What is Y2K aesthetics? Well, this isn’t a life-or-death type of question, but we’re going to answer it anyway. If you recently read or hear about this concept, it was probably in the context of fashion or music (and here’s where we come in, of course). Although Y2K simply means “year 2000”, Y2K represents a time of change, nostalgia, bold, neon, energetic colors, and futuristic imagery.
So, why have Y2K aesthetics popped up again in the 2020s? Like the turn of the millennium, we’re in uncertain times where everything moves faster each day; robots haven’t taken over, but AI-powered music has made its way to our ears; neon, metallic, and shiny bikinis can be found in any store; and an overall sense of nostalgia for a simpler past time is the topic of any conversation among friends. Here are 6 songs from this eclectic era that you’ll want to add to your current playlist – unless, of course, they’re already there.
Y2K Aesthetics: Best Representative Songs
As we said, they’re the songs we think best represent the Y2K aesthetics and, just like crop tops and cargo pants are making their way into your hearts, so will these songs.
Y2K Aesthetics: The Barbie Song
Who doesn’t know Aqua? This Danish-Norwegian dance-pop band gained international fame in the late 1990s and released their major hit “Barbie Girl” in 1997. What can we say? It’s a catchy, playful song that uses Barbie as a metaphor for a world in which materialism, superficiality, and stereotypical gender roles are the norm. Hmm, ring a bell?
Who on this earth doesn’t know one of the most infectious choruses of all time that goes:
I’m a Barbie girl, in a Barbie world
Life in plastic, it’s fantastic
You can brush my hair, undress me everywhere
Imagination, life is your creation.
Now that you’re probably trying to imitate those distinctive vocals by lead singers Lene Nystrøm and René Dif, we’re sure that nostalgia just got to you.
Y2K Aesthetics: The Ma-Ia-Hii Song
“Dragostea Din Tei” is a Romanian pop song by O-Zone. They released it in 2003 and it soon became a massive international hit. Another infectious song for its melody and lyrics -well, or at least what we attempted to sing -, especially that “ma-ia-hii, ma-ia-huu, ma-ia-hoo, ma-ia-ha-ha” hook.
Since we don’t want to assume that you know Romanian, the lyrics tell a story about a young man who falls in love with a girl under a lime tree, “Dragostea din tei” translates to “Love from the Lime Tree” in English. Ohh. Here’s the rest:
Vrei să pleci dar nu mă, nu mă iei (You want to leave, but you don’t want, want to take me,)
Nu mă, nu mă iei, nu mă, nu mă, nu mă iei (Don’t want, want to take me, don’t want, don’t want, don’t want to take me,)
Chipul tău și dragostea din tei (Your face and the love from the lime tree,)
Mi-amintesc de ochii tăi (I remember your eyes.)
It didn’t stop there. The song’s popularity was boosted by the “Numa Numa Dance” video, where a young man named Gary Brolsma lip-syncs and dances to the song, This was probably one of the first viral internet sensations.
Y2K Aesthetics: The Cutest Song
“Lovefool” is a song by the Swedish pop-rock band The Cardigans released in 1996 as a single from their third studio album, “First Band on the Moon.” It became another major hit and remains one of the signature tracks to this day. A more playful and lovey-dovey tune that mixes pop and alternative rock elements. Unrequited love and infatuation are the main themes of the song.
Whether she thought the world was really going to end or not, she chooses to confess how foolishly in love she is and hopes the other feels the same:
Love me, love me, say that you love me
Fool me, fool me, oh how you do me
Kiss me, kiss me, say that you miss me
Tell me what I wanna hear
Tell me you love me
Nina Persson, the lead singer, has one of the cutest voices in the industry. A perfect blend of sweetness and vulnerability that emphasize the overall melancholy of the song.
Y2K Aesthetics: The Dance Song
Another hit from Romania! “Stereo Love” is a popular dance track by Romanian musician and producer Edward Maya, featuring vocals by Moldovan singer Vika Jigulina. The song was released in 2009 and soon topped the charts worldwide.
Try to avoid moving your feet when hearing this infectious dance beat, catchy melody, and fusion of electronic and traditional Romanian elements, note that accordion riff.
When you gonna stop breaking my heart?
I don’t wanna be another one
Paying for the things I never done
Don’t let go, don’t let go to my love.
This dance floor anthem tells the story of love and desire, highlighting the effect that stereo music has on emotions. Dance music… (huge sigh).
Y2K Aesthetics: The Electrifying Song
“Everytime We Touch” was released in 2005 by the German Eurodance group Cascada. Also part of the dance family, this song is the lead single from their debut album Everytime We Touch. Another track with an upbeat and energetic melody, powerful vocals, and contagious dance beats. If you were on a dance floor or a regular at the electronic dance music (EDM) scene, you must be getting some kind of nostalgia right about now.
Cause every time we touch, I get this feeling
And every time we kiss, I swear I could fly
Can’t you feel my heart beat fast, I want this to last
Need you by my side
It’s not just the music that is electronic; the song is about that electrifying love that you hoped would last forever. The music video, featuring Cascada’s lead singer, Natalie Horler, also captures visual elements of the time: enchanting and fairytale-like visuals.
Y2K Aesthetics: The Thankful Song
“Thank You” was released in 1998 and appears in Dido‘s album No Angel. It’s a heartfelt song where she expresses her gratitude for that someone who helped her find peace and comfort. The lyrics paired with a mellow and reflective vibe, as well as Dido’s soulful vocals, made it a significant hit worldwide.
And I want to thank you
For giving me the best day of my life
Oh, just to be with you is having the best day of my life
My tea’s gone cold, I’m wondering why
I got out of bed at all
The morning rain clouds up my window
And I can’t see at all
And even if I could, it’d all be gray
But your picture on my wall
It reminds me that it’s not so bad
It’s not so bad
Dido’s enchanting vocals and mellow style have definitely made her a classic in the realm of contemporary pop and alternative music.
Y2K Aesthetics: Final Thoughts
Although Y2K aesthetics have been more popular in recent years, new generations have always tended to look back fondly to the turn of the millennium. There’s something about reinterpreting the status quo and expressing conclusions in the digital arts, fashion, graphic design, and music.
Although we’ve put a lot of thought into our pick of 6 songs that best represent Y2K aesthetics, please challenge us with your own selection!