I was recently added to a group on Facebook devoted to my 20 year High school reunion. 1997 was a really good year. Gas was around $1.19 a gallon, it was the year I graduated high school and it was a DYNAMITE year for music. There were some genre defining tunes that were released that year and for decades later, provided a bit of a soundtrack for my life. This post is devoted to the Pop Genre. For me, some of these are timeless and still hold up (and really, some that don’t). In no particular order, here are some of the pop songs that turn 20 this year (and I’ll provide some amazon links for you to purchase these bad boys too).

And Now The List

  1. Wannabe – The Spice Girls

The song that kicked off the year (Jan 7th) and took the world by storm. Their songs were infectious (and this one in particular has been rated the most catchiest song of all time), all of them were fun and they were credited with the resurgence of the “Gurrrrl power” movement. Most guys I knew back then would not admit to liking their music, but would definitely admit to thinking they were gorgeous. I’m still trying to figure out what a “Zig a Zig Ah” is but it doesn’t matter because that song (along with most of the singles on that album) are still catchy. Their music was pretty harmless and upbeat and they promoted safe sex, responsibility and just having fun… Things seemed much simpler back then in comparison both in music and in society in general.

2. Mmmbop – Hanson

 

I have to admit, when I first saw this video while at my then girlfriends house, I remember thinking that the lead singer was a girl. It actually took a friends sister chastising me for calling “Tay Tay” (cringe) a girl.  Even back then I just couldn’t tolerate that nickname. You know… nothing against Hanson at all. But MMMBop. Dear god. This was a song that everyone wanted out of their heads. They’ve had a few successes after this one but MMMBop was their sure fire hit that they are probably still getting royalties on. They were not the first “family group” by any stretch to come out with a hit. And they surely aren’t the last. It’s a cycle that will always repeat itself. And now you can’t get it out of your head. You’re welcome.

3. Bitch – Meredith Brooks

 

Ah, Meredith Brooks (who I didn’t realize was almost 60 now), came out with this Anthem simply titled “Bitch”. The song that was so popular and yet, couldn’t be sung in school without getting in trouble. She may have been a one hit wonder but this one was massive all the same! Heavy airplay, strong driving guitars and seemingly trying to get across the same point as The Spice Girls but with a bit of an edge, this one ended up being over played a bit.

4. LoveFool – The Cardigans

This one came on the other day while I was driving my kids into school. While it technically came out in 1996, this Swedish band skyrocketed to popularity at the beginning of the year. I personally wasn’t a fan but I knew many that absolutely loved how quirky it was. Perhaps it was because it was tied to Romeo and Juliet with Leonardo Dicaprio. Man what a weird take on that play. I don’t ever really recall hearing anything else from The Cardigans but I do know they had a few albums after that so maybe!

5. I Want you – Savage Garden

“Something something somethin, something something something somthein, something like you’re drinkin Cherry Cola.” That’s about the extent of what most of my friends knew about this song by Savage Garden. Another one that I never really got into. There were a few other ones that this Australian Export came out with that were pretty huge but this one was a biggie! The one thing I remember about Savage Garden was that they seemingly always tried to be uplifting and for that, I have to give them kudos.

6. How Bizarre – OMC

Good ole OMC. This one hit wonder reminds me of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s older brother that tried to break into music. His odd voice mixed with such an insanely catching hook will still get play from me when I hear it. I’m not really sure why this song took off the way it did, but it’s undeniable. This is one of those songs that makes me look back at the 90’s and really wonder wtf we were thinking. How Bizarre! (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself).

7. Tub Thumping – Chumbawamba

This has to be one of my favorite songs of all time. It’s just so catchy… so simple. Part of my affection for this song stems from when I was in the Army and we would go to the Sherlock Holmes Pub (RIP) in Columbia South Carolina and we would sing it at the top of our lungs! I dig drinking songs though so I do have a bit of a predisposition for them! Chumbawamba didn’t do much else in the states post TubThumping but this song is an instantly recognizable one!

8. Fly – Sugar Ray

This song made me laugh and angry at the same time. I laugh because it Sugar Ray was more hard rock and aggressive with Floored being their last “Heavy” album before they went towards the pop world. Unbeknownst to several teenyboppers (and their parents), this album wasn’t as peppy and radio friendly as Fly was. It didn’t stop Sugar Ray from being a mainstay on the charts for years. Which makes me angry because Sugar Ray made Mark McGrath popular. But that’s just a personal preference lol.

9. Foolish Games – Jewel

Ah the angst of Jewel’s contribution to the Batman & Robin soundtrack and her Pieces of You album. This was one of those songs that played over and over again on the radio. And when it was done being played they played it another 10 times. Bonus: This song by Jewel probably one of the only things (aside from The Smashing Pumpkins) to come of the Batman & Robin soundtrack.

10. Semi Charmed Life – Third Eye Blind

Topping out the list… I’ve been waiting to post this one. Third Eye Blind. man oh man… talk about an explosion. Have a teen movie coming out in 1997-2005? This song and many others from Third Eye Blind’s debut album will be on it. It was such a happy sounding song that had a super catchy hook. Then we listened to the lyrics and realized it was about drug addiction. Most thought “Ohhhhhh that’s bad…” and then quickly went back to singing along to Do Do Do, Do Do Do Doooo Do Do Do. Why? Because it was freakin catchy, that’s why!

Honorable Mentions:

11. Barbie Girl – Aqua

I only include this one for Posterity. While I absolutely can not STAND this song, it was in heavy rotation on radio stations nationwide. Meant to be social commentary, personally I think the message was lost… especially on Mattel who ultimately sued Aqua. Ya win some, ya lose some.

12. Candle In The Wind/Goodbye England’s Rose – Elton John

This one was always a sad one. 1997 was the year Princess Diana was killed in a car accident due to being chased by paparazzi. I’ll never forget watching the breaking news early in the morning when it happened. And then when Elton John released this as tribute, it was both heartbreaking and a splendid memorial to the fallen Princess.

So that’s my first list. Coming up will be my Hip Hop songs that are 20 years old. There are some goodies on that list and I’m excited for that one. I’ll follow that up with the Angst songs of 1997, Country and rounding out this series with Rock/Alternative. Did I miss some from this list? Let me know in the comments below!