Essential Post-Grunge Songs That Define an Era


Shinedown. There are certain essential post-grunge songs that really define an era in music. So, let's get into some essential post-grunge songs.

Certain essential post-grunge songs that really define an era in music. Pictured: Shinedown. – Author Anne Erickson, Photo via Sanjay Parikh

Post-grunge often gets a bad rep. But, certain essential post-grunge songs really define that era in music. It was a time when many rock fans felt lost. Kurt Cobain had passed away, Nirvana was now defunct and they didn’t know where to turn to get their music fix. But, then, post-grunge arrived, being heroes of sorts with the same kind of murky, lo-fi grunge sound and introspective, often torturous vocals. So, let’s get into a handful of those essential post-grunge songs.

Essential Post-Grunge Songs That Define an Era

Before we get into these essential post-grunge songs, let’s get into the definition of post-grunge. The All Music Guide describes post-grunge simply as “the wave of bands who appeared shortly after Seattle grunge hit the mainstream.” They add that while grunge bands were often influenced by the underground alternative rock of the 1980s, post-grunge was influenced by grunge. I would go one step further and say that post-grunge is any grunge-inspired music that was released following the death of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain in 1994. With the death of Cobain really came the death of grunge music. Everything after that was simply grunge-inspired.

Now, here are some essential post-grunge songs that define an era. Don’t be a music snob. Instead, give these songs a chance. I absolutely love the post-grunge genre and have no shame in that.

11. Bush, “Glycerine”

I’ve written about Bush enough that I know a lot of people think they’re really grunge. But, Bush are out of London, far from Seattle, and they released their debut album, “Sixteen Stone,” in 1994, months after Cobain’s death. So, these guys are post-grunge. That said, “Machinehead” is a post-grunge masterpiece, with hits such as “Glycerine” and “Machinedhead” that stand the test of time.

10. Puddle of Mudd, “Blurry”

Wes Scantlin really just always sounded like Kurt Cobain. That was okay, too, because it was a comforting sound after losing Cobain. I remember my mom even remarking how similar they sounded. “Blurry” was a massive hit for Puddle of Mudd and showed the softer side of post-grunge.

9. Incubus, “Drive”

Incubus is an interesting kind of post-grunge band, because they didn’t sound like grunge, really. Instead, Incubus added sounds such as synths and turntables, something that grunge didn’t really do. So, whether you call them post-grunge or nu-metal or anything else, “Drive” came at a time when post-grunge ruled, and it’s certainly one of the best post-grunge songs of the 1990s.

8. Three Days Grace, “I Hate Everything About You”

Grunge always had a lot of angst, and Three Days Grace captured that grunge angst in their post-grunge hit “I Hate Everything About You.” It’s not a very warm-and-fuzzy song title, but it was a massive post-grunge hit in 2003, right when the genre was peaking.

7. Seether, “Fine Again”

Sure, Seether have a lot of hits at this point. But, “Fine Again” and “Driven Under” were really the band’s breakout hits on their 2002 album, “Disclaimer.” These songs put Seether on the map, and they were the blueprint for many post-grunge bands to follow. Frontman Shaun Morgan has said many times that he looked up to Cobain, too.

6. Live, “Lightning Crashes”

Live is another band that could fall into a range of genres, but they’re certainly post-grunge. In fact, Live have one of the greatest post-grunge ballads of all time in “Lightning Crashes.” The 1994 song came at the start of the post-grunge movement and showed that the genre wasn’t all chaos and guitar-crashing.

5. Creed, “Higher”

Creed was really the quintessential post-grunge band. The difference, though, is that they had a more anthemic sound than the grunge genre, and Mark Tremonti’s guitar playing was much more complex than anything you’d hear in Nirvana or Alice in Chains. But, Creed was at the cusp of the post-grunge movement, and “Higher” is one of their biggest hits in that genre.

4. Nickelback, “How You Remind Me”

Don’t joke about Nickelback. They’re one of the biggest bands out of the post-grunge era, and they still draw thousands of fans to their shows. “How You Remind Me” was their first hit back in 2001. I still remember meeting Chad Kroeger at Pine Knob near Detroit after one of their first Michigan shows, opening for 3 Doors Down. It was before I was in radio, and I was so star-struck, especially when he called me a “sweetheart.” I need to find that autograph.

3. Staind, “It’s Been a While”

Staind was a bit of post-grunge and a bit of nu-metal. They broke out with the heavy “Mudshovel,” but their post-grunge chart-topper really came with 2001’s “It’s Been a While.” When Aaron Lewis performed it live on the Family Values Tour with Fred Durst, it really got attention. It’s one of greatest post-grunge songs ever.

2. 3 Doors Down, “Kryptonite”

“Kryptonite” is a special song. The track took a little southern band called 3 Doors Down to the mainstream in 2000. The guys have even commented that they were shocked about the song’s success, because it wasn’t like they had some fancy producer at the time. It just shows that real rock ‘n’ roll just rocks.

1. Shinedown, “Fly from the Inside”

A lot of the songs on this list could have been No. 1. But, when I think of post-grunge, I think of Shinedown’s early hit, “Fly from the Inside,” off 2003’s “Leave a Whisper.” This song made Shinedown who they are today. Sure, they’ve had tons of hits since then, but this song is what gave them that foot in the door. I remember interviewing Brent Smith when he was doing press for this album, and it was one of my very first interviews. It will always have a special place in my heart. But, aside from my personal experience, “Fly from the Inside” is simply the greatest post-grunge song of all time. If you’d like to get in touch about this story, contact me at

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