Can You Identify the Grunge Song From These Lyrics?


By: Lauren Lubas

7 Min Quiz

Image: Corbis/VCG / Corbis / Getty Images

About This Quiz

Grunge music isn't just about wearing flannels and being depressed. The first grunge sounds came out of Seattle in the mid-1980s, but it really gained popularity in the early and mid-1990s. 

This subgenre of rock music was a sensation. Bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Stone Temple Pilots broke through and showed the world that there was a type of rock music that wasn't necessarily metal and not necessarily psychedelic. This alternative sound resonated with the outcasts of the '90s, and it changed the way we saw music. Rock was no longer a fusion of country, blues, and electronics. It became a pure sound that wasn't always perfect but always made a difference. 

The lyrics to these new sounds attacked society more than they targeted the government, as some previous decades' music had. It was about looking at yourself and understanding who you were. It attacked topics of self-understanding, bullying and inequality. 

No doubt, grunge changed the sound of music for an entire generation, and for good reason. The music was pure, the vocals were passionate and the lyrics were poetry. It was so popular that the genre lasted over a decade with fans spanning the globe. If you think you're a fan of grunge bands, try to identify these grunge songs from the lyrics we give you.

We'll make the first one easy. What song has these lyrics: "Flies in the vasoline we are, sometimes it blows my mind, keep getting stuck here all the time."

Stone Temple Pilots formed in 1989 in San Diego, California. The band's lead singer, Scott Weiland, struggled with addiction throughout his life; he lost this struggle in 2015 to an accidental drug overdose. In an interview, Weiland revealed that he came up with this song while listening to "Life in the Fast Lane" by the Eagles and misheard the lyrics, thinking they were "flies in the Vaseline." The other lyrics in the song refer to the drug addiction that Weiland was trying to hide at the time.


Which grunge song starts off with these lyrics: "Sell the kids for food, weather changes moods"?

Founded in 1987, Nirvana was one of the original grunge bands. The original members included Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic and Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl. Kurt Cobain noted that this song was an attack on rednecks, machismo and abusive people. He didn't like intolerant people, and the band wore dresses in the video to enrage any homophobic viewers.


Which song includes the lyrics, "If you don't want to be seen, well you don't have to hide"?

Soundgarden formed in 1984 in Seattle, Washington. Lead singer and guitarist Chris Cornell founded the band with Kim Thayil and Hiro Yamamoto. Their first album was released in 1988 and was titled "Ultramega OK." Cornell has said that the Superunknown album was "about showing that we were not just a flavor of the month. We had a responsibility to seize the moment."


"Can you see like a child? Can you see what I want?" are the lyrics to what song?

"Wicked Garden" was a track on the debut album for Stone Temple Pilots, "Core." "Core" was released in 1992 by Atlantic Records and produced by Brendan O'Brien. The song is about Stone Temple Pilots before they signed a record deal. The lyrics suggest it is all about loss of innocence, which could be related to addiction.


Which grunge song has these lyrics: "Into the flood again, same old trip it was back then"?

Alice in Chains was formed in 1987 with Jerry Cantrell as vocalist. "Would?" was released in 1992 on the album "Singles." Written about Andrew Wood, this song is all about overcoming drug addiction, rehab and what happens after. Andrew Wood died of a drug overdose and inspired several grunge songs that you will see in this quiz.


In what song would you hear the lyrics, "I want to be the girl with the most cake, I love him so much it just turns to hate"?

Hole's lead singer and guitarist, Courtney Love, is the widow of Kurt Cobain (the lead singer of Nirvana). She founded Hole in 1989 in Los Angeles. This song really encompasses the dichotomy of the wonderful and terrible things that come with being in the public eye. Love wrote the song after meeting Cobain, and she's said she doesn't understand why such a simple song resonates with so many.


Which grunge song starts with these lyrics: "What's up with what's going down, in every city, in every town"?

While some consider L7 a punk band, some of their songs fell under the grunge genre. They formed in 1985 in Los Angeles. This is a political grunge song, but like most grunge songs, it focuses more on the fact that people have to take action and not lay down to the government. The band was against the 1991 war in Iraq, and they wanted to show people that you can fight back and doing nothing is what the government wants from you.


"Some things will never change, they stand there looking backwards, half unconscious from the pain" are lyrics to what song?

Meat Puppets were formed in 1980 in Phoenix, Arizona. They were the original singers of "Lake of Fire" and "Plateau," two songs played by Nirvana in their Unplugged special. "Backwater" was written as a gospel, inspired by the sounds of Elvis Presley ... sounds that lead singer Curt Kirkwood grew up on.


In which song did we hear the words "All the warmth in her heart can't keep my blood from running cold"?

Green River was established in 1984 in Seattle, Washington. They didn't have a lot of commercial success, but they were considered the pioneers of grunge. This song is clearly another anti-war song that focuses on how society perceives pride over pain. The lyrics imply that pride is a killer, and we shouldn't feel safe when our nation is proud, because "pride comes before a fall."


Which song states, "you say that money isn't everything, but I'd like to see you live without it"?

Silverchair was an Australian band that formed in 1992. Though they weren't from the west coast of the U.S., many listeners find that their sound puts them in the grunge genre. Daniel Johns wrote "Tomorrow" after watching a documentary about a rich man who went to live among the homeless for a week.


"I drink myself a newfound pity, sitting alone in New York City" is part of the chorus for which grunge song?

Some consider Collective Soul to be alternative rock or post-grunge; however, their sound and style gives them all of the attributes of grunge. "The World I Know" was written by lead singer Ed Roland after taking a walk through New York City. He tried to see the good and the bad throughout the city, and where the transition from feeling good and feeling bad really happens.


"Tomorrow we can drive around this town, and let the cops chase us around" are lyrics in which song?

The Gin Blossoms were formed in Tempe, Arizona in 1987. Their album "New Miserable Experience" put them on the map in 1992. Guitarist Doug Hopkins wrote this song after a fight with his girlfriend. After the band recorded this song, they fired Hopkins. Tragically, he later died from suicide.


Which song has the lyrics, "And now we're grown up orphans that never knew their names"?

The Goo Goo Dolls started off as a punk band in 1986. When they made the switch to the grunge/alternative rock style, they experienced quite a backlash from their original fans (even if they made a lot of money doing so). "Name" was their first national hit, and it is about lead singer John Rzeznik's childhood.


The lyrics, "Do no wrong, so clean cut, dirty his hands, it comes right off" can be found in which song?

Pearl Jam formed in Seattle, Washington in 1990. Their first album, "Ten," had eleven songs on it. "Ten" was released in 1991. "W.M.A." was on their second studio album, "Vs." The song was inspired by an encounter with the police that Eddie Vedder had in which he was standing next to a man of color and the police proceeded to harass the man of color while ignoring Vedder.


"I know I'm headed for the bottom, but I'm riding you all the way" are lyrics from which song?

"Mailman" is on Soundgarden's fourth studio album, "Superunknown." This album was released in 1994 and features songs that include "Black Hole Sun" and "Fell on Black Days." Upon inspecting the lyrics to "Mailman," you'll notice that this song is really coming from the devil's perspective, and his temptations.


This song is a little fast, but the lyrics say it all. Which song has these lyrics, "Sell your soul to sign an autograph"?

"Big Bang Baby" was released in 1996 with the album "Tiny Music... Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop," which was Stone Temple Pilots's third studio album. The lyrics to "Big Bang Baby" really don't make a lot of sense, because STP was focusing on the music over the words for this entire album.


"I wish I was like you, easily amused" are lyrics in which song?

The album "In Utero" included several hits by Nirvana, including "All Apologies" and "Heart-Shaped Box." This was the band's third and final album to be released before the untimely death of lead singer, Kurt Cobain. Cobain noted that this song was dedicated to his wife and daughter. It's about the pressures he was dealing with at the time.


Which Nirvana song starts like this: "I'm so happy, 'cause today I found my friends"?

"Lithium" was released in 1991 on Nirvana's second studio album, "Nevermind." This album included such hits as "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and "Come as You Are." "Lithium" was written during a time when Cobain's depression was in full swing, which is apparent in the self-loathing lyrics.


Can you name the Pearl Jam song that ends with these lyrics: "Oh whispering hands gently lead him away, him away, him away."

Even though the music for this song was written before Eddie Vedder joined the band, the lyrics to "Even Flow" were written by Vedder when he joined a few months later. The song is about experiencing homelessness and mental illness. It was released on the album "Ten" in 1991.


Which grunge song has these lyrics: "Hands are bruised from breaking rocks all day"?

"No Excuses" was released by Alice in Chains in 1994. The song is about singer Layne Staley's drug addiction; tragically, he eventually died of a drug overdose in 2002 at the age of 34. Though "No Excuses" was never released as a single, it was an incredibly popular song from the album "Jar of Flies."


Which grunge song has these lyrics: "I enjoy stealing, it's just as simple as that"?

Jane's Addiction was formed in 1985 in Los Angeles. "Been Caught Stealing" was released in 1990 on the album "Ritual de lo Habitual." This song, as the title suggests, is all about the joys of stealing. It's not Jane's Addiction's first time telling their fans to do bad things. As a matter of fact, it was a favorite pastime of lead singer Perry Farrell.


Which Candlebox song begins with "Now maybe I didn't mean to treat you bad, but I did it anyway"?

Candlebox was formed in 1990 in Seattle, Washington. "Far Behind" was released in 1990 on the album "Candlebox." The song was inspired by the death of Andrew Wood in 1990, and the lyrics explore the heroin addiction that killed him.


Which grunge song starts with these lyrics: "Must be your skin that I'm sinking in"?

Bush originated in 1992 in London, England. Even from across the pond, Gavin Rossdale could encompass the grunge style and make a name for himself in the genre... for their first album, at least. Rossdale wrote this song about his then girlfriend, Jasmine Lewis.


Which song by The Smashing Pumpkins has these lyrics: "Hipsters unite, come align for the big fight"?

The Smashing Pumpkins got together in 1988 in Chicago, Illinois. Their first album, "Gish," was released in 1991, but they really made an impact with "Siamese Dream" in 1993, which included the song "Cherub Rock." Bill Corgan wrote this song as an attack on the Indie rock scene in Chicago at the time.


Which grunge song begins with these lyrics: "Chloe don't know better, Chloe just like me"?

Mother Love Bone was formed in 1987. In the grunge world, they are considered pioneers of the genre. They were active for three years, until frontman Andrew Wood died of a heroin overdose in 1990. His death inspired songs from both Candlebox and Alice in Chains.


Which Nirvana song begins with the lyrics: "She eyes me like a Pisces when I am weak"?

Written by Kurt Cobain, "Heart-Shaped Box" was released in 1993 on the album "In Utero." This was the final album the band released. While Cobain claims "Heart-Shaped Box" was written based on a documentary he saw in which a child had cancer, the lyrics suggest that it is actually about his relationships with Courtney Love.


Which Alice in Chains song includes the lyrics, "Bury me softly in this womb"?

"Down in a Hole" was written by Alice in Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell. It is said he wrote it about the insecurities he felt while being in love and in a relationship. "Down in a Hole" reached number ten on the Billboard charts.


Which grunge song has these lyrics: "I'm burning diesel, burning dinosaur bones"?

Chris Cornell wrote "Rusty Cage" while feeling claustrophobic on a tour bus. It was released on their third studio album, "Badmotorfinger" in 1991. "Rusty Cage" was covered by Johnny Cash in 1996.


Which Pearl Jam song begins with these lyrics: "She nursed him there, ooh, over a night"?

"Dissident," like most Pearl Jam songs, has a deep meaning and a storyline with characters. It's about a woman who takes in a man who's wanted by the authorities and tries to help him. Ultimately, she turns him in and has to live with the guilt.


Which grunge song has these lyrics: "I can't see her till I'm foaming at the mouth"?

Veruca Salt was formed in Chicago, Illinois in 1992 with vocalists/guitarists Nina Gordon and Louise Post. "Seether" was released in 1994. While the lyrics of this song are up for interpretation, they appear to be about a woman and her alter ego.


Which Screaming Trees song has these lyrics: "Drag me far enough to know I'm blind every mile that you burn"?

Screaming Trees was formed in Washington in 1985. The band's vocalist was Mark Lanegan. Their most well-known songs were "Nearly Lost You" and "Dollar Bill." Much of the song's success was due to the fact that it landed on the soundtrack of the movie "Singles."


Which grunge song has these lyrics: "My pain is self-chosen, at least, so the prophet says"?

Mad Season was formed in 1994 as a supergroup with several members of famous grunge bands. These members included Layne Staley, Mike McCready and Mark Lanegan. Many consider the "river" in this song to be the river Styx, the mythical path to the underworld.


Which Stone Temple Pilots Song has these lyrics: "Have you seen your mother girl? Has she gone away"?

Scott Weiland wrote the song "Pretty Penny" during a time when his heroin addiction was consuming him. Many of the songs on the album "Purple" reflected this, including this song, which is about a mother and daughter who both suffer from addiction.


Which Temple of the Dog song begins with these lyrics: "Please, mother mercy, take me from this place"?

Temple of the Dog was another grunge supergroup formed in 1990. This group included Eddie Vedder, Chris Cornell and Matt Cameron. "Say Hello 2 Heaven" was another song inspired by the death of Andrew Wood.


Which Bush song starts off like this: "There must be something we can eat, maybe find another lover"?

"Everything Zen" was the first popular single from the band Bush. It's about youth culture in the '90s. There are multiple cultural references in the lyrics, including references to David Bowie, Jane's Addiction and Allen Ginsberg.


Explore More Quizzes

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!