RIFT turned 21 this year, and we’re still partying like it’s 1999 with another squint through our trusty Time Telescope. This time, we’re flipping through 1999’s CD collection to check out the top tunes we were listening to in the year the UK’s leading tax expert was born.

Lou Bega: Mambo No. 5 (A Little Bit of...)

Monica, Erica, Rita Tina... it’s difficult to know what to say about this song now. It’s basically just a list of names with a Big Band sound behind it. Simpler times, we suppose. Even so, there’s no denying the way this song got itself played pretty much everywhere for months back in 1999.


If we’re honest, we prefer the Bob the Builder version, anyway. Say what you will about Bob and his talking construction equipment, the man certainly knew his trade. Could he build it? Yes, as it turned out. Yes he could...

Go on, have a listen. You know you want to.

Eiffel 65: Blue (Da Ba Dee)

A slightly deceptive song, this one. It explicitly promises to tell a story about “a little guy”, but ends up just being a description of his house, car and girlfriend (spoilers: they’re all blue). Even the video can’t shed any particular light on things. It’s got alien abductions, some dodgy-looking Kung-Fu, lasers, lightning shooting out of people’s hands and a daring space rescue. Totally bonkers, but a proper little earworm.

Ricky Martin: Living La Vida Loca

Now we’re talking! Ricky Martin’s first English-language single was a massive hit back in 1999, and with good reason. It’s a solid dance floor banger and the opening shot of what would become known as the “Latin pop explosion”, which ended up giving us everyone from Enrique Iglesias to Shakira. Over 8 million copies were sold, rocketing La Vida Loca to the upper ranks of all-time singles.

Steps: Heartbeat / Tragedy

To level with you, despite it being the second-best selling single of the year, we really don’t remember this “double A-side” much  – and honestly have only dim, nightmarish flash-recollections of the band itself. Listening to it now, it’s hard to imagine that anyone was buying it for “Heartbeat”. The Bee Gees’ original version of “Tragedy”, by contrast, is a legitimate modern classic and deserves its place in music history. What it did to deserve the Steps treatment, however, remains a matter of debate...

Britney Spears: Baby One More Time

Speaking of modern classics, the opening salvo of Britney Spears’ superstar rise is a masterclass in power-pop beats, vocal warbling and strange new ways of pronouncing the word “baby”. In terms of launching a musical career, though, you really couldn’t fault it. “Baby One More Time” topped 10 million copies sold and was voted as the number 1 music video of the entire decade by Billboard.

That list covers the top 5 singles of 1999 – at least in terms of raw numbers sold. Of course, we’ve all got our own personal mental mix-tapes, so drop by our Facebook group and sound off on yours.

Meanwhile, you can check out our list of all-time top musical double acts here to celebrate our new Refer A Friend £1000 Star Prize – and start off the new tax year the right way by claiming your next tax refund with RIFT.

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