The film was distributed by Warner Bros. and released theatrically on September 18, 1992 to generally positive reviews from critics and moderate box office success, grossing over $18 million.
Singles centers on the precarious romantic lives of a group of young Gen X'ers in Seattle, Washington, at the height of the 1990s grunge phenomenon. Most of the characters dwell in an apartment block, a sign in front of which advertises "Singles" (single bedroom apartments) for rent. Divided into chapters, the film focuses on the course of two couples' rocky romances, as well as the love lives of their friends and associates.
The film stars Bridget Fonda as Janet, a coffee-bar waitress fawning over Cliff, an aspiring, yet slightly aloof grunge rock musician (Matt Dillon) of the fictional grunge/rock band Citizen Dick (which features members of the real-life grunge group Pearl Jam), Kyra Sedgwick and Campbell Scott as Linda Powell and Steve Dunne, respectively - a couple wavering on whether to commit to each other, and Sheila Kelley as Debbie Hunt, who is trying to find Mr. Right - a man who would make an ideal romantic partner - by making a video to express her desire. The events of the film are set against the backdrop of the early 1990s grunge movement in Seattle and features appearances from several musicians prominent in that movement.
In the end (aside from some setbacks) Debbie meets her perfect significant other at an airport, Linda and Steve finally commit to each other (Steve leaves the apartment block to be with Linda), and Cliff realizes that Janet is the one for him after she finally gives up on their relationship.
The film was shot at a number of locations around Seattle and includes scenes at Gas Works Park, Capitol Hill, Jimi Hendrix's original grave at Greenwood Memorial Park in Renton and Pike Place Market. The central coffee shop featured in the film is the now-closed OK Hotel. The apartment building is located on the northwest corner of the intersection of E Thomas St & 19th Ave E. Additional concert footage was shot in the now-defunct RKCNDY bar.
Most of Matt Dillon's wardrobe in the movie actually belonged to Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament. During the making of the film Ament produced a list of song titles for the fictional band, Citizen Dick. Chris Cornell took it as a challenge to write songs for the film using those titles, and "Spoonman" was one of them. An early acoustic version of the song was created and can be heard in the background during a scene of the film. Citizen Dick's song name "Touch Me, I'm Dick" is a word play on the song "Touch Me, I'm Sick" by the Seattle band Mudhoney. Also, in the inside cover photo of the soundtrack, there is a Citizen Dick CD with the track listing on the CD itself. One of the songs is called "Louder Than Larry (Steiner)", a wordplay on the Soundgarden album, Louder Than Love. The band name Citizen Dick is a play on the Seattle band Citizen Sane, which itself is a play on the 1941 film, Citizen Kane.
Singles holds an 80% critical approval rating on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes based on 49 reviews.
Tim Appelo wrote in Entertainment Weekly, "With ... an ambling, naturalistic style, Crowe captures the eccentric appeal of a town where espresso carts sprout on every corner and kids in ratty flannel shirts can cut records that make them millionaires." Meanwhile, Seattle's The Stranger was less kind to Crowe's use of the local background, reviewing "he's relying on the general hipness of our little burg and on the star power of a few local musicians/bit actors to make a bundle of dough, and he hasn't bothered to back them up with anything worth remembering. Pleasant is about the only word I can think of to describe the thing."
Warner Bros. Television tried immediately to turn Singles into a television series. Crowe claims that Singles inspired the television series Friends.
On July 5, 2015, Derek Erdman held a public screening of the movie in the courtyard of Capitol Hill’s Coryell Court Apartments—the building in which the main characters live. The event was attended by over 1,000 people. Despite initial concerns by the landlord, the event went off smoothly. The crowd was respectful and cleaned up after themselves. Reports of Bridget Fonda being in attendance were false. It was actually her aunt, Jane Fonda.
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:2002: AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions – Nominated
The Singles soundtrack was released on June 30, 1992 through Epic Records and became a best seller three months before the release of the film. The soundtrack included music from key bands from the Seattle music scene of the time, such as Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden. Pearl Jam performed two previously-unreleased songs on the soundtrack: "Breath" and "State of Love and Trust". The Soundgarden song "Birth Ritual" and Chris Cornell's solo song "Seasons" appear on the soundtrack. Paul Westerberg of The Replacements contributed two songs to the soundtrack and provided the score for the film. The Smashing Pumpkins also contributed to the soundtrack with the song "Drown".