While there’s no denying that the 1990s was a decade of amazing music and revolutionary genres, there are a few standout, uber-influential musicians that paved the way for today’s superstars and are still shaping music today. From grunge rock to West-Coast rap, this decade provided us with some of the most memorable songs and albums of all time. In no particular order, here are seven of the most influential musicians of the 1990s:

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MTV Unplugged: Nirvana

1. Kurt Cobain

Deemed the spokesperson of Generation X, Kurt Cobain’s enduring influence on rock music can still be heard today. As the lead singer of Nirvana, a multi-platinum grunge rock band that almost single handedly redefined the sound of 90s music, Cobain became an enduring icon of alternative music almost overnight with his signature lyrical angst, screaming vocal style and revolutionary departure from the hair metal rock that was so prevalent during the 1980s. Nirvana’s release of the studio album Nevemind (1991) and its surprise success catapulted Cobain and the band into the mainstream spotlight at a time when the radio was owned by popular female vocalists and teen pop groups. Nirvana only released one more album before his death in 1994, but this new musical style and Cobain’s personification of antiestablishment resonated deeply with fans and quickly changed the musical and cultural landscape forever. Though short and fleeting, Cobain’s life and work has continues to influence rock and alternative genres and his image as a cultural figure and rock icon persists.

Garth

2. Garth Brooks

With a total of 36 Top 40 songs, including 18 number-one hits, there is only one man that can be thought of as the face of country music during the 1990s. Garth Brooks’ rock-influenced musical style and high-energy live performances clearly resonated with country fans and allowed him to become a music sensation almost over night. After breaking out onto the scene in 1989, Brooks broke records for both concert attendance and record sales in just a few short years. With a total number of over 164 million certified records sold since, Brooks has earned his place alongside the likes of Elvis Presley and The Beatles on the list of best-selling artists in U.S. history.

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3. Britney Spears

While the Backstreet Boys, Christina Aguilera, N*SYNC and a slew of other teen-pop wonders had great success during this time, it was none other than the now legendary Britney Spears that most of us remember as leading the pack in the late 90s. After iconizing the school girl outfit and breaking out with her first two studio albums, “…Baby One More Time” and “Oops, I Did It Again”, Spears found widespread international success and has since gone on to break both domestic and international sales records. Lovingly referred to as the “princess of pop”, Britney has become one of the best selling artists of all time, having sold over 100 million albums worldwide. That’s Britney, b*tch.
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