1994: The 40 Best Records From Mainstream Alternative's Greatest Year

Green Day, Nirvana, Pearl Jam and 35 other bands who made the word "alternative" lose all meaning

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Various Artists, 'Reality Bites: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack'
Courtesy of RCA Records30/40

30. Various Artists, 'Reality Bites: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack'

This blend of tweaked radio standards (Squeeze's revisiting of their pensive "Tempted"; Big Mountain's island-tinged cover of Peter Frampton's "Baby, I Love Your Way") and new tracks from alt-nation flag-bearers (Juliana Hatfield, Dinosaur Jr.) was more of a hit than the slacker romantic comedy that spawned it. The inclusion of "My Sharona" helped spark a mini-comeback for the Knack ("[The song] sends me right back to my high-school lunch room," Bites director Ben Stiller told USA Today) and Lisa Loeb's breakup-chronicle "Stay (I Missed You)" brought lady-led confessionals to the top of the Hot 100 a full year before Jagged Little Pill. Loeb was quite literally the "girl next door" for Ethan Hawke, the movie's enfant terrible — the two lived near each other in New York City, and Hawke wound up directing the song's single-shot video. Maura Johnston

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