Take a deep breath, and think back to a middle school dance and try and remember what those were like. Anyone who was a pre-teen probably remembers the awkward slow dancing, new tank-tops from the mall, and shouting along to every word of the pop-radio hits. Songs from the late '90s and early 2000s may seem like a distant memory now, but at the time, many of them were iconic. Looking back on the era, there are definitely some song lyrics you completely forgot existed until now. Every once and a while one of these songs will play, in a clothes store or on the radio or on an ironic party playlist, and those words will bring you right back to that middle school auditorium.
Several genres thrived in the late '90s and early aughts, and both decades were a period of growth for alt-rock, rap and hip-hop, and pop music. While some of the more popular songs didn't exactly reinvent genres or experiment in new ways, they were certainly fun. Whether it was the soft-rock of Anna Nalick or one of Enrique Inglesias' slow-dance staples, you might have forgotten some of these tunes. There's no time like the present to re-listen and remember those lyrics that, for better or worse, shaped your teen years.
1"Too Little, Too Late" — JoJo
Long before Taylor Swift declared that she was never ever getting back together with an ex, JoJo was penning pop break-up hits. Every seventh grader definitely listened to this one after a middle school break up, which everyone knows means no more sitting together in the cafeteria or group dates to the movies. Things were tough back then.
Memorable Lyrics: "I'm gonna say this now/Your chance has come and gone/And you know/It's just too little, too late/A little too long/And I can't wait"
2"Just the Girl" — The Click Five
If you forgot, protagonist's love interest in this song "runs on 100 proof attitude power". She is, therefore, still aspirational after all these years.
Memorable Lyrics: "Cause she's bittersweet/She knocks me off of my feet/And I can't help myself/I don't want anyone else"
3"Closing Time" — Semisonic
If this one hit wonder doesn't instantly ring a bell, it will come back to you as soon as the piano notes play. It's everywhere from movie opening credits to the background of your fave 2000s television show, and even now it's a tough song to escape.
Memorable Lyrics: "Closing time/Turn the lights up over every boy and every girl/Closing time/One last call for alcohol so finish your whiskey or beer/ Closing time/You don't have to go home but you can't stay here/I know who I want to take me home."
4"Big Girls Don't Cry" — Fergie
This song, which was one of Fergie's first tracks post-Black Eyed Peas, was a slow dance staple. Also, can we talk about what an absolute nostalgia-fest this video is? The Candies product placement! Milo Ventimiglia's fake tats! What a time 2006 was.
Memorable Lyrics: "And I'm gonna miss you like a child misses their blanket/But I've got to get a move on with my life/It's time to be a big girl now/And big girls don't cry"
5"I Gotta Feeling" — Black Eyed Peas
Speaking of Fergie, who could forget this super smash hit by the Black Eyed Peas? Back in 2009 this was the number one song to get you pumped for a night out, and if you weren't sick of it by the end of that year, now is the time to bring it back.
Memorable Lyrics: "A feeling, woohoo, that tonight's gonna be a good night/That tonight's gonna be a good night/That tonight's gonna be a good, good night"
6"It's Gonna Be Me" — NSYNC
Depending on which great boy band of the 2000s was your fave, there might have been a time in your childhood where you knew every word to every single NSYNC song. While "Bye Bye Bye" might be the group's best known track, for the true fans, this song was just as important.
Memorable Lyrics: "Baby, when you finally/Get to love somebody/Guess what/It's gonna be me"
7"Hand In My Pocket" — Alanis Morisette
It's a shame that most Alanis songs are now relegated to background music; it's time to bust these out for belting purposes. It's hard to pick the singer's most sing along worthy track, but this one is definitely up there.
Memorable Lyrics: *clears throat* "I GOT ONE HAND IN MY POCKET, THE OTHER IS GIVING A HIGH FEEE-III--VVVVEE"
8"Breathe (2am)" — Anna Nalick
Admit it - this song still makes you emotional in 2017. Nalick's hit ballad stuck around for a reason, as it intertwines several sad stories and brings them into a heartfelt chorus. It's the perfect sad-sappy pop song.
Memorable Lyrics: "'Cause you can't jump the track, we're like cars on a cable/And life's like an hourglass, glued to the table/No one can find the rewind button, girl/So cradle your head in your handsAnd breathe... just breath/Oh breathe, just breathe"
9"Hero" — Enrique Inglesias
This song played at every single dance and other school event that I went to in middle school and high school. So many awkward slow dances were shared to this song, I don't know if I'll ever forget the lyrics, but perhaps you did.
Memorable Lyrics: "I can be your hero baby/I can kiss away the pain/I will stand by you forever"
10"Boston" — Augustana
Do you think Augustana ever found where they were going? This song's chorus traveled all over the continental United States, and even after all this time, it's hard to forget that trip.
Memorable Lyrics: "I think I'll go to Boston/I think that I was tired/I think I need a new town/To leave this all behind"
11"Irreplaceable" — Beyoncé
While we all bow down Queen B for her last two albums, which are by all metrics masterpieces, you might have forgotten about this radio hit from the early aughts. Beyoncé has had so many chart topping hits, but this song was absolutely everywhere the year it came out.
Memorable Lyrics: "Everything you own in the box to the left/In the closet that's my stuff, yes/If I bought it please don't touch"
12"Hey There Delilah" — Plain White T's
The Plain White T's had a true moment with this track, and it would go on to be their only classic. Despite the bands one-hit wonder status, this acoustic ballad was such a success, it might be far from completely forgotten.
Memorable Lyrics: "Hey there Delilah/What's it like in New York City?/I'm a thousand miles away/But girl, tonight you look so pretty"
13"American Boy" — Estelle Ft. Kanye West
This song had so many memorable collabs it's hard to believe it might have gotten lost over the decade. John Legend has a cameo in the video, and a very young Kanye West shows up to drop a verse. This upbeat jam was so much fun, and is definitely worth listening to again.
Memorable Lyrics: "Take me on a trip, I'd like to go some day/Take me to New York, I'd love to see LA/I really want to come kick it with you/You'll be my American boy"
These songs were total classics.