10 Post-Grunge Songs That Should Have Been Huge


Shinedown band members Brent Smith and Zach Myers performing live onstage at DTE Energy Music Theatre in Clarkston, Michigan.

Shinedown and members Brent Smith and Zach Myers – Story and photo by Anne Erickson

Here’s Audio Ink Radio’s list of the 10 post-grunge songs that should have been huge

The post-grunge era of music is nostalgic, but it still lives on. Looking back over the years, while the genre has many hits, there are also many post-grunge songs that should have been huge.

Technically, anything that takes from grunge and arrived after Kurt Cobain’s death in 1994 is considered post-grunge. Some popular bands from the era include Shinedown, Seether, Staind, Bush and 3 Doors Down. Foo Fighters are even post-grunge, even though they may seem more grunge, since frontman Dave Grohl was a member of Nirvana. Some people refer to this kind of music as “dude rock” or even “butt rock,” but those terms seem fairly demeaning. Really, the heart of post-grunge is early-2000s radio rock.

What’s fascinating about post-grunge is that it still rules the airwaves. Bands such as Shinedown, Staind and Seether often top the charts when they release new music. However, some forgotten songs in the genre should have been much bigger. Read on for Audio Ink Radio’s list of 10 post-grunge songs that should have been huge, in random order. Give us your picks on Facebook here.

Hinder, “Better Than Me” (2005)

Hinder broke out big with their No. 1 pop hit “Lips of an Angel,” off 2005’s “Extreme Behavior.” The song is a heartfelt ballad about getting a call from a former girlfriend. It’s still popular and played on modern rock radio. Moreover, the first single off “Extreme Behavior” was actually “Get Stoned.” The track soared at rock radio with its rock star lyrics and hard-edged tone. One song off “Extreme Behavior” that should have been bigger is the album’s fourth single, “Better Than Me.” This is a heartfelt breakup song with lyrics about one’s lover deserving something better than him in a relationship. “Better Than Me” is a tear-jerker in the best way, but it didn’t chart even close to “Lips of an Angel.”

Saving Abel, “Contagious” (2010)

Saving Abel rocked the mainstream rock charts in the 2000s with “Addicted,” “18 Days,” “Sex is Good” and “Drowning (Face Down).” One song that should have been just as massive as the other Saving Abel hits is “Contagious” off 2010’s “Miss America.” It’s a fun, fist-pumping rock anthem with a Southern rock twang, catchy chorus and lyrics about being addicted to your significant other. A post-grunge song like this deserves the spotlight.

Shinedown, “All I Ever Wanted” (2003)

There’s something about a band’s debut album that’s simply special. Shinedown struck gold (platinum, actually) with their 2003 debut, “Leave a Whisper.” Songs such as “Fly from the Inside” and “45” thrust Shinedown into the limelight. But, one song that didn’t get that didn’t get on the radio is “All I Ever Wanted.” It’s an opus with shifting dynamics and Smith’s storytelling at its best. The song should have been a major hit for the guys, alongside their other No. 1s.

Staind, “Open Your Eyes” (2001)

Staind scored a chart-topping rock hit with the hard-hitting “Mudshovel” off 1999’s “Dysfunction.” That coupled with the band’s high-profile Family Values Tour appearances turned ears in the rock world. Then, Staind took things one step further with a No. 1 crossover hit in the ballad “It’s Been Awhile” off 2001’s “Break the Cycle.” While “Break the Cycle” generated a collection of hits for Staind, one track that never got its due is album opener, “Open Your Eyes.” From the song’s distorted intro that crashes into a wall of guitars to Aaron Lewis’ emotive vocals, it’s a song that grabs the listener’s attention. It could have been huge.

Theory of a Deadman, “Say Goodbye” (2005)

Theory of a Deadman certainly don’t lack for rock radio hits. The band ruled the charts in the 2000s with nine top 10 singles and four No. 1 hits, including “Bad Girlfriend,” “Lowlife,” “Rx (Medicate)” and “History of Violence.” One early hit for Theory of a Deadman was “Santa Monica” off 2005’s “Gasoline.” However, another song off “Gasoline,” “Say Goodbye,” should have been major. It has an incredible twang, a crashing chorus and breakup lyrics that are so relatable.

Earshot, “Not Afraid” (2002)

When Earshot first came out, a lot of people said, “These guys sound like Tool.” Then, lots of bands started sounding like Tool, so that comparison became mute. But, aside from any Tool references, Earshot had solid rock songs and never really got the recognition they deserved. “Not Afraid” is an edgy love song with raw guitars and a huge chorus. It didn’t do as well as the band’s single “Wait,” but it should have topped the charts.

Staind, “Price to Play” (2003)

Yes, Staind is on this list twice. Live with it. Staind are not-so arguably one of the biggest bands from the post-grunge movement, and they have lots of hits. But, one song, “Price to Play,” should have been bigger. “Price to Play” arrived as the lead single off Staind’s fourth album, “14 Shades of Grey.” It hit No. 2 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks and No. 6 on the Modern Rock Tracks. However, compared to their other singles, it just didn’t pop. They don’t even play it at shows much, which is something Audio Ink Radio asked Staind guitarist Mike Mushok about during a recent interview. With its angsty vibe and Aaron Lewis’ pain-drenched vocals, it should have been bigger.

Saliva with “Lackluster” (2001)

Saliva became a big hit with their post-grunge, nu-metal anthem “Click, Click, Boom.” But, their entire “Every Six Seconds” album is really a gem. It’s a snapshot of rock history. “Lackluster” could have been big, with its huge guitars and Josey Scott’s emotive singing.

3 Doors Down, “Duck and Run” (2000)

3 Doors Down are another major band from the post-grunge movement. However, when people think of 3 Doors Down, they probably think of “Kryptonite,” the band’s No. 1 hit that’s still a regular on rock radio today. “Duck and Run” was the third single off the band’s “The Better Life” album. At the time, the song went No. 1, but today, it’s kind of forgotten. It’s a diamond in the rough.

Creed, “Pity for a Dime” (1997)

Creed got labeled post-grunge as soon as they arrived in the mid-to-late-1990s. Many compared lead vocalist Scott Stapp to Pearl Jam vocalist Eddie Vedder, even though this writer never heard the similarity. Creed’s debut album, “My Own Prison,” was one big single. So many tracks off their debut made Creed the mammoth rock stars of that era. “Torn” is a song that was never big, and it’s one of the strongest on the set.

Seether, “Needles” (2002)

Seether is another band that ruled the post-grunge era, and they’re still massively popular today. While early Seether hits such as “Gasoline” and “Fine Again” really took off, “Needles,” off the band’s 2022 debut, “Disclaimer,” is a dramatic song about going back to a lover who is pure poison. “Needles” rounds out the list of Audio Ink Radio’s 10 post-grunge songs that should have been huge.

Read Audio Ink Radio’s feature on the best grunge bands of all time here.

Anne Erickson
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Posted by Anne Erickson | Features, Grunge, Music, Rock