Five Best Rock Albums of the 1990s

From a millennial's point of view

Despite only being alive for the last five years of the 1990s, I’ve developed a deep passion for the rock music that was released in the decade. 

Number 5: Ten by Pearl Jam

To me, Ten is probably one of the best debut albums from a band, period. Pearl Jam burst into the grunge scene with this album and helped secure the band’s status as one of the “big four” of grunge, along with Nirvana, Alice In Chains and Soundgarden. Riddled with dirty, yet smooth guitar riffs, pounding drums and Eddie Vedder’s kinda-monotone crooning; this album is addictive in a good way. This album spawned some of Pearl Jam’s most well-known songs in “Alive,” “Jeremy,” and “Even Flow.” Pretty much every song on this album is good and the album is still talked about today in most “[insert number here] best [insert genre here] albums of all time” lists.

Number 4: Californication by Red Hot Chili Peppers

If somebody asked you for a recommendation on funk rock, this is probably the first album that you’d think of. This is RHCP’s magnum opus. Spawning mega hits “Scar Tissue,” “Otherside,” and namesake “Californication,” this album catapulted RHCP back into stardom after some of their less-than-stellar years in the 90s. The album goes back and forth between emotional ballad-like tracks such as “Otherside,” “Californication,” and “Scar Tissue” to hard funk rock tracks like “Around the World,” “Get On Top,” and “Purple Stain.” I’d say that this album is a must-listen for any fan of rock music.

Number 3: The Colour and the Shape by Foo Fighters

The one with “Everlong.” Though not my personal favourite Foo Fighters album (that would be fellow 90s masterpiece There Is Nothing Left to Lose), this album is fucking great. It’s a straight-up, balls-to-the-wall rock album that really proves Dave Grohl is a bonafide frontman. Every song is good and nothing feels out of place. Starting with the slow ballad-like “Doll” and ending with “New Way Home,” you can tell Dave Grohl put every last bit of effort he had into this album, evidenced by him nearly screaming his vocal cords out in “Enough Space” and his emotional straining in the choruses of “Everlong.” This is the Bret Hart (Hah! A 90s pop culture reference!) of Foo Fighters albums. The best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be.

Number 2: Nevermind by Nirvana

For most people, this album would be number one. And why wouldn’t it be? Wonderfully produced instrumentation by Butch Vig with emotional and dark lyricism from Kurt Cobain—this album defined grunge music for a lot of people. Again, I personally prefer In Utero but it’s unarguable that to most people this is the better album.

Spawning their most successful single, “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” this album catapulted Nirvana into mainstream attention—which is actually bittersweet if you think about it, but we won’t get into that. Every song on this album is good. There’s not much to say about this album, other than that if you haven’t listened to it, you definitely should. Now. It’s a great way to spend 49 minutes.

Number 1: Siamese Dream by The Smashing Pumpkins

IF YOU HAVEN’T LISTENED TO THIS ALBUM DO IT NOW. Seriously. An absolute masterpiece from Billy Corgan & friends and anyone who says Melon Collie is better is an idiot, #controversy #justkidding.

Rant aside; this album is seriously good. Wonderfully emotional and just a great rock album. The backstory to this album really adds a lot (in short: Billy Corgan was suffering from suicidal depression and this was also his escape from writer’s block).

The singles from this album are almost awe-inspiring: “Today,” “Cherub Rock,” “Disarm,” and “Rocket,” ridiculous. Even the non-singles are great and to this day (I first heard this album when I was 13—I’m 21) I still use the songs “Sweet Sweet” and “Mayonaise” to get to sleep.

If you haven’t heard this album please do. Don’t let the hour-long length scare you. This album will take you on a musical voyage and you’ll feel much better for having done it.

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Five Best Rock Albums of the 1990s
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