Best #1 single of the year retrospective: 1999

Wikipedia says it peaked at #3 in the US, which makes it even stranger that I don’t remember it at all when I remember so much other music that was coming out at that time.

In retrospect, it’s kind of amazing that the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC aren’t represented at all here - they were everywhere on the radio and traded the top spot on TRL back and forth for months at a time.

I was surprised they came out the same year as Smooth and Believe, and these two in the same year. They all seem like different epochs. OK, so this was the breakout year for both the “Latin crossover” and of the two Monster Teen Hotties.

Were I to vote for Ricky I’d be accused of hometown favoritism. Were I to vote Britney, I’d always ask myself if it was the music or the lasting impression of her 17-y/o self in that “schoolgirl” outfit (oh, go judge yourself, you knew what that video was selling and it was not music :o ).

So far it looks like *Smooth *will run away with this poll.

I’m amazed, however, that TLC’s No Scrubs is drawing a big fat goose egg as I write this, while some people **have **inexplicably voted for Believe. At least so far nobody has selected Wild, Wild West, so all may not be lost.

Wow. Looking at the Wikipedia article for that songs, it really did seem to be everywhere. Made the year-end number one for Australia, Austria, France and Switzerland, and top 4 for Netherlands, Belgium, and UK. Even I. The U.S. it finished #42 for the whole year, and while it didn’t top the Hot 100, it did the Top 40 Mainstream, Top 40 Tracks, and Rhythmic Top 40 (no clue as to what all these sub categories are. I assume Top 40 tracks just counts differentl metrics than Hot 100.)

What can I say? I’m a sucker for a cheesy, dancy break-up song. I think the chorus has a catchy melody, and I like the use of auto tune on the vverses. When the song came out, it’s the first time I remember hearing auto tune used as a musical effect, as opposed to garden variety pitch correction, and it was an interesting sound to me. (There probably have been other songs that predate this use of effect, but it’s the first song I ever heard that used it, and I suspect it’s the first Top 40 song to do so.) I like hearing new sounds, and I thought it worked well used judiciously in the context of a pop dance song. Now, it’s way overdone.

Back in the 70s, Electric Light Orchestra used autotune or something similar in many of their popular songs. Unfortunately I can’t think of any specific examples right now, but maybe someone else will mention one.

You’re probably thinking of the vocoder. ELO (“Mr. Blue Sky”, about halfway through the song) Kraftwerk, and a number of artists have used it. But that “robot voice” sounds different to me than the way auto tune sounds as a musical effect.

ETA: oh, and “Mr. Roboto,” of course.

To clarify, these are all genre-specific airplay charts;

  • “Top 40 Mainstream” is an airplay-only chart that only tracks pop stations.
  • “Top 40 Tracks” is the original Hot 100 airplay chart; after the Hot 100 started including airplay data from rock/country/hip-hop stations, they created this chart to continue tracking songs using the original metric. This chart was discontinued in 2009.
  • “Rhythmic Top 40” is an airplay-only chart that specifically tracks hip-hop/R&B and dance stations.

Thanks. How confusing. When did Top 40 Tracks and Hot 100 diverge?

November 1998, concurrent with the decision to start including album cuts on the Hot 100 regardless of whether they got a single release.

My vote this year - even though I enjoy luscious, catholic uniformed, midriff-bearin’, thigh high stocking wearin’ jailbait as much as the next man - had to go to Li’l Ricky and “Livin’ la Vida Loca”. It’s irrepressible, and damned fun.

It was. Not only that, but Lou Bega pretty much knew that he’d be a one-hit wonder and would never make a dollar off any other song he ever did. So, he decided to sell “Mambo No. 5” to almost every possible advertiser. Therefore, not only did we have to hear that bullshit on the radio, we had to hear it during TV commercials at all hours.

This was a year where pop music was actually pretty good. “…Baby One More Time”, “No Scrubs”, “Livin’ La Vida Loca”, “If You Had My Love” (J. Lo’s best song, IMHO), “Genie In A Bottle”, “Bailamos”, and “Smooth” are all terrific songs for the genre.

I might vote for “Smooth”, but I’ve heard it soooo many times (plus it doesn’t need my vote). I’ll go with “Genie”, which is well-written and really showcases Xtina’s voice.

The two songs I like are “One More Time” and “Vida Loca.” Sorry, but “Smooth” is a tremendously uncool abortion of a song.

Ah, 1999.

I was 24, had my first job and my own place… A wonderful year for me.

As a result, I have very fond memories of most of these songs so for the first time since the 80s, I have several contenders for best song of the year.

To my surprise, I picked Baby One More Time. Britney Spears isn’t a great singer but that song is actually really fine. As a matter of fact, it passes my personal quality test: remove the studio wizardry and see whether you still have a good song. It’s definitely the case (

I could also have voted for Genie In a Bottle, Bills, Bills, Bills, If You Had My Love or perhaps even No Scrubs.

I never cared for Smooth although I was happy to see Santana making a well-deserved come back.

So yeah, 1999 sort of reconciled me with pop music. It was not meant to last, though.

As other have said, it was everywhere indeed.

I’m perhaps the only person here to have fond memories of it but that’s due to a very cute girl I was dating precisely at that time.

This year or next will probably be the last year I recognize any #1 pop hits, at least until Lorde’s “Royals” in 2013, a year we’ve already done the thread for.

Anyway, I went with “Smooth.” Rob Thomas is a pretty good vocalist when his material isn’t in the sappy/whiny range. He had a couple of early hits with Matchbox 20 that had a Burton Cummings sort of vibe to them, and I was sorry to see him take a very different turn from then on. But “Smooth” was good.

Yeah, it’s way better than it has any right to be. I find myself liking it more and more. But I hate Britney’s nasal voice, so I ended up going with My Vida Loca. (I love many of the covers…and I like one or two other Britney songs.) I agree it was a pretty good year for pop music.

What I don’t get about Britney is that she sang well as a child when she was with Disney but as an adult there’s just nothing there.

I went with Will Smith two years in a row, although Santana’s first and well deserved #1 could have just easily won my vote.

From this list: Santana by a mile.

As for what I was listening to that year, I give you the best song that no one else listened to: Acid Rain on Liquid Tension Experiment 2 (Warning: link contains improvisational prog-metal-jazz fusion.)

While I agree with you on the chorus of that song, re-listening to it just now (both the official video release and your stripped down version), I was struck by how forgettable the rest of it is. Slinking around in a sexy outfit is about the only way to get the audience through the verses and back to a catchy chorus.

Went with* unpretty*, the first mainstream hit I can recall making that sort of body positivity message.