September 14, 2023

Top 10 Grunge Songs by Bands Not Named Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains or Soundgarden

This week’s Top Ten list is a little different. When I hit high school, grunge was in full swing and it seemed like there was a new grunge band every week. So I thought to myself, which had the best songs when you take Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains and Soundgarden out of the equation. Now some of these bands really aren’t grunge–or at least not any more–but for a period they were lumped in with the Big Seattle Four.

So here it is, The top Ten Grunge Songs of All Time by Bands Not Named Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains or Soundgarden. (Okay, so I do use some of their members but with all the intermingling that happened in the grunge scene, it’s kind of hard not to, y’know?)

10) Sloan – Underwhelmed

Yes, believe it or not, there was a brief time where Sloan was considered grunge.  If you only ever heard “Underwhelmed” and compared it to the various bands out of Seattle at the time, you can kind of see why (despite how short-sighted that comparison is). There was a point where some media and record companies were referring to Halifax as the “Seattle of the North.”


9) Stone Temple Pilots – Plush

When STP first hi, everyone I knew just assumed they were from Seattle. “Plush” is a great example of the reasoning behind that.


8) Mad Season – River of Deceit

Features members of Pearl Jam, Screaming Trees and Alice in Chains.  There’s something really haunting about this song for me. [Maybe because two members died of drug overdoses? – AC]


7) L7 – Pretend We’re Dead

L7 were kind of an oddball metal band (much like Alice in Chains and Soundgarden) until grunge came along and then they were suddenly thrust into that category.  These women could mix it up as good as the boys.


6) The Melvins – Night Goat

The Melvins have always stood out as a fuzzy, noisy band. During the 90’s they were considered grunge. Despite not really changing the formula, they are no longer a grunge band. Amazing how labels work sometimes.


5) Hole – Garbage Man

Before “Live Through This” there was “Pretty on the Inside” which is a pretty heavy grungy album and really falls into the “grunge sound” catagory.


4) Temple of the Dog – Say Hello 2 Heaven

While this might be considered a bit of a cheat, I had to place this on the list. While the song “Hunger Strike” was the single and gets all of the attention, “Say Hello 2 Heaven” is the song I personally think was the best on the album.


3) Mudhoney – Touch Me, I’m Sick

Mudhoney frontman Mark Arm may have been the one to coin the term “grunge” to describe the various bands on the Sub Pop record label.


2) Mother Love Bone – Stardog Champion

Okay, so maybe this is a little bit of a cheat because the band featured many of the key members of Pearl Jam before they hit it big but there is no denying the awesomeness of this track. Kind of makes you wonder what could have been had singer Andrew Wood not died of an overdose.


1) Screaming Trees – Nearly Lost You

I’ve expressed my love for this tune before but in many ways this is becoming a hidden gem song of the grunge era and the 90’s in general. It was featured on the soundtrack for “Singles” which was a movie that centered around the Seattle music scene.

What did we miss in our great grunge hunt? Feel free to list your suggestions below!

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37039 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

4 thoughts on “Top 10 Grunge Songs by Bands Not Named Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains or Soundgarden

  • Love that Mother Love Bone made it so high, but the Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns is my number pick by them. People really need to buy the Singles soundtrack to get a good primer including the big names and some great other bands & tracks.

  • MotherLoveBone, would have been huge!!! their album is timeless I still listen to it on a regular basis easily one of my top 5 albums of all time…

  • For me;
    -Candlebox – toss up between "Change" and "You"
    -If you're going to have Screaming Trees, I always like to show people "Where did you sleep last night" by Mark Lanegan on the album Winding Sheet and make sure I show them the release date… However, I like the song "Winding Sheet" on that album…
    -Temple of the Dog I prefer "Four Walled World" or "Wooden Jesus", not that there are any songs I dislike… Sure wish I could have been in LA 2009 when Chris showed up at the PJ show for "Hunger Strike".
    -Mad Season I like "I Don't Know Anything"… And does anyone else listen to "Long Gone Day" and have "Voodoo" by Godsmack come to mind?…..


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