10. Alice In Chains – Again (1996)
Directed by Layne Staley & George Vale
Alice In Chains’ final music video filmed with Layne Staley (1999’s “Get Born Again” uses archival performance footage) is one of their best, mixing unique performance footage of the band playing in a hanging cage with bizarre conceptual footage of Staley in some sort of mad house/psych ward. Staley himself co-directed the video, and he has a keen eye for lively performance footage and Lynchian oddness.
9. Stone Temple Pilots – Sour Girl (2000)
Directed by David Slade
Stone Temple Pilots were always famous for their music videos that had a sarcastic weird tongue in cheek nature to them, regardless of the subject matter. It could be a throwback 1960’s music video (like “Big Bang Baby”), but Scott Weiland would be wearing green pants and there would be two random guys with monkey masks on dancing. Don’t even get me started on trying to explain the angry clowns in the “Vasoline” and “Interstate Love Song” videos. “Sour Girl” was probably the most mainstream video STP ever did, with Sarah Michelle Gellar co-starring as Scott Weiland’s love interest and David Slade (future Twilight director) directing. Of course there are demonic teletubbies thrown in for good measure, with Dean DeLeo getting quite close to one of them.
8. Nine Inch Nails – Closer (1994)
Directed by Mark Romanek
Bondage, snakes, pigs, eggs, monkeys, a bald naked woman, and Trent Reznor defying gravity. Not much else needs to be said.
7. Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit (1991)
Directed by Samuel Bayer
Now onto the predictable choices. The “Smells Like Teen Spirit” video is the visual representation of Generation X rebelling and killing hair metal dead. The hazy lighting and sepia tone is pure Grunge. I wonder what ever happened to that janitor?
6. Smashing Pumpkins – Ava Adore (1998)
Directed by dom&nic
The Smashing Pumpkins were famous for their bold and ambitious videos, but the one track shot “Ava Adore” video is one of the their most stunning videos visually.
5. Soundgarden – Burden In My Hand (1996)
Directed by Jake Scott
Soundgarden’s desert set “Burden In My Hand” video is one of the more cinematic music videos of the 90’s, and its look doesn’t feel dated at all even watching it now.
4. Alice In Chains – Rooster (1993)
Directed by Mark Pellington
“Rooster” tells the story of Jerry Cantrell’s father fighting in Vietnam, with Cantrell’s father even appearing in the music video. The Vietnam war narrative story is mixed with footage of a ferocious Layne Staley singing in front of a screen projecting haunting visuals.
3. Pearl Jam – Jeremy (1992)
Directed by Mark Pellington
Pearl Jam only made one traditional music video during their prime, and they made it count. The video depicts an angry ‘Jeremy’ rebelling against his parents and classmates, ending with the iconic image of his classmates being soaked in his blood after he shoots himself in front of his class. Eddie Vedder also sings seated and makes some pretty awesome facial expressions.
2. Nirvana – Heart Shaped Box (1993)
Directed by Anton Corbijn
Nirvana’s final music video is their best, with some of the most hauntingly beautiful sets ever assembled for a music video.
1. Smashing Pumpkins – Tonight, Tonight (1996)
Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris
By far the most unique video from a Grunge era band is The Smashing Pumpkins’ iconic “Tonight, Tonight” music video which pays tribute to the 1902 silent film A Trip to the Moon. Directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris later went on to direct Little Miss Sunshine in 2006.