3 Eternal Alternative Rock Songs from the 1990s that Have Stood the Test of Time

There have been many important eras in rock over the decades. The 1960s were known for the British Invasion. The 1970s were known as the crystallization of classic rock. The 1980s were known for synth-rock and glam. And the 1990s, well, they brought the world alternative rock, something of a catchall term for rock songs that didn’t quite fit in any of the eras before it.

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Here below, we wanted to explore three styles of alternative rock from the decade that have stood the test of time today, a trio of tunes that continue to hit the airwaves. Indeed, these are three eternal alternative rock songs from the 1990s.

[RELATED: 4 of the Best British Rock Bands from the 1990s]

“Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails from The Downward Spiral (1994)

Before this song was famously covered by country star Johnny Cash in 2002, it was written by Trent Reznor and released by his group Nine Inch Nails. Truly, the song is one of the saddest and most dour. It is gloomy, depressive and dark. But sometimes we need music like that to localize how we feel about the world. Not everything can or should be sunny and positive. In fact, sometimes we need songs that display the exact opposite, for such is the human range of emotions. And Reznor captured that perfectly with this song, on which he sings,

I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
I focus on my pain
The only thing that’s real
The needle tears a hole
The old familiar sting
Try to kill it all away
But I remember everything

What have I become?
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know
Goes away in the end

You could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt

“Crash into Me” by Dave Matthews Band from Crash (1996)

A sweet, acoustic-driven song about a peeping tom, this track took Dave Matthews Band from a jam-band darling into a pop culture phenomenon. One of the best-selling touring acts of all time, DMB brings smiles to fans’ faces with this tune from his celebrated 1996 LP Crash. On the lilting, almost delicate track, Matthews sings with his elastic and pleasant voice,

You’ve got your ball
You’ve got your chain
Tied to me tight, tie me up again
Who’s got their claws
In you my friend

Into your heart I’ll beat again
Sweet like candy to my soul
Sweet you rock
And sweet you roll
Lost for you I’m so lost for you

You come crash, into me
And I come into you
And I come into you

In a boys dream
In a boys dream

“Mr. Jones” by Counting Crows from August and Everything After (1993)

The song that put the Bay Area-born Counting Crows on the map, this track kicked off a string of hits fronted by Adam Duritz. Lyrically, the offering is about wanting to make it. It’s about the hope for stardom that so many young musicians have. But it’s delivered with effervescence and joy—two adjectives that don’t describe many of the other hits by Counting Crows—that made it a mainstay on the radio airwaves in the mid-1990s. On the track, which continues to be a fan favorite today, Duritz sings,

I was down at the New Amsterdam
Staring at this yellow-haired girl
Mr. Jones strikes up a conversation
With a black-haired flamenco dancer
You know she dances while his father plays guitar
She’s suddenly beautiful
And we all want something beautiful
Man, I wish I was beautiful

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Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images On Location

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