Since its emergence in the 1980’s, the grunge genre has served as a staple of pretty much every rock lover’s soundtrack.
Be it the slow, moody verses or the raucous-as-hell choruses, we’re sure you’ll agree there’s nothing quite like it.
No matter what era of grunge you’re drawn to, there’s no doubt the genre has seen huge development over the last few decades, from the basements of Seattle to stadiums all over the world.
In this article, our shoegazing team of writers-slash-grunge-lovers have put together an all-encompassing list of (what we feel to be) the 44+ best grunge bands of all time, from up-and-comers to undisputable grunge icons.
Let’s get started!
44. Teenage Wrist
Best Known Track: Earth is a Black Hole
A relatively newer band, Teenage Wrist, has already signed with Epitaph Records and performed at the Reading and Leeds Festivals in England. They’re making huge waves in the modern-day grunge scene and are keeping the genre well and truly alive in the 21st century.
43. Violent Soho
Best Known Track: Covered in Chrome
Violent Soho has won multiple awards from “Best Independent Album” from the AIR Awards to “Best Group” from the ARIA Music Awards.
Their best known song – Covered in Chrome – combines fuzzy guitars and distorted bass against a loopy drumbeat, embodying everything that makes the grunge genre great.
Best Known Track: Santa Monica
Everclear’s first three albums are all certified platinum, and while their follow-up albums weren’t received as well, the band continued to influence the grunge scene.
There’s no doubt that their early work in particular served as a huge influence on the grunge scene, with their influence lasting well into the modern-day grunge scene.
Best Known Track: Hemorrhage (In My Hands)
Fuel has numerous top 10 Billboard hits and platinum singles in Australia and the US. Their album Sunburn is certified platinum, and their album Something Like Human is certified double-platinum by the RIAA.
Alongside chart-topping bands such as Nirvana, they’re credited with bringing grunge to the mainstream.
Best Known Track: You and Me
Lifehouse’s song Hanging by a Moment from their debut album stayed at number one on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart for three weeks and peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, inspiring kids all over the world to pick up an instrument and start their own bands.
You and Me continues to serve as a staple on radio and in many TV shows, demonstrating the extent of the band’s legacy.
39. Puddle of Mudd
Best Known Track: She Hates Me
Puddle of Mudd has won four Billboard Music Awards and has sold over seven million albums in the United States. Their work has been particularly-influential on the post-grunge scene, ensuring the genre remains vibrant and alive up to present day.
38. 3 Doors Down
Best Known Track: Kryptonite
3 Doors Down had sold 30 million copies worldwide, with their debut album The Better Life being certified 6x platinum in the US in its first year.
Their uncanny knack for combining moody vocals with an upbeat and anthemic back-beat has paved the way for many ensuing grunge bands.
37. Matchbox Twenty
Best Known Track: Push
Matchbox Twenty has received four Grammy nominations and won for “Most Played Foreign Work” from the APRA Awards. Like several other bands on this list, they’re credited with pushing grunge into the mainstream, bringing huge influence to the genre.
Best Known Track: Fake It
Seether not only has ten nominations under their belt, but they have won every award they have received a nomination for, from “Artist of the Year” to “Best Live Band.” They’re a truly no-nonsense band that embody everything that grunge is about.
Best Known Track: My Sacrifice
Creed is one of the most successful bands of the late 1990s and early 2000s, with their first three albums all reaching multi-platinum in the US and winning a Grammy for “Best Rock Song.”
Their work has a great radio-friendly spin on early grunge, incorporating elements of punk and metal with an undeniably-grunge overtone.
Best Known Track: It’s Been Awhile
Staind has many singles that have reached eye-watering positions on US rock and all-format charts, including their more popular track “It’s Been Awhile.”
Much like Creed, they bring a great radio-friendly spin to the grunge genre, serving as a gateway to grunge for more traditional rock fans.
33. Days of the New
Best Known Track: Touch, Peel and Stand
Days of the New was a solo project by Travis Meeks with a rotating band of musicians accompanying him such as Mike Starr from Alice in Chains.
They’re something of an all-star grunge band, incorporating everything from laid-back acoustic tracks to raucous rock anthems.
Best Known Track: Tomorrow
Silverchair started its career by winning a demo competition called Nomad and would go on to sell over six million albums worldwide.
They would later win 21 ARIA Music Awards from 49 nominations, standing as testament to their influence on the grunge genre.
31. Green River
Best Known Track: Swallow My Pride
Green River was a pioneer in the grunge scene, even though they made little impact outside Seattle. Its members would be part of Mudhoney, Mother Love Bone, Temple of the Dog and Pearl Jam.
Best Known Track: Touch Me I’m Sick
After the disbandment of Green River, the members tried again with a new act called Mudhoney. Their EP Superfuzz Bigmuff would be pivotal to the foundation of grunge as a genre, paving the way for more popular bands such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam.
Best Known Track: Losing Skin
Seaweed was under the same label as Nirvana and Melvins (Sub Pop) and would later tour with Bad Religion and Green Day. Their cover of the Fleetwood Mac song “Go Your Own Way” appears in the film Clerks.
Their influence on the grunge genre is huge, with the band serving as one of the early pioneers of the genre.
Best Known Track: Jezebel Woman
Coming up alongside bands like Melvins and Soundgarden, Malfunkshun gained audiences’ interest by adopting alter egos while on stage that referenced other popular bands of their time.
They’re one of the earliest grunge bands on this list, serving as one of the founders of the genre we all know and love.
27. Dinosaur Jr.
Best Known Track: Feel the Pain
Forced to add the “Jr.” for legal reasons, Dinosaur Jr. earned a reputation in the alternative rock scene and would influence huge grunge stars such as Kurt Cobain and Kurt Vile.
Spin named their album You’re Living All Over Me as one of the best albums of the past 30 years, while their more-steady and raucous take on the punk genre truly lay the blueprint for 90’s grunge.
Best Known Track: Crazy Love
Gruntruck had members from Skin Yard while drummer Norman Scott also collaborated with Chris Corness in the band Bass Truck. Both Scott and Ben McMillian decided to form the band when they wrote: Paint From Inside Yours, successfully catching the huge grunge wave that rode through the 90’s.
Best Known Track: Leafy Incline
Tad is known as one of the first bands of the grunge era and would tour with Nirvana in the 1990s.
They experienced plenty of turmoil over their tenure, from lawsuits against Pepsi to tour plans with Soundgarden falling through. Regardless, we’re sure you’ll agree they remain as one of the best grunge bands of all time.
Best Known Track: Honey Bucket
Melvins would influence many bands out of the Seattle area like Nirvana, Soundgarden and Green River and would give the band Boris their name thanks to the title of one of their tracks. That alone demonstrates their undeniable influence on the grunge genre.
23. Skin Yard
Best Known Track: Burn a Hole
Skin Yard are pretty under the radar, having never made it into the mainstream grunge scene. However, they were actually super influential on other, more successful bands like Soundgarden, The Screaming Trees and Green River.
They would gain more notoriety years after disbanding.
22. Love Battery
Best Known Track: Between the Eyes
Taking their name from a Buzzcocks song, Love Battery had members from other successful bands such as Mudhoney and Skin Yard. However, the band struggled to gain momentum due to contractual difficulties with their label, Sub Pop.
21. Mother Love Bone
Best Known Track: Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns
Mother Love Bone was influential in both the grunge and alternative metal scene despite their lead vocalist Andrew Wood passing away days before their debut album Apple was released.
The remaining members would later approach Chris Cornell to record a debut to Wood under Temple of the Dog, going on to serve as a well-recognised grunge band.
Best Known Track: Plowed
Sponge boasts both a prolific and successful backlog of work, with their album Rotting Pinata reaching gold status from the RIAA. While they draw influence from other genres such as punk and alternative rock, the vocals and chord progressions are undeniably grunge.
19. Jerry Cantrell
Best Known Track: Cut You In
Jerry Cantrell started as a founding member of Alice in Chains, but made a name for himself as a solo act receiving multiple nominations for his hit song Cut You In at the Billboard Music Awards.
Combining chromatic chord progressions with fuzzier-than-life guitar tones, he’s everything that grunge should be.
18. Screaming Trees
Best Known Track: Nearly Lost You
Screaming Trees pioneered the grunge genre along with bands like Soundgarden and Melvins.
They had one song in the top ten of the Modern Rock Tracks charts and two songs in the top ten of the Alternative Airplay Charts, demonstrating their impact on the genre.
17. The Toadies
Best Known Track: Possum Kingdom
The Toadies toured with the band Bush and would find commercial success with their album Rubberneck, which had songs later featured in Black Sheep and the video game Guitar Hero II.
They remain just as popular today, continuing to influence up-and-coming grunge bands all over the world.
16. The Breeders
Best Known Track: Cannonball
Another side project band, The Breeders, was associated with members from Pixies and Throwing Muses.
Their album Last Splash would later be certified platinum by the RIAA. The album housed their hit song Cannonball, a bare-bones and distortion-heavy track underpinned by a classic grunge groove.
15. Mad Season
Best Known Track: River of Deceit
Mad Season was a side project for some of the most popular bands in Seattle, including guitarist Mike McCready from Pearl Jam, vocalist Layne Staley from Alice in Chains, and drummer Barrett Martin from The Screaming Trees.
This all-star grunge band needs no introduction, having captured the grunge limelight throughout the 1990’s.
14. Veruca Salt
Best Known Track: Volcano Girls
Veruca Salt released five studio albums despite some rocky periods where band members left. Their first full-length album American Thighs would eventually reach gold status in both America and Canada.
Once again, they’re everything that grunge should be: raw, punchy and groovy.
Best Known Track: Far Behind
Candlebox was another instant success, with their debut self-titled album being certified quadruple platinum by the RIAA and their second album Lucy being certified gold.
They’re widely credited with bringing grunge into the mainstream, amongst bands such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam.
Best Known Track: Glycerine
Bush is a British band that saw immediate success when their debut album Sixteen Stone was certified 6x multi-platinum by the RIAA. They were later nominated for a Grammy for “Best Hard Rock Performance” and won an American Music Award for “Favorite Alternative Group.”
Their hit track Glycerine is one of the best-known grunge songs of all time (and – we’d argue – one of the best grunge songs ever written).
11. The Presidents of the United States of America
Best Known Track: Lump
As their name might suggest, The Presidents of the United States of America is a grunge band heavily involved in politics and once performed for Bill Clinton at a fundraiser.
They wrote one of their best-known songs – moving in – about the journey of Barack Obama before taking office.
Best Known Track: Pretend We’re Dead
L7 is an all-female band that became a symbol for the riot grrrl movement of the 1990s. Their most popular track – Pretend We’re Dead – was frequently played on US radio and made it onto the Billboard Modern Rock charts in 1992.
They’re credited with paving the way for the grunge explosion of the 1990’s.
Best Known Track: Celebrity Skin
Hole has not only had a huge amount of commercial success, but they served as one of the biggest influences on the grunge genre over the course of the 1990’s.
They combine fuzzy guitars with melodic basslines and sultry vocals, offering up no-nonsense grunge at every turn.
8. Temple of the Dog
Best Known Track: Hunger Strike
Temple of the Dog comprises multiple members from the bands Soundgarden and Pearl Jam coming together to make a grunge supergroup.
Having only one album, Temple of the Dog, the group didn’t see much commercial success until Pearl Jam became popular. Regardless, their position as one of the best grunge acts of the last four decades is undisputable.
7. Blind Melon
Best Known Track: No Rain
Blind Melon enjoyed critical and commercial success with their neo-psychedelic take on the alternative rock scene, while remaining undeniably grunge.
They’ve seen a good amount of commercial success along the way receiving four Grammy nominations in “Best New Artist” and “Best Long Form Music Video.”
6. The Smashing Pumpkins
Best Known Track: 1979
The Smashing Pumpkins is one of those bands that is difficult to label as any one genre as their sound is an amalgamation of progressive, metal, goth, psychedelia and dream pop.
They became one of the most recognizable bands of the 90s thanks to their unique incorporation of fashion and artsy music videos, while serving as a staple of the grunge genre throughout the 1990’s.
5. Stone Temple Pilots
Best Known Track: Interstate Love Song
Stone Temple Pilots excel at bringing their listeners through a sonic adventure with a mixture of introspective lyrics and unexpected instruments, while embodying everything that makes the grunge genre great.
Their album Core brought them popularity as it was certified 8x platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
4. Alice in Chains
Best Known Track: Man in the Box
Alice in Chains are undoubtedly one of the biggest and best grunge bands of all time, having sold 14 million records in the US and over 30 million worldwide.
The band has an impressive eleven Grammy nominations and has memorabilia from their music videos in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Best Known Track: Black Hole Sun
Soundgarden was the first grunge band to sign with a major label – A&M Records – serving as not only one of the first breakthrough grunge bands, but one of the most influential of all time.
They’ve won two Grammys for “Spoonman” and “Black Hole Sun”, both of which serve as staple tracks of the grunge genre.
2. Pearl Jam
Best Known Track: Alive
Pearl Jam – as we’re sure you know – are one of the larger-than-life bands of the entire genre, spanning huge influence over all things grunge.
They outsold Nirvana with their album Ten and became part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017, demonstrating their importance in the emergence and longevity of the genre.
Best Known Track: Smells Like Teen Spirit
Seriously, who else could it have been?
Nirvana brings alternative and grunge music to the mainstream and is a member of the Mojo Hall of Fame 100.
Their album Nevermind is part of the National Recording Registry for cultural, historical, and aesthetic importance, having served as the literal soundtrack of millions of people’s teenage years.
Their influence on the genre is nothing short of staggering, serving as the biggest (and arguably the very best) bands in the entire genre.
We hope you enjoyed our picks of the best grunge bands of all time! Why not check out our list of the best pop punk bands of all time next?