Flashback time: It's the summer of 1999. M. Night Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense is blowing audiences' minds. The newly popular Now That's What I Call Music series releases its second song compilation in the U.S. People are starting to voice concerns that the Y2K bug could inspire a global catastrophe.
Flash forward 21 years: Shyamalan is a hitmaker again after a string of flops, the Now series is on its 74th volume, and we're in the midst of an actual global catastrophe.
Critics have written about 1999 being a great year for movies, but let's not forget that it was a solid music year, too: Summer of '99 was one of the best and most diverse as far as pop music is concerned, and all those songs that you couldn't get out of your head on the eve of the millennium are now turning 21. Time flies.
Backstreet Boys, "I Want It That Way"
Fresh off his first No. 1 with Britney Spears' "...Baby One More Time," songwriter and producer Max Martin recorded this power ballad with the Backstreet Boys, then at the peak of their popularity. Even BSB haters came to admit the song was a pretty good one: Rolling Stone called it a "genre-transcending classic," and it has appeared on lists of the best songs of its era compiled by VH1 and Blender. A year after "I Want It That Way" was released, Martin would score his second No. 1 single with rival boy band NSYNC's "It's Gonna Be Me."