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100 best albums of the '90s

Stacker Logo By Brooke Sager of Stacker | Slide 1 of 101: The decade of the 1990s was a really unique and exciting time in music. It’s a period that gave us (and our ears) a little bit of everything from all around the globe, with hundreds of artists in various genres peaking in their careers and experiencing both critical and commercial success with their records. We saw alternative rock gain huge amounts of mainstream traction with bands like Oasis, U2, and Green Day. The U.K. also had a Britpop boom, with Pulp, Blur, and Suede leading the way in this cultural and musical movement. Additionally, grunge music really came into its own, with Nirvana and Pearl Jam sailing to the top of the charts with their bold guitar riffs and gritty sounds. Heavy metal, which first came to popularity in the 1970s, continued its aggressive momentum with “thrasher” bands like Metallica and "industrial" acts including Nine Inch Nails. Hip-hop and rap music also experienced a major renaissance, with Notorious B.I.G. and Dr. Dre closing the gap between West Coast and East Coast hip-hop. Electronic music also had a major moment, with downtempo, ambient, shoegazing, and synth-pop being subgenres; musicians like Bjork, Moby, and Fishmans showed us all we could enjoy electronica whether you were at a dance club or chilling out in your living room. And we can’t forget about the decade’s solo artists—many of whom are female, like Lauryn Hill and Alanis Morrissette—giving us the emotional ballads and empowering hits we still belt out to this day. Stacker compiled data on the top 100 albums of the ’90s according to Best Ever Albums, which ranks albums according to their appearance and performance on 40,000 editorial and data-based charts (e.g., Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Billboard, etc.). The Best Ever Albums score is derived from a formula that weighs how many charts an album has appeared on and how high it was on each of those charts, and awards points accordingly. For a more in-depth methodology, click here. You may also like:  Best Grateful Dead albums of all time

100 best albums of the '90s

The decade of the 1990s was a really unique and exciting time in music. It’s a period that gave us (and our ears) a little bit of everything from all around the globe, with hundreds of artists in various genres peaking in their careers and experiencing both critical and commercial success with their records.

We saw alternative rock gain huge amounts of mainstream traction with bands like Oasis, U2, and Green Day. The U.K. also had a Britpop boom, with Pulp, Blur, and Suede leading the way in this cultural and musical movement.

Additionally, grunge music really came into its own, with Nirvana and Pearl Jam sailing to the top of the charts with their bold guitar riffs and gritty sounds. Heavy metal, which first came to popularity in the 1970s, continued its aggressive momentum with “thrasher” bands like Metallica and "industrial" acts including Nine Inch Nails. Hip-hop and rap music also experienced a major renaissance, with Notorious B.I.G. and Dr. Dre closing the gap between West Coast and East Coast hip-hop.

Electronic music also had a major moment, with downtempo, ambient, shoegazing, and synth-pop being subgenres; musicians like Bjork, Moby, and Fishmans showed us all we could enjoy electronica whether you were at a dance club or chilling out in your living room.

And we can’t forget about the decade’s solo artists—many of whom are female, like Lauryn Hill and Alanis Morrissette—giving us the emotional ballads and empowering hits we still belt out to this day.

Stacker compiled data on the top 100 albums of the ’90s according to Best Ever Albums, which ranks albums according to their appearance and performance on 40,000 editorial and data-based charts (e.g., Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Billboard, etc.). The Best Ever Albums score is derived from a formula that weighs how many charts an album has appeared on and how high it was on each of those charts, and awards points accordingly. For a more in-depth methodology, click here.

You may also like: Best Grateful Dead albums of all time

© Ebet Roberts // Getty Images

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