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55 Best Grunge Songs Of All Time

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Grunge arose in the Pacific Northwest in the mid-1980s, an offset of punk and hard rock. Throughout the following decade, it would spread far beyond Seattle, leading to some of the most defining bands of a generation. Grunge was exemplified not just through growling vocals and shredding guitars, but also through introspective lyrics that challenged the status quo. These best grunge songs of all time are what the genre is all about.

1. Smells Like Teen Spirit — Nirvana

Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit (Official Music Video)

Nirvana’s 1991 song Smells Like Teen Spirit isn’t just one of the best grunge songs of all time; you might even say it’s the definitive grunge song. It has alternatively been called the anthem of Gen X and one of the greatest songs of all time. The excessive praise reportedly made the members of Nirvana uncomfortable, but to no avail; it remains one of the most acclaimed songs in modern music. It has also been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and been named on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s list of Songs That Shaped Rock And Roll

Next: The greatest grunge bands of all time

2. Hunger Strike — Temple of The Dog

Temple Of The Dog - Hunger Strike

Hunger Strike was Temple of the Dog’s most iconic song, released in 1991. Not just the song, but the band itself, came about because of the death of Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell’s friend Andrew Wood. Wood died from a heroin overdose, after which his bandmates (of Mother Love Bone) sought to memorialize him in song. In the wake of his death, they also formed a new band, Temple of The Dog. Hunger Strike is an ode to survivor’s guilt and philosophical turmoil after losing a loved one. 

Next: The best songs that deal with the subject of death

3. No Rain — Blind Melon

Blind Melon - No Rain

No Rain was Blind Melon’s second single, but it was by far the best-known song of their work. Part of its icon status came from the accompanying music video, which was widely played on MTV. The song was an international hit, topping charts around the world. The music video followed the story of Bee Girl, a girl wearing a bee costume while performing a tap routine; after being laughed at by her first audience, she finds a group of like-minded “bee people” who accept her. No Rain put Blind Melon at the forefront of the grunge genre.

4. Rooster — Alice in Chains

Alice In Chains - Rooster (Official HD Video)

Rooster was released in 1993 as part of Alice in Chains’ second album. The song’s title came from lead singer Jerry Cantrell’s father, who was nicknamed “Rooster.” Rooster served in the US Army in Vietnam, an experience that left him psychologically scarred and ultimately tore their family apart. Cantrell’s powerful tribute was his way of bridging the gap of trauma between himself and his father, which they had never been able to speak about. It is widely considered one of the band’s best songs, spending 20 weeks on the mainstream rock charts. 

Next: The top songs about soldiers ever created

5. Hooch — Melvins

It might seem strange to count Hooch by Melvins among the best grunge songs of all time, as the lyrics are almost completely unintelligible gibberish. But believe it or not, there is actually meaning behind them. However, the band members have never explicitly defined them. The song has been compared to Dada poetry or a secret code telling the story of a drug dealer. Some fans think that the meaning is that there is no meaning and the band meant it as a challenge not to take their music too seriously. 

6. Bruise Violet — Babes in Toyland

Babes In Toyland - Bruise Violet (Video)

Bruise Violet was a 1992 song from the all-female grunge group Babes in Toyland. Considered remarkable for its aggressive, violent, and profanity-laced lyrics, it was a song that unapologetically put Babes in Toyland at the forefront of the grunge genre. The song’s lyrics were subject to extensive speculation; many fans believed that it was about lead singer Kat Bjelland’s feud with Hole singer Courtney Love. Bjelland denied these rumors; nevertheless, the song made waves for its visceral, angry lyrics and its recognizable chorus consisting of the repeated word: “Liar!”

7. In Bloom — Nirvana

Nirvana - In Bloom (Official Music Video)

Nirvana released In Bloom in 1992 in two versions. The song was an immediate success, climbing to No. 5 on the mainstream rock charts. It features Nirvana’s signature loud-quiet musical shifts between the verses and the chorus, a style that would be widely copied by other grunge bands. The music video was also acclaimed, winning Best Alternative Video at the MTV Video Music Awards. Some, including Kurt Cobain’s widow Courtney Love, have said they believe In Bloom is Nirvana’s best song, as opposed to the more widely-acclaimed Smells Like Teen Spirit.

Next: The greatest rock bands from the decade of the ’90s

8. Machinehead — Bush

Bush - Machinehead

Though grunge is a uniquely American genre in many ways, largely developing in the American Northwest, the British band Bush was a notable outlier. They were active in the late 1990s, releasing their debut album in 1996. Machinehead was the single that got the most attention, rising to No. 43 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 4 on the rock charts. It was nominated for an MTV Video Music Award and won an MTV Movie Award for Best Video from a Film. 

9. Backwater — Meat Puppets

Meat Puppets - Backwater (Official Music Video)

Meat Puppets’ 1994 single Backwater was released on their debut album and became wildly popular; it is by far the band’s most successful song. The track peaked at No. 47 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 2 on the Album Rocks Chart. Composer and bassist Curt Kirkwood took inspiration for the song from Elvis’ gospel albums and set out to compose a non-religious gospel song. Whatever that means, it seems to have worked, as the song remains the most iconic of Meat Puppets’ career.

10. Kool Thing — Sonic Youth

Sonic Youth - Kool Thing (Official Music Video)

Sonic Youth was not considered a grunge band as much as an alternative rock band, predating the rise of grunge by roughly a decade. Nevertheless, their 1990 song Kool Thing includes many elements of grunge and has been called a grunge-influenced rock song. The track was considered a near-breakthrough in rock music; it has been featured on many movies and television shows, including Gilmore Girls and Once Upon a Time, and video games such as Guitar Hero III and Rock Band. 

Next: The greatest punk bands of all time (our ultimate list)

11. Touch Me I’m Sick — Mudhoney

Touch Me I'm Sick

Ask anyone what the quintessential Mudhoney song is, and they are most likely to say Touch Me I’m Sick. The 1988 song was irreplaceable in its influence on the developing grunge genre, featuring sound elements that would be copied by grunge bands everywhere. The song is heavy on bass and features extensive distortion, aggressive vocals, and tongue-in-cheek lyrics. Touch Me I’m Sick is an angry rant about sexually-transmitted diseases, leading to jokes about how, in both sound and content, it was the grungiest song of all time. It remains one of Mudhoney’s most iconic songs. 

12. Jeremy — Pearl Jam

Jeremy is by far one of Pearl Jam’s most iconic songs, but it was highly controversial when it was released. It’s not hard to see why, as the subject matter is pretty upsetting. Based on a true event, the song tells the story of Jeremy, a troubled teen boy who kills himself in front of his classmates. The music video was heavily censored on MTV; nevertheless, it remains one of the band’s most successful songs, with some critics saying it was singlehandedly responsible for turning them into “rock royalty.”

Next: Suicide songs playlist for the darkest hour 

13. River of Deceit — Mad Season

Mad Season - River Of Deceit

Mad Season released River of Deceit in 1995 to huge success; the song immediately climbed to the top of the mainstream rock charts and became the band’s most iconic song. The track was partially inspired by lead singer Lane Staley’s spiritual journey and partly by his drug addiction. It became internationally popular and led to the band’s only music video; it has also become a standard part of the band’s live performances. 

14. Cherub Rock — Smashing Pumpkins

The Smashing Pumpkins - Cherub Rock

Cherub Rock was featured on Smashing Pumpkins’ second album, released in 1993. The song was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance With Vocal and was a respectable success, commercially. However, it has been widely praised for its use of guitar track layering, resulting in it being namechecked on several lists of the greatest guitar solos in rock history.

15. Nearly Lost You — Screaming Trees

Screaming Trees - Nearly Lost You

Nearly Lost You was a 1992 hit by Screaming Trees; it has been called one of the band’s best songs. Its popularity is due in part to its inclusion on the soundtrack of the movie Singles. However, the song did well on the charts as well, peaking at No. 5 on the US alternative charts. It remained a staple of Screaming Trees’ live shows until their breakup in 2000.

16. Tomorrow — Silverchair

Silverchair - Tomorrow (US Version) (Official Video)

Grunge has occasionally crossed borders outside of the US — and in the case of Australian grunge band Silverchair, even oceans. Their 1995 song Tomorrow was released on their debut album. It was an instant success, spending six weeks at the forefront of the ARIA Singles Charts. The following year would bring a host of other awards, making Tomorrow the band’s signature song. 

17. Vasoline — Stone Temple Pilots

Stone Temple Pilots - Vasoline (Official Music Video) [HD]

Before there was Interstate Love Song, there was Vasoline. The song was the first No. 1 hit for the Stone Temple Pilots, remaining at the top of the charts for two weeks only to be replaced by another STP song. The 1994 song instantly grabbed attention with its iconic sound (created by putting a bass through a wah-wah pedal). 

18. Grease Box — Tad

Tad’s 1993 song Grease Box might be lesser known in the shadow of more commercially successful grunge songs, but it remains a favorite among underground fans. The song is fueled by distinctive rage, though we’re never told what the anger is all about. Ultimately, it is up to the listeners to interpret the lyrics — and fans have interpreted the song as about everything from drug addiction to generational trauma. 

19. Feel The Pain — Dinosaur Jr. 

Dinosaur Jr - Feel The Pain

Dinosaur Jr.’s 1994 song Feel The Pain was highly acclaimed, climbing to No. 4 on the Billboard Alternative Airplay Chart in the US. The band received praise for the song’s lyrics and guitar track, and Feel The Pain has become known as one of their signature songs. The accompanying music video, directed by the legendary Spike Jonze, propelled the band to more widespread fame. It has also been called one of the defining songs of 1990s grunge, putting Dinosaur Jr. solidly among the best bands of the era. 

20. Would? — Alice in Chains

Alice In Chains - Would? (Official HD Video)

Would? was released in 1992, one of several songs from grunge bands written to honor the late Andrew Wood. Wood was the lead singer of Mother Love Bone and was widely known by musicians on the grunge scene. The song is considered to be one of the band’s best, placing high on charts in the US as well as Europe. It is frequently named on lists of Best Songs of The 1990s and Best Rock Songs of All Time and won an MTV Video Music Award

21. Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns — Mother Love Bone

Crown Of Thorns

Mother Love Bone was one of the most influential bands on the Seattle grunge scene of the late 1980s. Headed by singer Andrew Wood, the band released the song Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns in 1989. It has been widely praised as the group’s best song, showcasing astonishing talent and skill both musically and lyrically. Wood’s vocals were considered exquisite throughout the eight-minute, twenty-second song; he would pass away mere months after its release. 

22. Another Shot of Whiskey — The Gits

Another Shot of Whiskey

Alcoholic and drug abuse has always been a significant problem in the music industry, and this is what the 1992 hit Another Shot of Whiskey by The Gits focused on. The song is considered an underrated treasure in the grunge genre, as The Gits never became commercially successful. Nevertheless, it remains one of the best grunge songs of the 1990s. 

23. Man in The Box — Alice in Chains

Alice In Chains - Man in the Box (Official Video)

Man in The Box was a song featured on Alice in Chains’ debut album, propelling the band to instant and widespread fame. The song reached No. 18 on the Billboard charts and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance. Even decades after its release, Man in The Box was still extremely popular, being the second-most widely-played song on rock stations throughout the 2010s. 

24. Plush — Stone Temple Pilots

Stone Temple Pilots - Plush (Official Music Video)

Plush was featured on Stone Temple Pilots’ debut album, released in 1993. The song was responsible for propelling the band to widespread fame, becoming one of their signature tracks and receiving extensive airtime. The track flew to the top of the mainstream rock charts, making an impression during a time when grunge and mainstream didn’t frequently intersect. It also received extensive accolades, including a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance with Vocal and Best New Artist at the MTV Video Music Awards. 

25. Far Behind — Candlebox

CANDLEBOX - Far Behind (Official Video)

Candlebox released Far Behind on their debut album in 1993. Astonishingly, the track spent almost a year on the charts, peaking at No. 18 on the Billboard Hot 100. It is undoubtedly one of Candlebox’s best-known songs. Far Behind was written as a tribute to Andrew Wood, the lead singer of the grunge band Mother Love Bone; Wood died in 1990 from a heroin overdose. His death inspired many songs from his peers on the grunge scene. 

26. Revolve — Melvins

Melvins’ track Revolve was a single on their 1994 album Stoner Witch. Like much of their other music, the song strays between grunge and sludge metal. It also embraces the band’s habit of using song lyrics that are bizarre and meaningless. This was an attempt to push back against trends in the metal and grunge genres, which often focused on deep lyrics about life, relationships, and society; instead, the meaning of Revolve is that there is no meaning at all. The song was also remarkable for its genre shifts throughout, changing from aggressive metal to a blues-infused melody.

27. The Scratch — 7 Year Bitch

7 Year Bitch was a Seattle band that was active throughout the 1990s, straddling the line between punk rock, grunge, and riot grrrl music. Though they were not widely known around the world, they were known and respected on the Seattle rock scene; as an all-female rock group, they helped pioneer the genre of riot grrrl music as well. One of their best-known songs was The Scratch, a song contrasting male and female sexual expectations and stereotypes; it is written from the perspective of a man’s mistress reflecting on “sharing” her man with his wife. 

28. Jessie — Paw

Most grunge songs are about deep subjects, such as societal expectations, generational clashes, trauma, or rage. The song Jessie happens to be about a dog. It starts out with almost humorous pleas from the perspective of the dog, begging his owner to scratch his ears. But as the song goes on, it becomes clear that there is something more worrying going on; the owner is trying to leave and telling the dog to go home without him.

Next: The best songs about dogs & pups

29. Out There — Dinosaur Jr.

Dinosaur Jr - Out There

Dinosaur Jr.’s 1993 single Out There gained popularity for its unique and attention-grabbing instrumentals, especially the complex guitar solo and the unusual use of chimes. Though it was only moderately popular on the charts, critics have called it one of the band’s best songs from their album Where You Been. It was considered unique and iconic, with a significant departure from the band’s usual sound; even guitarist J Mascis said that it included one of his favorite guitar riffs. 

30. Seether — Veruca Salt

Veruca Salt - Seether

Seether is undeniably the most famous song from the female-led grunge band Veruca Salt, released in 1994. It was a departure from their previous music, tending in a more pop-heavy direction. This gave it widespread appeal; nevertheless, the track is also remarkable for its blend of catchiness and aggression. When asked if it was about female rage, composer Nina Gordon simply explained that the song’s meaning had changed throughout the writing process. 

31. Swallow My Pride — Green River

Swallow My Pride

Green River was an early player on the grunge scene, largely known in Seattle. Their 1988 song Swallow My Pride was featured on the band’s debut EP. The song contrasted the outspoken patriotism of the late Reagan era with a more critical view of America and its politics; the lyrics include a play on words between national pride and the saying “pride comes before the fall.” Swallow My Pride would later be covered by other grunge greats such as Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. 

32. Sweet ‘69 — Babes in Toyland

Babes In Toyland - Sweet '69 (Video)

Sweet ‘69 was released in 1995 and quickly gained popularity, becoming the first track from Babes in Toyland to hit the charts. It peaked at No. 37 on the Modern Rock charts in the US and was also extensively played in the UK. One reason for the song’s popularity was an interesting musical choice: a backing percussion track consisting of melodic cowbells. The unusual instrumentalization made the song stand out, making “Sweet ‘69” one of the most famous songs from Babes in Toyland.

33. Even Flow — Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam - Even Flow (Official Video)

Pearl Jam released Even Flow in 1991 as part of their debut album. The track was an immediate hit, flying to No. 3 on the Mainstream Rock Airplay chart. It has been included on Pearl Jam’s greatest hits compilations; interestingly, the members of the band themselves have said that they think the song displays their early weaknesses as composers and musicians. Apparently, neither critics nor Pearl Jam fans feel the same way. It remains one of their best-known songs and a signature track that is still played at their shows to this day.

34. Been Caught Stealing — Jane’s Addiction

Jane's Addiction - Been Caught Stealing (Official Music Video) | Warner Vault

Jane’s Addiction released Been Caught Stealing in 1990 as one of their earliest singles. The accompanying music video won an MTV Award the next year; the song is widely considered one of their best and most iconic. It was certainly the most commercially successful, topping the modern rock charts for four weeks. Most notably, the track features backing audio of lead singer Perry Farrell’s dog, who happened to be in the studio during recording; Farrell explained that the excited pup wouldn’t stop barking and was caught on tape, leading to an iconic backing track.

35. Pretend We’re Dead — L7

Pretend We're Dead

L7 gained attention in the early 1990s not just as pioneers of the grunge scene, but also as a rare all-female rock band. Their ability to combine grunge with alt-rock as well as their untempered aggression and female-oriented lyrics made them unique in the music industry. Their 1992 hit Pretend We’re Dead was one of their earliest and biggest songs, peaking at No. 8 on the Billboard Modern Rock Charts; it stayed on the charts for a total of 20 weeks. Pretend We’re Dead is about the apathy felt after a bad breakup.

36. Animal — Pearl Jam

Animal (Remastered)

Animal was a single on Pearl Jam’s second album, released in 1994. The song was extremely popular, hitting No. 21 on the Mainstream Rock Airplay chart and being included in the band’s greatest hits compilations. The lyrics have long baffled listeners, who have alternately claimed that it is about anger toward the media or even gang rape. However, the band members have said that the song has no particular meaning; it is simply an attempt to express anger and feeling like the world is stacked against you.

37. In ‘n’ Out of Grace — Mudhoney

In 'n' Out of Grace

Mudhoney was partially responsible for introducing the world to grunge in the late 1980s; in 2000, they were also present at the end of the grunge era. The heyday of grunge had already largely given way to alternative rock and other genres. Nevertheless, Mudhoney’s In ‘n’ Out of Grace is a goodbye to grunge as only Mudhoney could do it. The song also draws on inspirations from the alternative rock and pop genres that were becoming more popular at the time; nevertheless, at its core, it remains true grunge.

Next: Greatest indie songs of all time (our complete playlist)

38. Today — The Smashing Pumpkins

The Smashing Pumpkins - Today

The Smashing Pumpkins released their song Today in 1993, capturing attention with an upbeat track and macabre lyrics. Lead singer Billy Corgan wrote the song about his struggles with suicidal ideations; his inner turmoil was flawlessly reflected in the music, which alternates between melodic and manic. Critics have referred to Today as “one of the defining songs of a generation”; though The Smashing Pumpkins were struggling before its release, the song revitalized the band’s career and earned them comparisons to Nirvana.

Next: Songs with depressing themes and subjects

39. Spoonman — Soundgarden

Soundgarden - Spoonman

Though Soundgarden was well-known in the grunge genre, it wasn’t until the mid-90s that they became known in the mainstream. The 1994 single Spoonman was one of the songs responsible for the change; it reached No. 3 on the Mainstream Rock Airplay chart. The song was originally featured on the soundtrack of the 1992 movie Singles before being rereleased on Soundgarden’s next album. The lyrics and title were inspired by a street musician named Artis, who appears on the track playing the spoons. 

40. Heroin Girl — Everclear

Everclear - Heroin Girl

Everclear’s 1995 song Heroin Girl has been alternately interpreted as alt-rock, indie rock, or grunge. The song was striking both musically and lyrically; it is said to have been inspired by the death of lead singer Art Alexakis’ brother. Alexakis’ brother and his girlfriend overdosed on heroin; during the investigation, he overheard a policeman say, “Just another overdose.” The haunting line made it into the chorus of Heroin Girl, a song that is as mesmerizing as Esther, the titular character.

41. Come As You Are — Nirvana

Nirvana - Come As You Are (Official Music Video)

Come As You Are was featured on Nirvana’s second album, the first one to follow them reaching mainstream popularity with the song Smells Like Teen Spirit. Come As You Are was similarly popular, reaching the top of the rock charts around the world. It has been called one of the best rock songs of all time, in addition to being one of Nirvana’s best songs. Fans found new, poignant meanings in the lyrics “I don’t have a gun” after Kurt Cobain’s suicide in 1994

42. Interstate Love Song — Stone Temple Pilots

Stone Temple Pilots - Interstate Love Song (Official Music Video) [HD]

Ask fans to name their top song by Stone Temple Pilots, and many of them will say Interstate Love Song. The 1994 track is one of the most famous and groundbreaking of the band’s career, peaking at No. 1 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Airplay chart. It spent 15 weeks in the spot, breaking previous records; it replaced their previous No. 1 hit Vasoline, meaning that Stone Temple Pilots were at the top of the charts for 17 weeks straight. Interstate Love Song has been called one of the best songs of the 1990s and is considered one of the band’s best songs. 

43. Black Hole Sun — Soundgarden

Soundgarden - Black Hole Sun

Black Hole Sun is undoubtedly one of Soundgarden’s most famous songs, if not their signature song. It has also been called one of the defining songs of grunge. Released in 1994, the song sent grunge in a new direction following the suicide of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain. The music video was also widely acclaimed, receiving an MTV Video Music Award for Best Metal/Hard Rock Music Video and a Clio Award For Alternative Music Video. The music video is iconic, featuring an apocalyptic setting where the band members play with eerie smiles before being sucked into the sun.

44. Between The Eyes — Love Battery

Between The Eyes

Between The Eyes was released in 1989 as a debut single before being rereleased in 1991 as part of an LP. The song was acclaimed for its stripped-down sound, which straddled the line between grunge and pop rock. It is frequently named on the top lists of grunge songs; along with the band’s following album, Between The Eyes has been called some of the most influential grunge music of the turn of the 90s. 

45. Comedown — Bush

Bush - Comedown

Bush’s Comedown was released in 1995 and is an iconic track of the post-grunge era of the late 1990s. The song was written about a failed relationship and the combination of grief and elation that lead singer and composer Gavin Rossdale felt. Comedown was the most successful single of the band’s career, peaking at No. 30 on the Billboard Hot 100. It reached No. 1 and No. 2 on the alternative charts and mainstream rock charts, respectively. The band was also praised for its unique music video, which relied heavily on a fisheye lens. 

46. Seven — Sunny Day Real Estate

Sunny Day Real Estate - Seven [OFFICIAL VIDEO]

Sunny Day Real Estate’s 1994 track Seven is an underappreciated gem that has nevertheless held its own. The same can be said of the entire band, whose members were notorious avoidant of the press, releasing few official photos or interviews. They also did not explain the meanings behind their songs, leading fans to parse the lyrics of Seven. The intrigue lies in the mystery and the self-interpretation; fans have alternately said that they interpret Seven to be about anticipation, authenticity, or bravery in the face of trauma.

47. All Hail Me — Veruca Salt

Veruca Salt - All Hail Me

All Hail Me is right up alongside Seether in Veruca Salt’s discography; in fact, the two songs were released simultaneously. Though the song gained less attention than Seether or some of Veruca Salt’s later hits such as Number One Blind, it helped cement the band as one of the most revolutionary female-led grunge bands of the 1990s. Some fans have classified All Hail Me not just as one of Veruca Salt’s best songs, but one of the best grunge songs of all time.

48. Doll Parts — Hole

Hole - Doll Parts

Doll Parts was released in 1994. It was composed by Courtney Love, the lead singer of Hole, who was dating Kurt Cobain at the time; they later married and had a daughter. Love wrote the song as an expression of her feelings of love and fear of rejection at the start of her relationship with Cobain. Though Love wrote the song in 1991, it wasn’t recorded until 1994 after Cobain’s suicide. It continued to be a standard during Hole’s live shows, resulting in highly emotional performances.

Next: Top emo bands of all time

49. Heart-Shaped Box — Nirvana

Nirvana - Heart-Shaped Box (Official Music Video)

Nirvana was undoubtedly the king of the grunge scene in the early 1990s. The band’s celebrity status was already cemented when they released Heart-Shaped Box in 1993. The song was at the top of the rock charts around the world, reaching No. 1 in the United States. Its accompanying music video was also wildly popular, receiving two MTV Video Music Awards in 1994. Heart-Shaped Box made a further impression by being the last song Kurt Cobain performed with the band before his suicide; it was said to have been written in honor of his wife, Hole singer Courtney Love.

50. Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black) — Neil Young & Crazy Horse

Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black) (2016 Remaster)

Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black) was released in 1978, at least five years before grunge even emerged on the scene as a concept. So why is it considered proto-grunge, earning Neil Young the nickname Godfather of Grunge? The song was an acoustic rock song that helped Young bounce back from his flagging career, but more importantly, it was highly inspirational for grunge pioneers such as Eddie Vedder and Kurt Cobain. Cobain so identified with the song that he even quoted the lyric “it’s better to burn out than to fade away” in his suicide note.

51. Violet — Hole

Hole - Violet (Official Music Video)

Violet was a 1994 single from Hole. Like several of the band’s other songs, it was written several years before its official recording and had already become a staple of their live shows. The track is about a dysfunctional relationship and is widely considered some of Courtney Love’s best work, with critics drawing parallels to blues singer Bessie Smith and even rock and roll icon Janis Joplin. The angry vocals and feminist lyrics contributed to the song being called “the quintessential Hole track.”

52. Jane Says — Jane’s Addiction

Jane's Addiction - Jane Says (Official Music Video)

Jane Says was one of the earliest singles from Jane’s Addiction, intended to serve as a promotional song for their upcoming album. Instead, it became one of their signature songs, often being used to close out their concerts. Like the band’s name, the title comes from a mutual acquaintance, Jane Bainter, whose life inspired much of their content. However, Bainter later clarified that not all the song’s details were true to life (specifically that she had never engaged in sex work.) Details about her wigs, relationships, and desire to go to Spain were real, though.

53. Sex Type Thing — Stone Temple Pilots

Stone Temple Pilots - Sex Type Thing (Official Music Video)

The Stone Temple Pilots released Sex Type Thing on their debut album in 1993. It became popular after airing regularly on MTV; subsequently, it helped reach No. 3 on the US Top Albums chart. Despite the name, members of the band clarified that the song was not about sex at all. Instead, it was intended to be a statement against rape and sexual abuse. It has become one of the band’s signature songs. Lead singer Scott Weiland was outraged by accusations of being a rape apologist, insisting that the song was written from the perspective of a villain.

Next: The best songs that make you feel like a villain

54. Loud Love — Soundgarden

Soundgarden - Loud Love (Official Video)

Loud Love was one of Soundgarden’s early singles, released as part of their second album Louder Than Love in 1989. It was later included in their 1997 greatest hits compilation. Though Loud Love escaped mainstream accolades, it received praise for its innovative use of feedback (sometimes mistaken for an E-bow). The song was included on the soundtrack of the movie Wayne’s World. Though it isn’t as widely known as some of their other singles such as Black Hole Sun, Loud Love remains a staple of Soundgarden’s discography.

55. Epic — Faith No More

Released in 1990, Epic was the song that propelled Faith No More to international fame. The song has alternately been referred to as metal, funk metal, hard rock, and grunge, but has elements of all these genres. Epic did what few grunge songs have been able to achieve by crossing into mainstream music and placing at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100. It has become one of the band’s most iconic songs and is still regularly performed at their concerts.