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Where Are They Now? 1999’s Biggest Pop Acts

Find out what New Radicals, Lou Bega, Backstreet Boys, Limp Bizkit and more are up to these days

Where Are They Now: Class of 1999

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In many ways, 1999 was a peak year for the record industry. With millions of kids buying CDs at up to $18 each and the teen-pop juggernaut plowing full speed ahead, major labels were minting money. Who knew that a college kid named Shawn Fanning and his new peer-to-peer file-sharing program Napster were about to change the music business forever? Here's a look back at 10 stars who scored big in '99 and what they're up to now.

By Andy Greene

Lou Bega

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Lou Bega

Then: In 1999, German-born David Lubega (a.k.a. Lou Bega) took Perez Prado's 1949 instrumental "Mambo No. 5" and recut it as an irresistible dance-pop jingle. It became an unlikely hit, topping charts around the world. Here in the U.S., the song might have owed some of its success to the lyric "a little bit of Monica in my life," which felt particularly timely just a few months after Bill Clinton's impeachment crisis.

Now: Everything about Lou Bega screamed one-hit wonder. "Mambo No. 5" captured a moment in time, and when that moment went away, so did Lou. But he didn't give up that easy – in 2005, he released "Return Of 'A Little Bit' (Mambo No. 2005)," a new version of his signature hit. Needless to say, it didn't recapture the magic of the original. Bega's last album was primarily released in Germany; he remains available for corporate bookings. 

New Radicals

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New Radicals

Then: Singer-songwriter Gregg Alexander started New Radicals with former child actress Danielle Brisebois, who sang in the original Broadway production of Annie, and a rotating cast of studio pros. They broke out in a big way in '99 with "You Get What You Give," a sunny pop-rock tune in which Alexander casually trash-talked several popular acts of the day. ("Fashion shoots with Beck and Hanson/Courtney Love and Marilyn Manson/You're all fakes, run to your mansions/Come around, we'll kick your ass in!") VH1 and MTV put the song into regular rotation, and Marilyn Manson voiced his anger at the lyrical insult – which only fueled more press coverage for New Radicals.  

Now: Turns out that Alexander didn't care much for fame. "The fatigue of traveling and getting three hours sleep in a different hotel every night to do boring 'hanging and schmoozing' with radio and retail people is definitely not for me," he told an interviewer shortly after "You Get What You Give" became a hit. Alexander proceeded to break up the band later that year – one of the quickest post-success splits in rock history. He turned his attention towards producing and writing for other acts, co-writing Santana's 2002 hit "The Game of Love"; Brisebois followed a similar path, co-writing Natasha Bedingfield's 2004 smash "Unwritten."

Orgy

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Orgy

Then: If you were an unknown hardcore, punk or industrial band looking for a big break in the Nineties, your best bet was to cover an Eighties megahit. Limp Bizkit did it with George Michael's "Faith," Marilyn Manson did it with Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)" – and Los Angeles industrial crew Orgy scored a smash in 1999 with their cover of New Order's "Blue Monday." The single's success, along with their opening slot on Korn and Limp Bizkit's 1998 Family Values Tour, made it seem for a brief moment like Orgy might go truly massive.

Now: Unfortunately, the public didn't enjoy Orgy originals nearly as much as they liked that "Blue Monday" cover. The band split up after their 2004 LP Punk Static Paranoia tanked hard. For the next several years, that appeared to be the end of the Orgy story – but in 2011, frontman Jay Gordon hired new bandmates and hit the road again, playing not-exactly-huge venues like O'Fallon, Missouri's Brewskeez.

Sugar Ray

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Sugar Ray

Then: By all logic, Sugar Ray shouldn't have been big in 1999. Their first major hit, "Fly," was already two years old, and even the band knew they might be headed straight toward the one-hit wonder bin – they called their 1999 LP 14:59, a joke about their 15 minutes of fame running out. But they made that last second count, scoring in a big way on the radio with "Every Morning," "Someday" and "Falls Apart." 

Now: Sugar Ray landed another hit with 2001's "When It's Over," but they went on hiatus in 2005 – right around the time that frontman Mark McGrath began working as a TV host on Extra. They returned in 2009 with Music for Cougars, which failed to generate much heat, and are currently on the road as part of a Nineties nostalgia package tour with Gin Blossoms, Everclear and Marcy Playground.

Backstreet Boys

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Backstreet Boys

Then: The Backstreet Boys were at the height of their fame in 1999, playing sold-out arenas and stadiums all across the globe and scoring big hits with "Larger Than Life," "Show Me The Meaning Of Being Lonely" and their signature smash, "I Want It That Way." They faced strong competition from 'N Sync, but by now it was clear that the market had plenty of room for both acts – and BSB was in the lead, topping year-end charts with over 9 million copies sold of their Millennium album.

Now: Unlike most of their peers, the Backstreet Boys never broke up. When the teen-pop bubble inevitably burst, they found themselves playing smaller venues and selling fewer records, but they held on to enough fans to keep them in business – soldiering on as a four-piece after Kevin Richardson quit BSB in 2006. (He rejoined the band this spring.) In the past year, they've returned to arenas as part of a double bill with New Kids On The Block, and next year they are plotting a 20th anniversary tour. If that doesn't make you feel old, nothing will.

Korn

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Korn

Then: Korn has been a major metal act since 1994, but they were really only pop stars for a few short years, starting with 1998's Follow the Leader. It was a weird moment, when rap-metal and teen-pop were equally at home on MTV – Korn's aggro freak-outs "Falling Away From Me" and "Freak On A Leash" could share the airwaves with 'N Sync's "Bye Bye Bye" and Backstreet Boys' "I Want It That Way," and somehow it all made sense.

Now: Guitarist Brian "Head" Welch and drummer David Silveria have left the band, but three out of five original members are still out there playing big shows and releasing new music every couple of years. Korn's most recent album, last year's Path of Totality, featured multiple collaborations with Skrillex. They aren't quite as massive as they were when "Freak On A Leash" was all over TRL, but they're doing much better than many of their nu-metal peers from that era. And earlier this year, Welch played with the band for the first time in years, so a reunion of the 1999 line-up isn't completely out of the question.

A-Teens

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A-Teens

Then: Two of the most lucrative pop culture phenomena of 1999 were teen-pop and Mamma Mia!, the Abba musical that premiered in London that spring. Combining the two was a surefire win. The A-Teens – four photogenic teenagers from Sweden – did their best to step into the shoes of the original Abba, who split up years earlier. Their updated versions of hits including "Mamma Mia," "Super Trouper" and "Dancing Queen" scored big around the world.

Now: There are only so many Abba songs to cover, and soon the A-Teens ran out. They tried switching up the formula on later albums, covering Alice Cooper and Elvis Presley, but each disc sold worse than the last. The group split in 2004; all four A-Teens attempted solo careers, but none gained much traction outside of Sweden. While reunion rumors have circulated for years, the A-Teens remain defunct.

Limp Bizkit

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Limp Bizkit

Then: Limp Bizkit burst on to the scene with an aggro rap-metal cover of George Michael's "Faith" in 1998, but they proved they could write their own hits with 1999's massive singles "Nookie" and "Break Stuff." Many saw their megasuccess as a sign of the apocalypse, but for legions of high-school boys with rage issues, they were rock gods.

 Now: Things started to go downhill for Limp Bizkit when some people blamed them for the riots at Woodstock 1999; by 2004, when the band went on hiatus, the public had mostly stopped caring about them at all. But their story might not be over yet: Earlier this year, Limp Bizkit signed with rap institution Cash Money Records, making them Lil Wayne's labelmates, and they're reportedly working on a comeback record. Guitarist Wes Borland, who's left and rejoined the band an absurd number of times, is currently back in the fold. In the meantime, frontman Fred Durst has launched a surprising second career as a director, winning positive reviews for 2007's The Education of Charlie Banks.

S Club 7

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S Club 7

Then: When the Spice Girls fired their manager Simon Fuller in 1997, he decided to simply start another group. The result was S Club 7, a seven-piece pop group that also starred on their own television series. This was a smart move straight out of the Monkees playbook – the TV show promoted the music, and vice versa. The group was huge in England all through 1999, and they scored a Top 10 American hit the following year with "Never Had a Dream Come True."

Now: After losing several key members, S Club 7 became S Club. Their downsized three-member lineup has been reduced to playing small clubs and pubs in recent years. It's a sad state of affairs, but don't count them entirely out – as the New Kids On The Block have learned, if you time your reunion just right, you can make a fortune. 

The Bloodhound Gang

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The Bloodhound Gang

Then: 1999 was the year that Tom Green's "Lonely Swedish (The Bum Bum Song)" went to number one on MTV's TRL, showing that America was ready to embrace the silliest of novelty songs. They had another chance that summer, when the Bloodhound Gang released "The Bad Touch" from an LP titled Hooray for Boobies. If the title doesn't ring a bell, the chorus probably will: "You and me, baby, ain't nothing but mammals/So let's do it like they do on the Discovery Channel."

Now: The goofball group never matched the success of "The Bad Touch," but they've lasted a lot longer than anyone thought. While their most recent album came out seven years ago, they've managed to hold onto a fan base in Europe – where they landed in hot water after allegedly urinating on one another onstage in 2006. The band is reportedly working on a new album.