Have you ever fallen victim to hearing a song, loving it, and never hearing it again? Or buying an album and wondering why your favorite song never became a single? Of course you have!
There are countless great songs that have never been properly accredited, and while grateful that these were never “played out”, we believe its time to give credit where credit is due. Like every decade, the 90’s were filled with great, unknown tracks, and hopefully throughout this article we will introduce you to a few.
Alice in Chains- Rotten Apples
If you like great harmonies and bright guitars, check out the 1993 Alice in Chains release Jar of Flies. Although others have attempted to duplicate their sound, songs like “Rotten Apples” prove that there is nothing quite like the combined vocals of Jerry Cantrell and the late Layne Staley.
Archers of Loaf– Might
We were definitely late to the party with this band, perhaps due to their lack of play on the radio. Check this song out and you’ll understand why they have a great underground following.
Black Lab- Wash it Away
Even though “Wash it Away” is Black Lab’s most successful release to date, we deem it somewhat forgotten. You will most likely recognize the track, but probably haven’t heard it in a decade.
Blink 182- Carousel
Ask any Blink 182 fan what their favorite song is, and I guarantee many respond with “Carousel”! “Carousel”, the opening track on Blink’s 1994 debut album Cheshire Cat, instantly hooks the listener with a commanding minute long bass driven intro. Although “Carousel” is featured on Blink’s Greatest Hits Album, it was never a radio hit, and therefore makes our list of unknown greats.
Bouncing Souls- The Freaks, Nerds & Romantics
If you know punk music you’re probably quite familiar with the Bouncing Souls, but they’re certainly not a household name. This song could have possibly propelled them into the mainstream, had it been given a shot on the airwaves.
Candlebox- Cover Me
When we think of 90’s rock, one album that stands out is Candlebox’s eponymous debut. As our favorite song on the album, we include “Cover Me” on this list. “Cover Me” hit the airwaves in 94, so it is unfair to categorize it as completely obscure, but (in our opinion) “You” and “Left Behind” stole its spotlight.
Counting Crows- Children in Bloom
Counting Crows are another band with countless unknown greats. We were torn in choosing just one, but “Children in Bloom” is far too catchy to pass up.
The sixth track on Everclear’s 1995 release Sparkle and Fade, is a must hear. Lasting only 2 minutes and 35 seconds, “Strawberry” is short, sweet, and definitely worth a few minutes of your time.
For Squirrels– Stark Pretty
While their hit “Mighty K.C.” gained them some fame, we don’t see any reason why this song couldn’t have followed suit.
The Get Up Kids- Coming Clean
Plain and simple, an underrated track by an underrated band!
Gren- She Shines
Gren’s “She Shines” is yet another forgotten track. “She Shines” was mildly successful and received some radio play, but for the most part was never “a hit”. The track exudes grunge, and was a perfect fit for the 90’s.
Incubus- Miss You
Even though we love the more aggressive side of Incubus, “Miss You” displays the group’s versatility by introducing a more melodic sound.
Jimmy Eat World- For Me This Is Heaven
Jimmy Eat World’s 1997 release Clarity contains numerous great unknowns; in fact, the album in its entirety is outright enjoyable. “For Me This Is Heaven” is our favorite, therefore earning a spot on our list.
Less Than Jake- My Very Own Flag
Although these Florida natives bear several of the catchiest songs to never hit the radio, “My Very Own Flag” definitely sticks out. Just listen to the last 50 seconds and tell us you disagree.
Live- Mother Earth is a Vicious Crowd
Live’s quality music writing didn’t begin with Throwing Copper. The Pennsylvania rock band’s debut album Mental Jewelry had some gems, one being “Mother Earth is a Vicious Crowd”.
Local H- Fritz’s Corner
Local H broke onto the scene as a 2 piece band with a powerful sound. They’ve since received some radio play (mostly from their hit “Bound For The Floor”), but songs like “Fritz’s Corner” helped distinguish them from a scene dominated by 3-5 piece bands.
Metallica- Bleeding Me
When Metallica released the album Load in 1996, many fans were surprised by the bands new alternative sound. The album had several hits, with our favorite not being one of them. “Bleeding Me” extends for over eight minutes, and the song in its entirety is simply powerful.
New Found Glory- Broken Sound
New Found Glory are known for creating great hooks. Check out “Broken Sound”- although repetitious, the two minute track will leave you yearning for more.
Nirvana- Radio Friendly Unit Shifter
Most people think of Nevermind as their pinnacle album, but for our money we’ll take In Utero. Filled with raw goodness, this song aids in putting that album on top, in our minds anyway.
Our Lady Peace– Naveed
This song was popular in Canada, but it was never given a fair shot here in the States.This is an excellent song by an excellent band, and when we think back on the music of the 90s, this song definitely stands out.
The Pietasters- Without You
The Pietasters have been blessing us with soulful ska for almost 20 years now. Check out their early work (like this track) because we think you’ll quickly grow to know and love this band.
Radiohead- Street Spirit
If you don’t own Radiohead’s The Bends, then you’re missing out.
And if you’ve never heard “Street Spirit”, you’re really missing out.
Ridel High- Disqualified
If you like Weezer’s Blue Album, check out this band and this song. Ridel High writes powerpop songs that are impossible not to enjoy. In fact, it’s absolutely mind boggling that this song wasn’t a smash hit (among some of their others).
Seven Mary Three- Lucky
The vocals of Jason Ross carry this powerful tune. If you are an acoustic rock fan “Lucky” may be up your alley.
Seaweed- Start With
This is a band that surprisingly flew under the radar. This song, laced with one hook after the other, may help you figure out what we mean.
This low-fi group never made a big splash with the mainstream, but fans of garage rock consider them one of the pioneers of the genre. This song can be found on their 8th release, and believe us when we say it’s a good one.
Silent Majority- Windows Down
This is probably the most obscure song and by the most obscure band on our list. This is one of the tamer songs from their hardcore collection, but we implore you to put it up against any great song of the 90s… it just may prevail as the winner.
Sponge- Rotting Pinata
Their two singles “Plowed” and “Molly” were well received, but only those who purchased the album were fortunate enough to hear the energetic track titled “Rotting Pinata”. The raspy vocals of frontman Vinnie Dombroski provide us with four minutes of ear candy.
Sublime- Right Back
From start to finish, 40 ozs to Freedom is a treat. Within it you’ll uncover several classic 90’s hits, and other unknown gems like “Right Back”.
Sugar- Gee Angel
Bob Mould is generally known for the band Husker Du, but his follow up project pumped out some great hits in the 90s. Check out this track- we think you’ll enjoy it.
Sunny Day Real Estate- In Circles
Diary is such a momentous album that picking just one great song is like picking a number out of a hat. Although we were a bit torn, “In Circles” is amongst the more radio friendly tracks, and extremely enjoyable to boot.
Third Eye Blind- Motorcycle Drive By
Next time you are driving on a beautiful summer day, roll your windows down and pop on “Motorcycle Drive By”. The 13th track on Third Eye Blind’s self-titled debut is overflowing with catchy melodies and build ups that will bring a smile to your face.
They may have taken a page out of the Pixies’ book when they wrote the opening riff to this track, but there is no questioning its overall greatness. This tune helped solidify the Toadies as one of the great alternative bands of the 90s.
The Tragically Hip- Ahead by a Century
The Hip are yet another talented Canadian band to never popularize in the States. “Ahead by a Century” may have been a Much Music favorite, but ultimately didn’t receive the recognition it deserved.
Weezer- Only in Dreams
OK, so it may be unfair to categorize any song off Weezer’s Blue Album as “unknown”, but “Only in Dreams” surely was not a radio hit, and therefore makes our list. Some may describe the track as linear, and although not extremely colorful, the bass line is truly memorable. Sometimes less is more, and “Only in Dreams” gives us proof.