dispatches from the pop scene...minus the corn syrup.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Shakedown 1999: What Were *You* Doing That Year?

Today is my 11-anniversary of being in Los Angeles—my L.A.-versary, if you will. I realized this while driving past my old apartment on Melrose Avenue around noon today, and it got me thinking about those halcyon days as the '90s were about to come to an end. So I started compiling a mental list of what was going on, both in pop culture and in my personal life, in the last year of the millennium.

I posted it below, but tell me—what were you doing in 1999? Was it a good year or a bad one? (Or maybe a little bit of both?)

* In May 1999, I packed up, left behind my illustrious career as assistant manager of a Blockbuster Video store in Butler, Pennsylvania, and drove to Los Angeles. I had no job lined up, but a month prior, I'd flown out and secured an apartment. The trip took four days. I got to L.A. on May 12.

* The #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 the week of May 12, 1999 was Ricky Martin's "Livin' La Vida Loca."

* The monthly rent on my two-bedroom apartment on Melrose Avenue in 1999 was $775. That included all utilities. You probably can't even rent a post office box for that cheap here now.

* The #1 movie at the box office the week of May  12, 1999: The Mummy.

* The first two purchases I made the day I got to L.A.: a bed and the soundtrack to my favorite TV show at the time, Felicity (which I bought at the now-shuttered Aron's Records on Highland Avenue).

* #1 on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart the week of May 12, 1999:  TLC's FanMail.

* Two weeks later I was hired as a "delivery assistant" at fledgling film production company/overseas distributor Summit Entertainment, where I'd go on to work till September 2000. At the time they made low budget straight-to-video/DVD trash like Kill The Man, and distributed indie movies like Chuck And Buck. These days the company produces classy fare like The Hurt Locker and the Twilight movies.

* Two long-running TV series that ended in May 1999: Melrose Place and Mad About You.

* The first concert I saw in Los Angeles, on June 5, 1999: Saint Etienne at the House Of Blues.

 * Earlier that day, I took this photo of Sarah Cracknell and Pete Wiggs during a CD-signing session at the Virgin Megastore on Sunset Blvd.:

* Other concerts I saw in 1999: NSync (with B*witched as opening act), Backstreet Boys, Pet Shop Boys. Britney Spears played in L.A. that summer, with Steps as the opener, but tickets sold out before I could snag them.

* I had been in a relationship for three years prior to moving. Naturally, relocating nearly 3,000 miles away was the beginning of the end of that.

* In 1999, Gwyneth Paltrow (Shakespeare In Love) won Best Actress and Roberto Benigni (Life Is Beautiful) won Best Actor at the Academy Awards, while Shakespeare In Love was named Best Motion Picture.

* Two movies from spring 1999 that struck a chord: Edge Of Seventeen and Get Real (which I saw two days after moving to Los Angeles).

* Overall, it was kind of depressing and lonely here that first year. I didn't really start to settle in until 2000. But the songs below are the ones that got me through, whether they were singles I bought or jams I simply cranked up on the radio while exploring the City Of Angels.


1. "Kiss Me" — Sixpence None The Richer
2. "No Scrubs" —TLC
3. "I Want It That Way" — Backstreet Boys
4. "I Breathe Again" — Adam Rickitt
5. "Angel Of Mine" — Monica
6. "Better Best Forgotten" — Steps
7. "Never Knew Love" — Nightcrawlers
8. "Believe" — Cher
9. "Be The First To Believe" — A1
10. "Viva La Radio" — Lolly
11. "Sometimes" — Britney Spears
12. "Forever" — Tina Cousins
13. "Boom Boom Boom Boom" — Vengaboys
14. "Give It To You" — Jordan Knight
15. "Bailamos" — Enrique Iglesias
16. "Genie In A Bottle" — Christina Aguilera
17. "It's Not Right But It's Okay" — Whitney Houston
18. "The Animal Song" — Savage Garden
19. "That Don't Impress Me Much" — Shania Twain
20. "Bring It All To Me" — Blaque feat. JC Chasez
21. "All 'Bout The Money" — Meja
22. "We Live" — Bosson
23. "So Many Ways" — Ellie Campbell 

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  • At 10:13 PM, Blogger John said…

    Spring '99 found me working as a manager for a Specs Music down in Coral Gables, FL, but by the beginning of April I was relocated to Atlanta. Within a month, I was dating someone seriously, and I left the company that summer as FYE was absorbing all of the Camelot stores. I remember the insanity around Ricky Martin, Blaque being played non-stop on the radio, and the building pop craze for 'NSync and Britney. In perspective, it wasn't a great year, but it was a necessary one, and started the events in motion that got me to Denver, which I did without even a place to live lined up.

  • At 11:52 PM, Blogger Mike said…

    99... I think I was doing my hair. Seriously, what a shit year. I think the highlight was finally escaping high school.

    I love this post though. It's lovely. I wish I documented my life as comprehensively. I like your list of tunes. "It's Not Right But It's Ok", particularly the amazing remixes, was a fave of mine.

  • At 1:53 AM, Blogger Daft Monk said…

    Back in 1999 I thought this song was clever. Also it was one of the worst years in my life.

  • At 2:50 AM, Blogger duanemoody.com said…

    YES YES YES. Amazing all around. And Felicity is still one of the best shows ever.

  • At 2:00 PM, Blogger xolondon said…

    I don't even remember 1999, but the song list helps. I was in grad school, probably bitching and moaning. I DO remember really liking that Whitney album and having a lot of TRL pop to sift through.

    You rented a two bedroom alone? Or with roommate?

  • At 2:00 PM, Blogger Ronan said…

    Nice post...I'm in a similar situation at the moment, just relocated to Philadelphia 3 months ago and I'm still learning to adjust. It's a bit lonely, but anything is better than suburban Jersey.

    1999 I was in full on Britney mode...it's hilarious looking back on how much I worshipped that soon to be mess; regardless BOMT is still an amazing piece of pop.

    Garbage's Version 2.0 and Madge's Ray of Light from the year before were also still very high on my playlist. God, Shirley Manson was ace.

  • At 2:31 PM, Blogger 17days said…

    the spring of 99 saw me running around philadelphia faxing my resume to various music-PR firms in NYC for an unpaid internship. i'd graduated from college the previous fall with a degree in musical theater, booked a tour of West Side Story as "Snowboy", and quit a few months in vowing to never perform again. i moved to NYC in the fall of 99 as an intern and left 3 1/2 years later for LA a senior publicist on my way to management.

    ...but the real story was my obsession with the album NIGHTLIFE by PSB, which came out that fall. for a long time it was my favorite record and i really felt like the true New York City Boy.

  • At 4:30 PM, Anonymous shaun said…

    Love these posts...your playlist really took me back. I was finishing up my second year of college (yay) and working evenings at "the Kmarts" (boo). One evening while working in the electronics dept., a guy would hit on me. I would be repulsed because I soooooooo was NOT gay, as evidenced by the girlfriend with whom I was living at the time. My oh my, the difference a decade can make!

  • At 5:56 PM, Blogger Harajuku Shounen said…

    what a year in music industry it's the year that Latinos were received with arms open by American audience and also the big change fro 19 to 20
    I liked alot I used to buy a lotta Cds specially singles I loved them
    I was at high school a year in which I found what music I liked and also that helped me to get myself together and the internet got the ball rolling and We all got shocked with the Matrix effects.


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