10 Essential Female-Fronted Alternative Rock Bands Of The ’90s

We miss these rockin' ladies.

By Frank Donovan

Before Beyonce, Taylor, and Riri were the resident heroines of the pop charts, the female artists we looked up to were fronting their own bands. The '90s alternative scene was more about groups than solo singers, and women lead some of the most kick-ass of the bands that were the soundtrack to the decade. Check out our list of 10 most essential groups with women at the center.

The Cardigans

The Cardigans are a shoe-in on the list if for no other reason than the fact that “Lovefool” is actually our favorite song, and it was featured in the soundtrack of our favorite movie, Baz Luhrman’s Romeo + Juliet.


We love Garbage lead singer Shirley Manson’s vocals which range from haunting, icy whispers to outright belts of rage. The band is still touring today.


Duh! The queen of the '90s alternative female badass bands is without a doubt Courtney Love and Hole.


Our impressionable ears perked up in the 90s when English trip hop group Portishead redefined musical borders and Beth Gibbons’ vocals and lyrics haunted our bedrooms.

No Doubt

In just one song, No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani introduced us to sarcasm AND feminism!

4 Non Blondes

Linda Perry taught us the very important lesson that weird IS cool!

The Cranberries

With essentials like “Linger,” “Zombie,” and “Ode to my Family,” we don’t know what the '90s would have been without Dolores O’Riordan and the Cranberries.

Bikini Kill

Widely cited as the pioneers of the riot grrrl genre, Bikini Kill and lead vocalist Kathleen Hanna possibly have the hardest cores of any on this list.

The Breeders

The impossibly cool Kim Deal used to play bass for The Pixies before she started The Breeders. Their first album Pod was famously cited by Kurt Cobain as one of his favorite albums.

Veruca Salt

Grunge-pop Veruca Salt split back in the 90s after two albums but the original line-up is back(!) this summer with a North American tour.