Turn of the century throwback playlist

In honor of Aaron Carter's After Party at The Westcott on Sunday, The NewsHouse staff compiled a list of our favorite songs from the late '90s and early 2000s.

Joseph DiDomizio, lead producer: "President of What?" by Death Cab for Cutie (1998)

In 1998, Death Cab for Cutie released their first LP Something About Airplanes on Barksuk Records, the current home of Ra Ra Riot amongst others. I had no idea this album existed until well after their second album was released and I was working at a Kinko's with my then-bandmates. MP3s were still way new, and Facebook was not even real.

Stumbling onto DCFC by way of Harvey Danger (both Seattle bands, and further explanation could be an essay in of itself) I found myself with "President of What?", a curiously titled track from DCFC's first album. When I played this song, I had my first music revelation. This was music I wanted to hear, to make, to live in. And I did for the most part. This track began the most fertile and exciting part of my music listening life, and the best part was that almost no one else was listening to them (on this coast) either. It was all mine, for a couple of years at least.

Their recent albums (excepting Narrow Stairs) haven't been as thrilling. There's nothing like the lo-fi analog sound of the opening and closing keyboards, the fuzzed out hard-rocking guitar, and throwback tape sampling in this song, and on that whole album. I still get excited when I hear those opening chords.

Meera Jagannathan, lead producer: "Another Dumb Blonde" by Hoku (2000)

You may remember the Hawaiian wonder Hoku from her song "Perfect Day," which opens up the 2001 movie "Legally Blonde." But, as more seasoned listeners will know, the singer lent her vocals to a far more important film before she went all mainstream: Nickelodeon's "Snow Day." Though I never could relate to Hoku's hair color (or any of her lyrics, for that matter), "Another Dumb Blonde" was incredibly catchy and somehow struck a chord with my sad, unibrowed 10-year-old self.

Melanie Deziel, assistant executive producer: "Back at One" by Brian McKnight (1999)

Though this song came out in 1999, it came into my world in 2002. I was in seventh grade and it was the last dance of the year. There I was, standing in a giggly wallflower circle with my friends, all decked out in butterfly clips and stretchy tattoo choker necklaces because, hello, it was 2002. Out of the not-so-dim lighting came some dreamy eighth grader with his hair gelled up in the front, and I danced my first dance while my friends OMGed. I probably wrote about it in my Lisa Frank journal that night, too.

Tyler Greenwalt, lead producer: "Sabotage" by The Beastie Boys (1994)

This song basically helped to push the rap movement that developed in the 1990s by combining elements of hip-hop and rock music into one awesome song. It also marked the beginning of the Beastie Boys descent into stardom in the United States.

Stephanie Diehl, staff writer: "Summer Girls" by LFO (1999)

"Summer Girls" has been a staple of my summer playlist since about 1999. Half the fun of the song was putting it on repeat and trying to figure out the words of the "rap." Plus, it's pretty much the only time when a band can get away with rhyming "hornet" and "sonnet."

Megan Paolone, lead producer: "I Try" by Macy Gray (1999)

Some of my best middle school memories come from singing into a hairbrush with my one of my girlfriends, trying our best to do an over-exaggerated version of Macy Gray's wonderfully raspy voice. There may also be a video of me online belting this song on the streets of Rome during high school, because my 17-year-old self clearly felt it necessary to grace Italy with my prodigious vocal abilities.

Nick DeSantis, staff writer: "War?" by System of a Down (2000)

The NewsHouse associates this chunk of late 90s/early 2000s with Aaron Carter, but for me, this era will always represent the peak years of a silly little genre called "nu-metal." Born on the backs of heavy metal progenitors such as Rage Against The Machine, Sepultura and Korn, nu metal's short yet lucrative reign at the top of the charts was characterized by downtuned chunky metal riffs, baggy pants, random smatterings of makeup and a total absence of guitar solos.

Most of these bands have thankfully faded into obscurity (Static-X, Dope and Mudvayne, we hardly knew ye), but System Of A Down embraced the silliness of the genre in a Primus-meets-Slayer sort of way. "War?", off of their self-titled 1999 debut, is a perfect example of the band taking the absurdity of nu metal to its highest level, complete with mind-numbingly simple riffs and just a taste of frontman Serj Tankian's "Cookie Monster" vocals.

Jillian D'Onfro, lead producer: "It Wasn't Me" by Shaggy (2000)

We were beltin' out these lyrics when we had absolutely no idea what they meant. Our poor moms must have been horrified...

"He Loves U Not" by DREAM (2000)

This song fueled some great sleepover dance parties full of fake-microphone wielding moves and hair flips. I probably would have memorized the choreography from this video if my friends and I weren't all so uncoordinated.

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