back to start
blink 182 enema
Enema of the State was Blink-182 at peak fart joke. I mean, what the hell does Enema of the State even mean? Either way, Blink's peak-fart-joke album just reached peak-fart-joke age: 16.
Sixteen years ago, it was somehow permissible to wear caucasian dreadlocks, casual snake-eye contact lenses, and attempt skateboard tricks on Razor scooters. That's why 311's "Come Original," from 1999's Soundsystem, was a minor hit.
afi black sails
Now, when we think of horror-punks, we think of London, ON rockabilly badmen and nail-salon shop owners who dress like Bettie Page. But 16 years ago, it was somehow permissible for hardcore kids to wear guyliner and mosh to tracks called, like, "Malleus Maleficarum." Happy sweet sixteen, Black Sails. We loved you, but you've aged horribly.
Legions of Beyoncé supporters may not know who Beck is in 2015, but in the mid-'90s, he was a slacker-pop icon who blended rap with rock (gasp!). By the time Midnite Vultures was released, though, he was already sliding into his altogether pleasant—if slightly unremarkable—career as a Levi's 501 rocker.
1999 was the dawn of the Willenium—but more on that later. It was also the year Backstreet Boys' Millenium was released, and it featured some mega smashes like "I Want it That Way." BSB, at the time, were a quintessential pre-teen band—but now, most people who own this album are solidly in their 30s.
creed human clay
Creed's Human Clay might've been the album that killed grunge for a decade. Featuring tracks like "Arms Wide Open," Scott Stapp finally made it shameful to like Eddie Vedder (or made it acceptable for Christians to dig alt-rock). Still, we have to give it to Stapp and co.: Human Clay's mindblowing album cover foreshadowed terrible DeviantArt illustrations by a solid decade.
destinys child writing
It's hard to believe that "Bills Bills Bills" is already well into its teens. Not only does that single—and The Writing's On the Wall in its totality—still sound current, it's also a reminder of how far back the world's Beyoncé obsession stretches.
dido no angel
British songwriter Dido has had a long, and relatively storied, career, but for North American audiences, she made her biggest splash with No Angel, after white suburban rap fans discovered her vocals on Eminem's "Stan." More on that momentarily.
dr dre 2001
As iconic hip-hop albums go, 2001 (also known as The Chronic 2001) is an all-timer, and its massive singles, "Still D.R.E." and "The Next Episode" among them, don't feel a decade and a half old. Mostly, we're blown away that he still hasn't written a follow-up.
eminem slim shady lp
The Slim Shady LP, after 16 years, has aged into Eminem's most influential. Bolstered by "The Real Slim Shady," it's an indisputable hip-hop all-timer—don't be deterred by all the dummies who say they "don't like hip hop except for Eminem." Their opinions are stupid. This album isn't.
foo fighters there is nothing
The Foo Fighters, in 2015, are indisputably a rock cornerstone. But 16 years ago, they were just finding their footing, and with There Is Nothing Left to Lose, they poached Alanis drummer Taylor Hawkins, experimented with overt pop sounds, and foreshadowed their soon-to-come goofiness with the video for "Learn to Fly." Happy sweet 16, There is Nothing Left to Lose.
hot water music no division
These days, Chuck Ragan is doing what all classy aging punks do: He's cut a few folk songs, gotten into fishing, and has evolved into a woodsman (who may or may not know how to chop wood). But 16 years ago, Ragan was fronting emo-punk act Hot Water Music at their most vital. It's hard to believe that "Rooftops" is already a bratty shithead who's embarrassed to be seen with its parents in public.
jimmy eat world clarity
Believe it or not, 16 years ago, Jimmy Eat World cut Clarity, an album that established them as a rainy-day campus-approved indie rock act. Only two years later, they'd become a teen-soundtracking force thanks to 2001's Bleed American.
jlo on the 6
In 2015, we're not-so-patiently waiting for Drake's Views From the 6. In 1999, however, we were seeing another actor embark on a musical career: Happy 16th to J Lo's On the 6.
It's somewhat creepy, in retrospect, that Korn released an album called Issues, featuring a busted-ass child's doll. It's even creepier that the album's now old enough to write terrible teenage poetry about its, uh, issues.
le tigre st
Kathleen Hanna's post-Bikini Kill band, Le Tigre, had a brilliant debut album, bolstered by the dancefloor hit "Deceptacon." The track (and the album) still holds up wonderfully, which is surprising: It came of age in a time when "eletroclash" was still a thing, became championed by Blood Brothers fans who'd just discovered No Wave (shudder), and eventually settled onto the dancefloor of, uh, the Dance Cave. There's no way that "Deceptacon" should still sound fresh, but it absolutely does.
Limp Bizkit - Significant Other
If you want to know how far the world has progressed in 16 years, consider this: Limp Bizkit's album hit no. 1 on the Billboard charts in 1999, led by a rapper who looked like a Billabong model. Their biggest tracks involved breaking stuff (and skinning asses raw) and doing it all for the nookie (and shoving cookies up yeahs). Significant Other is an unparalleled classic.
lou bega mambo
It's been decade of and a half since Lou Bega cut "Mambo No. 5," but it was used in Coke commercials as recently as last year. Laugh all you want at Bega's one hit wonder, but it—shockingly, perhaps—has retained more cultural relevance than other albums on this list.
In the wake of the mid-'90s electronica craze—where bands like Underworld were declared as rock saviours—electronic music was in a strange place. A strange place where bald-headed, vegan, first-gen New York hardcore kids could cut chart-topping club-killing albums.
christina aguilera st
In 1999, off the strength of "Genie in a Bottle," Christina Aguilera was an ascendent pop star.
It may seem strange that rap-metal was ever a thing, but in 1999, Rage Against the Machine were a critically adored band—and tracks like "Calm Like a Bomb" still remain popular amongst rebellious history teachers with students who are about as old as The Battle of Los Angeles.
savage garden affirmation
Holy shit, Savage Garden's sophomore album Affirmation turns 16 this year? Wait, Savage Garden had a sophomore album?
saves the day through being cool
We hate to break it to you, pop-punk fans, but Saves the Day actually peaked 16 years ago—meaning that Chris Conley probably peaked at around age 17. Normally, it'd be a bummer to watch a band check out for 16 straight years, but in Saves the Day's case, we'll allow it: Through Being Cool is one of the best pop-punk albums of all time, and became an instant emo icon. It sounds even better in 2015 than it did in 1999.
In 1999, thanks to the Y2K scare, loads of bands were putting out nervy, end-of-times songs. Silverchair was one of 'em—and "Anthem for the Year 2000," was a crunchy mid-tempo rocker that, had it been written in 2015, would be something of an anti-vaxxer theme song: It was vaguely technophobic, vaguely feared the government, and vaguely feared death. Daniel Johns has since grown up, though: Now, he writes lubed-up, David Usher-esque procreation music under his own name.
16 years ago, the first maggot was born thanks to Slipknot's debut. And the band has only gotten better with time: With their debut LP, they risked being a gimmick act, metal's answer to ICP. A decade and a half on, they're stronger than ever.
smash mouth astro lounge
In our teens, we were absolutely ravenous. Growing as we were, we had insane metabolisms, and could pack down food, food, and even more food. Smash Mouth, to that end, seems like a completely normal teenager: Singer Steve Harwell, after all, is now best known for eating 24 eggs in a single sitting.
sugar ray 14-59
In 1999, Sugar Ray might've thought that their 15 minutes of fame was up—they, after all, named their album 14:59. But they were being too modest: 16 years later, flaccid cruise-rock opuses like "Someday" and "Every Morning" still stand up. And they are, in fact, used to score flaccid Sugar Ray-branded cruises. At the time, Mark McGrath might've thought it was time to hang up the nipple ring. But he couldn't have been more wrong: Sugar Ray has been as permanent as a regrettable Rolex tattoo.
It's somewhat alarming that plenty of emo albums—the essential teenage records of our time—are actually turning into teenagers themselves. Yet Something to Write Home About is 16, and listening to "Holiday," "Valentine" and "Action & Action" still turns us into melodramatic adolescents.
the roots things
The more things change, the more they stay the same. While plenty of people are losing their shit over D'Angelo in 2015, 16 years ago, his brand of R&B was establishing itself, and with it came an entire scene: D'Angelo, Common, Erykah Badu and the Roots were all having their moment. And it was wonderful. The Roots' Things Fall Apart, for its part, was built around newsboy hat-toting hip-hop. And it was one of the era's best.
16 years ago, Fan Mail dropped. Scrubs have never been the same. R.I.P., Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes.
white stripes st
Like Dave Grohl, Jack White is a fixture in 2015's rock-scape. His signature brand of rock revival began 16 years ago, and the White Stripes' debut is an essential for any White fanatic.
britney spears baby
In 2015, we know Britney Spears as many things—OK, we mostly know her as a one-time baldy with anti-vaccine proclivities. But 16 years ago, she was a fresh-faced pop singer outfitted in a Catholic-school uniform. We like all Britneys equal. Except that vaccine truther Britney.
will smith - willenium
As a musician, Will Smith has released countless G-rated smashes—"Switch," anyone? But he was at his finest in the Willenium era, which spawned zeitgeisty singles like "Will 2K" and dustbowl bangers like "Wild Wild West."
In case you’ve forgotten, for adolescents, turning 16 is a huge deal: You’re at the midway point of your teenage years. You’re legally allowed to join the army—with consent from your parents. In some places, you can legally withdraw from your parents’ control, and you can drop out of high school. But most importantly, you’re legally old enough to drive—and that means that you can leave your tiny, shit-butt suburban town behind. For that, we’re forever indebted to the car.
Indeed, 16 is a huge milestone—and many classic albums come of age this year, too. So, welcome to the semi-adult world, cohort of 1999: Your graduating class includes emo classics, scrub-destroying hip-hop, rap-metal and, of course, Will Smith’s Willenium.