My top 50 alternative songs of 1990...Living In Oblivion

Posted by Brad Schelden, August 14, 2020 05:15pm | Post a Comment

Top 50 Alternative Songs of 1990...Part V #1-10

I am counting down my top 50 favorite alternative songs of 1990!.This is part five in my series. So in case you missed the last entry you can find it here. Come join me as I relive the year that started the greatest decade in music. These are my top 10 favorite alternative songs released in 1990.


#10 Swervedriver "Rave Down" (Creation Records)

This is another classic of the shoegaze genre. I really don't think I have met anyone that does not love this song. I can listen to it over and over again. This the band's second EP released in 1990. The following year we would get their debut album Raise. I first heard this song on a mix tape and it is just one of those songs I instantly fell in love with. 1990 was such a great year for the music that I love. It was really hard to rank many of these songs but I always knew this song would be in my top ten. Swervedriver was always more on the Dinosaur Jr. end of shoegaze bands. Loud and dreamy grunge-gaze.


cause and effect

#9 Cause & Effect "You Think You Know Her" (Exile Records)

I always think of this song as the last great song of the 80s. It came out in 1990 but it really feels like the 80s. Like if you were not ready for the 90s and wanted to go back to the 80s then you always had this song. I know I first heard this song on the radio. I remember forgetting about the song and then rediscovering it again in the mid 90s. It was like an old long lost friend that I had never stopped loving. These guys were from Sacramento which made me love them even more. For fans of Depeche Mode and all things synthpop. Just a perfect song that perfectly captures one of the most wonderful moments in time. The whole album Another Minute is fantastic and deserves a reissue.

my bloody valentine

#8 My Bloody Valentine "Soon" (Creation)

What more can I really say about this amazing band. They are just one of those bands like Joy Division or The Cure that are truly one of a kind. A band that truly encapsulated an entire generation. How many nights have so many of us spent in our bedroom listening to this band. I loved getting into this band because everything that I listened to I just loved more and more. Isn't Anything came out in 1988. But I for sure did not know about this band until the Gilder EP was released in 1990. It featued this magical shoegaze classic and really did change me forever. It is hard to explain how much I love this band. They are everything I have ever wanted from a band.

the sundays

#7 The Sundays "Here's Where The Story Ends" (Rough Trade)

Me and one of my best friends in high school bonded over this band and The Smiths. I dubbed her cassette of this album and wore it out and finally bought my own copy. I think I listened to this album every single day for many months. It was just the best album to escape into. I loved Harriet Wheeler's voice so much. Reading, Writing & Arithmetic is truly one of the great albums of the decade and just a perfect album from start to finish. This band sparked in me a love of all things indie  jangly dreampop for the rest of my life. I love revisiting this album always. It is one of the best of melancholic dream pop and perfectly perfect in every single way.

anything box

#6 Anything Box "Living In Oblivion" (Epic)

This is another song from 1990 that was holding on to the 80s. I for sure never wanted the 80s to end. Songs like this made me feel like everything was goign to be ok. This song spoke to so many of us at the time and is really timeless. My love of synthpop was obviously created in the 80s. But I have continuted to love this genre my entire life. There is just something about that keyboard and those samples and the pefectly dark pop that always keeps me coming back. These New Jersey goths made one of the best synth pop albums of all time. Peace has always been one of my favorite albums. Sometimes musical magic can only happen once for some bands. It really is a beautiful thing.

saint etienne

#5 Saint Etienne "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" (Heavenly)

Who could have imagined that a British dance cover of a Neil Young song from 1970 could be such a success! This song introduced the world to the genius of Saint Etienne. The band put out their debut album Foxbase Alpha the following year which featured their permanent vocalist Sarah Cracknell. Another album that I just loved to pieces. This song featured Moira Lambert. I became a forever fan of this band and always thought they were the coolest. I can't help but get a smile on my face whenever I hear this song. This band is brilliant and would go on to create many more great original songs over the years. But this is where it all started. And what a great place to start it is.

sinead o'connor

#4 Sinead O'Connor "Nothing Compares To You" (Ensign)

I was already a fan of Sinead after her debut album from 1987. So I was assuming I was going to love this album. I just didn't know how much. And never could have predicted how big this album would get. I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got was one of the most popular albums of the year and won her a Grammy. But the heart of this album really was her version of this beatiful song written by Prince. "Nothing Compares To You" took over 1990 but I was never upset about it. I couldn't hear this song too much and I love it just as much today. Sinead was another one of those brilliant and unique artists that I really can't think of the 90s without. Prince and Sinead were just the perfect combination.

nine inch nails head like a hole

#3 Nine Inch Nails "Head Like A Hole" (TVT)

Pretty Hate Machine came out at the very end of 1989. But I don't think Trent Reznor and NIN really started taking over the world until 1990 when "Head Like A Hole" was released. This is another artist that I became a lifelong fan of in 1990. It all started with this song and album. I had never heard anything like it. It was like one of my favorite 80s synth bands but with a new dark and sexy 90s industrial sound. I often revisit this album and it is still my favorite of his. It is one of those albums that you need to listen to in its entirety every time. It doesn't get much better than this song. This song and Trent Reznor are pretty much alternative music in a nutshell.

the cure pictures of you

#2 The Cure "Pictures Of You" (Fiction)

Most people I know could have probably figured out that The Cure would have to end up on this list somewhere. They have always been one of my favorite bands since I remember liking music. Disintegration was released the day after my 15th birthday in 1989. It is without a doubt my favorite album of that year. The album already had three singles in 1989. But this single was released in 1990. One of those songs I can't think of the year without. Robert Smith wrote the song about his wife and it is such a special song. I loved the video and I love this band so much. A perfect goth ballad love song written by a perfect man. We couldn't have alternative music without Robert Smith and The Cure.

depeche mode enjoy the silence

#1 Depeche Mode "Enjoy The Silence" (Mute)

So here it is. My favorite song from my favorite album of 1990.  Violator was the band's seventh album. Catching up with Depeche Mode was the first albums I remember buying in 1985 and this band was the first band I got obsessed with. Personal Jesus was the first single but this song was always my favorite. Violator became their best selling album and got them a whole new set of fans. "Policy of Truth" and "World In My Eyes" were the next two singles. And "Halo" will always be one of favorites. It is never easy to pick a favorite song by these guys. But this album meant more to me than anything ever had before. It remains one of the best albums of all time for this alternative kid of the 80s.

1990 was truly a riducoulsy amazing year for music. It was like no other year. I was introduced to so many amazing new artists this year that would be with me forever. I was so looking forward to what the rest of the 90s held in store for me. How could it get much better. This has been so fun to escape back into the 90s. I hope you have enjoyed going on this journey with me! Next up is 1991. I will be counting back and doing another top 50. The top 50 alternative songs of 1991!