Although I'm absolutely loathe to admit it, I've definitely been feeling the strain of getting old lately. It isn't just that there's the occasional slang word that I have to look up on Urban Dictionary these days, or a sudden influx of young celebrities whose names I don't recognize, but also that I keep clocking the big anniversaries of seminal events. For instance, the realization that Fiona Apple's Tidal turned 20 this year made me feel so old that I almost considered early retirement. But then I started looking at more upcoming anniversaries, and, heavens, the amount of seminal songs that turn 20 in 2017 is slightly horrifying. We're talking about some of the best songs of the '90s, here.
And, for real, so many of these songs just don't feel 20. The majority of them (with the exception of one or two that you very well may hate to love as I certainly do) still sound just as fresh, exciting and stupendous as they did back in '97. And, honestly, as proven by the best songs of1997, which I've lovingly compiled below based on when the songs were released as singles in the U.S. even if they were released in other countries or on other albums before then, it truly was a damn fine year for music. Be it pop, hip hop, R&B, or alternative, 1997 was a year for big tunes.
1. "You Make Me Wanna" — Usher (August 12, 1997)
Incidentally, this song still makes me wanna write tiny, heart-shaped love letters to Usher.
2. "The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)" — Missy Elliott (July 2, 1997)
Proving that this track, its video, and indeed Missy herself were all well ahead of their time in many respects, 20 years later and "The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)" still sounds beyond fresh.
3. "Men In Black" — Will Smith (June 16, 1997)
There has never been, and will never be, a movie tie-in song quite as unabashedly corny and all out wonderful as this. Somebody better build this man a statue for "Men In Black"s 20th anniversary, because damn is this song an otherworldly accomplishment worthy of it.
4. "I Will Buy You A New Life" — Everclear (September 27, 1997)
Not everyone may remember Everclear, but those who do will have this song firmly (and lovingly) cemented into their minds. Probably for all time.
5. "Got 'Til It's Gone" — Janet Jackson (September 22, 1997)
Jackson completely owned '97 with the release of her iconic album, The Velvet Rope, and "Got 'Til It's Gone" still owns a big part of my heart too.
6. "Brick" — Ben Folds Five (November 21, 1997)
If you've just almost burst into tears just thinking about this song, then you're in good company. Let those tears roll, ladies.
7. "Barbie Girl" — Aqua (May 14, 1997)
OK, though we can all agree that the song is something of a bizarre, pop abomination, it's also a totally endearing one that I simply can't (and won't) let go of.
8. "Everlong" — Foo Fighters (August 18, 1997)
In my own personal estimation, this is the best song that the band ever released. I hope all of you hear it and still swoon over that perfect dream babe you crushed on in high school just like I do.
9. "MMMBop" — Hanson (April 15, 1997)
Hopefully, after 20 years, you can hear this song without secretly daydreaming about Taylor Hanson and instead can focus on its strange, record scratch filled, bittersweet wonder.
10. "All Cried Out" — Allure Feat. 112 (August 12, 1997)
This was the anthem you threw on when your copy of Toni Braxton's "Un-Break My Heart" finally broke, and you realized that you were totally over wasting any more tears on that idiot you smooched down at the beach last week.
11. "Criminal" — Fiona Apple (September 16, 1997)
The fifth single released from Apple's eminent debut and still an emboldening anthem for bad girls with a lot of heart, everywhere.
12. "Wannabe" — Spice Girls (January 7, 1997)
Twenty years old, people. I officially feel ancient.
13. "Dammit" — Blink 182 (September 23, 1997)
The irony of the song's leading chorus lyric, "I guess this is growing up," is not lost on me now that I am officially a grown up (who still needs to sing along to this specific part extra hard, because being an adult is extra ridiculous).
14. "Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)" — Green Day (October 17, 1997)
Having provided a soundtrack to many a teenage, existential plight over the years, "Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)" now soundtracks many a grown up, existential plight too.
15. "B*tch" — Meredith Brooks (May 20, 1997)
The epitome of '90s, radio unfriendly, angry female pop music. The 2016 equivalent of this song would likely be called "Nasty Woman."
16. "Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)" — Backstreet Boys (May 19, 1997)
Getting older definitely doesn't mean having to give up singing into your hairbrush to this. It just means that now you get to enjoy doing that while having a fine wine.
17. "Sunday Morning" — No Doubt (May 27, 1997)
Probably one of No Doubt's most underrated tunes, "Sunday Morning" is one of the perkiest break up songs of all time.
18. "How Do I Live" — LeAnn Rimes (May 27, 1997)
Whether you love this song literally or ironically, there's no denying that young LeAnn had pipes that soared this song straight into your feelings zone.
19. "Song 2" — Blur (April 7, 1997)
It feels just like yesterday that I was screaming along to this song while leaping around on a bouncy castle definitely not built for a tiny, terrifying mosh pit made up of kids hyped up on sugar.
20. "I'll Be Missing You" — Puff Daddy Feat. Faith Evans & 112 (May 27, 1997)
As such, 2017 will also mark the 20th anniversary of the death of The Notorious B.I.G.
21. "Around The World" — Daft Punk (March 17, 1997)
And, damn, 20 years later and Daft Punk may actually be enjoying the (very well deserved) prime of their career.
22. "Sex And Candy" — Marcy Playground (November 4, 1997)
And it still sounds so divinely peculiar and dreamy.
23. "Honey" — Mariah Carey (August 26, 1997)
Not only is this song still an absolute treasure but that video? Mariah truly was on fire.
24. "Where Have All The Cowboys Gone" — Paula Cole (March 25, 1997)
Oh, Paula. I'm sad to say that, 20 years later, I'm still asking this question and searching for them.
25. "Karma Police" — Radiohead (August 25, 1997)
This one goes out to every sad, angsty '90s kid who still finds themselves pulling their hands into their sleeves and avoiding eye contact with the entire world.
26. "C U When U Get There" — Coolio (July 7, 1997)
I have a confession to make: I actually completely forgot about this song until this very moment. And, now that the song is in my head, it's likely not going to leave for another 20 years.
27. "Dig Me Out" — Sleater-Kinney (April 8, 1997)
Still sounding just as ferocious and fresh as it did the first time I ever heard it, "Dig Me Out" remains the song that introduced many fans to this vastly underrated band. Turn it up.
These songs might be 20 years old but, with the possible exception of "Barbie Girl," they're all still completely enjoyable and timeless in their own right.