The Millennium Song
Ex. Robbie Williams, “Millennium.” ‘N Sync, “Space Cowboy.” Backstreet Boys, an entire freaking (best-selling) album entitled Millennium.
In 1999, nothing was chicer — or more contrived — than writing an anthem about the biggest New Year’s event EVER (or, since the late 19th century). Pop stars from far and wide (and England) came to the rescue of the horrified, anxious masses by feeding them bubble-gum tunes about millennia stuffs in order to distract them from the possibility that their computers would turn off and their worlds would implode. And it worked — having almost lost what was most important to them (the internet), everyone awoke in the ‘Year2K’ and decided that the only option was to form a long-lasting, ever-healthy co-dependence with our technological appendages. And thirteen years later, we shit lightning rods when the WiFi in a coffee shop turns off for two seconds. Thanks, boy bands!
The “I Just Got Tricked Into Liking Country Music” Song
Ex. Lonestar, “Amazed.” Faith Hill, “Breathe.” Shania Twain, “That Don’t Impress Me Much.”
In the old days, we welcomed faux country stars into our arms like the mainstream dreams they were. Faith Hill, Shania Twain, Lonestar — come shack up on my Billboard charts, y’all. You want the number one spot, Faith? We’ll make it happen. LeAnn Rimes is gonna cameo in Coyote Ugly? I’m there, opening night. Here was a stretch of time where no pop-lover could honestly say, “I like everything but country.” THERE WAS NO DIFFERENCE.
The Whitney Houston Comeback Song
Ex. “Heartbreak Hotel.” “When You Believe.” “It’s Not Right (But It’s OK).”
Something bad done happened to Whitney in between 1990 and 1998, when she released a slew of hits (and remixes) that made you want to sob and/or slap a dude. Following its release, every single off the My Love Is Your Love album spawned like, 30 remixes each. Her songs were multiplying like a wet Mogwai. By the time 1999 creeped around, there was so much Whitney on the radio that you began to wonder if YOU were the one smoking crack.
The “I’m An Extra On Dawson’s Creek” Song
Ex. Tal Bachman, “She’s So High Above Me.” Jann Arden, “Run Like Mad.” David Gray, “This Year’s Love.”
These are the songs that define the late ’90s. Earthy. Angsty. Flannel-y. Songs that make you want to jump in your rowboat, paddle across the creek, and jump into some blonde ~filmmaker’s~ bed. Right? Just me? Just me. OK.
The Boy Band Song
Ex. 98 Degrees, “Give Me Just One Night (Una Noche).” LFO, “Summer Girls.” Backstreet Boys, “Everybody.” ‘N Sync, “I Want You Back.” Honorable Mention: Jordan Knight, “Give it to You.”
The Boy Bands were out in full force in ’99. We had the two giants (N’Sync, BSB) and a handful of half-men (98 Degrees, LFO, BBMak — JK, BBMak is amaze). In fact, all of the boy bands were pretty decent. I only called them half-men because I began to fantasize about getting off of work and reading Game of Thrones while I was writing that last sentence. Let’s continue, shall we?
The “Is This Rock Music?” Song
Ex. Crazy Town, “Butterfly.” Sugar Ray, “Fly.” Goo Goo Dolls, “Slide.” Matchbox 20, “3 AM.”
After punk and grunge both killed themselves, we were left with… whatever this music was supposed to be. I’m not saying it was bad. I’m just saying it was… not rock? I don’t think?
The Inappropriate Bar Mitzvah Song
The only song in this category is “Too Close” by Next. AS IF YOU DIDN’T KNOW.
The Radio Friendly Rap Song
Ex. The entire Will Smith everything.
This was the year of Will Smith. He got jiggy in Miami and the Wild Wild West, and he did it all without cursing! But he’s not the only rapper to clean up his act in 1999. Why, Juvenile (very cleverly) began to spell ass with two z’s. That’s right, “Back That AZZ Up.” Totally family friendly.
The Latin Takeover Song
Ex. Carlos Santana & Rob Thomas, “Smooth.” Marc Anthony, “I Need To Know.” Enrique Iglesias, “Bailamos.”
I loved this music just as much as I feared it. These are DANCE songs, and I couldn’t DANCE. To make matters worse, all my friends grew up salsa-ing. I grew up blasting Billy Joel’s greatest hits album because I thought people walking past my apartment would think he was inside, playing his piano and being my dad (#whitegirlmentalproblems). But just when my hispanic friends were about to find out I have absolutely no rhythm, my parents whisked me away to suburbia — where everyone enjoyed this music but had trouble dancing to it in equal measure. And there, I was safe.
The One-Girl Wonder Song
Ex. Britney Spears, “…Baby One More Time.” Christina Aguilera, “Genie in a Bottle.” Lauryn Hill, “Ex-factor.” (And Cher. And Jewel. Why not?)
Once the Spice Girls went extinct, men were rounded up like cattle and marketed in a similar fashion while women kept their acts solo. And even though we had some hard times (allegedly hating white people, umbrella attacks, getting ‘dirrty’) everything worked out in the end. These three ladies are still working at least, which is more than we can say for most of the people on this list. Get yours, girls!