3 Eternal Grunge Songs that Stand the Test of Time

It’s true, grunge was a fad. It was a style of music that rose to popularity in the late 1980s and early 1990s, born of the depressive grey skies and rebellious attitude of rock and roll artists in the Pacific Northwest. But just because something was a phenomenon doesn’t mean it goes away forever.

Videos by American Songwriter

Many of its songs are still beloved today and a few of them may even be eternal. Thanks to the artistry of groups like Nirvana and Soundgarden, grunge music will in some shape or fashion live forever. And these three songs here below are proof. Let’s dive in.

[RELATED: Nirvana’s Former Soundman Craig Montgomery Talks Music Festivals with Grunge Icons]

“Black Hole Sun” by Soundgarden

Released on Soundgarden’s 1994 Grammy-nominated album Superunknown, this Grammy-winning song features the dualistic singing style of frontman Chris Cornell and nasty-wild playing from lead guitarist Kim Thayil perhaps better than any track from the torrential group. As a result, it has come to be known as the band’s most beloved and signature song. Just the image alone that the chorus conjures—this burning hot sun with a big black hole in the middle—is timeless. Cornell wrote the song while driving home from a recording studio outside Seattle one day and when inspiration struck, it struck in the best of ways. On the eternal offering, the late Cornell sings,

In my eyes
Indisposed
In disguises no one knows
Hides the face
Lies the snake
And the sun in my disgrace
Boiling heat
Summer stench
Neath the black, the sky looks dead
Call my name
Through the cream
And I’ll hear you scream again

Black hole sun
Won’t you come
And wash away the rain?
Black hole sun
Won’t you come
Won’t you come
Won’t you come

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana

This song is not only the most famous Nirvana track but it is the most famous grunge song and is in the running for most famous song to come from Seattle. A funny outcome for a tune named after a stick of deodorant, as suggested by frontman Kurt Cobain’s friend, riot grrrl Kathleen Hanna. Either way, this bombastic, bombarding offering showcases the artfulness and the despair signature to Seattle around the turn of the 1990s. This song will live on forever, not only for that but for the beauty and genius of the late Cobain, who sings on it,

With the lights out, it’s less dangerous
Here we are now, entertain us
I feel stupid and contagious
Here we are now, entertain us
A mulatto, an albino
A mosquito, my libido, yeah
Hey
Yeah

I’m worse at what I do best
And for this gift I feel blessed
Our little group it’s always been
And always will until the end

“Rooster” by Alice in Chains

When it comes to the greatest grunge bands, Alice in Chains rarely finds itself atop the list. So often, Nirvana, Soudngarden and Pearl Jam occupy that spot. But along with those groups, Alice in Chains is incredible. Hard rock meets banshee vocals and their 1992 song “Rooster” from the album Dirt is emblematic of their songwriting chops and effectiveness. Written by Jerry Cantrell about his father, a former solider, this song, sung by Layne Staley, is about the despair that come from war. A timeless concept. On it, Staley sings with so much heart he could be an organ donor, offering,

Ain’t found a way to kill me yet
Eyes burn with stinging sweat
Seems every path leads me to nowhere
Wife and kids, household pet
Army green was no safe bet
The bullets scream to me from somewhere

Here they come to snuff the rooster
Yeah, here come the rooster
You know he ain’t gonna die
No, no, no, you know he ain’t gonna die

When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Photo by Vinnie Zuffante/Getty Images

Leave a Reply

Alex Lifeson Believes Any Rush Reunion Would Be Nothing but a Cash Grab

Alex Lifeson Believes Any Rush Reunion Would Be Nothing but a Cash Grab