This isn’t some Buzzfeed list. This is what, 15 or so years ago, all the cool kids were dancing to at your highschool’s Spring Fling (yes, my school had one of those). And if those kids were lucky enough, their awkward, jostling moves and overly-sexual grinding might have been highlighted by video screens, platforms, and live DJs (I’m looking at you, Much Video Dance Party).
So what were the hits? What songs are the standouts (good or gag) from that glistening era of spiked hair, Y2K freedom, and belly shirts? Come on an adventure with me and I’ll take you on a miniature video dance party of our own, through late 90s and early 2000s Top 40 glory. Just don’t scuff my skate shoes.
Sisqo – “The Thong Song” (1999)
No other song has glorified the thong quite the way this song did, and its infamy lives on today (though it is definitely among the minority of karaoke requests featuring 90s songs). I was young enough to wonder whether he was rapping about sandals.
TLC – “No Scrubs” (1999)
Cues that you’re in a cusp-of-Y2K video: synchronized dancing, matching shiny outfits (bonus points if the pants are baggy), monochromatic, noncontextual, space-age-y sets.
Destiny’s Child – “Say My Name” (2000)
When this song starts pumping over the gym’s PA, it’s a call to arms that just about everyone heeds. Get ready for some dramatic arm movements to accompany all the heartfelt dance-miming you’ll ever want to see..
YOUR FIRST OBLIGATORY SLOW JAM:
Aerosmith – “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing” (1998)
It’s not a dance unless you’re forced to get uncomfortably close to another sweaty person for an excruciatingly long amount of time. When the key change hits and you know Steven Tyler is about to launch into yet
another chorus, you hang onto your partner’s hips for dear life and curse whichever teacher chose this song.
Spice Girls – “Wannabe” (1996)
Sporty. Scary. Ginger. Posh. Baby. Tell me you didn’t know every single one of those nicknames. For better or worse (in this writer’s opinion, better) the Spice Girls invaded the hearts and pants of a generation, and are probably bound to become the next ABBA in another ten years’ time. If this song wasn’t the anthem to many a young girl’s “get with my friends” attitude towards scrubs, I don’t know what was.
N Sync – “Bye Bye Bye” (2000)
It wouldn’t be a Grade 8 dance without some N Sync to add a little boy band fever, and their iconic puppet show video was legend among 13 year olds. Or maybe that was just me, because I was a diehard BSB fan and wouldn’t give N Sync the time of day (until I came to my senses much later, of course).
Blur – “Song 2” (1997)
If this song didn’t incite your first real head-banging, mosh pit experience, I don’t know what school you were from. A staple of dance-song-cum-rave-scene, Song 2 took a lot of teenyboppers to the next level. Our poor parents.
Eminem – “My Name Is” (1999)
Garnering him a Grammy in 2000, Slim Shady’s single exploded through the TV sets and stereos of highschoolers everywhere. Never was the mockery of pop culture and authority figures so palatable.
Notorious B.I.G. – “Hypnotize” (1997)
If you’ve never seen 10 Things I Hate About You, then… well I’d like to threaten something, but really you just have a great flick ahead of you. On the other hand, if you’ve seen it, you’ll remember this song blasting as Julia Stiles drunkenly breaks it down on a table. And probably also blasting at every house party you went to that summer. Cheers.
Faith Hill – “Breathe” (1999)
It’s the time of night where the adults are trying to send you home. So what do they play? One last slow dance to calmly usher you into the night’s warm embrace. If you didn’t just up and leave then, you probably ended up awkwardly swaying with someone – or a whole group of people – to finish your night. Now it’s time to take off the glitter and get caught up on the drama you inevitably missed.