You know that wave of nostalgia that hits you when a certain song comes on the radio? It's like your brain just hailed a cab to another place in time, and you're just happy to go along for the ride — especially when the song reminds you of the mix CDs you made in the early 2000s. Just as it was hella fun growing up in the '90s, coming into your own in the early 2000s made the entire decade a wealth of nostalgic memories. And the music we listened to back then now essentially serves as our passport to visit the happy corner of our mind where those memories reside.
Let's be real: we made a lot of mix CDs in the early 2000s. Like a lot, a lot. Can you blame us, though? We spent the better part of the '90s sitting beside the radio in hopeful anticipation of catching and recording our favorite songs. By the time CD-mixing capabilities rolled around, we were admittedly a little overly excited to maximize our masterful soundtrack mixing skills. If your car looked anything like mine in the early '00s, you had at least one carrying case full of silver discs with names like "Club Mix" scrawled across the front in Sharpie. Or, printed out, thanks to that awesome printable CD-label-maker your Mom got you for Christmas.
While it goes without saying everyone has different tastes and your mixes may have contained an entirely different roster of artists than mine did, the following mix CD themes from the early 2000s will likely resonate with you.
1. The Aforementioned Club Mix
Whether you were old enough to actually hit the club in the early '00s or you were still trying to get up the nerve to use that fake ID your sketchy older cousin made for you, you could always count on your "club mix" to get your primed and ready to fist pump on the dance floor. Think Kylie Minogue's "Can't Get You Out of My Head," 50 Cent's "In Da Club," Nelly's "Hot In Herre," DMX's "Party Up (Up in Here)," and maybe a little "Baby Come On Over" by Samantha Mumba for good measure.
2. The Power Pop Mix
The early 2000s were the golden age of pop music. Life was a never-ending parade of power ballads and plucky romantic tracks from boy bands and pop divas. Depending on the circle of friends you ran with, you might not have fessed up to having this mix CD on regular rotation, but you had it nonetheless. Timeless tracks include "Bye, Bye, Bye" by 'N Sync, ""Oops! I Did It Again" by Britney Spears, and "Lady Marmalade" by Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mya, and Pink (Moulin Rouge represent!).
3. The Sexy Time Songs
To this day, I can't listen to Usher without getting all hot and bothered. I attribute this phenomenon largely to the fact that the R&B and hip-hop mixes I burned back in the early 2000s were my go-to makeout (and, uh, other stuff) soundtracks. Some of the songs that still make my temp spike are Usher's "U Got It Bad," 112's "Peaches and Cream," and Ludacris featuring Shawnna's "What's Your Fantasy."
4. The Jock Jams Inspired Mix
Are Jock Jams still a thing? Man, I used to love listening to those adrenaline-pumping soundtracks back in the day. And when we didn't have the funds to buy them (or just figured we could do better all by ourselves), we made mixes that had that unmistakably upbeat feel. The one absolutely given in this category? Baha Men's "Who Let the Dogs Out?".
5. The Hip-Hop Hit List
Just as the early 2000s were a pivotal time for pop music, those years also proved to be a heyday for rap and hip-hop. In fact, one might go so far as saying this genre overshadowed pop during that time period. Accordingly, most of us always had a mix full of hip-hop hits in our car that might include tracks like "Get Your Freak On" by Missy Elliot, "Raise Up" by Petey Pablo, "Hey Ya!" by OutKast, and "Get Low" by Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz.
6. The Punk Rock/Anarchist Mix
Sometimes you just needed to listen to something that helped channel your inner angst and growing disenfranchisement with the world. Enter, punk rock music. From Green Day's "American Idiot" to the White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army," this was the music you blared when you wanted a cathartic release from the everyday doldrums of life.
7. The Beyonce Mix
The Beyhive is certainly alive and thriving today, but back in the early '00s, Queen Bey was only just beginning to build her empire. Not only did she already have us hooked on Destiny's Child collaborations like "Bootylicious" and "Jumpin, Jumpin," but the early 2000s were also the time she began to branch out on her own, giving us prime mix cd material with songs like "Crazy in Love," "Baby Boy," and "Bonnie & Clyde."
8. The Windows Down Pop Mix
Pop wasn't just a battle of the boy bands in the early '00s. Much musical ground was actually covered during that time, and some of the most enjoyable music to come out of it all was the easy, breezy brand of pop music that begged to be listened to on the road with your windows rolled down. A few of my favorites? "I'm Like a Bird" by Nelly Furtado and "Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me)" by Train.
9. The Single But Crushin' Mix
Because we always seemed to be making up or breaking up in the '90s, that decade gave us a plentiful bounty of classic making up or breaking up music. But you know what the early '00s did best? Serve up the kind of songs that were easy to swoon-slash-pine to. Songs such as "She Will Be Loved" by Maroon 5 and "Fallin" by Alicia Keys were practically purposed to listen to while longing for your early '00s crush.
10. The Empowering Mix
Perhaps my favorite genre to come out of the early '00s was the empowered chick mix. Unlike a standard "chick mix," this particular blend boasted songs perfect for the empowered woman. Their message was clear: we don't take any shit, ya dig? Think Mary J. Blige's "No More Drama," Blu Cantrell's "Hit 'Em Up with Style (Oops!)," and Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl."