10 greatest rock music videos of the 90s

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The 90s may have been the last great decade for rock music. With guitar bands booming thanks to Nirvana and the excesses of the ’70s and’ 80s going out of style, there has never been a better time to form a band and start making tracks.

Complexity and indulgence were out, passion and song were back in full force.

It was a boom time for the industry, and with it came an influx of great music videos. The ’90s were the first full decade that making a music video was part of the package. MTV was well established, a slew of similar channels were starting to appear, and fantastic directors were collaborating with bands and artists to create videos that in many cases surpass the songs themselves in cultural memory.

The tunes on this list are great on their own, but it’s the visuals that make them truly legendary. Whether they embrace new technology, tell a story in three minutes and change, or just tackle the funny bone, these videos represent the best of an increasingly inventive format.

Grunge legends’ groundbreaking single, “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” had a stripped-down video that quickly conveyed the key essence of Nirvana. Three guys in a lousy room, playing this amazing new music that drove the kids crazy.

For the latest single, “In Bloom”, they took a different tack, instead highlighting the band’s often overlooked sense of humor. The group appear on a fake 1950s variety show, dressed in ill-fitting period clothing, with Cobain, one of the great idols of the era, in full nerd costume with a swept haircut and specs bottleneck.

It’s an effort to downplay the messiah treatment guys were getting back then, and while fans haven’t taken Nirvana more seriously over time, the video itself is a blast. Cobain insisted that director Kevin Kerslake used appropriate cameras at the time, and that sounds like the business.

In due course, the trio shed their dork outfits and trashed the stage – they could only hold the act for that long – but the point was clear: there is much more to Nirvana than just gloom and gloom.


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