1999’s Hottest Music Trends

At the turn of the millennium, popular music was alive with career-defining hits and unique releases. Ranging from dance-pop classics to harsh experimental pieces, there was something for everyone in 1999.

As more musicians explore blending acoustic instruments with electronic gear and software, expectations of spontaneity have grown significantly. Recently, David August was scrutinized for pre-structuring his Boiler Room set using Ableton.

1. Daft Punk

Daft Punk (or simply “Daft Punk,” as they are more commonly known) are an iconic French electronic music duo composed of Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter. Their debut album Homework marked the turn of the millennium with its groundbreaking blend of house, disco and R&B music.

Discovery explored more experimental song structures and musical forms while blending elements of techno, disco, garage house and hip-hop into its soundscapes. It also included contributions from electronic musicians Romanthony and Todd Edwards.

The music videos were equally captivating and immersive, airing four of them on Cartoon Network’s anime program Toonami to further introduce their music to a wider audience and reflect their transhumanist or posthumanist philosophical ideas of human-machine amalgamation for which the robots stood as stage persona.

2. The Prodigy

Music for the Jilted Generation was ahead of its time; its thrillingly antisocial racket accelerated hardcore’s pummeling breakbeats while adding pianos and heavy metal guitars for extra acid squelch.

Keith Flint took inspiration from his experience in dance-punk band Cut to Kill to adopt an energetic stage presence with Slayer, featuring black eyeliner and spiked hair that distinguished them. They quickly made waves among UK rave culture, selling over 30 million records but facing accusations of misogyny over 1997’s “Smack My Bitch Up” video featuring women getting kicked in the groin.

At Glastonbury Festival 1995, their performance proved that electronica could work live and rock critics began covering them. Credited with helping turn electronica into a touring format that artists such as Orbital and The Crystal Method continue to exploit today, they remain one of the pioneering acts in this genre today.

3. Bjork

Icelander Bjork made her mark from arty guitar rock with the Sugarcubes to groundbreaking electronic dance music with her releases 1993’s Debut, 1995’s Post and 1997’s Homogenic; an uncompromising combination of strings and fractured beats.

Next year, she made her acting debut in Lars Von Trier’s movie Dancer in the Dark and recorded its soundtrack Selmasongs combining electronics with her desire to promote musical theory and science education among her audience.

Bjork returned in 2004 with Medulla, an album using home recording to explore intimate connections. This episode explores how its a capella compositions form queer kinship networks while providing ecological critique against patriarchy’s limited imagination. She continued this exploration by developing Biophilia – an iPhone/iPad application featuring custom-built instruments.

4. The Vengaboys

The Vengaboys achieved dancefloor fame with their Eurodisco hit “We Like to Party,” made famous by cute female vocal squeals and catchy synth beats that remain instantly recognisable today. Their debut album boasts numerous equally infectious tunes; those seeking upbeat dance-pop should definitely check it out.

The 1990’s was an exceptional period for artists to pioneer innovative sounds that mixed modern electronic music with its roots in new wave/post punk/synthpop. Artists such as Underworld’s Beaucoup Fish and Orbital’s The Middle of Nowhere displayed musical styles that were fresh, distinct and unforgettable.

Though today many of these tracks would be classified as trance or house music, back in 1991 they were groundbreaking electronic dance music. Listeners may not realize it now, but those blippy bass lines and squelchy synthes were at the core of what has since been recognized as classic electronic music.

5. Xtina

Xtina was a breath of fresh air during a year when Nsync, Backstreet Boys, and Britney Spears dominated American radio with bubblegum pop. She took a bold step with her album Stripped by covering topics other artists were afraid to touch: casual sex, infidelity, misogyny and feminism. Additionally, Back To Basics and Bionic explored genres off-beat at that time.

Musical electronics were becoming more mainstream at this time. Karlheinz Stockhausen had begun using tape music in the early 1950s; his Elektronische Studie I (Studies) featured sine, sawtooth and square waves exclusively. Magnetic audio tape allowed musicians to manipulate sounds by cutting and editing recorded fragments; this led to musique concrete music which later gave rise to more commercial synth and drum machine styles.

6. Britney Spears

After her run of bubblegum hits cemented her pop idol status, Spears tried something different on Femme Fatale. Its eclectic approach includes pairing Spears with experimental elements like Bloodyshy & Avant’s glitching and bubbly production on How I Roll. Its rubbery elastic quality recalls early 90s PC Music; making this track one of the most influential songs ever.

Few vocalists can match Britney’s ability to tread that fine line between airtight and breathless singing, especially on this Blackout bonus track. Her nasality perfectly complements the reedy synth that pulses underneath, giving the song its signature punch. In contrast to most pop stars of her era, Britney wasn’t afraid to push this song’s aggressive key change further – something many divas since have relied on as their only source of success.

7. The White Stripes

Detroit upholsterers Jack and Meg White made an indelible mark in music when they made their mainstream debut with De Stijl, recorded on an 8-track in Jack’s apartment. Capturing their early rock and punk hybrid sound before discovering their signature sound – from Zeppelin-esque thump on 300 MPH Torrential Outpour Blues to spoken-word grinding on Rag And Bone; De Stijl is a raw snapshot of Jack and Meg White’s creativity within an artificial framework they imposed.

White Blood Cells was released as the band’s follow-up in 2001 and showcased their songwriting talents through its combination of hard rock, heavy percussion and Michel Gondry’s video for their single ‘Fell In Love With A Girl. Its success led them to release Elephant three years later – which featured Meg as its lead vocalist – becoming another critical and commercial success.

8. Flo Rida

Twenty years ago, the global music industry witnessed a groundbreaking era for electronica music. Daft Punk and Chemical Brothers created masterworks; The Prodigy, Bjork, Roni Size and The Crystal Method all released debut recordings; electronica evolved to encompass frenetic jazz extensions of drum ‘n’ bass; ambient, trance and industrial textures; as well as big beat’s popularity.

Flo Rida was part of the wave, producing hits such as “Low” and “What a Night,” yet his 2012 album Wild Ones was often upstaged by guest productions from dance music stars like Fatboy Slim and Dr Luke & Avicii; especially “Good Feeling,” featuring both their signature sounds as well as cheeky Fatboy Slim-isms from “Good Feeling,” combined with handclaps, funk guitar and organ stabs from Dr Luke & Avicii – making this song an example of how taste & trends shift over time – making certain songs more unforgettable.

9. Snoop Dogg

This groundbreaking album’s ubiquitous drum machine and synthesizer contributed to making it one of the most influential albums ever released in pop music history. From frenetic jazz extensions of drum ‘n’ bass to ambient and trance textures; from industrial’s carnal madness and big beat’s populist stomp; its influence can still be felt today across numerous subgenres.

Heavy metal rock bands had previously mocked electronic music, despite pioneers like Kraftwerk, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Gary Numan and Depeche Mode being pioneers of such forms of musical expression. Furthermore, this event gave credence to artists like Orbital and The Crystal Method who provided support slots on summer concert circuits as headliners themselves.

10. The Black Eyed Peas

The Black Eyed Peas may not be one of the definitive electronic music acts, but they introduced an entire generation to beats and beeps that transcended clubland – from frenetic jazz extensions, enveloping textures, industrial’s carnal distortion and populist stomp. Furthermore, they have served as an early influence for current hip-hop, pop and dance acts that pay homage to them today.

After their debut album A.TB.A.N. Klann fails to impress, Ruthless drops them and Will 1X rebrands them as The Black Eyed Peas then the E.N.D.

Elephunk, released in 2000 by BEP, heralded an innovative sound that took the best aspects of hip-hop music while abandoning inhibitions and crossing all age and race barriers. This album introduced Stacy Ann Ferguson, also known as Fergie (currently with BEP). “Let’s Get It Started” became their breakout hit at that time and remains their signature tune today.