10 Hated '90s Rock Songs That Are Actually Really Good

With the benefit of hindsight, just try and claim these are classics!

Alanis Morissette Ironic
Warner Bros.

The 1990s was a boom decade for rock music. In the US and UK especially, movements like grunge and britpop were springing up and changing the game, producing bands of lasting quality and brief success alike, sending the industry ablaze and ready to sign anything with a pulse.

This meant that plenty of songs gained major radio play, and for every “Creep” or “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, there were songs that listeners did not take so kindly to. In some cases these were reviled right out of the gates; in others, as time has moved on, music fans have had a collective “what were we thinking?” moment. Whether due to performance, genre choices, or lyrical decisions, these songs have become the figure of fun in the decades hence.

Listen to them without the baggage, though, and it’s hard to argue that these ten songs are worthy of the hate they get. Some of them may be silly or overplayed, but each is either a guaranteed floor filler, an irresistible singalong, or just a straight-up classic.

Perhaps none of these songs changed a scene or defined an era, but they’ll get your feet tapping and then some, and you can’t ask much more than that.

10. Santana feat. Rob Thomas - Smooth

Look, no one’s denying that this song is very funny indeed. Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty fame singing about the barrio and being smooth - you’d need a heart of stone not to chuckle. But a song can be two things; both a deeply silly piece of work, and an undeniable summer jam.

The majority of the heavy lifting is done by Carlos Santana himself. He’s not here to wait around for the solos - though he rips off a killer solo in due time - and his guitar leads wail all over the song, whether Thomas is singing or not.

The Latin shuffle is genuinely irresistible. You can hate this song and you’ll still shake your hips to it, so you might as well go along with it. And if you don’t listen to what Rob Thomas is actually saying, his voice actually gels well with Carlos’ guitar heroics, a smooth, deep purr to compliment the shrieking six string.

Is it a song that drove contemporaneous listeners mad through overexposure? Oh, absolutely. But on a nice sunny day, there’s really nothing better.


Yorkshire-based writer of screenplays, essays, and fiction. Big fan of having a laugh. Read more of my stuff @ www.twotownsover.com (if you want!)