If you're a child (or teen) of the '90s, there are probably few things that make you more nostalgic than '90s pop songs. But what about all those '90s pop stars you almost forgot about? Sure, this was the decade that gave rise to time-honored favorites like *NSYNC, the Backstreet Boys, and Britney Spears, and, perhaps most notably, first introduced the world to queen Beyoncé. Suffice it to say, it marked a major few years for pop aficionados. However, not every '90s pop star went on to be immortalized in cultural history.
Dust off your CD players, because the '90s were rife with one hit wonders and short-lived celebrities, and I'm about to take you on a little walk down memory lane. You'll probably be surprised to know that many of these musicians kept making music well into the 2000s, even if they fell off your radar as soon as the ball dropped back in 1999. Among the discoveries culled from putting together the following list is that S Club 7 has been whittled down to S Club 3, Lisa Loeb (of "Stay" fame) was once on Gossip Girl, and 2017 is apparently the year for comebacks, as a good chunk of these musicians are either touring or working on new projects.
See what they've been up to below.
Upbeat, bright, and utterly infectious, "C'est la Vie" was the happy epitome of mindless pop songs. As the debut single of B*Witched, it helped put the Irish group on the international map. They split up in 2002, but reunited over a decade later. They actually released a new EP in 2014 and are currently on tour.
Long before Meghan Trainor had "No," there was "No Scrubs," a perfect, boy-banishing ode to female independence. It was one of four No. 1 singles TLC released in the '90s, including equally incomparable classics like "Waterfalls," "Creep," and "Unpretty." Sadly, Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes died in a car crash in 2002, and the trio later disbanded. Remaining members T-Boz and Chilli will put out their final album together (and first in 15 years) this summer.
Fiona Apple's iconic "Criminal" video made her into an instant star back in 1997, while the song earned Apple her first and only Grammy. Though she went on to release two critically-lauded albums after the turn of the century — 2005's The Extraordinary Machine and 2012's The Idler Wheeler — the '90s are undoubtedly her calling card.
In 1997, Natalie Imbruglia burst onto the charts with "Torn," her hit cover of Ednaswap's song of the same name. The Australian breakout still makes music, though her time in the limelight has since passed.
5S Club 7
S Club 7 caught their break just before the 2000s, gaining prominence on reality series Miami 7 before unleashing their debut album, S Club, in 1999. Among their hits are sing-along anthems "Bring It All Back," "S Club Party," and "You're My Number One." And let's be honest, there really is no party like an S Club party, even if the band is now four members short.
Toni Braxton rocketed into the spotlight back in 1993 with her self-titled debut album, which went on to land her three Grammys and sell over 10 million copies worldwide. Her early career helped spawn '90s hits like "Un-Break My Heart" and "You're Makin' Me High," though financial struggles later set her back.
No '90s playlist is complete without "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)," one of the many smash singles from California trio En Vogue. After several successful albums, however, some behind-the-scenes lineup changes forced them off track. Though they've continued to perform, they haven't released an LP since 2004's Soul Flower, but are working on a comeback record, Electric Café, for later this year.
Years before the meteoric rise of musicians like Macklemore and Chance the Rapper, Lisa Loeb became the first unsigned artist to top the Billboard Hot 100 with 1994 breakout "Stay (I Missed You)." Nowadays, she doesn't carry quite the same star power, but she's been active in music and has even dabbled in acting (she once made a cameo as Rufus Humphrey's love interest on Gossip Girl).
OK, this may be more dance than pop, but this song was everywhere in 1999, even though no one understood the lyrics. (If you're still unclear, it's just "Da ba dee da ba daa," not "If I were green I would die.")
You may not recognize his name, but you'll definitely recognize Tal Bachman's "She's So High." The song was a certified bop, and, if you didn't sing this at the top of your lungs when it came on the radio, I'm not sure you did the '90s right. Alas, Bachman only made two albums during his short-lived stint in the spotlight and seems to have stopped making music as of 2004.
After going multi-platinum with debut album Miss Thang in 1995, Monica teamed with Brandy for the ever-memorable "That Boy Is Mine." Sadly, her boyfriend committed suicide in 1999, and she took some time off from music to deal with the tragedy. She went on to release several albums throughout the 2000s, and even earned a Grammy nod for 2010's Still Standing — though she lost most of the momentum that kickstarted her career.
Paula Cole first sauntered onto the national stage with 1997 hit "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?", but she fast became synonymous with the era when "I Don't Want To Wait" became the theme song of beloved teen drama Dawson's Creek. Though the buzz has since faded, she's continued to release music, most recently putting out 2015's 7.
You can thank Meredith Brooks for the gloriously feminist "B*tch," her Grammy-nominated 1997 single that reclaimed the many disparate labels placed upon women. Her subsequent work failed to gain the same kind of traction, but she's still a b*tch, a lover, a child, a mother, and everything in between — and she wouldn't want it any other way.
Jennifer Paige's "Crush" is one those forgotten pop gems that still screams '90s when you play it back today. She's still working on music, but has since lost the steam that first catapulted her to fame.
15Sophie B. Hawkins
"Damn I Wish Your Lover," "Right Beside You," and "As I Lay Me Down" are just a few in a string of singles popularized by Sophie B. Hawkins throughout the '90s. But a fallout with her record label plus extended gaps between records seems to have squashed the impetus she had starting out, and she hasn't put out a project since 2012's largely under-the-radar The Crossing.
702's "Where My Girls At" was peak '90s R&B if I ever heard it, and it's a shame it doesn't get more radio play today. But the Las Vegas trio's later releases failed to match the song's runaway success, and they've since dispersed.
Des'ree thrived in the '90s with tracks like "Feel So High" and "You Gotta Be." She landed a tour with Seal and a prominent spot on the Romeo + Juliet soundtrack, but, by the end of the decade, she'd largely been swept to the sidelines, and she hasn't released an album since 2003.
These '90s stars may not have made it past the turn of the century, but their music still makes for a delightfully nostalgic dive back into the past. Pop these onto a playlist, and try not to sing along. I dare you.