Recently, I was introduced to a song called '1999' by Charlie XCX and Troye Sivan. A catchy little tune with a pretty awesome video clip looking back at some of the pop culture things of that year.
It's a nostalgic song, and, with all songs of that nature, it got me thinking about the subject. In this case: 1999. On the world stage, it was not a particularly eventful year. People were getting ready for the date change to the year 2000 and the infamous Y2k Bug that ended up being such a damp squib. Of course, the millennium did not start until 2001, but the date change was really cool. Fashion trends were all over the shop, music trends were just as bad, and the one thing to be said was that there was no new one unifying thing. Apart from the Columbine High School Massacre, the deaths of Dusty Springfield and Stanley Kubrick and the tragic death of Owen Hart, it was not a nightmarish year. Shakespeare in Love won the Oscar for best picture. The euro became the common currency in Europe. And, much to the chagrin of musicians everywhere, Napster made its arrival on the scene!
Oh, and the worst professional wrestling Pay-Per-View EVER aired (Heroes of Wrestling). Bad? Bad? Words cannot describe its awfulness, made even worse by the main event being ruined by a drunk performer. I've watched it probably half a dozen times. It's addictive. Sorry. Weird diversion there.
TV told us we'd have this in 1999 - what happened?
1999 wasn't a bad year for me, either. I got married in January (has not seen this distance, unfortunately) and my job at the time picked up quite nicely. My sport was going reasonably well and life was in a pleasant place.
Now, what songs sound-tracked such a satisfying time of my life? Let's have a look and see shall we?
To start with, honourable mentions to: Genie in a Bottle (Christina Aguilera); Mama Told Me Not To Come (Tom Jones); Blame Canada (South Park: The Movie Soundtrack); Livin' La Vida Loca (Ricky Martin); Put Your Lights On (Santana); Blue (Da Ba Dee) (Eiffel 65); Room At The Top (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers); Starf**kers Inc. (Nine Inch Nails); With Arms Wide Open (Creed); My Name Is (Eminem); Smooth (Santana); The Cup Of Life (Ricky Martin); Scar Tissue (Red Hot Chili Peppers); Sexbomb (Tom Jones); Why Does It Always Rain On Me? (Travis); Steal My Sunshine (Len). Come on already you can see this is a great year!
The List proper!
The Bad Touch by Bloodhound Gang Before I start: Warning! Naughty language/concept alert! I reckon it is that whole idea and the chorus about doing it like animals on Discovery Channel made this song. It was so funny and yet for a while you couldn't go anywhere without hearing kids singing it somewhere. Because, admit it, it's catchy as all hell.
Praise You by Fatboy Slim I really enjoyed the You've Come A Long Way Baby album by Fatboy Slim and this track stands out as one of the best on it. Although released in 1998, this track was not released as a single until 1999 so it just fits in. It is singable and fun and just a joyous song.
Last Kiss by Pearl Jam
I missed this one for my best cover versions column, and that was my bad. Eddie Vedder's voice puts so much gravitas into this teenage death song that it sounds sadder than the choral-inflected original. I like the original and this is one of those rare occasions where the cover is better than the first.
All Star by Smash Mouth
1999 was a good year for guitar-based rock, and Smash Mouth were one of the many bands to have success in that year. This song was one I heard a lot at the gym my aerobics instructor was a fan of it for her warm-up song and it is one I still enjoy singing along to. Another song filled with joy.
She's So High by Tal Bachman
At the time, you could not turn on the television without hearing this song being used to promote some television show or another, and it did start to grate through over-use. However, with the value of hindsight, listening to the track again for another column that I have been working on for a little while, I actually quite like it. It is a smooth sounding track with some great lyrical allusions you just don't get that often in pop music.
All The Small Things by Blink-182
I enjoy Blink-182. Even the recent Bored to Death is a great song. This was the track that introduced them to me. I bought the album (Enema Of The State) and have kept in touch with their releases ever since. But this track is still my favourite of theirs. Such a cool song, showing that guitar-driven rock did not die in the 90s.
Why Don't You Get a Job? by The Offspring
Another song that you heard everywhere, especially being sung by younger people. With actually a tough love motivational lyric, it is a strange track to be so popular, but it was and deservedly so. And more proof that guitar songs were still kicking at the end of the twentieth century. Oh, and if you ever get a chance to hear the version by John Williamson from Triple-M radio, do so. Fantastic, showing what a great song it is.
Affirmation by Savage Garden
This song has some of the greatest lyrics ever written. I mean that. It is such a positive track, driven by a pulsing beat and lyrics that actually, genuinely mean something. It is awesome. This is the sort of song I wish I could write. Everything about it is uplifting and full of hope. You just do not hear this sort of sentiment often enough any longer.
Learn to Fly by Foo Fighters
Another guitar-driven song. The Foo Fighters, born in the demise of Nirvana, have seen Dave Grohl become one of the greatest songwriters and band-leaders in modern rock music. And, as the video for this shows, he does not take himself too seriously. He seems like a genuinely nice guy, and he can write awesome songs. He is one of the very few 'famous' people I would like to one day meet. And this track is simply fantastic.
Weir by Killing Heidi
Australia's Killing Heidi was a band I never got a chance to see live. 1999 was a time when I was seeing live music on a semi-regular basis and I really liked this song, but I never got a chance to see them, which was a damn shame. The song is great with one of those quiet-loud-quiet structures that used to be a staple on rock and seemed to fall out of fashion. And, for the record, I find Ella Hooper, the lead singer, more gorgeous now than she was back in 1999 one of those women who get sexier as she gets older. Sorry.
And a bonus track. I generally don't put comedy or parody tracks in these lists, but this one deserves a mention because it is my favourite song released in 1999.
The Saga Begins by 'Weird Al' Yankovic
American Pie used to explain the entire plot of Star Wars Episode 1. That's it. Simple and done to perfection. Hilarious. The lyrics are spot on perfect not only in what they say but in how they match the original. Of course, 'Weird Al' is a master of that (none are better) but this does stand as one of his finest hours.
Notice how positive so many of these songs are? I think that was an earmark of the year. Anyway, what did I miss? Please, let us know in the comments section below!