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Volume 2, Issue 2                                    University of Houston
1999 -- the year in music

Jake McKim

1999 had its share of musical highs and lows. 

There were a few memorable moments and even more that would be best forgotten. 

'99 featured some new bands and artists that will be around for a long time to come, and others that most hope will enter a black hole somewhere and never reemerge.

Three distinct styles of music came to the forefront, dominating the music scene. Pop (Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, 'N Sync), Latin Pop (Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez, Enrique Iglesias) and Rap/Rock or Rap Metal (Kid Rock, Limp Bizkit) put a chokehold on the charts and haven't let go yet.

Here's my rundown of who I think has what it takes to stick around for a long time and who will be selling cars or shining shoes this time next year:

The entire pop scene including the far-too-numerous boy bands and the copycat teeny-bopper solo acts (Spears, Mandy Moore, Michael Fredo) will undoubtedly have a short shelf life as soon as the music-buying world realizes these acts have little to no talent. 

One name that does stand out from these overplayed pop acts is the vocally powerful, innocent-yet-sexy Christina Aguilera, who at times possesses Celine Dion and Mariah Carey-like vocals. If she eventually strays from the fad of the bubble-gum, lyrically weak pop sound, she has a real chance of maintaining a long, illustrious career.

Latin Pop is another genre of music that took the world (or at least the females) by storm in '99. Ricky Martin swiveled his hips to the delight of his worldwide fans, Jennifer Lopez sang (pitifully at best) sugary sweet songs and Enrique Iglesias made thousands melt with simply the wink of an eye. Do any of these three have a shot at longevity?

Martin will probably be around for a long time simply because he has such adoring, loyal fans despite his lack of vocal skills. Lopez can only hope she's got some great writers and producers behind her because that's the only thing that might keep her around. Iglesias seems to be the guy we'll be hearing from in the new millennium and beyond. Iglesias has fine-tuned his strong vocals and his lyrics are impressive.

Rap metal has actually been around for quite a while now, it's just that much of mainstream America didn't know about it until late in 1998. Bands like Rage Against the Machine, Korn and others have pioneered a quickly growing form of music that combines the ferocity of heavy metal with the storytelling of hip-hop.

Limp Bizkit and Kid Rock have been on the scene for a couple of years, but didn't truly become household names until this year. Both of these acts, despite their popularity, have a lot of growing to do if they hope to stick around. If they stop talking about juvenile subjects and concentrate on topics that have more social impact, they may have a shot.

In addition to these here-today, probably-gone-tomorrow musical styles, other acts in the established genres made their mark. In hip-hop, Eminem (a.k.a. Slim Shady), came out firing with a rapid style that no one could have seen coming from a white rapper.

Eminem's captivating narratives, undeniable delivery and the way the hip-hop world has embraced him, seem to indicate he has a great future ahead.

The Cash Money Millionaires, '99's version of Master P's No Limit Soldiers, includes now big-name rappers such as Juvenile, Lil' Wayne and B.G. They have a distinct Southern bounce sound and an excellent production team, but what happens when people get tired of hearing them rap about how rich they are and how much jewelry they can get around their neck and wrist? Chances are, these guys will probably have one more successful year before another crew comes along.

Eve, the newest female rapper, turned a lot of heads this year with her sexy, yet somewhat hardcore style. While sales weren't tremendous, all she needs is a couple of hit songs and this girl will be tearin' up the scene for years.

In the rock world, hard-hitting, in-your-face bands like Creed, Godsmack and Offspring did their best to revive rock. Although they don't seem to have longetivity (with the exception of Offspring), they have paved the way for future bands.

There are others that made '99 interesting but that most likely won't be around after the next few months.

Undoubtedly, 2000 needs some fresh acts that actually have some lasting talent and socially-important lyrics. Hopefully we'll see a lot less Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys and a lot more Aguilera and Eminem.

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