The year was 1999 and there were people bunkering because they thought some sort of apocalypse was going to accompany the turn of the millennium.

While the idea of a new millennium inspired fear in some, it inspired hope in others. With K-Ci on the hook, Will Smith’s “Will 2K” — from his second solo album, Willennium (of course)— approaches the new millennium in a celebratory mood and a confidence that suggests that Will knew our computers weren’t going to crash simultaneously at midnight on January 1, 2000.

“Will 2K” samples “Rock the Casbah” by The Clash and “Superrappin’” by Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, and peaked at No. 25 on the Billboard Hot 100. With this Thursday also being the last day of this trash-ass year, this song feels appropriate in theme and in mood. Happy new year, everyone!

Chloe x Halle are sending us into the new year with a simple-yet-amazing video for their latest single, “Don’t Make It Harder on Me.” I’ll admit: When I first came across the duo a few years ago, I wasn’t an immediate fan. However, the Bailey sisters have delivered more consistently than anyone else in 2020, so consider me a member of their hive.

“Don’t Make It Harder on Me” is a soulful ballad about a former lover circling back to cause trouble in your new relationship, being all nice and making you forget why they became your ex. The song feels like a throwback to the ’70s — like something Rotary Connection would make.

The lyrics of “Don’t Make It” provide ample opportunity for a video with a plot, but somehow, what the girls did instead works just as well. Check it out below.

It’s the night before Christmas and also a Thursday, so what better TBT selection could there be than Mariah Carey’s 19th No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100? Right. There is none.

The first stop of the Daydream World Tour was at the Tokyo Dome in March of 1996, and while it may seem odd to perform a Christmas song in March, here’s some context: “All I Want for Christmas Is You” is Mariah’s biggest hit in Japan. And besides, the song is good on any day.

The Tokyo Dome stop of that tour is widely considered to be Mariah’s best concert, and the singer herself seems to agree, evidenced by her releasing the entire concert as part of The Rarities, which dropped earlier this year.

If you’re watching this performance for the first time, thank me later. Merry Christmas!

Time waits for no one, and one jolting reminder of this is when former child and teen stars become middle-aged adults.

Today, Christina Aguilera turns 40 years old, and if you’re a millennial of a certain age, this is mind-blowing. The girl who sang “Genie in a Bottle” is now a grown-ass woman.

Christina’s career has always been an interesting one, and I often wonder what it would’ve looked like in a world where Britney Spears didn’t exist. Would she have been less successful if Britney hadn’t upended popular music months prior (thereby creating frenzied demand for teenage white girl performers)? Or would she have achieved Britney-level fame? It’s impossible to say for sure, but through constant comparison in the press, people were led to believe that the Mickey Mouse Club alums were in competition (which isn’t implausible) and, in fact, similar (which they weren’t). Aside from being close in age and having blonde-dyed hair, they were decidedly different artists from the get-go.

First of all, and with all due respect to Brit, Christina was a true vocalist, with some even calling her the “new Mariah” at the time of her debut. Also, Christina’s sound always skewed more R&B — even on her debut album, which many would describe as “pop.”

As the years went by, Christina would demonstrate a willingness to go places that Britney wouldn’t — and, in some cases, couldn’t — with her sound and look. The comparisons never completely went away, but today, it is clear that Christina Aguilera was always more than just Britney 2.0.

Below are my four favorite tracks from Christina’s catalog. Join me in celebrating this icon.

“Can’t Hold Us Down”

“Come on Over (All I Want Is You)”

“The Voice Within”

“Lady Marmalade” (with Mya, Pink and Lil’ Kim)

If you asked me to list the 10 best recorded vocal performances of all time, there’s a strong chance that “Breakin’ My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes)” by Mint Condition might make the list. Because Stokley Williams — the lead singer of the group — was SINGING-singing. Sangin’, in fact.

Released in November 1991 as the second single from the group’s debut album, Meant to Be Mint, “Pretty Brown Eyes” takes us back to a time when the voice was the centerpiece of most popular R&B songs. These days, we’d be lucky if we can get a hum out of Jhené Aiko or The Weeknd.

Co-written by Stokley and bandmates Larry Waddell and Jeffrey Allen, “Pretty Brown Eyes” would go on to become the group’s biggest hit, peaking at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100. And like every other timeless composition, the song would be sampled on numerous songs over the years, including Amerie’s “Pretty Brown” (featuring Trey Songz) and Remy Ma’s “Melanin Magic” (featuring Chris Brown).

Long before he was getting caught up in festival scams, Ja Rule was a bonafide hit-maker. And one thing about them hits? They all aged well.

Most would agree that Ja’s signature hit is “Always on Time” (featuring Ashanti), the second single from Pain Is Love and his sole No. 1 as a lead act — he has two as an assist on a pair of J.Lo singles. The song is also a signature for that moment in popular music: Ja Rule was everywhere, and in the coming year, so would Ashanti. Also, the musical craftings of Irv Gotti and 7 Aurelius (the song’s co-writers) were the standard.

“Always on Time” was actually supposed to feature Brandy. And you know what? I could totally hear it. However, it was only right that Ashanti got her moment to shine — especially after singing the hooks on the aforementioned J.Lo hits (sans credit). Click play.

If you’re looking for a pick-me-up, the new version of Mariah Carey’s “Oh Santa!” might do the track. This new version — we’re not calling it a remix because Mimi isn’t — is a part of Mariah Carey’s Magical Christmas, the Apple TV+ special that dropped at midnight. And this time, Mariah is joined by Jennifer Hudson and none other than Ariana Grande, the reigning queen of the charts and a woman often called “the new Mariah.”

It is well-documented that Mariah hated that, but over the years, the two artists played nice on social media. And now, here they are, singing together and even matching whistle notes.

Overall, the song isn’t made better by the additions, but seeing all three singers together is something to be excited about. And including Jennifer Hudson was definitely a smart way to distract from the Mariah vs. Ariana comparisons that will inevitably happen. Click play.

For years, Mariah shaded Ariana, but luckily, Ariana knew to never retaliate.