Time to put together another list full of debate! This list may actually need some qualifiers though...This is not my FAVORITE albums from the 90s, its not the list of most musically accomplished or the highest sales, or most MTV plays. This is more about ideas; did you own it? Did you know people who had it? Did it change the rock game? Does it still hold up today?
For those reasons, things like Limp Bizkit's "Three Dollar Bill, Yall" will not appear on the list. Yes, most people owned it at the time, but it didn't CHANGE rock, just expanded on what Korn already brought to the table. Weezer's "Blue Album" was a gate-way drug for the college alt-rock sound in the mid 90s, but does it hold up today? There will be some albums left off, and people will be upset, but under the list, there's a COMMENT function...let me know what I f'd up! Here we go!
***SOME VIDEOS CONTAIN NSFW LYRICS***
#15 - Bush - Sixteen Stone
Bush's Sixteen Stone unleashed the british take on the grunge scene to the mass public. It was hard to find a CD case that didn't have this one somewhere in it. The songs "Machinehead", "Comedown", "Everything Zen", and "Glycerine" are all 90s staples that still sound great today.
#14 - Deftones - Around The Fur
No, Around The Fur didn't have the same impact that White Pony did, but this album made White Pony possible. It was one of those CDs that you wouldn't find in everyone's car, but the "cool kids" had their copies, and when you heard it, you needed to find it. To have the impact this album head, without love from radio or MTV, really meant something at the time.
#13 - Tool - Aenima
Nobody in the 90s just started wearing TOOL shirts because they wanted to advertise their personality as being a tool...Maynard James Keenan is now recognized as a musical genius, and this started that conversation. "Stinkfist", "Forty Six & 2", "H", and "Aenima" are still massive tracks.
#12 - White Zombie - Astro Creep: 2000
Ladies and gents, Rob M'Fing Zombie. Its not their first album that makes it onto the chart, it was their last. White Zombie's Astro Creep: 2000 was the loud and violent crescendo of their career. Spawning the solo career of Rob Zombie was the only salvation from the desctruction of a great band. This CD was a solid choice for the front-pouch on your zip binder of CDs, one of those good spots where anyone could see that YOU had a White Zombie CD.
#11 - Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral
No, it wasn't as ground-breaking as Pretty Hate Machine, but that was a 1989 release, so it can't make the list based on that. But The Downward Spiral was the breakout album for Trent Reznor's baby, debuting at #2 on the Billboard chart...which isn't hard to do today, but this was in the time of CD release parties and massive sales. This would be a game-changer, the constant profanity through the album opened a lot of eye, and ears, to the concept of saying whatever the hell you wanted on a track, and not giving a damn about if it will effect sales.
#10 - Marilyn Manson - Antichrist Superstar
Going right off from what NIN did, Marilyn Manson busted into the mainstream without a damn about censorship, leading to non-stop protesting of his shows for years. This became a must-own CD across high schools everywhere. With over 7 million copies sold, you probably know someone who still has a copy of the CD.
#9 - Metallica - The Black Album
Metallica fans will be divided on this. Half will be excited that this made it, the other half despise this album, what it did to the band, and everything this album stands for. BUT, even with division, this has to be one of, if not THE, biggest Metallica album ever. They left their metal roots and embraced a more mainstream sound, and it paid off for them, over 30 millions copies sold worldwide. BUT, they lost their long time fans when they changed sound. Minus the sound-change, the efforts of Load and Reload, and their whole Napster situation, Metallica could be viewed in better light than they are. And because they lost so much to gain so much, this album cannot be higher than #9.
#8 - Sublime - Sublime
Sublime came, saw, conqured, and tragically departed all in the span of 4 years. Just as the band was ready to blow-up with their third release, the self-title album Sublime, lead singer Bradley Knowell overdosed before the CD even hit stores. He was never able to watch the landscape of rock in the US change by his very own hand. Sublime, along with No Doubt, pushed ska into the mainstream and opened the door for bands like Reel Big Fish and Save Ferris to enjoy a moment in the sun during the late 90s ska wave.
#7 - Pearl Jam - Ten
Oh Pearl Jam, how we all love to ignore you. That's a little unfair, there are people out there who will argue that Pearl Jam is the greatest band ever...and maybe their right, I'm just not cool enough. Pump the breaks before you get too upset. I respect them, they're in the top 10, and I dig a lot of their songs. They seem to be just a little overrated. It wasn't a great success right away, the album took over a year to hit the top 10 on the Billboard chart (remember, this was the 90s, that still meant something). It set a tone, and pushed the grunge sound and scene over the edge into the mainstream. The tracks "Even Flow", "Alive", "Jeremy", and "Black" still rise to the top of the 90s grunge sound, but it would have just been nice to understand what they were saying.
#6 - Rage Against the Machine - Rage Against the Machine
Dear Linkin Park, Limp Bizkit, and Hollywood Undead...you really need to send Rage a fruit-basket or something. When Rage Against the Machine busted onto the scene in 1992, there were bands who mixed rap and metal as a novelty item, but Rage made it their sound. They did it well too. This is a game-changer right here, after this CD dropped, the doors were wide open for the sound that would morph into NU-METAL to start forming.
#5 - Foo Fighters - There is Nothing Left To Lose
This is where I lose you isn't it? Look, The Foo Fighters were one of the biggest bands in rock in the 90s, and they STILL are today. That can't be said for a lot of the artists on this list. Their self-title debut could have taken this spot, The Colour and Shape could have made this spot, but There is Nothing Left To Lose was the band's first Grammy award winning album. Released in late 1999, it barley makes the list...but songs like "Learn To Fly" and "Next Year" remain relevant today. The Foo Fighters work in the 90s get overlooked on these lists, because Dave Grohl's other band steals a lot of the thunder...
#4 - Green Day - Dookie
To beat this one, the top 3 have to be huge...Dookie was THE game-changer in the 90s. Most of the other bands with ground-breaking, genre-shifting albums, were the cream of a larger crop. Green Day didn't have a large punk push that they were championing, they just busted on the scene, doing something totally different, and everyone loved it. This album is responsible for "When I Come Around", "She", "Basketcase", "Welcome to Paradise", and "Longview"...I think I still have the original cassette tape of this..
#3 - Soundgarden - Superunkown
The breakthrough album for a band that helped define the rock sound of the 1990s needs a spot in the top 3. With the argument I made for The Foo Fighters, these guys may have taken 16 years off, but they're back to making music, meaning that a whole new crop of fans will dig back and find this one. "Black Hole Sun", "Fell On Black Days", "The Day I Tried To Live", "Spoonman", and "My Wave" could all come out TODAY and be massive hits. This album is timeless.
#2 - Korn - Follow The Leader
Do you remember the first time you heard "Got The Life" or "Freak On a Leash"? Do you remember that feeling? THAT is why Follow The Leader is at #2. The power and velocity that Korn took to the mainstream can't be duplicated. There was buzz around the band after Life is Peachy produced "A.D.I.D.A.S." and "No Place To Hide"...but no one expected this. Nu-Metal became mainstream becuase of this album. Rage Against The Machine gained new acceptance, MTV earned a few more years or music relevancy because of their videos bringin rock back to a channel dominated by Mariah Carey and Celine Dion, and the success of this CD gave birth to dozens of bands and tours. Everyone had it, it changed rock music, and created a new genre for other bands...yes, it deserves the #2 spot.
#1 - Nirvana - MTV Unplugged in New York
Didn't see that coming...did you? Hear me out, Nirvana's MTV Unplugged in New York should have been #1 over Nevermind...I will give you that case now: Yes Nevermind threw Nirvana and the grunge sound (that would help to define the 90s) into our laps, BUT their Unplugged album pushed the band into a whole new level. It also did something that Nevermind or any other Nirvana release could do...it won a Grammy award in 1996. Also using the metrics that I put together for this, I didn't know many people who OWNED Nevermind, I really didn't. Unplugged was released after Kurt Cobain's death, and was still able to give us singles like "Lake of Fire" and "The Man Who Sold The World" that hold strong today. If you're still that pissed about me not making Nevermind #1, just switch it out in your head and call it a day...or leave me a pissed off message in the comments section or on our Facebook page.