The year was 1999. It was the final 365 days before the Millennium and with the fear of Y2K before us, it felt like anything could happen. Maybe it was the fear that the world was going to end or just a certain amount of “carpe diem” creeping into the system but it seemed like music tastes were all over the place. Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys led the pop charge and dominated the TRL era. Latin music exploded thanks to Ricky Martin. Meanwhile, punk decided to go punk, rap decided to go rock and R&B decided to kick men to the curb. It was a year all onto itself and these are the biggest moments turning 15 as we roll into 2014.
Blink-182 Goes From Punk to Pop
Following the success of “Dammit,” Blink-182 went back into the studio to record Enema of the State. The album was an immediate success, making the group the kings of pop punk in 1999. The first three singles, “What’s My Again?,” “All The Small Things,” and “Adam’s Song,” all became staples on Total Request Live and helped develop the group’s signature parody mentality only to become parodied by Eminem a year later.
Women Dominate the Grammy Awards
The 41st annual Grammy Awards was commonly referred to as the “Year of Women” in the press. Lauryn Hill, Madonna, Shania Twain, Sheryl Crow and Garbage (fronted by Shirley Manson) were nominated for Album of the Year. Meanwhile, Hill led the pack five wins, Madonna took home three and Alanis Morissette, Celine Dion, Dixie Chicks and Shania Twain followed up with two apiece.
Jennifer Lopez Starts Singing
Even though Lopez was a rising star in Hollywood, she risked it all with her debut album, On the 6th. To the surprise of many critics, the album was a huge success. Her lead single, “If You Had My Love,” became the 12th biggest song of the year and “Waiting For Tonight” quickly became the anthem of millennium celebrations.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers Return
Following an 8-year hiatus, the Red Hot Chili Peppers finally returned with guitarist John Frusciante and released a new album, Californication. Produced by Rick Rubin (who later became the go-to producer for reviving careers), the album went on to sell over 5 million copies in the U.S. “Scar Tissue” became a huge hit on the radio and TRL and was eventually won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Song.
Backstreet Boys Sell 9 million+
As a marker of the group’s biggest year, the Backstreet Boys sold over 9 million copies of Millennium, which was later nominated for the Grammy’s Album of the Year. The group became megastars in 1999, appearing on every cover, red carpet, award show, every TRL countdown and shut down Times Square.
Christina Aguilera Wants You to Rub Her the Right Way
One song that we can hardly believe turned 15 this year was Christina Aguilera’s sexual innuendo, “Genie in a Bottle.” The song was easily one of the biggest of the year and became a massive thanks to the power of TRL. She followed up the hit with “What A Girl Wants” and quickly made it clear that she was more than a one hit wonder and firmly established her place among the Britneys and Jessicas of the pop princesses.
Mariah Carey Tops The Beatles
With the success of “Heartbreaker” (featuring Jay Z and the hyphen), Mariah Carey chipped away at several records that were only held by Elvis Presley and The Beatles. It became her 14th single (at the time) to reach number one, putting her third behind Presley (17) and The Beatles (20). It also helped her reach 60 weeks atop of the charts surpassing The Beatles as the artist with the with the most weeks at number one. It should also be noted that the video introduced belt loop-less jeans and reminded us Jerry O’Connell still existed.
Puffy Daddy Is Arrested
1999 was a rough year for the rapper. In April, Puffy Daddy was charged with assault for an altercation with Nas’ manager, Steve Stoute, over the video for “Hate Me Now.” In December of that year, Puffy and then-girlfriend Jennifer Lopez were at a New York club when gunfire broke out. The two fled the incident and Puffy was later charged arrested for weapons violation. The rapper was accused of bribing his driver to claim ownership of his gun found following the shooting. Shyne was also arrested and eventually convicted on gun charges. He was sentenced to ten years in prison. Puffy was cleared of all charges but lost Lopez due to the scandal.
“Kiss Me” Becomes the Soundtrack of Teen Romance
Sixpence None The Richer had a big year thanks to the success of “Kiss Me.” The song became a massive hit when it was featured on Dawson’s Creek and, later, in She’s All That’s most iconic scene: When Laney Boggs makes her way downstairs, revealing her busted-to-beauty makeover. From there, it was heard at every prom, party and teen-themed romantic moment throughout the year.
Ladies of R&B Put Men in Their Place
One of the biggest music trends in 1999 was women putting the smack down on men. There was no time for late-night partying (Whitney Houston, “It’s Not Right, But It’s Okay”) scrubs (TLC, “No Scrubs”) who couldn’t pay their bills (Destiny’s Child, “Bills, Bills, Bills”) and were just straight bugging (Destiny’s Child, “Bug A Boo”). In fact, a good (Total, “Trippin”), no cheating man (Chante Moore, “Chante’s Got a Man”) was so hard to find that these ladies had to fend off others (702, “Where My Girls At?”). It was just a matter of time before these men realized what they did wrong (R. Kelly, “When a Woman’s Fed Up”).
Ricky Martin Leads the Latin Explosion
The biggest star to emerge in 1999 was easily Ricky Martin. Thanks to the catchy, hip-shaking single, “Livin’ La Vida Loca,” Martin was the man every woman wanted to be with and every man wanted to be. Still unknown at the time, his charm and charisma won over an entire audience at the 1999 Grammy Awards and helped usher in the Latin Explosion. Jennifer Lopez, Enrique Iglesias and Shakira all followed soon after.
Sean Parker Releases Napster
If there’s one thing the record industry never saw coming, it was the power of the internet. Sean Park (and team) helped revolutionize the way fans consume music thanks to the release of Napster. It wasn’t until 2000 that the downloading service became subject of lawsuits, national attention and the ire of the record industry. But it did more to advance the industry (for better or worse) than anything else in the internet era.
“Mambo No. 5” Is The “Gangnam Style” of 1999
There was no more insufferable hit of 1999 than the mambo song by Lou Bega. It. Was. Everywhere. And then suddenly it was gone. Whew.
Justin Timberlake & Britney Spears Start Dating
As if decreed by the gods of pop music, Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears quietly started dating at the beginning of 1999 and quickly became the pop prince and princess of 1999 and 2000. Their matching outfits, chart-topping singles, magazine covers, hand-holding, shared performances, bubble gum sweetness, “virgin-until-married” message was everything that was and could be. Too bad it all came shattering down when Wade Robson seduced Spears, leading to rumors of cheating and eventual breakup of the greatest couple of pop.
The Day Music Dies
One of the darker moments in 1999 belonged to Woodstock. The second large-scale revival of the festival (following Woodstock ’94) was meant to be a celebration of music but quickly turned into a mix of corporate greed and disillusioned youth. Thanks to oppressive heat, poor conditions, expensive food and water, the crowd quickly turned on the festival. Fires broke out, a number sexual assaults were reported, seven people were arrested and at least six injured due to fires.