A Geeky Girl’s Guide to 90’s Music

There was something almost golden about the music scene in the 90’s – Grunge ruled the waves during the first part of the decade and as we marched into the new millennium the charts were as diverse as they ever were with pop, rock, rap and R’n’B all being happily represented.

The M in MTV actually stood for music rather than morons and the Brit Awards were something to look forward to watching on a wet Wednesday school night. Woolworth’s was the place to be on a Monday afternoon, after all the week’s singles came out, you never missed an episode of Top of the Pop’s and Sunday afternoon’s were taken up with listening to the top 40 countdown on Capital FM.

So what made the 90’s music scene so great? Well there was;


“He’s the one who likes all the pretty song, and he likes to sing along” – In Bloom – Nirvana

Shiver’s down the spine, excitement of what is to come, an ear worm that will stay with you for the rest of your life? Those are all the feelings I associate with the opening riff of Smell’s Like Teen Spirit, which is in my opinion one of the all time greatest songs ever written. The video was bleak, a more realistic portrait of the American High School experience, the song was explosive and the lead singer was mesmerizing. In the early 90’s Nirvana were the poster children for the Grunge movement and along with Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, spearheaded the movement into the mainstream music scene. Suddenly it was cool to wear flannel shirts, for boys to grow their hair long and for everybody to want to start a garage band. The complete antithesis of the 80’s big haired rock, Grunge was dirtier, a more truthful version of the reality of teens and twenty-somethings in the new era.

Some of the Best 90’s Grunge Bands

  • Nirvana 
  • Pearl Jam 
  • Soundgarden 
  • Jane’s Addiction 
  • Hole 


“Tonight I’m tangled in my blanket of clouds, dreaming aloud” – Walking After You – Foo Fighters

 It was actually pretty bloody fantastic to be a rock fan in the 90’s. One one side of the spectrum you had the soft, radio friendly tones of Bryan Adams and Bon Jovi, then the slightly edgier Red Hot Chili Peppers and Smashing Pumpkin’s taking over MTV and the harder edged Marilyn Manson who tore up the rule book when it came to pretty much everything. But it was the emergence of one band which sticks with me personally and that is the creation of the Foo Fighters. After Kurt Cobain’s death, nobody expected Dave Grohl to a. set up on his own b. be as successful as the band was c. be one of the last standing bastions of true rock in the following decades. I love Nirvana for really opening my eyes to a new style of music but I will forever adore the Foo Fighters for just being the greatest band that ever existed (well in my opinion anyways) and for given me albums and albums worth of amazing songs and putting on film some of the funniest music videos to hit the airwaves. It was also a great time to be a woman rock singer, Alanis Morissette really hit it out of the park with Jagged Little Pill and Dolores O’Riordan and Shirley Manson held their own with the boys as lead singers in two of the best bands of the decade.

Some of the Best 90’s Rock Bands/Singers

  • Foo Fighters 
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Bon Jovi 
  • Smashing Pumpkins 
  • Radiohead 
  • Alanis Morissette 
  • Aerosmith 
  • The Cranberries 
  • Lenny Kravitz 
  • Garbage 
  • Marilyn Manson 
  • Bryan Adams 
  • Sugar Ray 

Pop Punk

“Do you have the time, to listen to me whine?” – Basket Case – Green Day

An off-shot of both grunge and punk came the sub-genre of pop punk. More radio friendly and less anti-establishment than its forefathers, pop punk bands sang songs that could stick in your head for weeks or go deep enough to break your heart. Blink-182 became the face of the moment with their memorable videos and wacky antics, while Green Day became the heart, with songs such as Time of Your Life becoming the anthem of the late 90’s teen. There was also Gwen Stefani holding her own with the guys as lead singer and all around kick ass lady of No Doubt, just a girl? Hardly.


Some of the Best 90’s Pop Punk Bands

  • Blink 182
  • Green Day
  • No Doubt
  • Weezer
  • The Offspring


“I never wanna hear you say, I want it that way” – Backstreet Boys – I Want it That Way

The 90’s was the last great decade of the boy band. There were plenty of them and each suited somebodies taste. You had the homegrown lads such as Take That and East 17, the Irish eyes of Boyzone and Westlife or the Yankee invaders of Backstreet Boys and N’Sync. Pretty much every girl had her favourite (mine was Backstreet Boys) and their faced adored bedroom walls up and down the country.

Madonna was still the Queen of Pop but contenders were snapping at her heels and most teenage boys could probably still recall where they were the first time they saw Britney Spears step out in that school uniform. Then there was a Spice Girls – the loud, brash, colourful group who not only released catchy tunes but made a generation of teens truly get behind the notion of girl power. Then there were the ladies of soul, Whitney and Mariah who topped the charts with their high ranging anthems of love and the first lady of country Shania Twain who wasn’t very easily impressed.

Some of the Best 90’s Pop Bands/Singers

  • Backstreet Boys
  • Michael Jackson
  • Madonna
  • Whitney Houston
  • Mariah Carey 
  • Shania Twain
  • Savage Garden
  • Spice Girls
  • N’Sync 
  • Britney Spears
  • Ace of Base
  • Roxette


“Stop, collaborate and listen.” – Ice, Ice Baby – Vanilla Ice

So the 90’s did really start on a high with the whitest, white boy ever to have one of the biggest selling rap singles, but during the 90’s the explosion of the genre, Rap music was to make waves across the entire industry and firmly root itself into the public mainstream where it remains stronger than ever today. The 90’s was all about which coast you laid you allegiance to, East or West/Biggy or Tupac. Both unfortunately met untimely ends during this battle but their legacy lives on, although the 90’s did end with another white rapper, Eminem making his mark on the scene.

Some of the Best 90’s Rappers

  • Tupac Shakur
  • Notorious B.I.G
  • Jay-Z
  • Wu-Tang Clan
  • Snoop Dogg
  • Dr. Dre
  • LL Cool J 
  • Eminem

Best of the Rest

There was so much going on the 90’s, novelty singles that were always Christmas Number One, the Britpop explosion, which side you fell on the Blur/Oasis war and what exactly was Weird Al Yankovic on? So here are some more best of the rest of in 90’s music,

  • Blur 
  • Oasis
  • Pulp 
  • TLC 
  • Boyz II Men 
  • All 4 One 
  • The Fugees 
  • Aaliyah 
  • R Kelly 
  • REM 
  • Dave Matthews Band 
  • Goo Goo Dolls 
  • Matchbox Twenty 
  • Weird Al Yankovic 
  • Lisa Loeb
  • Sarah McLachlan