As We Remember: Introducing 1999
As We Remember is a monthly series devoted to taking a look back at specific years in music. Who doesn't like to get nostalgic?Posted by Tarin Fasano
Nothing tickles your nostalgia quite like music. It’s a love-hate exchange. Take an inescapable record for example; It gets overplayed until you can’t bear to listen to it anymore. Then, after an unspecified grace period, it becomes palatable again. More time passes, and the nostalgic twinge kicks in, taking you back to the days you’d cruise the highway in your Acura TL, high-tech cruise control set, windows down, radio blaring the latest single dropped by your favorite artist of the moment.
Let’s take a little trip back to 1999.
Sure. There were some truly terrible one-hit-wonders, like “Blue (Da Ba Dee)” by Eiffel 65 and “Who Let the Dogs Out??” by the Baha Men. But on the flipside, there were some bad-ass, full length albums:
- No Exit by Blondie : “new-wave” apparently means eclectic, brash, and catchy as hell.
- The Real Slim Shady LP by Eminem : Eminem is (was?) sincere, raw, ballsy. This right here is Marshal supreme.
- Slow Riot for Zerø Kanada by Godspeed You! Black Emperor : named after Mitsuo Yanagimachi’s 1976 flick on a Japanese bike gang. Put it in your ears and be patient.
- Terror Twilight by Pavement : back when “indie rock” was actually kind of a genre.
- 69 Love Songs by The Magnetic Fields : intelligent drollery and magnetic melodies. Yes.
- When the Pawn… by Fiona Apple : she did angst right. Why is that so hard?!
1999 also re-introduced us to a Mickey Mouse Club childhood favorite. This time, clad in mini skirts and pig tails, Britney Spears released her debut album which skyrocketed up the charts (but sorry baby, can’t listen to that one more time). Female empowerment continued: Foxy Brown became the first female rapper to debut an album at #1, and Cher‘s single “Believe” made her the oldest female artist to reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 at 52. Pharoahe Monch blessed us with “Simon Says (Get the F*ck Up)” and Ol’ Dirty Bastard with “Baby I Got Your Money.” Good luck reading that title without singing it. And of course, who could forget the corny lines and terrible dancing that birthed out of the plethora of corny boy band posses and sassy girl groups… moving on.
Despite the highs, there are always lows. Harlem rapper Big L was shot at 24. Curtis Mayfield left us at 57. Morphine’s brilliant bassist and lead singer Mark Sandman died on stage in Italy at 46. Digital hard-core punk Atari Teenage Riot also literally started a riot in Berlin that landed a swat team swatting everyone down.
Devastating tragedy also struck April 20 when teens Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold marched onto the Columbine High School grounds, leaving an aftermath of 13 dead and 21 wounded. Since music and society are so intertwined, some flocked to blaming violent goth music as the cause of the massacre. Marilyn Manson was victimized, despite the shooters having not listened to his music. It was later uncovered that German industrial metal bands, like Rammstein and KMFDM, were more Harris and Klebold’s style. KMFDM’s Sascha Konietzko refuted blame saying his music actually denounced “war, oppression, fascism and violence against others.”
1999 was an explosive year for music, as the world teetered on the cusp of the new millennium. There was a great tension between looking forward and looking back, exploring new sounds through technology and exploiting nostalgia for times gone. And yes, our 1999 series will be doing that too. Each week of September we’ll be releasing an article notating music from 1999. While our recognition isn’t comprehensive, it is of note. So sit back, relax, and pop open a can of your collectible Star Wars Episode 1 Pepsi cans.
Welcome to the music of 1999.