How Bizarre: How the Hell Are These Songs All 15 Years Old?
"Simple. Fifteen years have gone by."
Nineteen ninety-seven may have been one of the most magical years in trash-pop history. You had the Spice Girls, Hanson, Shania Twain, Puff Daddy, Toni Braxton and Aqua burning up the radio as old-timers like David Bowie, Fleetwood Mac and Elton John made returns to the charts.
Well, it took Princess Diana to die for Elton to get a hit song that wasn't attached to a Disney movie, but whatever.
I think that was also the year that I embraced the inherent shittiness of pop music, even as I tried to impress my friends by buying the newest albums from Cornershop, The Verve, Elliott Smith and Daft Punk. For you high school kids, Daft Punk was like dubstep but slower, chiller and more disco-like. You would hate it.
Lest we forget that that year also held Radiohead's OK Computer, the self-titled Portishead album, The Flaming Lips' Zaireeka and Yo La Tengo's excellent I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One. Just this week I listened to the Chemical Brothers' Dig Your Own Hole, released in late March 1997, a handful of times.
There were hours and days spent reading various 'zines, SPIN and Rolling Stone, when the Internet was just a shaky, jerky, primitive option, and not a mandatory evil like it is now.
There are a few dozen songs from that year that some of us cannot let go of, even if they are the most sugar-laden corn balls to come from the hit factories in Sweden and Los Angeles, or hipster flophouses that wound up scoring left-field hits.
Mase, "Feel So Good": Mase, the future preacher-man. Puff Daddy, the future Diddy, Ke$ha overlord.
Puff Daddy & The Family (feat. Faith Evans & 112): "I'll Be Missing You": Jesus, I forgot how long the opening of this song was on record. And also, for the millionth time, why did Puff wreck his bike like that?
The Notorious B.I.G., "Hypnotize": One of the head shops in Houston used to use this song on radio adverts, and I always momentarily thought that the Buzz had relaxed its Nirvana-every-30-minutes policy.
Sugar Ray, "Fly": How would we have known that in 15 years lead singer Mark McGrath would briefly date Madonna and become a sort of Ryan Seacrest Lite? (Who's Ryan Seacrest?)
Smash Mouth, "Walkin' on the Sun": Remember when Guy Fieri had a band?
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, "The Impression That I Get":Lead singer Dicky Barrett once said that if the band had named their song "Knock On Wood" they would have made more money.
Paula Cole, "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?": Most folks only remember this song for not being the song from Dawson's Creek...
Aqua, "Barbie Girl": There was a time when this was controversial. Now it's pretty much the standard. In retrospect this makes Rebecca Black look like Bjork.
Meredith Brooks, "Bitch": In eighth grade, this explained so much about women...
Chumbawamba, "Tubthumping": Or as Napster file-sharers called it, "I Get Knocked Down."
Cornershop, "Brimful of Asha": "What's this Indian crap?" went the sound of a sullen teen in front of his decaying MTV.
Hanson, "MMMBop": Now and forever, the boys are married to this song. As they have gotten older, their live renditions of this somehow get funkier.
OMC, "How Bizarre": Taco wasn't dead, he was just waiting.
Bob Carlisle, "Butterfly Kisses": You haven't lived until you have seen a drunk guy on the verge of tears singing this in a karaoke bar. (Replace "a drunk guy" with "my uncle" and "karaoke bar" with someone's "golden-anniversary party.")
Squirrel Nut Zippers, "Hell": An underrated group if there ever was one, they made the swing revival of the next year a little more tolerable, while also ushering in weirdo Oingo Boingo flavors for the '90s kids
Spice Girls, "Wannabe": Have fun with the earworm, folks.
The Verve Pipe, "The Freshmen": Did you know that the Pipers now do kids' music at rock festivals? It's actually pretty decent, for being about going to bed when you are told to and dreaming of being an astronaut.
The Verve, "Bitter Sweet Symphony": This one still tops many '90s best-of lists and it's a staple of rock radio. A copyright battle in 1998 wrested all the royalties from the Verve and into the hands of Keith Richards and Mick Jagger. The Ververs has sampled a symphonic version of the Stones' "The Last Time" for the cut.
Freak Nasty, "Da' Dip": This was released in the summer of 1996 but it took another year to finally go platinum.
White Town, "Your Woman": See also "Female of the Species" from English band Space the year before.