There are few things from my childhood I remember as vividly as the year 1999. I was nine, going on ten years old that November.
Although I was still a little girl, I was old enough to have my own established interests in music. I outgrew nursery rhymes and was empowered to listen to something other than the songs my parents would subject me to in the car. I owned a Walkman (thanks mom). My CD collection called for its own drawer in my bedroom. I watched MTV, started reading teen magazines, and learned about love through lyrics.
Yet somehow twenty years have passed and I’m turning thirty. I’m not afraid to say goodbye to my twenties, I just find it hard to grasp that 1999 was two decades ago. I know, I know… thirty isn’t old. But for the first time, I know what it’s like to not always be the young one in the room. No one asks me if I made honor roll, or inquires about what I want to study in college. That’s old news, and this is a new feeling.
It’s strange for me to see teenagers and young adults who weren’t even born before the new millennium. I wonder what music looks like from their nine-year-old perspectives, and I can’t help but think there’s no way their musical upbringing was as decorated as the millennials who lived through 1999. Today’s young generation grew up on Justin Bieber. I grew up on Justin Timberlake… need I say more?
In my mind, I was born at the perfect time. I was too young to appreciate some of the musical treasures from the early 90’s like New Kids on the Block, Alanis Morisette, or Nirvana. In 1996 and 1997, I followed the Spice Girls and played MMMBop on repeat. But 1999 was the mark of something bigger, something special. A new era of music began, and it felt like mine.
Countless game-changing artists were either debuting for the first time or were in their prime. It was the dawn of boy bands, princesses of pop, and so many others who we now consider icons. In twenty years, they’ve cemented legacies.
Without a doubt, 1999 was the best year in music.
In case your memory is a little foggy, let’s take a look back at everything that happened that year.
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January 12 — Britney Spears releases her debut album, … Baby One More Time. I don’t think I need to elaborate on this.
January 25 — We first hear from a white rapper named Eminem with a controversial song called “My Name Is.”
February 2 — R&B trio TLC releases the anthem we still know and love today, “No Scrubs.”
March — Shania Twainturns us all into country fans with “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!”
March 23 — Ricky Martin has us singing in Spanglish with his debut hit, “Livin’ la Vida Loca.”
April 8 — Kid Rock’s comes out with “Bawitdaba,” the angry banger we didn’t know we needed.
April 12 — The Backstreet Boys release the best boy band song ever, “I Want It That Way.” Timeless.
May 11 — Jennifer Lopez proves she’s a triple threat by complementing her acting and dancing career with her first venture in music with “If You Had My Love.”
May 18 — One of the best-selling albums of all time, Millennium, hits stores.
June 1 – Blink-182 reaches superstar status with their third album, Enema of the State, which features the smash single, “What’s My Age Again?”
June 14 — Destiny’s Child teaches us about deadbeat boyfriends with their first successful single, “Bills, Bills, Bills” and introduces us to queen Bey.
June 22 — One of the best voices of all time, Christina Aguilera, emerges with “Genie In a Bottle.”
July — Technically, her first single didn’t come out until 2000, but at this time Pink was off in a studio recording her upcoming album, Can’t Take Me Home.
September 9 – The MTV Video Music Awards was the ultimate culmination of the year’s events so far with performances by the Backstreet Boys, Kid Rock, Ricky Martin, TLC, Jay-Z, Eminem, and of course Britney Spears and ‘N Sync. The choreography was insane.
November 2 – The ultimate diva and the best voice of all time, Mariah Carey, lets us know she’s here to stay with her Rainbow album, featuring “Heartbreaker.”
November 23 — Move over Britney and Christina. Jessica Simpson makes her mark with her first album, Sweet Kisses. Rather than going with a bubble-gum pop single, Jessica shows us she has pipes with her ballad “I Wanna Love You Forever.”
Although there are so many other defining moments of 1999 that I’m leaving out, it this was the start for so many artists. Often, people can’t understand why I love this year and these musicians so much, but they really enhanced my life (and inspired this blog). I was just a nine-year-old girl singing from the top of her lungs. These artists showed up for me, and what’s crazy, is they continue to do so twenty years later. In the past year alone, I’ve seen Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, the Backstreet Boys, and Jennifer Lopez in concert.
There are some musicians who make their fortune and fade out of the spotlight. But the ones I love keep moving, keep producing, and keep writing the soundtrack of my life through every decade. The Backstreet Boys, Jennifer Lopez, and Britney Spears just finished Las Vegas residencies and Christina Aguilera is about to start one. Justin Timberlake and Pink have both been touring, and BSB and J.Lo begin tours this summer. Beyonce keeps surprising us. The list goes on. I am so thankful for 1999.
But if you’re still not convinced that 1999 was the best year ever, it also gave us Mambo No. 5.