The years we were born. Not fully aware of what music was, and if you say you can remember the tunes from your year of birth, you’re a liar. Our writers have gathered the tracks that shaped the years they were born.
‘Romeo’ – Basement Jaxx
I was born in 2001 which makes me feel like such a baby compared to my friends. I had no idea this song came out in 2001. It’s a song that just makes me want to dance with the amount of energy it has. We also had to create a dance routine in year 10 PE to it s it brings back memories of fun times with friends in childhood.
‘Avril 14th’ – Aphex Twin
As far as years in music go, 2001 was not all that good. Between the R&B, pop-punk, and boy bands, there’s not a whole lot I’m into. In fact, it’s around this year that cultural theorist Mark Fisher claimed that new music stopped sounding innovative and began becoming almost purely revivalist. Think of that what you will. One of the few tracks from my birth year than I do like is Aphex Twin’s Avril 14th. The beautiful piano piece from the usually complex electronic music producer invokes a certain sense of sehnsucht, a German word for a sad yearning or nostalgia, often for situations that were never or could never be.
‘You Get What You Give’ – New Radicals
This is one of those songs that you might not know by the name but when you hear it, it’s an instantly recognisable banger. Released in 1998, the song has appeared everywhere and is definitely the sort of tune you could imagine putting on in a car while pretending you’re in a film.
Moving past the uplifting beats that will have characterised many of our childhoods, the song has a deeper meaning. Literally stated in the title, it’s about putting into life what you want to get out, and in that is a story of inspiration and hope.
Despite not yet going to a Newcastle game to experience this myself, the song is also a tune that has become regularly associated with football matches at St James’s Park, making it even more special to us here in the Toon.
Especially in the craziness of the world we’re living in, lyrics like ‘This world is gonna pull through’ and ‘Don’t give up, you’ve got a reason to live’ really couldn’t be more fitting.
‘Barbie Girl’ – Aqua
Upon writing this article, it turns out that many of the songs I listen to regularly were actually released in the year I was born. The rise in Britpop is well documented, with 1997 seeing the release of ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ and ‘The Drugs Don’t Work’ by The Verve, ‘Song 2’ and ‘Beetlebum’ by Blur and ‘Stand By Me’ and ‘All Around the World’ by Oasis, though the year saw a notable absence of Pulp, who only released on single that year. Other genres were graced by the likes of ‘Block Rockin’ Beats’ by The Chemical Brothers, ‘Everybody’ by The Backstreet Boys and even ‘Candle in the Wind’ by Elton John.
While these are great songs, I don’t know them word-for-word. One song from 1997 that I do know every word for, however, is ‘Barbie Girl’.
Released by Danish dance-pop group Aqua, this song provided the anthem for many of my childhood years. I not only knew the words but also choreographed dance routines, and as a seven-year-old no song could make me feel sassier.
Unsurprisingly, this song wasn’t without its controversies. Aqua’s record label MCA Records was sued by Barbie manufacturer Mattel in December 2000, alleging that the song violated their trademark and portrayed the doll as a sex object, with the lyrics tarnishing her reputation. Aqua and MCA Records fired back, arguing how Mattel interpreted their own meaning of the lyrics, and not only contested Mattel’s claims but also countersued for defamation after Mattel compared MCA to a bank robber. After a series of legal disputes, a Court of Appeals ruled that the song was protected as a parody, but also threw out Aqua’s defamation lawsuit against Mattel, ultimately concluding: “The parties are advised to chill.”
In a surprising turn of events, Mattel itself actually published a promotional music video of the song with amended lyrics in 2007 as part of a new marketing strategy.
‘Exit Music (For a Film)’ – Radiohead
1997, the year I was born, was a really good one for music. The Verve, Blur, the Charlatans and Supergrass all released hit albums that are enduring classics, but my favourite album released that year is probably OK Computer by Radiohead. ‘Exit Music (For A Film)’ is my favourite song off the album and also starts one of my favourite three track runs off any album as it’s followed by Let Down and Karma Police. It’s a hauntingly beautiful song, one of my favourites of Radiohead’s, and my favourite of 1997.
‘Hey Boy, Hey Girl’ – The Chemical Brothers
Probably their best-known song alongside Galvanize, Hey Boy, Hey Girl, came out in 1999, the year in which I also entered the world. Released as a single from the Surrender album, the song hit the top ten in nine different countries. A proper electronic classic, the sounds of the song stay the same until the only lyric “hey boy, hey girl, superstar DJs, here we go!” is played and the sounds morphs into another beat. A great tune, it isn’t complete without a weird music video of a woman imagining everyone as skeletons in a nightclub, weird but the song makes up for it.
‘Piano Fire’ – Sparklehorse
For some reason, I had a bit of trouble finding an album I liked from 2001. Most releases were RnB, for whatever reason. But then I remembered “It’s a Wonderful Life” by Sparklehorse. It’s a beautifully surrealist album and my favourite dream pop album by far. I had a hard time picking what track to write about since they’re all so damn good but I’m going with Piano Fire since it’s the first one I heard. Probably the most “upbeat” song on the album, the distorted, harsh guitar and Linkous’ low-key vocals make it one of the most stand-out tracks on a perfect album. The title refers to the RAF tradition of piano-burning, a ceremony clouded in mythical origins. Absolutely beautiful track.
‘Otherside’- Red Hot Chilli Peppers
Upon reflection, 1999 wasn’t a great year for my kind of music. Grunge was pretty much dead and Post-Grunge bands were stomping on it’s grave like a severe storm over Seattle. Britpop was still around, yawn (controversial I know but it’s easily one of my least favourite guitar music genres). Admittedly there was still some mesmerising dance music being made but the pop music moguls were beginning to get their sweaty mitts on it to manufacture their chart-toppers. Then, out of nowhere, came Californication. The Red Hot Chilli Peppers burst back onto the scene with an album so good it could rival Blood Sugar Sex Magik. ‘Otherside’ is one of the Chilli’s finest from the record. John Frusciante’s sweet guitar melody’s are just perfectly soothing while Kiedis delivers a soulful lyrical performance. Combine that with a great solo and you’ve got a classic track from an album which made Alternative Rock interesting again.
‘Learn to Fly’- Foo Fighters
Picking a song from 1999 would mean that I would be delving back into either Californication by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers or There Is Nothing Left To Lose by the Foo Fighters. Both are classic albums filled to the brim with superb tracks, but eventually I opted for this offering from Dave Grohl and co. ‘Learn To Fly’ is a perfect example of that rock sound that the Foo Fighters have undoubtedly perfected, coupled with some quite poignant lyrics that display Grohl’s talent as a lyricist. What is perhaps more impressive is that, after losing two band members and recording this album in a makeshift studio in Grohl’s basement, the band managed to produce songs that remain so popular today. ‘Learn To Fly’ is still a favourite amongst fans of the band, and it is perhaps one of the best songs from an album that, whilst somewhat DIY in nature, is one of the best from the year of 1999.
‘Californication’- Red Hot Chilli Peppers
I knew I had to pick a song by the Red Hot Chili Peppers at some point, and they’ll definitely make an appearance on this list again, but when I saw that this track I knew I had to pick it. Technically the album Californication was released in 1999, but given that the single was released separately in 2000, I’m gonna let it slide. ‘Californication’ is by far the most popular RHCP song to date, being quoted by many fans, myself included, as the entry to their amazing discography. ‘Californication’ embodies everything that the band is about. They put 110% effort in when playing it live, with an iconic introduction, exemplary vocals from Kiedis and a text-book Frusciante solo for good measure. It’s one of the more mellow tunes, a sign of their diversification from the hard-hitting punk/funky vibes of Blood Sugar Sex Magik, and the start of their musical adventure from the turn of the century.
‘Everybody’ (Backstreet’s Back)- Backstreet Boys
I’ve cheated a little here, as this song was only in 1998 by virtue of being on their US Album, it had been released earlier on one of their international albums. But I was struggling to find anything decent so this is what we’ve got! The song was nominated and won a variety of awards, and deservedly, it’s a bit too 90’s for me but still, it has a good beat and is a fun song all in all. The only thing today’s song has done is remind me how old I am.
Last modified: 22nd April 2020