – Natalie Imbruglia (1998)

12. “The Distance” – Cake (1996)

A total road trip song.

11. “Bitter Sweet Symphony” – The Verve (1997)

Driving, swirling and arresting I love everyone about this one.


10. “Ironic” – Alanis Morissette (1995)

My favorite from her runaway hit album Jagged Little Pill, an album I appreciate even more after watching a documentary on it last year. It’s melancholy and heartbreaking yet somehow hopeful.

9. “Don’t Look Back In Anger” – Oasis (1995)

Bratty and wise? A song of defiance and another or many that get stuck in my head.

8. “Iris” – Goo Goo Dolls (1998)T

Inescapable if you listened to music or watched movies in the 90s at all. I’m okay with it, it’s truly a excellent song. Lower register in the verses and higher in the chorus make for a nice pacing and urgency.

7. “How’s It Going to Be?” – Third Eye Blind (1997)

All the right kinds of angst for me here and easily my favorite from a packed album of hits.

6. “Dreams” – Cranberries (1993)

Dolores O’Riordan was one of a kind. (R.I.P.) “Dreams” is edgy without losing its poppy appeal. Her voice is what draws me back every time.

5. “Hallelujah” – Jeff Buckley (1994)

Haunting and not at all what most people would assume the song is about based on its title. Buckley not only does this cover but takes it new places. It’s a top 10 song of all-time as far as I’m concerned.

4. “Two Princes” – Spin Doctors (1993)

So. Stinkin. Catchy. Bouncy and fun.

3. “Karma Police” – Radiohead (1997)

As a newer Radiohead listener I don’t pretend to understand all that’s going on here, it’s layered and alluring though. The hook keeps me coming back to dig into the lyric, as any good song should. It’s masterclass in songwriting as far as I’m concerned.

2. “One” – U2 (1991)

It’s not my favorite U2 song but it’s close. It’s sentiment needed now more than ever.

1. “One Headlight” – The Wallflowers (1997)

Such a great tune and everything I love about 90s alt-rock. Crisp drums, B3 organ, catchy chorus, interesting lyrics. Hooky. Memorable. Check.

There it is! What are your favorite 90s Alt-Rock songs? What did I miss? Who should I give a shot that’s not present? Hit me up in the comments!

Happy Listening!: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/4XrMg09TFca4khdL1VGKJC?si=g5mIw8RkQvGf2v2ZEqKhOA

Other posts you might enjoy: Top 25 Favorite 90s Movies, Josh Balogh’s Top 40 at 40: Mainstream Songs, 100 Greatest Christian Songs of the 90s Full List