As much as we like to joke about how awful the early 2000s could be, one thing that definitely wasn’t awful during that time was the music. While there are plenty of songs from that time that have sadly been forgotten, there are others that, love ’em or hate ’em, will forever be burned into our memories.
You definitely still remember all the words to these songs, but you definitely forgot that they all came out in the same year. So here’s to 2002, the year we all forgot was actually unforgettable. There’s even a Spotify playlist at the end so you can make sure you never forget them again.
1. Nelly – “Hot in Herre”
This song played at literally every school dance between 2002 and 2010. Though the mystery of why Nelly always had a band-aid on his face remains unsolved to this day.
2. Avril Lavigne – “Complicated”
This song’s music video had pretty much every girl between the ages of 12 and 16 suddenly wearing neckties with their t-shirts, but enough time has passed that I guess we can forgive her for that.
3. Jimmy Eat World – “The Middle”
We all low key wished our high school parties looked as wild as the one in this music video, even though the idea of having everyone from our school see us in our underwear was literally the stuff of nightmares. Maybe we just actually wished that Jimmy Eat World would play our house parties.
4. Vanessa Carlton – “A Thousand Miles”
Thanks to its opening lines becoming a meme, this song will probably outlive us all.
5. Eminem – “Without Me”
Early 2000s Eminem is probably the best Eminem, at least when it comes to his music videos, and “Without Me” definitely proves it.
6. Missy Elliott – “Work It”
If you didn’t try to sing along when Missy raps “I put my thing down, flip it, and reverse it” backwards, then you weren’t even alive in the 2000s.
7. Sean Paul – “Gimme the Light”
While we may not have been able to rap backwards like Missy, we definitely couldn’t sing along to Sean Paul. We’d all just sing “Just gimme the light and pass the dro…*mumble along with the music*”
8. Christina Aguilera – “Dirrty”
If you ever need to sum up the early 2000s for somebody, just send them this video. Christina Aguilera’s “Xtina” era was absolutely iconic.
But Xtina isn’t the only iconic part of the 2000s that happened in 2002…
9. Leanne Rimes – “Can’t Fight The Moonlight”
Coyote Ugly may have been a pretty awful movie, but it did give us one of the best pop songs of the decade, so I’d say it was worth it.
10. Linkin Park – “In the End”
11. Enrique Iglesias – “Hero”
Though we’ve pretty much forgotten him since, we were all at least a little bit in love with Enrique Iglesias and this song. Plus you can’t get more peak early 2000s than having Jennifer Love Hewitt star in your music video.
12. Kylie Minogue – “Can’t Get You Out of My Head”
Forget Kylie Jenner, Kylie Minogue is the only “Kylie” we need or want in our lives. It would be tough to choose, but if I could only listen to one song from 2002 for the rest of my life, it would probably be this one.
13. Shakira – “Whenever, Wherever”
We all know that her hips don’t lie, but we also know that all it takes to get us singing this song is hearing someone say the word “whenever.”
14. Michelle Branch – “All You Wanted”
One of the best parts about the music scene of the early 2000s was that there were so many vaguely folky, guitar-wielding ladies singing songs about heartbreak that didn’t sound like they were about heartbreak. Michelle Branch’s “All You Wanted” was the perfect song to cry along to while thinking about the crush you knew would never notice you.
15. Eminem – “Lose Yourself”
As much as we love the kinda goofy Eminem we get in songs like “Without Me,” it always seems to be the dark, super serious Eminem that proves why he’s among the greatest rappers of all time. We got to see that side of him twice in 2002, thanks to “Cleaning Out My Closet” and “Lose Yourself.” There’s a reason why everyone immediately knows what’s up when someone says the words “Mom’s spaghetti.”
We all hate and mock them now, but there was a time when we all legitimately loved Nickelback, or at least this song. You know it’s true.
Thanks to Spotify, you’ll never forget again just how incredible 2002 was.