With the breakthrough of bands such as Nirvana and the popularity of the grunge and Britpop movements in the 1990s, alternative rock entered the musical mainstream and many alternative bands became commercially successful during the 1990s.
By the start of the 1990s, the music industry was enticed by alternative rock’s commercial possibilities and major labels actively courted bands including Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, Jane’s Addiction, Dinosaur Jr, and Nirvana. In particular, R.E.M.’s success had become a blueprint for many alternative bands in the late 1980s and 1990s to follow; the group had outlasted many of its contemporaries and by the 1990s had become one of the most popular bands in the world.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers became an important band in the rise of alternative rock with their album Blood Sugar Sex Magik. Combining funk rock with more conventional rock music, the Red Hot Chili Peppers were able to achieve mainstream success, culminating with the release of their 1999 album Californication.
Oasis was a massively popular Britpop band at the forefront of alternative rock. From their release of “Definitely Maybe” in 1994, through to “What’s the Story Morning Glory?” in 1995, Oasis enjoyed international success throughout the 1990s. These albums included hugely popular songs such as Slide Away, Wonderwall and Don’t Look Back in Anger. Wonderwall peaked at number 2 in the UK Singles charts, and number 8 in the US Billboard 100.
Some of the top mainstream American alternative rock bands of the 1990s included Hootie and The Blowfish, Collective Soul, Creed, Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Dinosaur Jr, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Green Day, Weezer, The Offspring, Matchbox Twenty, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Soul Asylum, Liz Phair, The Lemonheads, R.E.M., Soundgarden, Live, Counting Crows, Spin Doctors, dc Talk, Goo Goo Dolls, Third Eye Blind, The Smashing Pumpkins, 4 Non Blondes, Beck, The Breeders, Foo Fighters, Sublime, No Doubt, Hole, Cake, Blind Melon, Stone Temple Pilots, Garbage, and Pearl Jam. These bands were variously influenced by ska, punk, pop, metal, and many other musical genres.