Released on February 4, 1992.

Twelve grunge essentials, just in time to take you through the stark, dark gloom of late November. Or for any time of year, really.


But not really. These are from the genre I like to call “dark grunge.” It’s a term I literally coined just now, as it popped into my head. Has someone else used that term before? Not that I’m aware of, so I’m laying claim to it. If you’re reading this and have used the term before or know someone who has, come correct with the citation and I will transfer credit.


Grunge is a wide and deep subgenre of rock music. Grunge purists will tell you the label only applies to the original Seattle scene that sprouted up in the late ’80s and exploded in the early ’90s, but I disagree. A lot of those bands that had the grunge label slapped on their flannel shirts didn’t even subscribe to it! A lot of them didn’t subscribe to the concept of “genre” at all! But I do. It’s a convenient way to organize my thoughts around music and my actual music collection.


For the sake of this playlist, I’ll be sticking to songs from Seattle grunge acts. Perhaps some other time I’ll put together another list of second- and third-wave grunge acts. What? You didn’t know there are different waves? Sure there are! It’s like ska that way. At least at is to me. And, as I pointed out above, I’m the captain here. The “dark grunge” guy. So let’s get into it.


12 Grunge Essentials: An Adam 12 Playlist

Again, I’m putting this together in late November. So the “dark grunge” thing isn’t just a bit. I’ve chosen a dozen of the gloomiest, doomiest Seattle grunge tracks from my private grunge cellar. It’s like a wine cellar, but for grunge music. Let’s listen.

  • Alice In Chains "Am I Inside"

    Starting with a trio of tracks from the darkest of all grunge acts, Alice In Chains. “Am I Inside” from the Sap ep, both musically and lyrically, sounds like a 4:30 sunset.

  • Alice In Chains "Rotten Apple"

    I mean, the song is called “Rotten Apple.” And that opening riff? Just rotten.

  • Alice In Chains "Rain When I Die"

    Sure, there are darker songs on Dirt, but this one just fits here.

  • Soundgarden "Rusty Cage"

    An abandoned shack in a clearing surrounded by leafless trees. Starkly contrasted with the stark, white room. Great visuals on this one.

  • Screaming Trees "Shadow of the Season"

    Isn’t that what this playlist is all about?

  • Nirvana "Heart-Shaped Box"

    Sure, Nirvana could come with the high energy. But Kurt could also rip a dark riff.

  • Tad "Boiler Room"

    A grunge playlist without Tad is no grunge playlist.

  • Pearl Jam "Immortality"

    Are you picking up on the pattern here? It’s usually the opening riff that makes grunge “dark.”

  • Stone Temple Pilots "Creep"

    Is it a dark grunge ballad? Sure, why not?

  • Temple Of The Dog "Say Hello 2 Heaven"

    Darker in theme than in anything else.

  • Mother Love Bone "Chole Dancer/Crown Of Thorns"

    R.I.P., Andrew Wood.

  • Nirvana "Something In The Way"

    Thanks for sitting through my beautiful bummer of a playlist.

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