The year was 1997. Mordecai Richler's Barney's Version won the Giller Prize, Princess Diana was killed in a car crash, President Bill Clinton was sworn in for a second term, Connor McDavid was born and these 17 songs wedged themselves into our hearts.
'Dark Horse,' Amanda Marshall
Endorsed by Elton John, this was the fifth single from Amanda Marshall's eponymous debut album. In an interview on The Rosie O'Donnell Show, John predicted it would be a No. 1 record — and it was, reaching top spot on the RPM Top Singles chart in March 1997.
'Midnight Rain,' Wide Mouth Mason
Named for a jar, the Saskatoon trio (Shaun Verreault, Safwan Javed and Earl Pereira) dominated the Canadian rock radio airwaves in 1997 with several hits from its self-titled debut album, including "This Mourning," "My Old Self" and this little jam, "Midnight Rain." Wide Mouth Mason went gold in Canada and earned a nomination for best new group at the 1998 Juno Awards. They lost to Leahy.
'Drinking in LA,' Bran Van 3000
One of this country's classic one-hit wonders, "Drinking in LA" was the first single from the Montreal collective Bran Van 3000. The song failed to gain traction in the U.S., but went to No. 3 in the U.K., No. 7 in Norway and No. 9 in Italy and Sweden.
'Let Down,' Radiohead
Twenty years in and I'm still not entirely sure what Thom Yorke is going on about in this song. Something about crushed bugs and the human race.
'Surrounded,' Chantal Kreviazuk
Released in September 1997, the fourth single from Chantal Kreviazuk's debut album, Under These Rocks and Stones became her first to chart in the United States. "Surrounded" peaked at No. 19 on the Billboard Adult Top 40 chart in January 1998.
'Numb,' Holly McNarland
This song was everywhere in the summer of 1997. The biggest hit of the Manitoban singer's career from her debut album, Stuff, "Numb" reached No. 9 on the Canadian charts. McNarland went on to win best new solo artist at the 1998 Juno Awards.
'On and On,' Erykah Badu
The world first heard Erykah Badu en masse with this, the first single from her debut album, Baduizm. The song ushered in the era of neo-soul and went to No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Hot R&B chart.
'The Freshmen,' the Verve Pipe
Originally released on the band's 1992 album, I've Suffered a Head Injury, the Verve Pipe recorded it again for inclusion on 1996's Villains and then recorded it yet again in order to release it as a single on Jan. 24, 1997. The third time was indeed a charm.
'The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly),' Missy Elliott
Trashbag suits and fish-eye lenses still look hype and Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott still sounds like a total badass on this timeless classic. She remains an icon and an innovator. If you doubt her influence, let Kid Fury of The Read break it down for you.
'Hypnotize,' Notorious B.I.G.
This song was a hit on American radio long before being released as a single. Produced by Puff Daddy, it entered the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the No. 2 position right behind Puffy's own single "Can't Nobody Hold Me Down." It peaked at No. 3 on the Canadian Hot 100 chart. "Hypnotize" was Biggie's last release in his lifetime, as he was murdered just one week later.
Love it or hate it, you know that when this song comes on and no one's around you pick your part in the harmony and go ham on that chorus — not caring one whit that the song is actually much darker than it sounds.
'Secret Garden,' Bruce Springsteen
Originally a 1995 single for Springsteen, "Secret Garden" topped out at No. 63 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It was re-released in April 1997 after being featured in the film Jerry Maguire, starring Renée Zellweger and Tom Cruise," making "Secret Garden" crack top 20 on the charts.
'Bittersweet Symphony,' the Verve
The lead single from Urban Hymns famously got the U.K. band in a bit of trouble when they sampled a theme from the Rolling Stones' "The Last Time" without properly attributing it. The video features the band's lead singer, Richard Ashcroft, walking down the street oblivious to his surroundings and unwilling to break stride or alter his path in the slightest for anyone in his way. Perhaps cute and clever back in the day, today he looks like your regular privileged guy.
'Clumsy,' Our Lady Peace
From the album of the same name, this song was one of the Toronto band's most successful singles, going to No. 1 in Canada on the Singles and Alternative 30 charts and hitting No. 5 on the Billboard Hot Modern Rock chart.
'Building a Mystery,' Sarah McLachlan
This was McLachlan's biggest Canadian chart hit. It earned her the 1998 Juno Award for single of the year, along with the Grammy for best female pop vocal performance.
'The Impression That I Get,' the Mighty Mighty Bosstones
This is likely the only song that you remember from Boston's the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Somebody's uncle came back from vacation in Jamaica and brought ska with them to America, resulting in the '90s influx of ska-punk bands and mainstream replications like the Bosstones, Rancid and No Doubt. It wasn't long after this song that America's love of ska faded away.
Would you believe me if I told you that Chumbawamba had a career that spanned three decades? Probably not, because as soon as I say "Chumbawamba" your mind immediately starts screaming "I get knocked down!" This song topped the charts around the world, including in Canada, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand. The group disbanded in 2012.
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