3 Female-Fronted Rock Bands from the 1990s Whose Music Has Stood the Test of Time

Today, when people think of the genre of classic rock, it’s often the decades of the 1960s and ’70s that jump to mind. Bands like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and Heart are at the top of the list from that period in music history. But there are other decades after that have produced top-notch rock tunes that have since stood the test of time.

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Here below, we wanted to explore three bands from the 1990s that fit that category. Not only that, but a trio of groups that were fronted by fierce, powerful women. Bands that proved yet again that everyone could snarl over electric guitars and wield lyricism and force while at the same time inspiring and enlivening audiences. Indeed, these are three female-fronted classic rock bands from the 1990s whose music is eternal.

[RELATED: No Skips: 4 Classic Rock Albums You’ll Never Have to Fast-Forward]


Formed in Los Angeles and fronted by Courtney Love, this group released its debut LP in 1991 and followed it up with iconic albums Live Through This in 1994 and Celebrity Skin in 1998. Love, the widow of the late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, was known as a brash lightning rod both in her music and offstage. Always willing to speak her mind, Love wrote some of the best songs of the 1990s, including “Celebrity Skin” and “Doll Parts.” Perhaps more than any artist of the era, she knew how to parlay beauty and boldness into a shocking composite that still resonates today.

The Cranberries

This Irish rock group was fronted by the powerhouse Dolores O’Riordan, who took over lead duties in 1990. With O’Riordan in tow, the band from Limerick became one of the biggest groups on Earth thanks to songs like “Linger” and the war protest track “Zombie.” O’Riordan was a walking juxtaposition. Physically she was diminutive but as a vocalist she was pointed and powerful. Able to get you shaking in your boots and thinking about the world at large, she suffered no fools. And her lyrics are exhibit No. 1.


This Madison, Wisconsin-born rock group was founded in 1993 and fronted by Scottish artist Shirley Manson. More than even Hole and The Cranberries, Garbage—with Manson’s signature sound—created songs that played on depressive themes of the time. Even the band’s name itself was meant to shock, taking something gross or grotesque and putting it front and center. But Manson pulled off the task with poise and skill. The band’s signature song, “Only Happy When It Rains,” crystalized a dark moment in time, but putting words to it provided catharsis for a generation.

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