On “1999”, Charli and Troye think of simpler times: “I just wanna go back, back to 1999, take a ride to my old neighborhood / I just wanna go back, sing ‘Hit me baby, one more time.’” The song namechecks a lot of Y2K era artefacts – Nike Air Max, Eminem, CD singles, MTV. It was written with Noonie Bao, Brett McLaughlin, and Oscar Holter (who also produced the track), and its artwork, appropriately, leans into TheMatrix-styleimagery.
The lyrics show how embedded 1999 is in the pop culture consciousness – not so much as an actual year, more as an idea. When Prince released his single “1999”, the year was still 1982 – the actual 1999 was far away enough to seem futuristic, and he could tap into existing apocalyptic anxieties surrounding the idea of a new millennium for it. For younger artists, 1999 is a nostalgic touchstone, a time that was still aesthetically future-focused, yet more innocent politically and culturally. It doesn’t necessarily matter if you remember what that year was actually like (Charli XCX was only seven years old in 1999, Troye was just four – would they really want to go back?), it’s more the idea of it.