10 Grunge Songs That Aren’t Really Grunge


Image of rock band Seether

Seether is among Audio Ink Radio’s bands with grunge songs that aren’t really grunge – Story by Anne Erickson, photo via Fantasy Records image

Audio Ink Radio brings you its list of 10 grunge songs that aren’t really grunge

There’s no denying that Kurt Cobain and Nirvana started a huge movement when they released “Nevermind” in 1991. The album’s first single, “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” took off, and suddenly, the world was hooked on this new, Seattle-based sound known as grunge. Nirvana didn’t necessarily want to be the leaders of an entire new pop culture movement with “Nevermind,” but that’s what happened. Moreover, they inspired countless bands to follow. So, what are some popular grunge songs that aren’t really grunge?

The post-grunge movement, of course, was the main movement to follow the sad death of Kurt Cobain in 1994. Cobain and the sound of Nirvana lived on through these other bands that popped up and ruled the airwaves. Many of these post-grunge artists fully admitted to being directly influenced by Cobain, and that came through in their music. While some post-grunge bands took from the aesthetics of grunge but added other elements into their sound, others maintained that pure grunge style from the early 1990s.

Read on for Audio Ink Radio’s list of 10 grunge songs that aren’t technically grunge. These songs mainly fall into the post-grunge category, but a few other genres pop up in this list, too. Let us know your picks by reaching out to us on Twitter here and Facebook here.

10. Tantric, “Breakdown”

Tantric formed in 1998, four years following Kurt Cobain’s death, but their music is some of the most representative of the grunge sound that exists in the post-grunge sphere. The band, formed from the ashes of Days of the New, released their self-titled debut in 2001. The album’s lead single, “Breakdown,” was a radio smash and featured the heavy riffing and mushy sonics of the grunge movement.

9. Hinder, “Lips of an Angel”

Hinder are one of the post-grunge bands that came years after the grunge movement was long gone. They released their debut album, “Extreme Behavior,” in 2005, more than a decade after Cobain’s death. Still, this album features plenty of grunge-leaning songs. “Lips of an Angel” is a yearning rock ballad about lusting after a lost love, and it’s the perfect grunge ballad.

8. Nickelback, “How You Remind Me”

Nickelback released their debut album, “Curb,” in 1996, but didn’t hit it big until their third release, 2001’s “Silver Side Up.” The band was the Canadian version of grunge, with a sound heavily influenced by bands such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam, but with a more solid, rock ‘n’ roll vibe. The band’s first hit, “How You Remind Me,” is filled with angst and heavy guitars, which is very grunge. The track singlehandedly launched Nickelback’s career.

7. Staind, “Mudshovel”

Staind’s Aaron Lewis and guitarist Mike Mushok reportedly met in 1993, but they didn’t really form Staind until 1995, so the band falls into the post-grunge category. During their early days, the band covered grunge artists such as Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains while playing local venues. Much of Staind’s music was actually a metal take on grunge. So, one might call their music alternative metal or metal-leaning post-grunge. But, songs such as “Mudshovel,” which appeared both on Staind’s 1996 self-released debut album and their 1999 “Dysfunction” major label debut, have a raw, real grunge character that makes them sound nostalgic.

6. Creed, “My Own Prison”

Creed never had a straight-ahead grunge sound, as they introduced a more anthemic rock sound to their music. But, at the core of what Creed did was based in grunge, with distorted guitars and introspective lyrics. Creed’s grungiest album was their 1997 debut, “My Own Prison.” Moreover, the album’s title track has a laid-back vibe that’s very early-’90s.

5. Bush, “Comedown”

Bush released their seminal debut album, “Sixteen Stone,” in December of 1994, just months after Cobain’s death. With Cobain and Nirvana gone, the world was searching for that grunge sound from another band, and Bush was one of the bands that instantly filled that void. “Comedown” is a sludgy rock number, which vocalist Gavin Rossdale wrote about an ex-girlfriend. Heavy guitars combined with love gone wrong? Sounds like a grunge song to me.

4. 3 Doors Down, “Loser”

Sure, “Kryptonite” is the song that propelled 3 Doors Down to rock stardom in 2000. But, “Loser” is their track the most resembles a pure grunge song. Both songs appear on the band’s blockbuster 2000 debut, “The Better Life.” The album introduced 3 Doors Down to the masses, with a strong Southern rock and grunge character that helped push a massive six million-plus copies of the set worldwide.

3. Puddle of Mudd, “Control”

True story: I took my mom to see Puddle of Mudd in concert sometime in the 2010s. At the show, she turned to me and said, “He sounds like Kurt Cobain from Nirvana.” So, even my mom could tell that Puddle of Mudd sound like they could fit on a grunge playlist from the early 1990s. “Control” marked Puddle of Mudd’s first single off their 2001 debut album, “Come Clean.” It featured messy guitars, raw production and Wes Scantlin’s Kurt Cobain-style vocals.

2. Seether, “Fine Again”

Seether vocalist Shaun Morgan has been very vocal about the fact that Kurt Cobain and Nirvana inspired him to pick up a guitar and start making music. That said, it’s not surprising that Seether is one of the bands that really wears their Nirvana influence proudly. “Fine Again,” which appears on Seether’s 2002 “Disclaimer” debut, absolutely sounds like it could have been a Nirvana track. With distorted, grunge-fueled riffs and yearning vocals, it’s one of post-grunge’s most recognizable songs.

1. Foo Fighters, “This Is a Call”

Sure, some people may say Foo Fighters are grunge, since the band is fronted by Dave Grohl, the drummer of Nirvana. But, technically, any band that was formed after the passing of Cobain is post-grunge, and Foo Fighters fall into that designation. With their eponymous 1995 debut album, Foo Fighters presented an authentic grunge-leaning sound with more melody than often found in grunge. Fans loved it, and Foo Fighters are still one of the biggest rock bands today. “This Is a Call” sounds like it could have fit on a Nirvana album. It was all Grohl, as he performed every instrument on the track and album. For its legacy, “This Is a Call” is No. 1 on our tally of grunge songs that aren’t really grunge.

Read Audio Ink Radio’s list of 10 grunge bands that should have been bigger via this location.

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