It’s hard to believe that we were attempting Britney Spears’s sassy dance moves and trying to pull off that schoolgirl with knee socks look 20 years ago, but yes, it has been that long. In looking back at some of the best pop songs that dominated our radios at the time, you’ll realize that 1) it doesn’t seem nearly as long ago, 2) you probably still play some of these songs, perhaps even while working out, and 3) somehow pop never got much better than this.
8. Steal My Sunshine — Len
The beginning of this song makes you bop your head and suddenly all is good in the world. It’s a fun, happy tune that just screams summer love. Len didn’t have many hit singles that were as successful as this one, but this is all we really needed anyway.
7. Mambo No. 5 — Lou Bega
Remember listening to this song and knowing someone with every name mentioned? (Or getting disappointed that your name wasn’t in it?) And to this day, we remember every single lyric, and the order of every single name. Because when it comes to music that makes us want to jump in there and have a good time, this song absolutely delivers the goods.
6. Have You Ever — Brandy
Remember when Brandy was a teen sensation? Her voice propelled her to the top of the charts, and we loved every minute of it. You might not have listened to Have You Ever in a decade or so, but chances are you still remember all the lyrics. That says something.
5. Bills, Bills, Bills — Destiny’s Child
Way Before Beyoncé was Queen Bey, she was, of course, a member of Destiny’s Child. Their music made us all move and had an attitude about it that felt empowering. Beyoncé’s contributions to the music world in the years since have been immeasurable, but we can never forget how she got her start.
4. No Scrubs — TLC
Oh TLC, how we love your take on things. Talk about attitude and style. This girl band never disappointed and got us singing right along with every single along the way. No Scrubs reminded the women of the world that they didn’t need anyone leeching off of them, and it’s still an anthem for some even today.
3. I Want It That Way — Backstreet Boys
Some may argue that boy bands that came before or after Backstreet were better, but we can give these boys a ton of credit for putting boy bands back on the map in the post NKOTB world. Besides, I Want It That Way made us all get up and pretend-sing into fake microphones. It was an awesome single that never gets old.
2. Genie in a Bottle — Christina Aguilera
At the same time that Britney was making waves, the world caught notice of Christina. Her dance moves weren’t as involved, but that’s because they didn’t need to be. Christina showed everyone what an incredible voice sounded like in pop music and she proved to be quite prolific when it came to releasing singles. She cranked out hit after hit, each time growing more confident in what she had to offer. (Just look at the difference between Genie and Come on Over, which were both released in the same year.)
1. Baby One More Time — Britney Spears
Her break-out song and video launched Britney into superstardom. While songs that showed up a little later (like Oops…I Did It Again or Stronger) were slightly better, this one is important because it caught everyone’s attention. She single-handedly changed how the pop scene would go, and she is still relevant today.