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The Forgotten Songs of Summer of the Late 90s/Early 2000s

By Emily Cutler | Lists | June 10, 2016 |

By Emily Cutler | Lists | June 10, 2016 |

When Kristy did a post predicting the song of the summer for this year, it got me thinking about the dubious honor of being the song of the summer. We Marla Singer’s Bridesmaids Dress the shit out of these songs. Intensely loving them for 90 or so days, and then forgetting about them almost completely. Today we peer back into the murky depths of the late ’90s and early aughts* to rediscover the songs we loved once upon a time. Plug in your headphones, turn up the volume, and do your best cubicle dance. It’s Friday, y’all.

*In the interest in making this page view-able and really hitting those forgotten songs hard, I’ve limited the entries from 1997 - 2003. Definitely this reason and not because I don’t know music after 2004.

1997 - “Return of the Mack” by Mark Morrison
God lord, 1997 is a veritable treasure trove of terrible/ amazing summer songs. The first three? “I’ll Be Missing You,” “MMMBop,” and “Bitch.” Throw in a Biggie jam and a Spice Girls anthem, and that’s a stiff nostalgia blend. But there was one clear winner:

The Oh-my-god-this-song-exists factor was slightly lessened by a recent appearance on New Girl, but that hasn’t done anything to change how awesome the song is.

1998 - “Too Close” by Next
Fuck me, why did I start with the late ’90s? This is too hard. 1998 is too beautiful a year for this specific list. could have just copied and pasted every single song of the summer from 1998, and it would have been a goddamn masterpiece. “The Boy Is Mine,” “You’re Still The One,” “All My Life,” fucking “Come With Me?” Why is “Puff Daddy feat. Jimmy Page” a phrase that’s recorded anywhere? What kind of goddamn drugs were we doing back then?

But I still had to make a decision, and when making that decision I needed to remember, “Which song is about a dude getting a boner while dancing with a girl?” Only one.

1999 - “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay” by Whitney Houston
Seriously, I’ve changed my mind about this list. I can’t do it. How do you decided between “I Want It That Way” aka the best pop song of all time (I will fight you on this), and “Livin’ La Vida Loca” aka the best worst pop song of all time? You can’t. You can’t decide. Meaning Lady Houston’s song isn’t just empowering women to leave their no good, cheating man, but is posthumously giving her blessing on this song choice.

2000 - “Jumpin’, Jumpin’” by Destiny’s Child
Had “Bent” not recently reemerged in our pop culture landscape, it would have won easily. Or if the Aaliyah song that year had been “Are You That Somebody” instead of “Try Again”, then sure. She wins. But as it stands, Beyonce wins because Beyonce always wins.

I mean, shit, that’s still a good song.

Honorable Mention - “Crazy For This Girl” By Evan and Jared Gerund Jaron


2001 - “Hit ‘Em Up Style (Oops!)” by Blu Cantrell
This might be the year that pure garbage starts taking over the song of the summer list. O-Town, even as a joke, I can’t put you on this list. Train and Lifehouse, people assure me that you in fact make music, but I can only hear the bland blandness of ambient whale fucking noises. But I’m also in a position where I can’t just include the best song on the list. Because “Let Me Blow Ya Mind” is goddamn amazing, and if you’ve forgotten it then you’ve brought shame upon your house. Eve is a goddamn genius. Also this, kids, is the tail end of why we used to love Gwen Stefani and why we don’t understand the world anymore.

But through all of the noise and nonsense comes the perfect “Shit, I forgot about this song. It’s SO GOOD” song. Hit ‘em up, Blu.

2002 - “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton
You can’t pick “The Middle,” Emily. It wasn’t a good song 14 years ago, it’s not a good song now. Stop telling people you like Jimmy Eat World. It isn’t cool anymore. It’s not making you cool.

Fine, brain. If I can’t pick the whitest of the white bands I still listen to, then it’s a battle of the white girl singers. There’s something sort of charming now about how terrible Avril Lavigne’s songs are, but “Complicated” is no “Skater Boi.” Carlton for the win.

2003 - “P.I.M.P.” by 50 Cent
And for those of you playing along at home, 2003 is when I become significantly less familiar with the songs on the Songs of the Summer list. This is going to take a lot of leg work. Evanescence and Clay Aiken never did anything wonderful or terrible enough to be good. “Right Thurr” and “Get Busy” are both amazing, but I feel like never really left the pop culture consciousness. They are still playing both of those songs on the radio, yes? Either way, 50 Cent got shot like 9 times so I have to let him win one.