The top 20 songs that made your car playlist 20 years ago

By Christina Cavaleri October 6, 2017

Wow, time flies when you have music like this

So, 20 years is a long time. When you think about how much has changed in the world over 20 years it’s crazy to think how we even lived in 1997.

No social media, no answering machines and no ways to stream songs. Such a simpler time.

Well, when it comes to music, we’ve come a long way.

A time when girl pop bands topped the music charts, and film clips were a staple every Saturday morning (I miss this the most), you probably taped these songs and played it on repeat while cruisin’ in your ’97 Corolla. 

To celebrate carsales’ 20th birthday, we’re taking a trip down memory lane to remember the classics that made your car playlist 20 years ago: 

1.    Candle in the Wind, Elton John  

When a huge influence on the world passes away, no matter where you were in the world, you will remember what you were doing. Michael Jackson, Kurt Cobain, Heath Ledger and of course, Princess Diana. They were moments that changed the world. Especially Princess Diana’s. Elton John’s tribute, rewritten for the English Rose is the second highest selling single of all time and has been performed only once at Princess Diana’s funeral. 

2.    Barbie Girl, Aqua 

Poking fun at the trademarked Mattel brand, Danish disco group Aqua’s number one hit also made its way to Court, after the company sued the group and its record label for referring to Barbie as a ‘blonde bimbo’. All charges were later dropped.  

3.    Tumthumping, Chabawamba  

Better known as the pub classic ‘I get knocked down, but I get up again’ the title of the song tubthumping refers to jumping on the bandwagon of a populist idea, making the rounds. 

4.    I’ll be missing you, Puff Daddy 

At the peak of the 90’s East/West coast rap war  that swept across the USA, I’ll be missing you was released as a tribute by Puff Daddy and Faith Evans to the late Notorious B.I.G, who had been murdered in a drive by shooting earlier that year. 

5.    MMMBop, Hanson 

The instant classic that no one knows the meaning of, MMMBop swept the charts globally, hitting #1 in 27 countries. The trio of brothers were nominated for two Grammy’s, making youngest brother Zac, 8, the youngest ever songwriter to be nominated.  

6.    MIB, Will Smith 

Released for the film’s soundtrack, this was Will Smith’s first solo single featuring co-star Tommy Lee Jones as the first line of defence against the ‘worst scum of the universe.’  

7.    Truly Madly Deeply, Savage Garden 

One of Australia’s greatest exports, Truly Madly Deeply by Savage Garden won highest  selling single and single of the year at the  1997 Arias, as well as spending 123 weeks on the US Billboard charts. 


8.    Don’t Speak, No Doubt 

The female voice of the 90’s grunge era, Gwen Stefani penned the lyrics after her relationship ended with fellow band member Tony Kanall. One of the most played songs on radio; Don’t Speak soon became the soundtrack of many teenage heart breaks.  

9.    Breathe, The Podigy 

Reaching top 10 in 17 countries, UK band The Prodigy pushed the boundaries of aural and visual effects in their 1997 hit Breathe, featuring different animals and insects and experiences intended to trigger various phobias such as arachnophobia in their video clip!


10.    Break my stride, Unique II 

One of many catchcry’s of female empowerment from the 90’s, Break my Stride was a cover by dance group, Unique II, arguably the most successful dance-pop band from Austria!

11.    Da ya think im sexy, N Trance  

What’s turned into a Karaoke classic, Da Ya Think I’m Sexy by British electronic music group N –Trance produced the song to help thousands increase their confidence on the dancefloor. 

12.    How do I  live, Trisha Yearwood 

One of the few country songs to make it big in Australia, Trisha Yearwood’s country ballad reached number #3 on the Australian charts and was featured in the 1997 Nicholas Cage movie, Con Air.  

13.    Where’s the love, Hanson

The follow up hit to the record breaking MMMBop, Hanson’s second release ‘Where’s the Love’ continued to grab the attention  of fans, reaching number two on the Aria charts, spending 13 weeks in total.  

14.    Doctor Jones, Aqua  

The hit follow up single to Barbie Girl Doctor Jones is best remembered for the film clips parody of the Indiana Jones films of the 90’s. Aan infectious pop tune,   Doctor Jones reached No 1 on the Aria charts.  

15.    I will come to you, Hanson 

The third song by American band Hanson to make it big in 1997, I will come to you reached  certified platinum (70,000 copies) in Australia Two music videos were made, one filmed in London in a forest and the second in New York where they performed the song for radio contest winners 

16.    Bitch, Meredith Brooks

The breakout single for American singer, Meredith Brooks, ‘Bitch’ is most well known from the film What Women Want which featuring a young Mel Gibson attempting to put on stockings and mascara while singing along

17.    To the Moon and back, Savage Garden 

One of the bands more darker songs, To the Moon and Back from Savage Garden’s self-titled album explores feelings of alienation and isolation from society. The song was hugely successful in Australia, winning ‘Song of the Year’ at the 1997 Aria Awards.

18.    Don’t let go (love), En Vogue 

A classic from the American R&B quartet, En Vogue, the song was part of the hugely popular film, Set it Off. The song has been covered by a number of artists including Little Mix, Sugababes and our very own Delta Goodrem.

19.    Sexy Eyes, Whigfield 

The height of 90’s fashion and iconic earworms... Sexy Eyes will take you to paradise! With the infectious chorus ‘Oo oo ah ah sexy eyes’ played on repeat, this is one song you’d sing out loud while driving! 

20.    Freak, Silverchair 

Australia’s favourite sons, Sliverchair returned to the top of the charts with their single ‘Freak’ in 1997. The music video was directed by Devo member Gerald Castle and featured an elderly woman drinking the band’s sweat to bring back her youthful looks....Creepy!

So, get adding because these classics are too good to forget about.

Image credit: Getty Images/PhotoAlto/Sandro Di Carlo Darsa