When trudging along on the elliptical the other day, “Suit & Tie” just wasn’t quite cutting it. It seems pop music these days has gotten overcomplicated, caught up in debates of selling out, producer ADD, and electronica overdose.
So, I began an ipod shuffle, all the way back to 1999. 1999 brought us some of the most iconic pop songs of the last 30 years, and is widely remembered as a Renaissance of sorts for the genre. Here are some tunes worth remembering on this Throwback Thursday.
Mariah Carey and Jay-Z, “Heartbreaker”
Before Beyonce, Mariah was Jay’s go-to diva. In this infectious collaboration, Mariah reminded us of why she (at one point) knew how to integrate Pop and Rap like no other. Plus, who can forget when she fights herself in the video?
Christina Aguilera, “Genie in a Bottle”
This is song is more sugary than a Mardi Gras beignet—in a good way. “I’m a genie in a bottle/gotta rub me the right way” wails Aguilera, proving she could smut up any lyrics with runs to make Mariah nervous.
Destiny’s Child, “Say My Name”
From Darkchild’s opening proclamation, this song set the bar for a resurge of the girl group. “Say My Name” has all the high energy qualities of a good Destiny’s Child song: forced rhyme, rapid lyrics, and ghetto gems (“at the crib with another lady”?)
Plus, in an ironic twist- because the group was shuffling so rapidly in 1999, we could not say their names.
Britney Spears, “(You Drive Me) Crazy”
Spears certainly delivered in her second single from …Baby One More Time, combining all of the elements of a killer pop song: an unbeatable hook, mid-song breakdown, and iconic choreography. Also, if you don’t have the “Stop” remix, consider yourself deprived.
Jennifer Lopez, “Waiting for Tonight”
Within the pop music Renaissance of 1999 sprung another movement- the Latin pop explosion. Led by Jennifer Lopez and songs like “Waiting for Tonight,” latin-tinged music became mainstream. “Waiting for Tonight” combines the best elements of the genre: club beats, enough Spanish to make it sexy, and, of course, J.Lo.
Whitney Houston, “It’s Not Right, But It’s Ok”
This song represented a new era for Houston, as she began to experiment with more urban beats. “It’s Not Right, But It’s Ok,” features Whitney calling out her man with the iconic line “cuz only two of you had dinner/I found your credit card receipt.” The rest of the song projects survival, with iconic Houston vocals. True Whitney aficionados will have the Thunderpuss remix.
TLC, “No Scrubs”
TLC’s guide to how to pick a man. Still contains inspirational gems worth crocheting on a pillow. I.e. “Can’t get with a deadbeat ass.”
Britney Spears, “Baby One More Time”
If 1999 was a Renaissance for Pop, Britney was its Michelangelo, sculpting and defining the genre with this one song. Mature, sexualized lyrics sung by a 17-year-old from Louisiana produced a watershed event where pop again became sexy and controversial.
Plus, it’s impeccably crafted with one of the best hooks ever written, guaranteed to transport you back to a school dance with one second of “my loneliness”–or more practically, to at least help you finish your spin class.