OK, we like One Direction, Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift as much as the next person, but there’s something about music from the ’90s and early 2000s that keeps us coming back for more — again and again.
…Baby One More Time
Let’s go back to a simpler time — 1999, to be exact — and remember how we first learned about Britney Spears. The …Baby One More Time singer was every guy’s dream — and us girls just wanted to be her (admit it). Plus, we can’t listen to “Email My Heart” without getting more than a little nostalgic for the time when it was just about the pure pop music, not the head shaving and craziness.
Essential track: “Sometimes”
Billy Joe Armstrong, Tré Cool and Mike Dirnt were just the sort of SoCal bad boys we needed in our lives back in 1994 when Green Day released Dookie. The album was stuffed full of fast-paced songs that we loved to blast from our CD players to show our middle-school peers just how punk and badass we were.
Truth be told, we’re totally still doing the same thing now.
Essential track: “Basket Case”
There’s not a girl alive who didn’t try to bleach her hair and rock the midriff-baring tops and bindi after catching her first glimpse of Gwen Stefani and No Doubt. Tragic Kingdom should be required listening for all teenage girls.
Essential track: “Just a Girl”
We tell you what we want, what we really, really want: more Spice Girls jams, thanks. These British imports showed us that yes, nicknames really are important — oh, and that platform boots really are a fashion essential.
Essential track: “Wannabe” …zigga zig ah!
Miss E… So Addictive
Missy Elliott dominated the late ’90s and early 2000s with her weird take on rapping and hip hop… and we loved every minute of it. Come back with some new stuff, Missy!
Essential track: “Get Ur Freak On”
The Writing’s on the Wall
We all had that ex who made us want to throw our pager out the window and turn our phones off — we just didn’t know how to tell him that until Destiny’s Child gave us the masterpiece that is The Writing’s on the Wall. Thanks for the jams, Queen Beyoncé!
Essential track: “Bug a Boo”
TLC taught us that waterfalls aren’t all they’re cracked up to be with their 1994 smash CrazySexyCool — even if we didn’t quite understand what Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes was really rapping about.
Essential track: “Waterfalls”
Lauryn Hill proved that she’s more than the girl from Sister Act II with the release of Fugees’ 1996 album The Score. Plus, it introduced us to the greatness that is Wyclef Jean, so we’re thankful for that, too.
Essential track: “Killing Me Softly”
We wonder if Australian heartthrobs Darren Hayes and Daniel Jones realized their song “Truly, Madly, Deeply” would be the essential school dance track when they released it in on their eponymous 1997 album. We mean, c’mon — what guy didn’t try to pick up chicks by trying the “I wanna stand with you on a mountain, bathe with you in the sea” line?
Note to dudes everywhere: It worked for Savage Garden, but not for you… sorry.
Essential track: “I Want You”
The Smashing Pumpkins
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
Billy Corgan and the rest of The Smashing Pumpkins were just the coolest back in the mid-’90s, mostly because their angsty rock made our parents cringe.
And why did they hate it? Because Corgan infected our souls with rebellion when he snarled lyrics like “The world is a vampire.” Or, so our parents thought.
Essential track: “Bullet With Butterfly Wings”
Guns N’ Roses
Use Your Illusion I
Admit it: You still play a sick air guitar whenever Guns N’ Roses’ 1991 smash “November Rain” comes on the radio. It’s basically a requirement at this point… and yes, you have to sing along, too.
Essential track: “November Rain”
There’s no better way to remember the late ’90s than by listening to the Backstreet Boys — specifically, their 1999 multiplatinum smash, Millennium. Note to Bieber: Watch the “I Want It That Way” video and take notes, please.
Essential track: “Larger Than Life”
Is there anything better than bumpin’ Dr. Dre’s “Let Me Ride” — from his 1992 smash album The Chronic — with your car’s top down on a nice summer day? No, there’s not. Plus, the smash album introduced us to the wonder that is Snoop Dogg.
Essential track: “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang”
Fiona Apple’s Tidal might seem like a weird addition to a list of albums to jam to, but her debut album is one of the best ways to jam out when you’re in a weird, angsty mood. She’s the girl we all wanted to be as a teen: poetic and not afraid to speak her mind. Wait — we still want to be that girl!
Essential track: “Criminal”
No list of essential jams is complete without LFO’s “Summer Girls.” Why? Because New Kids on the Block had a bunch of hits and Chinese food makes me sick, that’s why.
Essential track: “Summer Girls”
Want to feel old? The baby on Nirvana’s Nevermind cover is now old enough to drink. However, we can still jam to the album like it came out yesterday.
Essential track: “Smells Like Teen Spirit”
(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?
Liam and Noel Gallagher may have been insufferable brats, but we still can’t help singing along with any of the songs from their 1995 album, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? Admit it: You can’t, either.
Essential track: “Wonderwall”
One in a Million
Aaliyah left us way too soon, but she gave us hit after hit during her all-too-short career. The best part? Her songs are timeless — and everyone hits the dance floor when the DJ plays one of her tracks.
Essential track: “If Your Girl Only Knew”
Jagged Little Pill
We’re pretty sure you still remember all the lyrics to Alanis Morissette‘s 1995 smash album Jagged Little Pill, mostly because pretty much everyone in the world owned a copy. We’re just happy our parents didn’t really listen to the album because we’d have been grounded for life.
One SheKnows reader sums up our collective Jagged Little Pill experience nicely:
“It was the first CD I ever bought. I was ten and listened to the whole thing straight through, reading along with the lyrics. She said ‘f**k,’ and I looked around to make sure my dad didn’t hear.”
Yep, pretty much.
Essential track: “You Oughta Know”
No Strings Attached
Justin Timberlake might be all dapper in his “Suit and Tie” now, but let’s be honest — we prefer the bleach-blond, ramen-noodle-haired JT from his *NSYNC days. There’s just something about his harmonies with JC Chasez, Lance Bass, Joey Fatone and Chris Kirkpatrick — and their matching outfits — that makes us long for those days gone by.
Plus, we totally still do the “Bye, Bye, Bye” dance whenever possible. No shame… and you know you do it, too.
Essential track: Duh. “Bye, Bye, Bye”