Let's party like it's....
A few years ago, I was introduced to a song by Barns Courtney called 99. I was sitting in Medicine Hat’s Esplanade Theatre waiting for a concert to start when the song suddenly blared over the sound system:
“Back then, we were trading cards behind the swings/Oh no, now it's money, gold, and diamond rings/Now those days are over/And we are all ghosts/ Come on, love we’ll be just fine/we’re gonna live just like it’s 1999.”
As soon as the words hit my ears, I was filled with immediate nostalgia and longing. In that moment, just for a split second, I would have done anything to turn the clock back. The song brought out in me deep sentiments for a year which was filled with change, growth and of course, new frontiers on my musical revolution.
As mentioned in my first post (Because I’m All About That Base…), 1999 was the year my family left Saskatchewan to return to our southern Ontario roots. I was happy about the move; while my family life in the province had been great, school life with my peers was difficult. I was ready for a new scene.
Britney’s …Baby One More Time had provided the welcome soundtrack as we pulled into the driveway of our new home, signaling change was ahead for me in this exciting new chapter. I couldn’t wait.
We had moved into a two-storey house in the small hamlet of Walsingham, 20 minutes from more well-known cities such as Simcoe and Tillsonburg, and an hour away from London. I was 11 and my three siblings were in their mid-teens; at this age, we were all hard wired into music.
My oldest sister thrived on Sheryl Crow, Celine Dion, No Doubt and Britney Spears; my other sister was sucked into boyband land, dreamy over the Backstreet Boys, 98 Degrees and N’Sync. My brother claimed to be too cool for all of that, and instead opted for the rock stylings of bands like Metallica, Creed, Blink-182, and The Tea Party.
Living with three older siblings whose musical tastes touched every genre allowed my 11-year-old ears to soak it all up like a giant sponge; I became so well versed that I could turn the dial to any station on popular radio and instantly identify the song and artist being played.
But, let’s face it: musically, 1999 was an explosive year. Britney and Christina were battling each other in a race to the top of the charts, each hoping to be crowned teen pop queen; Cher made a stunning comeback with the bombastic Believe; Blink-182 released Enema Of The State, a pop-punk goldmine full of catchy, inappropriate songs; Backstreet Boys had even their toughest critics swooning over I Want It That Way; the Red Hot Chili Peppers were venturing into a new musical style with their smash album Californication; Jennifer Lopez made the transition from actress to singer with her debut single, If You Had My Love, and the world was introduced to Beyonce as one-third of the pop trio, Destiny’s Child.
And who can forget the parade of one-hit wonders released like rapid fire?
Len was crooning about big fat Slurpee treats in Steal My Sunshine, Eifel 65 was singing about the perils of coloured life in Blue, Lou Bega was basking in shrouds of women with Mambo No. 5, Bloodhound Gang was every parent’s worst nightmare with their innuendo filled The Bad Touch, Filter marveled at feeling like a newborn in Take A Picture, and Sixpence None The Richer made you believe in love and magic again with Kiss Me.
Honestly, I could go on. The hits literally just kept on coming.
This musical big bang blew my world wide open, filling me with hope and optimism, while providing a fucking great soundtrack for my adolescent experiences.
I remember huddling around a computer with my friends during the lunch hour, eagerly waiting for one of them to slide “Big Shiny Tunes 4” into the CD-ROM so we could listen to Red Hot Chili Peppers’ sweet new track, Scar Tissue.
I remember linking arms with several of my female classmates in the school yard as we unapologetically sang TLC’s No Scrubs at the top of our lungs.
I remember a heated debate with my friend, who insisted that Smooth was clearly the best track on Santana’s number one album Supernatural, NOT Maria Maria.
I remember crying in my friend’s car the first time I heard Black Balloon by The Goo Goo Dolls.
I remember sitting in front of the TV every Saturday afternoon with my siblings, watching the Chum Top 30 Countdown, where we were blown away by Sugar Ray’s Every Morning, and Smash Mouth’s All-Star.
I remember my friend Chris lending me his Walkman at recess, urging me to check out Higher, a great new song by Creed.
I remember playing Bailamos full blast on my parents’ stereo, wishing I could dance with Enrique Iglesias, too.
I remember feeling terrified for my life when I heard Eminem for the first time while sitting next to my dad (I survived thanks to the Dixie Chicks and Goodbye Earl).
I remember having the biggest crush on Ricky Martin as he crooned about Livin’ La Vida Loca.
True to the feeling that welled up inside me when we pulled into our home’s new driveway, 1999 was indeed wonderful and transformative. The songs that emerged that year were grand and forever-defining for me as a person. They were the soundtrack that played out as I went from being a girl who had been isolated and lonely to a girl suddenly surrounded by friends, brimming with confidence and happiness.
So, when I’m reminded of that era today, I wish I could go back there for just a little while to experience the joy of 1999 …Baby One More Time.