But it was Hatfield’s 1993 album Become What You Are — released under the moniker The Juliana Hatfield Three — that marked her a star. Its runaway single, “My Sister,” gave voice to women and girls worldwide, detailing the complex emotional stew of sisterhood and female friendship, and becoming a rare hit without a chorus. It topped the Billboard alternative chart in 1993, and the album was designated a rising phenomenon on the publication’s heatseekers index, peaking at the pole position. “Spin the Bottle,” a quirky, rollicking tune written in 5/4, was featured in Reality Bites, one of the era’s most celebrated films. Its accompanying video, directed by Ben Stiller, features Hatfield and the band playing the pubescent-favorite game alongside the actor Ethan Hawke and Belly’s Tanya Donelly. Its follow-up, Hatfield’s Only Everything, released in 1995, further highlighted her dexterous guitar shredding against a backdrop of melodic pop structures. It catapulted her fierce-yet-tender outlook to new heights, and produced two more celebrated singles, “Universal Heart-Beat” and “What a Life.” The same year, she contributed the original song “So-Called Angels” to cult-favorite television show My So-Called Life, and made her acting debut on the show’s Christmas episode.
Since her commercial peak, Hatfield has released 16 solo albums of stirring originals and imaginative covers, delving further into her love of melodic pop and rock frameworks, and fine-tuning her unmatched vision. In 2001 she reconvened the Blake Babies for a new album, God Bless the Blake Babies, and in 2016 she collaborated with The Replacements’ Paul Westerberg under the band name The I Don’t Cares. She’s adorned magazine covers and played the country’s most celebrated rock clubs but at her core Hatfield is an artist and a technician — a skilled singer, songwriter and player whose influence and endurance is all but unmatched.