The 10 Lamest Bands of the '90s

311 at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, July 2012
311 at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, July 2012
Photo by Groovehouse

Talk to some people (we guess) and they'll tell you that '90s nostalgia is the only kind of nostalgia that matters. Sunday, the decade of Reality Bites, Doc Martens and frosted tips -- which, seriously, is the name of a San Francisco-based '90s cover band -- will definitely be back in full effect when alt-rockers Everclear, Live, Filter and Sponge descend on the relatively new Midtown rooftop bar Proof.

That sounds like a more than decent show, especially at that price. All four of those bands produced at least one song that dominated rock radio and has kept being spun to this very day -- except maybe for Sponge's "Plowed," and that one certainly deserves to be. (Stay tuned for an interview with Everclear's Art Alexakis a little later on today, too.)

But let's be honest: Within the '90s-rock spectrum, as far as quality is concerned, the Summerland groups (in our opinion) all land in the first couple of tiers. Others were a lot, lot worse.

But who, you ask, might those be? Wouldn't you know it, recently Rocks Off put that very question to a few of our writers.


The 10 Worst Rock Singers of the '90s

311 311's music is all lame post-grunge/reggae/jam band horseshit with no edge or art. Face it: frat boys getting into alternative rock ruined it. Ever wonder why indie rock sometimes goes out of its way to be effeminate and twee? This is why. They don't want bro-dudes coming in and douching up the place again. Every time the band cares more about being rock stars than about their craft, you can bet the end result will be terrible. JOHN SEABORN GRAY

4 Non Blondes I took an informal poll of worst bands of the 1990s and just one person returned with 4 Non Blondes. Good enough. I threw out Nickelback's hanging chads and elected this group. Warbling singing, inane lyrics, Linda Perry looking like the love child of Natalie Merchant and The Scarecrow in that video - and that was just one song, "What's Up," maybe the worst ever written. What's up is your band was hands down the lamest of its era. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.

Aqua Aqua knew how to write a dance hit. They could wrote some catchy dance backtracks, but when it came to the lyrics and the delivery, they had a little trouble. For one, their female vocalist sounded like she spent too much time watching Disney movies while eating massive amounts of candy.

Then there's the issue of male vocalist René Dif, who might be what pushed Aqua over the edge in terms of lame. Regardless, I'm sure there are plenty of ladies out there proudly sporting "Barbie Girl" as their ringtone. ALYSSA DUPREE

Dave Matthews Band They're what lawyers and stockbrokers listen to when they want to pretend to be funky. I'm willing to bet DMB have been the soundtrack to more insider trading than every other band combined. From Dave's heavily affected voice to the limp-noodle meanderings of the Grateful Dead-lite band behind him, there's just nothing here for anyone who doesn't get a big thrill out of lighting up a joint at exactly one DMB concert a year, corporate random drug testing policy be damned. JOHN SEABORN GRAY


Unfortunately, a couple of successful RodeoHouston appearances still does not excuse "Only Wanna Be With You."
Unfortunately, a couple of successful RodeoHouston appearances still does not excuse "Only Wanna Be With You."
Photo courtesy of Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo

Hootie and the Blowfish I didn't fully appreciate just how badly a band could suck until I was forcibly introduced to Hootie and the Blowfish in '94. It wasn't rock, it wasn't pop and it wasn't country, but apparently it was close enough to each to be pumped out by every music outlet in America for a good nine months or so. Hootie played sopping, offensively limp-dicked crossover tripe, and there was nowhere to escape it, because God knows they were probably playing that shit in hell.

The fact that Darius Rucker has salvaged a country career does not sit well with me, either. You're Hootie, motherfucker. You thought we forgot? NATHAN SMITH

Limp Bizkit I'm not going to lie. I know all the words to "Break Stuff," and I can sing it at the drop of the hat. That doesn't negate the fact that Limp Bizkit was pretty lame. Really, they were the alt-rock equivalent of Eminem.

Singer Fred Durst used "fuck" more than he should have while delivering lines about violence and sexist slurs in between pulling lines from popular rock songs. On the other hand, their guitarist, Wes Borland, was some sort of man/ape hybrid who wore blackout contacts and just looked creepy in general. It was a weird combination that probably made sense in its own corner of the world, but everyone else was just trying to escape the douche-waves it created. ALYSSA DUPREE

The Offspring Man, I know that The Offspring once put out some pretty sweet punk music, but at some point these fools decided - enough with the punk music, let's put out some terrible jams and call it a day. They're at their worst in that abysmal pop-punk phase, where their lyrics are utterly ham-fisted and unintentionally ironic, and the vocals are grating at best. ANGELICA LEICHT

Savage Garden Savage Garden was truly awful. Their pop love songs were deeply wimpy, so balls-less they surely bred a generation of women who went on to date and marry only madly insufferable, insensitive and abusive assholes. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.

The 10 Lamest Bands of the '90s

Stone Temple Pilots Time revises history. Stone Temple Pilots, by now, have almost been canonized as one of the original innovators of grunge alongside Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden. I'm here to tell you they fucking weren't. Derivative from the very beginning, Scott Weiland's voice changed from album to album as he remained too fantastically stoned to remember who he was supposed to be ripping off.

Their music got poppier as it went along, but they weren't all that great when they were "harder." It's not just you; these guys were always disappointing. JOHN SEABORN GRAY

Sugar Ray Every single song from Sugar Ray gives me the heebie-geebies. Like, literally every song. There's something about Mark McGrath's voice that is like an itch that cannot be scratched, and "Someday" is the worst itch of the entire catalog, although they're all a close second in terms of annoyance. Perhaps they should have stayed a funk-metal band, which is where their sound originated from, because anything would be better than the junk they put out. ANGELICA LEICHT

(DIS)HONORABLE MENTION Hanson Semisonic Smash Mouth

Sponsor Content


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >