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11 Bands Like Nirvana to Check Out if You Love Grunge

bands like nirvana

Nirvana definitely counts as one of the most iconic and recognizable bands of all time and is responsible for inspiring countless musicians to pick up their instrument, say “f**k it” and just play. Here are 10 bands like Nirvana that bring out the teen spirit in you.

Formed in Seattle in 1987, the band consists of vocalist and guitarist Kurt Cobain, bassist Krist Novoselic, and drummer Dave Grohl. Nirvana’s music quickly gained popularity which made them the propellant of the grunge movement in Seattle. Although formally only active for 3 years from 1991-1994, the band was a widespread phenomenon, especially with their landmark 2nd album, “Nevermind”. One of the best-selling bands of all time, their nihilistic attitude, hard-hitting melodies, and themes of alienation and abjection made them a figurehead band of Generation X. Their music is considered heavily influential and continues to be popular among the modern rock and roll community.

The name Nirvana came from Buddhism, where it is used to refer to the ultimate state of enlightenment. Cobain wanted a beautiful and nice name instead of the usual norm of raunchy and edgy band names. Nirvana was and continues to be the biggest grunge band to ever exist. Despite only being active for 3 years, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility in 2014. Their posthumous album MTV Unplugged in New York fetched them a Grammy award for Best Alternative Music Performance.

List Of Bands Like Nirvana:

  1. Pearl Jam
  2. Soundgarden
  3. Mudhoney
  4. Alice in Chains
  5. Foo Fighters
  6. Green River
  7. Stone Temple Polits
  8. Radiohead
  9. Meat Puppets
  10. Marcy Playground
  11. Bush

Also Check Out: Bands Like MGMT

1. Pearl Jam

One of the key members of the Seattle grunge movement, Pearl Jam consists of vocalist Eddie Vedder, bassist Jeff Ament, rhythm guitarist Stone Gossard, lead guitarist Mike McCready as well as drummer Matt Cameron. Their debut album, Ten, catapulted them into fame as it remained on the Billboard 200 chart for over 5 years. The band is considered to be the most influential band of the 1990s.

Compared to other grunge bands, Pearl Jam’s sound was less heavy and more influenced by 80s rock bands like The Ramones, Kiss, and Led Zeppelin. Their sound was characterized by addictive hooks and choruses, Vedder’s usage of vibrato in his vocals, and McCready’s feel-oriented lead guitar inspired by artists like Jimi Hendrix, David Gilmour, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Throughout their career, the band promoted political and social issues, with Vedder leading the way. Pearl Jam’s live performances are also rated to be highly energetic and recognizable. If you’re looking for bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam takes the number one spot.

2. Soundgarden

Soundgarden was formed in 1984 in Seattle by vocalist Chris Cornell, guitarist Kim Thayil, bassist Hiro Yamamoto and drummer Matt Cameron, with Ben Shepherd replacing Yamamoto in 1990. Associated with Seattle’s punk rock, alternative rock, and grunge scene, the band achieved its biggest success in 1994 with their album Superunknown. The album charted #1 on Billboard 200 and yielded Grammy-winning songs “Black Hole Sun” and “Spoonman”. Along with Nirvana, Alice in Chains, and Pearl Jam, they spearheaded the rise of grunge in the 1990s.

Inspired heavily by Black Sabbath, the band described their sound as neo-Sabbath psychedelic rock, with elements of post-punk. Toni Lommi, guitarist of Black Sabbath had nothing but praises, exclaiming both the originality and heavy Sabbath influence that Soundgarden tried to produce. Soundgarden has been praised for its technical musical ability, and the exploration and expansion of its sound as its career progressed. Cornell’s vocal range and his dark, existential lyrics also received widespread acclaim. The band dissolved in 1997 and reunited in 2010, but shut down again following Cornell’s death in 2017. Soundgarden is a good band to explore in your quest to find bands similar to Nirvana.

3. Mudhoney

Might as well stop mentioning the obvious, Mudhoney was formed in Seattle in the year 1988, following Green River’s disbanding. Singer Mark Arm, lead guitarist Steve Turner, bassist Guy Maddison, and drummer Dan Peters. Although not as popular as their contemporaries Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Alice in Chains, it was Mudhoney that laid the groundwork for the rise of grunge. They took the beer-fuelled nihilism and garage rock primitivism and brought out “Superfuzz Bigmuff” and “My Brother the Cow”.

Their body of work – big, loud, sloppy, a little bit menacing, – has stood the test of time better than the other bands that might have been “bigger” during their time. Dubbed as “the only true grunge band”, Mudhoney’s influence on 90s rock bands has been immense. They are a strong recommendation if you are looking for grunge bands like Nirvana.

4. Alice in Chains

Alice in Chains found fame in the grunge band movement of the 1990s, along with their contemporaries Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden. It was formed in 1987 by vocalist Jerry Cantrell and drummer Sean Kinney. The band was ranked 34 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock. Their most known albums would be Facelift (1990), Alice in Chains (1995) and their EP Jar of Flies (1994). Their music is described mainly as grunge and alternative metal, but Cantrell identifies the band as heavy metal.

Alice in Chains is noted for its unique vocal harmonies and expressive guitars. Cantrell blends acoustic and electric guitars to create expansive soundscapes. Combined with Layne Staley’s low pitched growling vocals, the band created a mellow and unique heavy metal sound that is distinctive to them. Although never breaking up formally, Alice in Chains remained inactive from 1996 and onward. They regrouped in 2006 and have released 3 more albums. Alice in Chains is a strong recommendation in your search for 1990s grunge and rock bands similar to Nirvana.

5. Foo Fighters

Foo Fighters was formed by former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl as a one-man project in 1994, after the suicide of Kurt Cobain. Nate Mendel joined as bassist, Pat Smear on rhythm guitar, Taylor Hawkins on drums, and Chris Shiflett on guitar and backing vocals. The name is taken from the nickname given to UFOs by Allied aircraft pilots. Over the years, the band has won 12 Grammy Awards, including 4 Best Rock Album.

Although joining Nirvana as their drummer, Grohl played the guitar and wrote songs but never played them. Cobain’s minimalism really influenced his songwriting. The band’s material is mostly alternative rock, grunge, and hard rock. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in February 2021. Grohl’s association with Nirvana and his admiration for Cobain makes Foo Fighters a good choice if you want to listen to bands artists like Nirvana.

6. Green River

Green River is considered the pioneer of grunge music. They were formed in 1984 in Seattle. Although not commercially successful, the band gave birth to the likes of Pearl Jam, Mudhoney, and Nirvana. They are known to mix snarling high-pitched vocals and heavy-hitting hard rock riffs. The band features Mark Arm on vocals, Stever Turner as the guitarist, Alex Vincent on the drums, and Jeff Ament on the bass. Stone Gossard joined later to let Arm focus on vocals completely.

Influenced by The Stooges, Black Sabbath, and Aerosmith, Green River combined hard rock, punk, and heavy metal. Arm’s twisted lyrics and screaming vocal delivery gave them their signature nihilistic sound which influenced both their peers and the bands that followed them. After the release of “Rehab Doll”, the band essentially ceased to exist. They reunited in the late 2000s for a few live shows. The pioneers of grunge are surely worth giving a shot if you want to listen to old bands like Nirvana.

7. Stone Temple Pilots

Finally, a grunge band that is not from Seattle. Stone Temple Pilots was formed in 1989 under the name “Mighty Joe Young”, but changed to Stone Temple Pilots after signing with Atlantic Records. The band consists of vocalist Scott Weiland, brothers Dean DeLeo and Robert DeLeo on guitars and bass respectively, and Eric Kretz on drums. Weiland was fired in 2013 after his struggles with drug addiction and his alleged desire to perform with Velvet Revolver. The vocalist position was filled for a short time by Chester Bennington from Linkin Park and was fully replaced by X Factor Season 3 runner up, Jeff Gutt.

Stone Temple pilots have been associated with the grunge movement of the 90s but their musical style has varied from record to record. They can also be labelled as alternative rock and hard rock. Their primary influence has been Aerosmith, Kiss, Led Zeppelin, Neil Young etc. Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith joined them onstage to cover a few Aerosmith songs live at Madison Square Garden in 1996. Weiland’s lyrics mostly dealt with societal issues, but also explored his own inner demons as he went deeper into his drug addiction. In 2017, they were named the 9th heaviest grunge band by Metal Injection. In your search for modern bands like Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots is a band worth checking out.

8. Radiohead

Breaking away from America, Radiohead is the first English band to make this list. Formed in 1985, Radiohead is an alternative/art/experimental rock band from Oxfordshire. The band consists of Thom Yorke (vocals), Jonny Greenwood (lead guitar, keyboards), Colin Greenwood (bass), Ed O’Brien (guitar), and Philip Selway (percussion). Radiohead is one of the most successful English artists of all time, selling over 30 million records worldwide. Their complex rhythms and themes of modern alienation and societal issues set them apart from other bands in the genre. They first got noticed with their evergreen single Creep from the album Pablo Honey, catapulting them into international fame. Their third album, OK Computer is acclaimed as a landmark record in modern popular music and explores the theme of modern alienation vividly.

Radiohead’s music has been described as art rock, alternative rock, progressive rock, grunge, and electronic rock. The band’s early material was mainly instrument-based organic music, but they started exploring electronic music influenced by sampling in the realm of hip-hop. Radiohead has been named 73 in Rolling Stone’s Greatest Artists of All Time. Their influence in modern mainstream and experimental rock has been immense. Their jazz-influenced music and collaborative method of making music, introspective lyrics and vibe, and their influence on black artists have garnered them the title of “blackest white rock band”. Although not a blatantly grunge band, Radiohead is a must-listen-to band in this list of grunge bands like Nirvana.

9. Meat Puppets

Meat Puppet is another 3-member punk rock and grunge band from Phoenix, Arizona. Formed by brothers Curt and Cris Kirkwood and joined by drummer Derrick Bostrom, Meat Puppets became one of the most famous grunge bands in the early 90s after featuring on Nirvana’s legendary MTV Unplugged performance in 1993. The band practised in a shed of one of the Kirkwood brothers” houses. The band broke up twice (1996 and 2000) but reunited again in 2006.

Meat Puppets established their own sound by blending punk rock with country and psychedelic rock. Their influence on fellow grunge bands has been immense. J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr stated that people often thought the band was a Meat Puppets rip-off. Kurt Cobain invited them to cover Plateau and Lake of Fire on MTV Unplugged in 1994. This behemoth grunge band from Arizona is a great recommendation in this list of bands similar to Nirvana.

10. Marcy Playground

Marcy Playground is an alternative rock and grunge band consisting of vocalist John Wozniak, bass guitarist Dylan Keefe, and drummer Shlomi Lavie. Super minimalistic in sound, the band’s music can be almost described as lazy. Reminiscent of laid-back stoner rock, Marcy Playground offered a fresh new sound in an era where exploration in sound took a step back. Their success came from the single “Sex and Candy”.

Sex and Candy spent more than 15 weeks at Number 1 on Billboard’s Modern Rock Tracks chart. The band is named after Marcy Open Grade School in Minneapolis, the school that John Wozniak attended as a kid. Wozniak also stated most of the songs are inspired by his childhood events and emotions. The band cites David Bowie, Paul Simon, Jimi Hendrix and Syd Barrett (Pink Floyd) as influences. Meat Puppets might be a household name in the world of grunge but definitely a unique recommendation for your quest to find grunge artists like Nirvana.

11. Bush

Signing this list off with the most commercially successful British grunge band of all time: Bush. Formed in London in 1992, the band’s current lineup consists of vocalist Gavin Rossdale, lead guitarist Chris Traynor, bassist Corey Britz, and drummer Nick Hughes. Their debut album catapulted them to success immediately, which was certified 6x multi-platinum by RIAA. Bush has sold more than 20 million records worldwide and is one of the biggest rock bands of the 90s.

Bush is one of the first bands that was labelled as post-grunge. Other genres explored by the band include grunge, alternative rock, and hard rock. Bush has been cited as Nirvana copycats by multiple journalists over time, and the band has stated Nirvana’s massive influence on their songwriting. Despite being a hit in the USA, Bush remained fairly underappreciated in their home country. Bush is a major recommendation in this list of 90s bands similar to Nirvana and also a great way to sign off this article.

Also Check Out: Bands Like Tool

Honorable Mentions:

Sadgasm (The Simpsons)

The Simpsons paid their respects to Nirvana by creating a parody episode. Homer Simpson in his college days plays in a band but changes his musical style after seeing Marge getting flirty with a professor in the University. Homer calls the music “Guitar Rock Utilising Nihilist Grunge Energy” or G.R.U.N.G.E. Homer’s band is called Sadgasm and the songs include covers of Nirvana, Alice in Chains, and Bush songs.

The songs are Politically Incorrect (cover of Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle by Nirvana; also similar to Man in the Box by Alice in Chains), Shave Me (cover of Rape Me by Nirvana), and Margarine (cover of Glycerine by Bush).

When Lost aired over a decade ago, its successful narrative created a pop culture impact and changed the landscape of television. If you are a fan and want to watch shows like Lost then you can have a look at this list we made just for you.


The hugely successful television series Lost aired in 2004. The premise, as we know, deals with a group of people surviving a commercial passenger plane crash on a remote island. The show masterfully explores supernatural and sci-fi elements on this mysterious south Pacific island.

The use of cliffhangers at the end of each episode of Lost kept the viewers on the edge of their seats, desperately craving for the next episode to come. Even though it's a large ensemble cast, most of the characters receive a justifiable personal arch. Lost was inspired by the movie Castaway and became one of the most expensive pilots to be shot at the time! Lost continues to be appreciated for its originality in storytelling and dynamic character arcs. 

List of TV Shows Like Lost

  1. The Leftovers
  2. Manifest
  3. Lost Room
  4. Twin Peaks
  5. The Prisoners
  6. Battlestar Galactica
  7. The New People
  8. Flight 29 Down
  9. Fringe
  10. Alcatraz
  11. Under the Dome
  12. Dark

1. The Leftovers (2014)

IMDB ratings: 8.3/10

Cast: Carrie Coon, Justin Theroux, Amy Brenneman and Margaret Qualley

Creator: Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta

The director of Lost, Damon Lindel also created a supernatural drama series called The Leftovers. The show begins 3 years after an unexplainable global event called ‘Sudden Departure’  where almost 2 per cent of the population, nearly 140 million people, disappear. The Leftovers isn't about WHY people are gone, it's about how the ones who remain dealt with their loss, people often try to comfort themselves with dreams, angels, gods, or even death.

The Leftovers will leave you with so many questions but beyond words, you have to feel it and savour its unanswered questions to find peace. The Leftovers is an incredible television series that starts incredibly well but loses its way by the series's end. I have to say though, Carrie Coon has brilliant moments in the end. The Leftovers is so weird, fragmented and nonsensical at times that it reminds me of Lost. If you are looking for shows like Lost, I recommend that you give The Leftovers a try.

2. Manifest  (2018) 

IMDB ratings: 7.1/10

Cast: Melissa Roxburgh, Josh Dallas and J.R. Ramirez 

Creator: Jeff Rake

The Manifest is a supernatural drama show about a bunch of people who discover that they lost 5 years of their lives when they landed in New York after their aeroplane faced severe turbulence. All the people on the plane were presumed to be dead. Now, these people have to find a way to adjust themselves to a new life around their loved ones. Mild spoiler! They learn their loved ones and the rest of society is not as they left it.

I found that the show’s premise was very intriguing and the actors give a very convincing performance. The narrative details of the show, however, in my opinion, are a bit sloppy and inconsistent. The writers surely have room for improvement but their concept is incredibly thrilling. Every episode of Manifest keeps you on your toes. Manifest has completed 3 seasons up until now and continues to be on air. Manifest is a pretty good choice if you want to watch TV shows like Lost.

3. Lost Room (2006)

IMDB ratings: 8.1/10

Cast: Peter Krause, Julianna Margulies and Peter Jacobson

Creator: Christopher Leone, Laura Harkcom

This lesser-known show The Lost Room is an American Sci-fi television miniseries which only had 3 episodes of 90 mins each and no follow-up seasons. The show was based on a very unique idea where the room in question (known as the ‘Lost Room’) and the objects in the said room had supernatural powers. This strange room is set in a 1960s motel along the iconic U.S. Route 66.

One day the protagonist (Peter Krause) Joe Miller’s daughter disappears inside the room. Joe, with the help of objects present in the room, tries to find his daughter Anna (Elle Fanning). The story of Lost Room was intensely engaging. I found the direction and the actor’s performances to be absolutely brilliant. It baffles me that the creators did not return to make another short season within the same concept. If you have been searching for TV series like Lost then I can assure you that Lost Room will be worth a watch.

4. Twins Peaks (1990) 

IMDB ratings: 8.8/10

Cast: Kyle MacLachlan, Mädchen Amick, Sherilyn Fenn and David Lynch

Creator: David Lynch

David Lynch, the well-known director of weird and captivating films such as Eraserhead and Blue Velvet created an iconic show called Twin Peaks. It is a hauntingly eccentric show about the investigation of the mysterious murder of a small-town homecoming queen named Laura Palmer. Believe me, as odd as the show may seem at first, you will grow to love it, after all, it is considered to be one of the best mystery shows ever created.

With the mysteries, the supernatural elements and the list of bizarre characters, Twin Peaks has it all. In my opinion, the cinematography of the show was truly ahead of its time. Kyle’s Dale Cooper was especially entertaining. Twin Peaks’ experimental formula of the satirical soap opera is extremely unsettling yet rewarding to watch, I must warn you, it’s not for the faint-hearted!  If you are in search of TV shows like Lost then Twin Peaks won’t disappoint you.

The Prisoners (1967)

IMDB ratings: 8.5/10

Cast: Patrick McGoohan, Angelo Muscat and Geroge Markstien

Creator: Patrick McGoohan

The Prisoner centres around an unnamed British agent (Patrick McGoohan) who tries to flee his country after abruptly quitting his high-ranking government job. He is abducted and held captive in a strange ‘sea-side’ village that is isolated from the rest of the world. This village is a highly secure and monitored place filled with weird technology. There are only 17 episodes to this late 60s show but it manages to bring up such surreal surprises, it's sure to leave a great impact on the viewer.

The Prisoner’s unique concept influenced many popular shows including Lost. The creators of Lost even cited the show. I was very impressed by how ahead of its time The Prisoners proves to be. If you want to watch more shows similar to Lost the Prisoners should definitely be on your list.

6. Battlestar Galactica (2004)

IMDB ratings: 8.7/10

Cast: Katee Sackhoff, Edward James Olmos and Tricia Helfer 

Creator: Glen A. Larson

The 2004 Battlestar Galactica is a reboot of the original 1978 miniseries of the same name. Do not be mistaken by the title, the show is not related to Star Trek.  Battlestar Galactica is set in the 7th millennium AD and follows Cylons, the robot enemy of humanity that resurfaces to destroy the 12 colonies of Mankind. Only a few survive and are able to escape on ships led by a powerful warship called Battlestar Galactica. Mankind struggles to fight the Cylons and work their own political agendas and disputes while finding their long-lost 13th colony Earth.

The show is a dark, intense and gritty socio-political commentary with EPIC cinematic value. The script is especially clever and as a huge fan of sci-fi shows, this show ticks the boxes in all the right categories. When the show was released, it blew the viewers and critics away. As far as an obsessive and gripping story goes, Battlestar Galactica is one of the most similar to shows like Lost. 

7. The New People (1969)

IMDB ratings: 7.3/10

Cast: David Moses, Zooey hall and Tiffany Boiling

Creator: Larry Gordon Aaron Spelling

The New People is an American Tv series that aired only for 1 season and is focused on a couple of college students who survive a plane crash. The incident takes place while they were returning from a trip to Southeast Asia, their plane crashes on an island in the south of the Pacific ocean. 

By now this show must already be sounding a lot like Lost to you, and it surely is. The remaining group of people discover an unusual truth about the island: there’s an above-ground unused nuclear test site filled with supplies for the survivors. If you want to see more plane survival stories like Lost then The New People should definitely be on your list.

8. Flight 29 Down (2005)

IMDB ratings: 7.2/10

Cast: Allen Alvarado, Halle Hirsh and Corbin Bleu

Creator:  Stan Rowgow D. J. MacHale

The show Flight 29 Down is a drama series about a group of pre-teens/teens who are stranded on a South Pacific island after their plane crashes in a tropical storm while they were flying from an eco-adventure camping trip in Palau. The show is in many ways a younger version of the Adult-centred show Lost but sans the supernatural elements. I’d say that the show draws inspiration from the show The New People.

Flight 29 Down uses the technique of a video diary as a plot device for the viewers to keep up with the story of these children. It was very engaging to watch young intelligent characters finding their way on the island. The first two seasons of the show are quite engaging but I seemed to lose interest in its 3rd and final season. Regardless, Flight 29 Down is a really good series to watch if you want to see TV shows like Lost.

9. Fringe (2008)

IMDB ratings: 8.4/10

Cast: Anna Torv, John Noble and Joshua Jackson

Creator: J. J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci

Fringe is a popular Sci-fi crime drama television series. It may seem like a standard procedural drama at first, but the show actually explores the parallel universe, alternate versions of people filled with crazy scientific experiments. I personally had a great time watching this show.

Fringe is actually inspired by shows like Lost, The X-files and The Twilight Zone. The 3 main characters of the show work with a special division called Fringe. There are so many brilliant twists and turns in Fringe that in my opinion, the show is at the top of its category. If you are searching for TV series like Lost, I strongly recommend you watch Fringe

10. Alcatraz (2012)

IMDB ratings: 6.9/10

Cast: Sarah Jones, George Garcia and Jonny Coyne 

Creator: Elizabeth Sarnoff, Steven Lilien, Bryan Wynbrandt

This American fiction show is based on the infamous Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary built on Alcatraz island in San Francisco Bay. The prison is now closed but once kept some of the most dangerous criminals of America. The show takes the liberty to make a show around the conspiracies of the place.

In the interesting premise we see that under unknown circumstances, 256 inmates and 46 guards of the prison disappear without a trace. Later the disappeared ones start to appear one by one without ageing a day and resume their criminal activities with no realisation of disappearance. A special government unit is dedicated to finding and putting those criminals back in prison. If you are looking for mystery shows similar to Lost, try watching Alcatraz. 

11. Under the Dome (2013)

IMDB ratings: 6.5/10

Cast: Alexander Koch and Rachelle Lefevre

Creator: Stephen King

Based on a novel written by the sci-fi legend Stephen King, Under the Dome tells the story of the residents of the fictional small town called Chester's Mill, when a huge, transparent and indestructible dome suddenly cuts them off from the rest of the world.

Now the trapped residents try to find a way to discover the truth, origin and purpose of these domes. This journey forces them into situations where they learn more about each other than they ever knew. Under the Dome may not be on the top of this list but it’s quite a decent watch if you’re looking for mystery shows similar to Lost

12. Dark (2017)

IMDB ratings: 8.7/10

Cast: Louis Hofmann, Lisa Vicari and Gina Stiebitz

Creator: Baran bo Odar, Jantje Friese

The German-language Netflix series Dark is an interesting blend of Science fiction and Mystery. Truly a compelling and mind-bending story to watch. At the beginning of Dark, many children suspiciously start disappearing in the German town of Winden. The dark past of generational mysteries of 4 families living in the town namely, Kahnwald, Nielsen, Doppler, and Tiedemann is brought to light.

After the discovery of a wormhole, the lives of the families intertwine more than one can imagine. I believe every element of the show is top-notch, especially Dark’s cinematography, which is a TRUE masterpiece. If you are looking for TV series similar to Lost then the intense and gripping story of Dark is sure to keep you engrossed.

Honourable Mentions

Here are a few TV shows like Lost that didn’t make the list, but you can check them out nonetheless: 

  1. Carnivale
  2. Yellowjackets
  3. Game of Thrones
  4. Black Mirror
  5. Flashforward
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