14 things from the year 2000 that will make you feel nostalgic
25 September 2018
The turn of the millennium was a particularly interesting time - and not just in terms of music. It was a world of possibility and uncertainty in equal measure, with big hopeful plans for the future and technological paranoia colliding. We may not have seen flying cars and alien contact, as previously envisioned, but the Internet was starting to show its world-changing potential, reality TV was altering our viewing habits and everyone including your nan was turning to mobile phones.
18 years on, here are just a few of the biggest things from the year 2000.
1. The world didn't end with Y2K
Y2K, the infamous "millennium bug", was expected to cause global chaos, with fears that aeroplanes would fall out of the sky, missiles would fire by accident - all simply by the hypothetical resetting of dates on computers at the stroke of midnight on 1 January 2000.
By now, the Internet is known for its ability to spread hoaxes and prompt unfounded fear, but Y2K was one of the earliest examples of this. Songs like Y2K - The Bug is Coming by the band Y2K (a supergroup featuring Ian Dury, Jim-Bob from Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine and Fuzz Townshend) did little to diffuse the situation.
But in the end, nothing happened and the world continued as it was before. There's two ways to look at millennium bug: one is that it was largely a fuss about nothing, fear mongering from people who should really have known better. The other is that it really was a potential problem that was avoided only thanks to the hard work of technicians finding a way around it.
However, that's not to say we've not been dogged by such problems ever since. A slightly less catastrophic instance came in 2014 when PSY's Gangnam Style exceeded YouTube's view limit, breaking the site's view counter in doing so. The massive hit (and its much-parodied video) has since led to the video site to up its the maximum view count to 9,223,372,036,854,775,808, or just over nine quintillion. Correct at the time of publishing, we've not seen a video reach nine quintillion views just yet...
2. The Millennium Dome opened... but didn't last very long
Speaking of things once considered to be the future, but ended up not happening quite as previously envisioned: the Millennium Dome opened on New Year's Eve 1999, with its flagship exhibition, the Millennium Experience, swinging its doors open to the public a day later on 1 January 2000.
Much was expected of the Millennium Dome. The freshly-built upturned salad bowl in Greenwich, south east London was supposed to be a beacon of hope and intent of British culture in the 2000s. However, despite being the most popular tourist attraction of the year and providing a decent day out featuring acrobatics and art installations, reviews were mixed and the exhibition only lasted 12 months, with the New Millennium Experience Company entering liquidation in 2002.
Despite the Dome being a bit of a flop, it was turned into The O2 in 2007, with its O2 Arena venue going on to host concerts by everyone from The Rolling Stones to Justin Bieber. Prince’s 21-night residency at the O2 in 2007 remains among the most memorable, with the Purple One selling tickets for £31.21 (a reference to his 3121 album title) and inviting the likes of Elton John and Amy Winehouse to join him onstage during the run.
The Millennium Dome was one of a few special projects announced to celebrate the dawning of a new era, including the Millennium Bridge, the Earth Centre in Doncaster, the National Centre for Popular Music in Sheffield, the Tate Modern, and the London Eye. The turn of the millennium was a time of reinvention for many cities across the UK and not even project turned out as planned (London’s Millennium Bridge was initially closed after complaints of it being too “wobbly”), but many of today’s iconic sights of modern urban Britain date back to this thoroughly productive period.
3. Big Brother launched and changed reality TV forever
Big Brother may not have been the first big reality TV show - Castaway 2000, featuring a pre-fame Ben Fogle, had aired earlier in the year, while the hugely popular Survivor premiered in the US a couple of months prior. But Big Brother was brasher, bolder and aimed at a younger audience, and hosted the following decade’s biggest TV talking points.
The first series of the show, airing in summer 2000, included everything that made us fall in love with the show: there was drama (like tabloid villain "Nasty Nick" trying to fix the competition, seemingly forgetting the cameras watching the contestants' every move), romance (housemates Claire and Tom ended up getting together outside of the show, having a child before splitting up) and a loveable fan favourite (eventual winner Craig Phillips gave his £70,000 prize fund to friend Joanne Harris, who has Down's syndrome, to pay for a heart and lung transplant.)
From the very first edition of Big Brother, the nation was hooked. The show brought in massive audiences, attracted lots of newspaper coverage, and got the whole country talking about the previous night’s happenings. Its influence and legacy can still be seen in some of the TV reality favourites of today: the onscreen coupling of Love Island, the orchestrated drama of Made In Chelsea and sheer strangeness of programmes like Naked Attraction.
Big Brother survived a move from Channel 4 to Channel 5, and may yet outlive Channel 5's recent announcement that it will not be returning next year (should a rival network pick up the show).
4. It was a golden age for retro mobile phones (and everyone was playing Snake)
It's hard to imagine life in pre-smartphone times, when a tweet was simply something a bird did and Facebook only occurred if you fell asleep while reading. Before the 2000s, mobile technology mostly consisted of phone calls and SMS messages, but then came a flurry of game-changing phones that dominated the era.
Siemens had its popular M30 and C35, Ericsson had the rugged R310s and the personal organiser/phone R380, while Motorola released the first touch-screen phone, hinting at smartphone developments to come. But it was the Nokia 3310, released in 2000, that became the best-selling phone of its time. Hardcore nostalgists still pine for Snake, the unwieldy and addictive game that came as standard with every handset. Some people are still playing the classic mobile game to this very day.
5. Kylie made an almighty comeback
Kylie Minogue may have been a household name since the late 1980s, but the 2000s cemented her status as a decade-spanning pop icon. The year 2000 in particular saw a marked resurgence in the star's popularity, with Kylie returning to a more pop-centric sound after several years making more alternative music (including 1995's unforgettable Nick Cave collaboration Where the Wild Roses Grow).
2000 saw Kylie releasing a trio of her biggest hits (Spinning Around, On a Night Like This and Robbie Williams duet Kids). Spinning Around, released in June of 2000, bagged Kylie her first number 1 single in 10 years and her sartorial choices for its accompanyinh video swiftly became iconic (her famous gold hot pants later made their way to a Glasgow museum). It also primed the star for the year to follow, 2001, when she would release her biggest chart smash since Especially For You, Can't Get You Out of My Head.
Kylie performed many of these hits at Radio 2 Live in Hyde Park earlier this month, where she looked back upon her 30-year plus career. During a brief technical difficulty, Minogue told the crowd: "Since we're having an issue: any requests? I know I've got enough hits to keep filling". She's right too, she's scored 34 top 10 singles to date... and counting.
6. Overall, it was a prime time for pop
"H" from Steps: "I remember chatting to Britney Spears' mum, who said she was dating a lovely boy – and then Justin walked in!"
Steps reminisce about meeting NSYNC & chat about their new Summer of Steps tour.
Pop music was in rude health in the year 2000. The charts were awash with boy band ballads (Backstreet Boys, Westlife) and high energy disco (Steps), while Britney Spears took up her position as the biggest pop star in the world. *NSYNC, meanwhile, boasted future mega-star Justin Timberlake (then-boyfriend of Britney) in their line-up.
Two of the UK’s biggest hits, though, came from All Saints, who released a brilliant pair of number 1 singles in the form of Black Coffee and Pure Shores, both lifted from their second record, Saints & Sinners. They continue to be pop classics to this very day and - as evident from their recent Radio 2 Live in Hyde Park performance - All Saints continue as strong today.
All Saints weren't the only girl group making waves though. Destiny's Child were continuing a strand of empowering pop - pioneered by TLC's No Scrubs - in which men got what they deserved for being cheating rotters. They may have released their debut album two years prior and already scored a clutch of hits in the US with Bills, Bills, Bills, but 2000 was when the group really started to dominate, with Say My Name and Jumpin', Jumpin' becoming major dancefloor fillers at the time (and since).
2000 saw Destiny's Child top the UK singles chart for the first time too - with Independent Women Part I from the Charlie's Angels soundtrack. (Fun fact: the song's Part 2 was actually recorded before the one that would later be labelled as the first.) The group would continue to conquer the charts in the years that followed, securing their first UK number one album in 2001 with Survivor and dishing out further hits like Bootylicious and Lose My Breath.
The group eventually split in 2006; but each of its members have enjoyed successful careers since: Kelly Rowland serving as a host on X Factor in both the UK and US, Michelle Williams going on to star on Broadway, and Beyoncé? She's arguably the biggest star on the planet.
7. Anne Robinson instilled fear in every Weakest Link contestant
Before The Weakest Link, the worst contestants on a quiz show could expect to put up with was the disappointment of getting the answer wrong, or a reassuring arm around the shoulders as they left the studio. Anne Robinson changed all that, introducing not just a game show in which contestants could vote rivals out, but sending them on their way with stinging barbs such as "Who is the least likely candidate for human cloning?" or "If brains were taxed, who’d get a refund?", even "Who would Lassie not even bother to save?"
She saved some of her sharpest quips for the celebrity editions, once asking Rylan Clark Neal, "Is that your real name? Did you especially want to sound like a stationery store?", and she pioneered the trend for British stars to go to America just to tell people off (Yes, Robinson is indirectly responsible for Simon Cowell, Gordon Ramsay and more).
8. We became obsessed with Brad and Jen (and other celeb couples)
The public has always had a keen fascination with celebrity couples - from Cleopatra and Mark Antony to Posh and Becks. However, the early 2000s saw a huge change in celeb culture. Lifestyle magazines like OK!, Now and Heat (which launched in 1999, but took a more celebrity-driven direction from 2000 onwards) honed in on the romances of power couples like Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, allowing readers to get a little closer to stars that previously seemed a lot more remote.
From the get-go, the world was obsessed with "Brennifer", as Brad and Jen became singularly known. He was one of the biggest film stars on the planet and she was in the most popular TV sitcoms in history. The pair married in 2000, filling countless column inches. And gossip fiends continue to be fascinated by the pair of today (with speculation of a revived love affair rumbling ever since the separation of "Brangelina").
You can see the legacy of this celeb-focused period right through to the current popular culture that we find ourselves in, where being famous has never been more lucrative and on/off love interests remain a keen source of interest. While gossip mags may be in decline, the likes of online blogs and social media have replaced them to satisfy this insatiable thirst, while TV shows like Keeping Up With The Kardashians give celebs themselves a chance to define their own narratives.
9. Billy Elliot danced his way into our hearts
Just like Educating Rita did with literature and Brassed Off did with classical music, Billy Elliot joined a handful of great British films that show how art can lift the embattled up and empower them. With this 2000 film, however, the art form in question was ballet.
Set against the background of the 1984 and 1985 miners’ strike and starring Jamie Bell in its titular role, Billy Elliot was a film that hid its powerful messages about class, hope and tolerance in the middle of a tough battle for pride and acceptance. It was a massive hit and, in 2005, became a successful spin-off stage show, running for over 4,000 performances in London’s West End before closing in 2016. Over 80 child stars took on the role of Billy all around the world and, just like the character, being introduced to world of dance in the process.
10. 2000 was a mixed bag of sporting highlights
In terms of sports, the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney contained moments of great drama and delight, particularly the performance of Team GB's champion rowers like Steve Redgrave (who won his fifth Olympic gold, and retired from the sport soon afterwards). Great Britain was also united in cheering on Denise Lewis, who won gold in the Heptahlon and received the honour of being named an OBE the following year.
But the summer of 2000 was also a contrasting one when it came to homegrown sporting achievements. In the football world, an England team, featuring the likes of David Beckham, Michael Owen, Paul Scholes, and future boss Gareth Southgate, endured an abysmal Euro 2000, losing to both Portugal and Romania and failing to make it out of the group stages of the tournament. A 1-0 win against Germany, courtesy of Alan Shearer, provided some minor comfort, however. Manager Kevin Keegan stayed on after the Euros but resigned a few months later in October 2000 after losing England's final game played at the old Wembley Stadium. And who did they play in the historic match? Germany, of course, with the game finishing 1-0 after a Dietmar Hamann goal.
These events opened the door for England's first non-English manager, Sven-Göran Eriksson, appointed the following January. And just under a year later, there was some redemption for the England team, with a 5-1 victory against Germany in a World Cup qualifier.
11. The year featured two of the most surprising chart battles ever
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Cast your mind back to the year 2000, when music was still largely consumed in physical forms and the charts were decided by fans going out and purchasing their favourite act’s new single on CD, vinyl and cassette formats. In fact, 2000 still holds the records for the most number 1 singles in a calendar year (43) and the longest run of consecutive one-week number 1s.
Over the years we’ve witnessed some great chart head-to-heads (who could forget Oasis v Blur?), but 2000 included two of the very strangest ones. In August, Victoria Beckham went up against Italian dance producer Spiller and then-upcoming British vocalist Sophie Ellis-Bextor and the outcome wasn’t what many had expected. You see, Out of Your Mind was Posh Spice’s first post-Spice Girls solo single and, having teamed up with garage duo True Steppers and celebrity DJ Dane Bowers, it seemed like a sure-fire chart-topper.
As momentum built around Groovejet (If This Ain't Love), Spiller and Ellis-Bextor’s surprise hit, the media went into frenzy mode - and things even got a bit dirty along the way. Ellis-Bextor accused Beckham and Bowers of underhand tactics, claiming that the pair were “making fans buy the single before signing it”, and even pointed to David Beckham’s record store visits as a sign of desperate marketing efforts (“I can't think of anything my boyfriend would like less than me dragging him around the shops!” Ellis-Bextor told BBC News at the time).
Groovejet ended up pipping Out of Your Mind to the top spot, shifting 20,000 more copies; but perhaps the most unpredictable chart battle came at the tail-end of 2000 - when Eminem went up against Bob The Builder. Yes, the peroxide-blonde rap hellraiser battled it out with the theme song from the kids TV show fronted by Neil Morrissey. Eminem’s Stan may have won the initial battle, beating Can We Fix It? to number one in December, but Bob won the war, topping the chart for the coveted Christmas number one, also keeping Westlife’s What Makes A Man from the top of the charts that week.
12. Gaming really took off - and gave us whole new worlds to explore
Of course, video games can be traced back to the days of Pong and old school arcades; but the noughties is really when they came into their own.
In 2000 alone, Nintendo sold its 100 millionth GameBoy, the console which got everyone hooked on collecting all the Pokémon, while Sony launched the PlayStation 2, soon to become a firm favourite among hardcore and casual gamers alike. Throughout the following decade, the PlayStation and its later rival, the Xbox, would push consoles forward, constantly one-upping the other with better graphics and games, ensuring that gaming enthusiasts were getting the very best experience every time.
The hottest new game of the year was The Sims, a virtual reality game with a simple concept: you control the life of Sim people, building their houses, leading them in their careers and even orchestrating their romantic lives. It was easy to see how controlling your Sim's life could soon control your own and the game swiftly became notorious as a ravenous devourer of spare time. The game franchise is still going strong, and recently broke new ground by removing gender barriers in its virtual world.
13. Ali G made Sacha Baron Cohen a star
Although he cut his teeth on Channel 4's The Eleven O'Clock Show, Sacha Baron Cohen's gangsta wannabe character of Ali G really consumed the public consciousness at the start of the millennium. Thanks to agonisingly awkward interviews with celebs, an appearance in Madonna's Music video (where he called her "Maradona", no less) and the launch of his very own TV series, Da Ali G Show, Staines' prodigal son really was everywhere in 2000.
2000 was the year Richard Madeley appeared on This Morning in a yellow tracksuit doing an Ali G impression, a sure sign of mainstream acceptance (and one of the strangest TV moments of the decade). Fast-forward to 2018 and Cohen has since spawned several other famed comic characters (Borak and Bruno included), and recently took on political figures in the US with the launch of his latest show, Who Is America?
14. Coldplay released their debut album and inspired a generation
While pop was in fine fettle at the turn of the millennium, the indie and rock world was a diverse place indeed. Radiohead abandoned guitars almost entirely, releasing the more electronic and experimental Kid A, while in America, nu-metal bands like Papa Roach and Limp Bizkit fused hard rock with hip hop.
Coldplay's first album Parachutes, released in 2000, paved the way for an entire scene of introspective singer-songwriters with rousing guitars and tinkering pianos, including the likes of Keane, Snow Patrol and, later, Ed Sheeran. Chris Martin and co haven't done too shabbily since either - Parachutes has gone platinum eight times, selling over 8.5 million copies worldwide, while it also spawned Yellow, one of the band's best-loved tracks. Each of the group's six following albums have topped the UK charts and the band sell out shows in virtually every country around the world. In 2016, Coldplay even headlined the Super Bowl 50 halftime show, which featured special guests Beyoncé, Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars - pretty great famous friends to be able to call upon, such is the extent of the band's kudos.