Generation X loved their music. The ’90s was an exciting time for music fans; the industry moved from the predictable nature of ’80s glam rock into a new era composed of countless genre-busting bands and artists. Recently, music-loving men and women met online to reveal the albums they always turn to when they think of ideal soundtracks that define a generation.
Automatic for the People –r.e.m.
Fueled by the runaway hit “Losing My Religion,” many music fans believe this album best exemplifies ’90s culture. “It’s such an underrated album,” explains one man. “I think it was R.E.M.’s last great album. Automatic for the People was the last album where every track was great and flowed into one another.”
Ill Communication – Beastie Boys
For hip-hop fans, this 1994 release by the Beastie Boys was heralded as a masterpiece. Tracks like “Sabotage” and “Sure Shot” propelled the rap trio to new heights as the hip-hop world was forced to take the boys from New York City seriously.
Nevermind – Nirvana
Arguably, there isn’t an album that better exemplifies the soundtrack to the ’90s than Nirvana’s seminal Nevermind. From the album’s gritty vocals to its decidedly in-your-face production values, it represented the band’s pinnacle as one of the most innovative rock groups ever.
Jagged Little Pill – Alanis Morissette
After its release in 1995, this album made Canadian-born Alanis Morissette a household name while spawning a handful of radio mega-hits. Who can forget singing along to “You Oughta Know,” “Hand in My Pocket,” and “Ironic”?
Undertow – Tool
Despite Tool’s lack of mainstream popularity, there arguably isn’t a band with a more dedicated fanbase. It all started with Tool with Undertow, released in 1993. “The angst of this album fueled my teen years,” explains one man. “They are still my favorite band, and it’s been interesting ‘growing up’ with them.”
The Chronic – Dr. Dre
West Coast hip-hop exploded in popularity after Dr. Dre unleashed The Chronic in 1992. For countless rap fans on both coasts of the United States, this album exists as the ultimate soundtrack to their lives. Many fans call it one of the all-time great albums regardless of era.
August and Everything After – Counting Crows
Gaining fame thanks to the runaway success of the single “Mr. Jones,” the Counting Crows still stands as one of the best examples of a ’90s band that still stands the test of time. “When my wife and I got married and combined our 300+ CD collection in 1997, this album was the only one we had in common,” reveals one fan. “It’s still one of our faves.”
Ten – Pearl Jam
Pearl Jam’s popularity exploded in the ’90s – and as a result, it was hard to find a music fan who didn’t love the band! Eddie Vedder and the rest of his bandmates ascended to near-god status thanks to their album Ten. Released in 1991, it topped the charts thanks to tracks like “Alive,” “Evenflow,” and “Jeremy.”
Whatever and Ever Amen – Ben Folds Five
Far from being a one-hit wonder, Ben Folds Five took advantage of the popularity of its radio hit “Brick” and became a worldwide sensation in the latter half of the ’90s. For many high school kids of the era (myself included), it didn’t get any better than Ben Folds Five.
Wildflowers – Tom Petty
This legendary artist’s fans agree Tom Petty’s best work occurred during the ’90s. “Lost in the shuffle of grunge was Tom Petty’s Wildflowers record,” reveals one critic. “It’s just a solid work of art that I didn’t fully absorb until recently. What an album!”
Cracked Rear View – Hootie and the Blowfish
For countless music fans, the ’90s represented innovative and genre-busting musical acts that had not one but many hits. The debut mainstream album from Hootie and the Blowfish took America by storm with countless catchy radio hits and an accessible, welcoming image.
Skin – Melissa Ethridge
“This album got me through an awful divorce and a challenging time,” confesses one woman. Melissa is my rock hero. If you haven’t listened to this record of how it was meant to be heard, I highly recommend it. It tells the entire story of a relationship ending and the healing journey. Start with the first song and let it rip.”
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