Top 10 best grunge songs

Photo by Sam Holden
Grunge survivor Mark Lanegan.

With Saint Kurt gone for 18 years now, it's important to remember grunge wasn't just Nirvana. It was a movement, and though each year it seems a little bit sillier than it did the last, it was important. Most of the bands (and sadly many of the people themselves) didn't stand the test of time, some did and many of those songs are still as enjoyable to listen to now as they were then -- maybe even moreso now that they're a bit easier to hear above the din of down-tuned, sludge-filled rock that permeated everything for a few years in there.

Mark Lanegan comes to the Cedar tonight as one of the few still-vital survivors from the grunge era, operating at a high creative level and winning new fans that don't view him through a lens of diffused, detached irony, as often happens when a genre is "rediscovered." In honor of Lanegan's return -- and it should be noted that his old band, Screaming Trees, made this list and is still very much listenable -- here are ten grunge-era songs that are still just as good now as they were then.

10. "My Wave" - Soundgarden
Soundgarden had two not-so-secret weapons: Chris Cornell's instantly recognizable, fantastic voice and Kim Thayil's inventive guitar work. "My Wave" was the fourth song they released from Superunknown and it, along with "Fresh Tendrils," are by far the best tracks on what is arguably the best album to come out of this era. Every song on this album has merit, but "My Wave" with it's clean, almost shiny sound did much to prove that grunge wasn't limited to being mopey and/or a raging drug addict. There was vaguely sunny hope there, too.

9. "Aneurysm" - Nirvana
There was nothing new for their record company to release for Christmas in '92 so they gathered up some odds and sods and released Incesticide for the fans who couldn't wait for what was next. Looking back, it's more hits than misses and this is unquestionably the best song Nirvana ever committed to tape. Like the audio equivalent of a fever dream, it starts one way, ends in completely different landscape and in between you question why someone so talented chose such a destructive path for himself.

8. "Alive" - Pearl Jam
The story this song tells is still compelling and while Pearl Jam was a little less grungy overall then the rest of their Pacific Northwest peers, they fit the bill nonetheless. This song, along with much of Ten, is both distinctly of its time as well an all-time classic, and while "Jeremy" was a bigger hit for them, that song doesn't make you want to be a better person the way "Alive" does.

7. "Malibu" - Hole
Grunge was on a down slide by 1998 but Courtney Love proved there was still some fuel left in the tank with this gem. Listening to it now is different somehow than it was then. It makes you question who you are, who you could be, and why you would or should want to be either of things. Above all, though, it encourages you to live your life the way you see fit and not to listen to anyone else when they question your motives.

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