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It is the curse of every generation to believe that the music of their lifetime is better than anything the kids are listening to today. They certainly don’t make them like they used to, if the proliferation of manufactured bands and reality TV X-Factor-type shows are anything to go by (indeed, the very existence of such readily-gobbled-up claptrap surely lends more weight to the case for our generation than those preceding it).
Of course, there is still plenty of great music being made today… but there’s a whole heap of horseshit on the airwaves as well. There’s nothing quite like the music you grew up to to remind you that it’s not all about chauvinistic music videos, skull-boringly repetitive bass-lines or mindless lyrics.
Being a child of the 90s, I decided to come up with my own 90s rock songs playlist, to bathe in the simple warmth of the brilliant music-making of those years and my own adolescent memories (which have, admittedly, taken on a far less stressful and embarrassing hue through the rose-tinted spectacles of nostalgia).
Ready for some epic 90s rock songs? Me too!
Zack de la Rocha cheekily nabbed the rhythm of the bass-line from Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir”… and somehow made an epic song even more epic.
It’s like listening to the original with the sound on your amp turned up to 11… and though I do prefer Robert Plant’s warbling, RATM use the sound very well.
“Enter Sandman” is just about as heavy as it gets on this playlist – I’ve never been a fan of Motörhead, Black Sabbath, Alice in Chains or anyone of that ilk, let alone heavier bands like Megadeth and Slayer.
However, this gem from Metallica is iconic of the 90s for me and serves as a perfect compromise between heavy guitar riffs and growly vocals from James Hetfield.
The Chilis 1999 album Californication received all sorts of wild plaudits and accolades, and deservedly so… and while there are far more glamorous and famous songs on the album, such as “Scar Tissue”, “Otherside” and the title track, this was always my favourite.
It’s underrated, understated and a great addition to an already fantastic album.
Make sure to also have a look at these other great bands that are like Red Hot Chili Peppers.
No 90s rock music mix would be complete without a mention of Foo Fighters’ finest achievement, the unbeatable “Everlong”.
Quite aside from its obvious musical merits, the song is accompanied by one of my favourite music videos of all time. Complete with giant hands, typically-playful costume changes and a dream sequence that foreshadows Inception (2010), I love everything about it.
Never mind modern CGI; when Taylor Hawkins’ bed turns into a drumkit, it gets me every time.
I’m not exactly proud to admit I followed the crowd like the sheep that I am in buying two of Fred Durst’s foul-mouthed and musically-barren albums… although they are good to punch walls and vent spleens to.
But this one, a slower, gentler ballad of a song, is out of character for the band… and by that I mean: actually quite good, even in the cruel light of hindsight.
This song is perhaps most famous for acting as the theme tune to the incredibly successful and outrageously funny TV show Peep Show.
Now the longest-running sitcom in the history of Channel 4, the show did itself no end of good when it ditched the weird theme from series one and went with Harvey Danger’s excellent tune.
Sublime’s brief time as a band was cruelly cut short to only three albums after the death of lead singer Bradley Nowell due to a heroin overdose. Even more sadly, Nowell never lived to see the success the band would enjoy from this song and from “What I Got”, widely considered their two most iconic hits.
The video, released after Nowell’s death, is a light-hearted tribute to their fallen bandmate and encapsulates the upbeat and laid-back nature of all of Sublime’s music.
Like Sublime, Less Than Jake are leaning more towards the ska/punk side of rock than any of the other bands on this list, but they bring such energy and verve to their dreadlock-waving anthems that I had to include them.
Though their biggest successes came in the 21st century, songs like this one and “Just Like Frank” from the album Losing Streak, as well as “Help Save the Youth of America from Exploding” and “All My Best Friends Are Metalheads” from Hello Rockview became instant cult classics.
Jimmy Eat World were hands down my favourite band of my teenage years, with Bleed American their breakthrough album containing wall-to-wall anthems.
However, Clarity, released in 1999, was also full of fantastic and underrated tunes, including this gem about walking from one side of the United States to the other.
From the favourite band of my adolescence to the favourite of my adulthood – Radiohead are still going strong after more than 20 years in the industry.
Not only that, their sound is constantly evolving and improving; indeed, I prefer their later albums, to be honest. However, Pablo Honey, The Bends and OK Computer – all released in the 90s – were not without their merits, including this great song with an intriguing video.
Penny for the thoughts of the prostrate man… although judging by the fates of everyone else in the video, perhaps I’ll hang onto that penny.
How do you like it?
Actually, never mind; that was the 70s, not 90s.
But if you feel there are any gaping holes in my playlist of 90s rock music, feel free to let me know what I missed below.
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