It was the best of times and the most NuMetal of times. A time for JNCOs and boy bands and girly pop icons, for The Matrix and The Blair Witch Project. It was, in the words of Fred Durst, “1999, baby!” And it culminated in the Y2K panic that sent your mom hurtling toward Costco at light speed to stock up on bottled water and toilet paper—the essentials—lest the digital apocalypse render us dehydrated and unable to wipe our own asses. If you, like most Teens in 1999, ordered CDs from Columbia House, it’s also a time you’d probably like to forget, as it forces you to reckon with your “purchase” of albums by the likes of Kid Rock and Godsmack. There you were, in your Adidas track pants and shell toes, with your metal ball chain necklace and your cool Korn concert tee, your body slathered in a substance as glittery as the gel pens with which you committed your deepest feelings to paper. Ding, the sound of an incoming message on AIM, and although your away message—a line borrowed from a Nirvana song or a Kevin Smith movie—was firmly in place to signal your absence, you couldn’t help but look to see if it was your crush.
You may cringe away from these thoughts, but MTV’s “Year In Rock” special from 1999—uploaded to YouTube in its entirety—is here to rub your face in these memories. For every Blair Witch there is a “Bawitdaba.” You cannot sustain your affection for The Matrix without conceding to the pop hits that became modern memes—the songs that you claim to love ironically, knowing deep down there is a reason why you know them by heart: “We Like To Party!” by the Vengaboys, and “Smooth” by Rob Thomas and Santana. You may not forsake Eiffel 65's “Blue (Da Ba Dee),” nor Lou Bega’s “Mambo No. 5.” To do so would disrespect an era when a Will Smith movie ended with a Will Smith rap song about the Will Smith movie you just watched.
1999 is a sacred year. We have this unearthed visual relic from MTV to prove it.