What's the best grunge band ever

The 15 most successful grunge bands of all time

Are you sick of soft beats and greasy lyrics? Then you've come to the right place, because today “grunge” is on the musical menu! We take a look at the 15 best and most successful grunge bands in history, whose rough sounds should still ring in the ears of the children of the 90s, especially today. Have fun with our selection!

1st place: Nirvana


“Nirvana” is not only one of the most successful grunge bands of all time, but is also one of the most important pioneers of modern grunge in the 90s. Above all, "Smells Like Teen Spirit" ensured in 1991 that the rough, dirty guitar sounds of the genre left the dingy garages of Seattle and found their way into the auditory canals of the general public.

Today the formation around lead singer Kurt Cobain, founded in 1987, enjoys legendary status, which has to do not least with the tragic story of the front man himself. Cobain, who struggled with numerous escapades and a severe heroin addiction during his lifetime, committed suicide in the spring of 1994. Pieces like “Come As You Are” (1991), “Lithium” (1991) and “Heart-Shaped Box” (1993) have not been forgotten to this day.

Although the band only released three studio albums during their active time, they are not only one of the best, but also one of the best-selling grunge bands in history. Of the total of 75 million records sold, “Nevermind” (1991) in particular shines in a very special light. The album went over the counter more than 30 million times and was thus able to secure the legendary diamond status.

2nd place: Alice in Chains


“Alice in Chains” experienced its heyday at the same time as the rise of grunge in the mid-1990s. The band from Seattle stands out from their genre colleagues above all with their noticeable heavy metal influences. Another characteristic feature is the two-part lead vocals, which frontman Layne Staley and guitarist Jerry Cantrell pounded into the microphone together. The former not only wrote most of the lyrics for "Alice in Chains", but unfortunately slipped into a severe heroin addiction at the beginning of the 1990s, which in 2002 finally cost him his life.

The singer's musical legacy began to take shape in 1990 when the group released their first professional studio album, “Facelift”. The breakthrough followed two years later, "Dirt" proved to be extremely popular with the audience and placed itself in the top 10 of the US charts. The troupe's most successful work bears the same name as the band and was released in 1995. Said album found over two million buyers and has now double platinum status.

3rd place: Pearl Jam


“Pearl Jam” achieved the feat of continuity. In other words, this means nothing else than that the band from Seattle, the only representative of its kind, managed to survive the original era of grunge and to remain unshaken on the market to this day. The group, which was founded in 1990, changed several members in its line-up again and again, but the band never went through a separation.

Pearl Jam's first album "Ten", which was released in 1991, hit the United States like a bomb. The record has sold more than 15 million to date and reached number two on the charts in the United States. The nine following albums were in no way inferior to their musical forefather. While "Riot Act" (2002) took fifth place on the American hit lists, all the other records managed to occupy first or second place in the charts.

In addition to numerous "MTV Video Music Awards" and "Grammys", "Pearl Jam" has also been pleased to have been inducted into the legendary "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame" since 2016.

4th place: Soundgarden


Founded in 1984, "Soundgarden" received its big major label deal in 1989. The first jump in the charts took place in the same year ("Louder Than Love"), but the commercial success in the form of rank 108 was still quite poor. “Badmotorfinger” turned out to be far more powerful two years later, which in the case of the record can be taken literally. The album came with a musical brutality that should spark some debates in the international music business about the limits of good taste. Nonetheless, “Badmotorfinger” took 39th place in the US charts and paved the way for “Soundgarden” to become one of the best grunge bands of all time.

The following three albums went away like hot cakes. "Soundgarden" is still associated with the single "Black Hole Sun" (1994) by many. The video belonging to the song resembles a psychedelic trip that you normally only experience after taking illegal substances.

5th place: Stone Temple Pilots


It would take a few years for "Stone Temple Pilots" to decide on their final name. Initially, the group was known to its followers as "Swing" in 1987, a little later the musicians appeared as "Mighty Joe Young", before they finally decided on "Stone Temple Pilots" and arranged a deal with "Atlantic Records".

Back then, the band hit exactly the rough rock line that grunge fans loved so much in the 90s. So it wasn't surprising that the group cast a spell over the masses with their raw sounds right from the start. “Core” placed itself in third place on the US charts and found more than 8.5 million buyers. "Purple" is not only one of the best works by "Stone Temple Pilots", it was also extremely popular with buyers. The record is still the most successful of the group, ascended the American chart throne and has meanwhile been honored with six sonic platinum in platinum.

6th place: Temple of the Dog


With the death of Andrew Wood in 1990, the band "Temple of the Dog" was born. This means that Chris Cornell took the loss of his friend as an opportunity to write two songs, which he dedicated to his late friend. Cornell, who was actually the front man of Soundgarden, realized that the songs didn’t really fit the sound of his band stylistically. Discarding the tracks was out of the question for Cornell. Together with Matt Cameron, Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament, Cornell started the band "Temple of the Dog".

In addition to "Reach Down" and "Say Hello 2 Heaven", which the group produced in memory of Andrew Wood, "Temple of the Dog" recorded a few more songs that did not become box office hits, but still remain Counting pearls of grunge. The group's only album, which broke up in 1992, went to number five in the US and would later reach platinum status.

7th place: The Smashing Pumpkins


The story of "The Smashing Pumpkins" can be divided into two acts. The first part of the Chicago band's career took place between 1987 and 2000. During this period, the group firmly established itself in the consciousness of the audience, released five albums and sold countless copies of their music. "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness" is considered the most successful work of the grunge troupe. The long-playing record not only conquered pole position in the American charts, but was later also honored with the diamond record.

After the group disbanded in 2000, the reunification followed seven years later, which at the same time heralded the second era of "The Smashing Pumpkins". The formation around frontman Billy Corgan then delighted their fans with four more releases, with “Zeitgeist” (2007) and “Oceania” (2012) in particular becoming powerful hits.

8th place: Bush


While many grunge greats have their roots in Seattle, or at least within the borders of the United States, “Bush” proves to us that the British also know how to really rock. The London band formed in 1991 and appropriately named themselves after a district of the English capital. From the original line-up of the troupe, only singer Gavin Rossdale and drummer Robin Goodridge are currently remaining, while Corey Britz and Chris Traynor are currently content with the bass and the guitar, respectively.

It is quite remarkable that Bush was able to celebrate great successes, especially in the USA, while the band moved under the radar in their British homeland. The debut album "Sixteen Stone" already took fourth place on the charts overseas. "Razorblade Suitcase" (1996) is meanwhile considered the musicians' magnum opus. The record made it as the only release of the band to enter the top 5 of the charts in Great Britain. The album was even better received by American buyers, which is impressively confirmed by the first place in the sales lists and three platinum records.

9th place: Mother Love Bone


“Mother Love Bone” existed between 1987 and 1990. Thus, the Seattle band missed the era of grunge hype by a very narrow margin, even if it was a sad turn of fate and not a squabble within the group that was responsible for this. Originally the group was known under the name "Lords of the Wasteland", after the line-up rotated, the musicians decided to change their names as well. Andrew Wood, already mentioned in 6th place, appeared as the front man.

Under the wing of the label “Polygram”, “Mother Love Bone” finally released an EP called “Shine”. The first full studio album "Apple" was supposed to be released in 1990, but the band's story came to an equally sad and abrupt end due to the unforeseen death of their lead singer. Although the band had already split up, the album, which had already been produced, was released that same year. Two members of the founding cast, Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament, later teamed up with Mike McCready and Eddie Vedder and formed the band "Pearl Jam" described in number 3.

Rank 10: Screaming Trees


Even if “Screaming Trees” never made the big commercial leap, the band is still considered a significant milestone within the grunge scene. While groups like "Nirvana" and "Soundgarden" were selling records as if there was no tomorrow, the biggest chart success of "Screaming Trees" dates back to 1996 and ranks 134th on the US sales lists. The single releases "Nearly Lost You" and "Dollar Bill" from 1993 should prove to be a bit more successful. The songs made it to number 50 and 52 on the national hit list in Great Britain. We know better than the buyers back then and can only warmly recommend the works of the band, which existed from 1985 to 2000!

11th place: Silverchair


Grunge from Down Under works great! All you have to do is listen to the songs of "Silverchair", the Australian band that formed in 1994. We particularly recommend the first works of the musical trio to friends of grunge. Later productions are still convincing, but their style can be assigned to the field of alternative rock.

The three boys had their breakthrough in 1995 when “Frogstomp” went through the roof straight away. The debut album was not only able to achieve huge successes in Australia and climb the top of the charts, but also made it into the top 10 in the United States. While the four follow-up albums had booked the # 1 subscription in their homeland, Australia, the titles charted rock solid in the United States. In 2011 the band finally broke up, but they referred to the separation as "hibernation", from which one can, as is well known, wake up one day.

12th place: Mudhoney


Long-established film fans can already guess where the name "Mudhoney" might come from. In fact, the pseudonym goes back to the film of the same name from 1965 - even though none of the members had seen the film until the day the band was founded. The Seattle group was founded in 1987 and, to the delight of their fans, is still active today.

After the first "Mudhoney" albums were only known to those who know the scene, "Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge" (1991) made it to the UK charts for the first time. With “Piece of Cake”, this feat was finally achieved in the United States, even if it only came out on rank 189 in the end. While singer Mark Arm, guitarist Steve Turner and drummer Dan Peters have been part of the band for more than 30 years, the position of bassist has been changed several times. Since 2001, however, there has also been consistency here, so that Guy Maddison has become an indispensable part of “Mudhoney”.

13th place: Tool


At the beginning of their careers, the members of "Tool" performed together with "Rage Against the Machine". The band from L.A. experienced their real breakthrough in 1993, when they were part of the line-up of the legendary American "Lollapalooza Tour". Since then, friends of the tough guitar riffs have known what “Tool” is all about.

The first professional album was able to place itself on the 19th place in the US charts and thus advanced to a respectable success. The record now enjoys cult status among the fan base and has consequently been awarded double platinum. The following album called "Ænima" (1996) attracted even more buyers, took first place in the charts and, thanks to its immense sales figures, has meanwhile been honored with three platinum records. It was therefore clear where “Tool” would go. The fans of the musicians steadfastly held up their idols and ensured that “Lateralus” (2001), “10,000 Days” (2006) and “Fear Inoculum” (2019) all took first place on the American sales lists.

14th place: Hole


While the vocal part in the previous bands on our list has always been dressed by male representatives, with the story of "Hole" we show you an example that proves that grunge also works with female voices. The singer of "Hole" is the legendary Courtney Love, who was once the wife of Kurt Cobain. While the American singer's private escapades are undoubtedly controversial, friends of the genre should agree on the works of "Hole". The sound of the group founded in 1989 works extremely well, especially the songs in which Nirvana legend Kurt Cobain personally participated, enjoy a very special and unique status today. It was not least the marriage of the two rock stars that gave "Hole" previously unknown attention and thus lifted the group into completely new commercial spheres.

While "Pretty on the Inside" (1991) missed a chart placement in the United States, "Live Through This" secured a solid 52nd place in 1994. "Celebrity Skin" was to become the most successful title in the band's history two years later. The number made it to 9th place in the US charts and was also able to win a gold record in Great Britain.

In 2002 "Hole" was history, eight years later Courtney Love announced the reunification. Except for the lead singer, however, the entire line-up of the group was replaced. Since “Nobody’s Daughter” was released in 2010, fans of the band have been waiting for a new record.

15th place: The Melvins


Last but not least, we present you “The Melvins”. The group has existed since the early 80s and is therefore undoubtedly one of the veterans of grunge. It almost happened that none other than Kurt Cobain became a member of "The Melvins". However, the later Nirvana singer suffered from such intense stage fright that he forgot all the songs during the band casting and was consequently rejected. The countless albums that the bands released in the decades that followed had to take place without the music legend. However, this did not detract from the popularity of the records within the fan base.