If you’re anything like me, you love a good throwback to the simpler days of the 2000s. It was a time of feel-good music, questionable fashion choices, and epic dance parties. Things were just easier then, weren’t they? Before the world of social media addictions, YouTube, Instagram, SnapChat, and rampant plastic surgery, there were baby doll dresses, weak rap lyrics, and less-than-impressive CGI.
Most of these singles have been pushed to the back of our minds, thrown in discount bins, or buried under stacks of paper in karaoke bars. At any opportunity, we love to talk trash on these songs we used to love. We hid these albums with embarrassment and threw them away with good riddance once 2010 arrived. Never did we ever think we’d want to hear them again. But I’m telling you – one more listen, and they’ll be stuck in your head for the rest of the week.
Maybe it was science class, or school dances, or radio songs that played on repeat during your daily commute, but you’ve definitely heard every one of these songs. And I bet you know most of the words, too! If you’re prepared to be taken back to the glory days of the 2000s, here’s a list of 15 bands who released hugely famous songs and then disappeared into the abyss that was the discount singles bin. Enjoy!
15. Lou Bega – Mambo No. 5
Another tune that is hard to hear without dancing around a bit, Germany’s Lou Bega actually released this single in April of 1999 but since it was so popular, it stayed on international Top 40 charts well into 2000. It was Australia’s best-selling single in 1999 and stayed at #1 in France for 20 consecutive weeks – longer than any other song ever in the UK or the United States. The success of his hit launched Bega into a mega lawsuit since he used the riffs of an existing song and only wrote the lyrics himself. After seven years of court sessions, it was finally ruled that Mambo No. 5 was a collaboration written by Lou Bega and the original creator of the song, Damaso Perez Prado. Unfortunately for Bega, this was the only song of his to reach Billboard success in the United States and he’s retired from the music since.
14. Eiffel 65 – Blue (DA BA DEE)
Yo listen up here’s a story… This was one of the biggest hits of the 2000s, hands down. Anyone who was alive during this period knows the chorus, and to their embarrassment, probably thought it went “I’m blue, if I was green I would die”. The song was actually released in 1999 but stayed on the charts well into the 2000s. The nonsensical, child-like tune was written by three Italian men looking to create a dance song. What a success! The hit went to #1 in most countries around the world and was nominated for Best Dance Recording at the 2001 Grammys. The song re-charted in 2013, after it was included in a flashback scene to 1999 in Iron Man 3. Check out the whacky video here – it has over 100 million views!
13. MIMS – This Is Why I’m Hot
This is a great example of a song that has lyrics that everyone can sing along to it. This is why I’m hot! This is why I’m hot! I’m hot ‘cause I’m fly, you ain’t cause you’re not! It’s sassy and simple; a great combo for a one-hit wonder. Mims samples Kanye West, Dr Dre, Snoop Dogg, and Mobb Deep when he mentions where each artist is from. The tune is catchy, the chorus memorable, and the rap sections feature a healthy dose of profanities. Remember how bada** it felt to buy CDs with those “Parental Advisory” labels on them? This was the anthem for us to come out loud and proud as adults and strong individuals. That’s right. We were tough AF.
12. James Blunt – You’re Beautiful
For something completely different, let’s re-visit this love ballad that had everyone fighting back tears. There wasn’t a teenaged girl out there that didn’t secretly wish her boyfriend would play this for her on their guitar. How romantic! The song reached #1 in both the UK and the US and sold millions of copies. Unfortunately, this was the only James Blunt song to grace the Billboard Top 40 in the US. Blunt says the song was written about seeing an ex-girlfriend in the London Underground and witnessing a lifetime without her in a look that only lasts seconds. Weird Al Yankovic parodied the song in his versions called You’re Pitiful, which is pretty cool. What’s even cooler is that Blunt made an appearance on Sesame Street performing his super hit but with a twist – My Triangle was intended to educated youngsters not about heartbreak, but about geometry.
11. Gnarls Barkley – CRAZY
To this day, this must be one of the most-performed songs at karaoke nights around the globe. Gnarls Barkley is a collaboration between Danger Mouse and Cee Lo Green, who individually have worked on a number of different side projects from DJing to voice acting to music production. The single was released in 2006 and became the first single ever to reach #1 on the UK Single Chart based on download sales alone. It stayed at #1 for a total of nine weeks, which no other song had done in more than 10 years. In mid-2006, the band and their record company decided to remove the single from record stores around England so people wouldn’t get sick of the song. Great idea, since today we remember this tune with great fondness. Despite their efforts to erase CRAZY from Brits’ memories, it was still the best-selling single of 2006.
10. Crazy Town – Butterfly
This was the third single off Crazy Town’s 2000 release The Gift of Game and the only one to have real commercial success, reaching #1 in 15 different countries around the world. I have three theories as to why it was so popular: 1) it contained a sample of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ 1989 hit Pretty Little Ditty, 2) the lyrics were just sexy enough to attract the attention of teens and adults alike, or 3) the music video showcasing lead singer Shifty’s smokin’ hot bod was enough to get it in regular replay on MTV. Whatever the formula was, it worked perfectly and shot this band into superstardom for about 15 minutes – just long enough to sell about a million albums and then drop into oblivion.
9. Blu Cantrell – Hit ‘Em Up Style (Oops!)
Blu Cantrell’s vocal trills are so much fun to try and imitate that it’s nearly impossible not to sing along when this tune comes on the radio. The song encourages women to take revenge on their cheating boyfriends by spending all their money. I’m not one to play dirty, but it’s definitely fun to fantasize about it! Get your hands on his cash and spend it to the last dime for all the hard times definitely conjures up images of champagne and shopping sprees with the ladies. This was an era where the radios were lit with anthems of female empowerment (Bills, Bills, Bills, anyone?) and perhaps that’s why propelled this song to #2 on the American Billboard charts. Sadly for Blu, this was the only one of her songs to ever grace the Billboard Top 40.
8. J-Kwon – Tipsy
Errbody in the club gettin’ tipsy! How could you hear this song and not fight the desire to throw back tequila shots and hop on the dance floor? Like Blu’s Hit ‘Em Up Style, this song also peaked at #2 in America, only being beaten by the Usher single Yeah! That guy, always stealing the spotlight! Although I will admit, the man knows how to write catchy tunes. Outside of the US, Tipsy made it into the Top 10 but never reached that coveted #1 spot. Fun Fact – Kanye West cites Tipsy as one of his favorite songs of all time, and the inspiration for his album Yeezus. Crazy, right? So while J-Kwon never achieved any commercial success after the decline of Tipsy’s popularity, it did live on in another form. Yeezy style.
7. Macy Gray – I Try
I Try is another hit that’s found retirement in the thick stacks of karaoke go-to binders. Gray started as a songwriter and only started singing for herself when she stepped in for an absent vocalist during one jam session. Talk about serendipity! I Try was her biggest hit to date and the only one to grace the Billboard Top 40. Gray won the Grammy in 2001 for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and was nominated for both Record of the Year and Song of the Year. That’s a big accomplishment for her first (and only, really) taste of success! Gray went on to work a few acting gigs while she worked on five more studio albums, but nothing could compare to her breakthrough hit. Sometimes it’s better to quit while you’re ahead!
6. Fountains of Wayne – Stacy’s Mom
Stacy’s Mom came out right at the peak of American Pie fame, when MILFs were all the rage and Stifler’s mom was on every teenaged boy’s to-do list. This idea of a sexy, confident, and caring older woman (with lots of experience!) won over the hearts and… erm… minds of young men around the world. The single was released on American band Fountains of Wayne’s third album Welcome Interstate Managers but capping out at a #21 place on the Billboard Hot 100, this was the only FOW single to reach any major commercial success. So successful, in fact, that it was nominated for a Grammy for Best Vocal Pop Performance. The song apparently came from a friend who had a crush on bassist Adam Schlesinger’s grandmother when he was a little boy. They say inspiration comes from all sorts of places, but that’s kind of strange!
5. Terror Squad – Lean Back feat. Fat Joe and Remy
With a chorus that sings “Now lean back, lean back, lean back, lean back,” it’s easy to jump in and show your friends just how much of this rap tune you remember from the sweet, sweet summer of 2004. This Terror Squad single actually topped the charts at #1 for most of August and September of that year. Remember late nights spent driving around with the windows rolled down and your very best friends sitting by your side? This was the theme song. After its reign on the Top 40 charts, Lean Back was revived in a few video games, notably Need for Speed and The Hip Hop Dance Experience. Also, high school dances. What a great song to get up and shake your booty to!
4. Baha Men – Who Let the Dogs Out?
Speaking of summertime anthems, Who Let The Dogs Out was pretty much the soundtrack to any video footage of the summer of 2000. Loved by both kids and adults alike, this song took off after it was featured in the film Rugrats in Paris: The Movie and went on to reach the #2 spot on the UK Singles Chart. Originally from the Bahamas, the Baha Men went on to have one of Britain’s highest-selling singles of the decade that didn’t quite reach #1. The track won the Grammy for Best Dance Recording in 2001 and then disappeared after its 15 minutes of fame. The video doesn’t provide us with many answers by showcasing pets and humans chasing each other around in the summer heat. So I guess the question remains – who really did let the dogs out?
3. soulDecision – Faded
At last, a Canadian band appears on the list! You’ve got to love Canadian music, but maybe soulDecision isn’t the best example. Topping the Great White North at #1, this angsty break-up song only made it to #22 on the American Top 40. But we all know it made it to #1 in their hearts! The song was written by the handsome lead singer Trevor Guthrie, who described it as “being intoxicated and letting one’s object of affection know how you feel”. So basically, this was a drunk dial before drunk dials were a thing. Or an artsier form of Texts From Last Night. The Tragically Hip, Neil Young, Arcade Fire… soulDecision? Maybe it’s best they had their day in the limelight and quit while they were ahead.
2. Afroman – Because I Got High
The slacker’s anthem! A tribute to dope smoking! An excuse for anyone who almost did something and then just didn’t do anything at all! Every mother’s worst nightmare, Because I Got High somehow slipped onto mainstream 2000 radio and snuck its way up to the #1 spot in America. Perhaps this is due to his feature on The Howard Stern Show and circulation around the Internet. Or the fact that it was directed by Kevin Smith and featured his characters Jay and Silent Bob. Or simply because the lyrics are hilarious. Whatever the reason, this song became the theme song of the film Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and went on to be covered by musicians, comedians, and university students alike. What ever happened to Afroman? Well, he’s probably just out there getting high.
1. t. A. T. u. – All the Things She Said
The last one-hit wonder on our list of gems from the 2000s is from Russian girl group tATu. The single reached #1 in many different countries around the world (including the UK) but only made it to #20 on the American charts. However, this was the first Russian band to be so commercially successful in the United States. They are also the first Russian band to have a music video to reach over 100 million hits on YouTube as of June 2016. The women were involved in a number of controversies over their sexual orientation, since the music video for All the Things She Said showed them kissing in the rain. Regardless of who they choose to love, they are the most famous band to ever come out of Russia. It’s unfortunate they only had one big hit in both the US and the UK!