The 90s was an amazing period for music, especially for alternative rock trying to find footing in the music industry. While it already started growing in the 80s, the alternative movement never really blossomed until the late 90s. And so with the wave of a new generation, the genre flourished and gained mainstream popularity.
That time, there were a lot of alternative bands coming up with astounding songs, even to the point that the market was flooded with so much talent with not enough airtime to share between them. This created a short shelf-life for bands putting them in a lot of pressure to create high quality songs because the label could replace them with another band in an instant. The result is that bands often disappeared from our consciousness after a hit or two. This made it harder for us to remember their songs. While some of them aren’t really one-hit wonders, a lot of these bands didn’t really stay in the limelight a long time.
So prepare to go on a little trip back to the time when bands flourished in a creative bubble, when they were a little more sentimental, a little bit softer, without being any less epic.
Just a side note, don’t expect any Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, or Oasis in this list. We know you still listen to them on occasion and you know songs like ‘Wonderwall,’ ‘Californication,’ or ‘Creep’ by heart. We’re talking about songs you’ve forgotten you loved, but still love nonetheless deep down.
Sixpence None The Richer – There She Goes
Originally released by the band ‘The La’s’ this song is just a really solid smooth listen. While the original version is the one that usually gets airtime and featured in movie soundtracks, the version released by Sixpence None The Richer for their eponymous album in 1997 does not pale in any comparison. Leigh Nash’s sweet and flowing voice just gives more character to the song making it more ethereal and adds that element of elusive saccharinity that we feel when see the person we long for.
Hanson – MMMBop
You have heard this before, but you probably never knew what it was called. Yup, it’s called MMMBop. Weird name, right? Released in 1997 by the band Hanson for their album ‘Middle of Nowhere,’ this energetic bop is just so much fun to jam to. Before the Jonas Brothers even existed, there was Hanson. A trio brotherhood of blonde, long-haired, androgynous looking boys. While some fans might hate the band for deceiving them as kids, MMMBop still remains a very very infectious song.
New Radicals – Someday We’ll Know
The phrase “someday we’ll know” has forever been associated to this song. It gained a lot of popularity because of the 2002 Film ‘A Walk To Remember.’ But this song released by the short lived alternative band New Radicals for their lone album ‘Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too’ just transcends all the corniness of the movie. Its lyrics full of wonderment and hope for the future just shine through.
Fun fact: The band’s two members Greg Alexander and Danielle Brisebois who co-wrote ‘Someday We’ll Know’ collaborated again in 2015 to write the Academy Award winning original song ‘Lost Stars’ for the movie ‘Begin Again.’
Spacehog – In The Meantime
Released as part of Spacehog’s 1995 debut album ‘Resident Alien,’ this is easily one of the best jams of the 90s. The slurry lyrics, the stirring riffs, that lazy yet somehow inspiring tune. As frontman Royston Langdon drawls the words “Where lands are green and skies are blue” you almost feel it’s true, almost.
Sugar Ray – Every Morning
This is one of those chillax songs that just seep into your bones. Released in 1999 as part of their ‘14:59’ album, Every Morning just makes you want to groove to the band’s brand of alternative rock with a touch of hip hop. Very repeat worthy, if you’re into that bum practice of having songs on loop, this track was made for that.
Tal Bachman – She’s So High
If you were ever in love in 1999 or early 2000s, there is a very high chance this was the theme song to your life at that time. Expressing the fear of being in love with someone you see as perfect, this captures something that a lot of people can relate to. The sick beats also helped propel it at the top of the charts when it was released as part of Tal Bachman’s eponymous debut album in 1999.
Blink 182 – All The Small Things
‘All The Small Things’ might be one of the best youth anthems of all time. Even today young people still love to play this song in campus events here and there. But somehow when you get a little older you start to lose the ‘stuff’ that pulls you in the song. That shouldn’t be the case. Released in 1999 from Blink 182’s album ‘Enema of the State,’ this single is also an anthem for us who know deep inside that ‘work sucks’ and are just looking to close our office doors, turn the lights off, and carry ourselves back home.
Smash Mouth – All Star
One of the best feel good songs of the 90s, if not the best, there’s so much angst along with fearless optimism to boot in this smash hit. Featured in the 1999 comedy film ‘Mystery Men’ this song from Smash Mouth’s 1999 album ‘Astro Lounge’ is the band’s best work. There are a lot of reasons to love this song, the fact that this is THE ULTIMATE SHREK SONG makes it even better.
Semisonic – Closing Time
There’s no better way to close this list than with a song entitled ‘Closing Time’ from Semisonic’s eponymous album in 1998. Definitely one of those songs that made its way into a lot of mix tape endings, this song’s very iconic line singing ‘I know who I want to take me home’ makes it truly unforgettable. This song may slip our consciousness for a while, maybe more than a while, but when we hear it again, it takes us back into those precious memories and we know we have been taken home.
What other songs do you think should have made this list? Are you a fan of Rock music? Check out our article on Underrated Linkin Park Songs You Should Listen To!