It seems Cher wasn’t the only musician who wanted to turn back time. We’ve compiled a list of musicians who have written songs (and in fact, some have written entire records) about different years in in the past and future.
From a track about the long-gone time of Paris is the early 20th century to treks into the future courtesy of Yeasayer, we take a look back (and indeed forward) at some of the best songs ever written about about a year in time.
Phoenix – ‘1901’
The French indie rocker’s catchy upbeat single ‘1901’ revolves around the early years of 20th century Paris. According to lead singer Thomas Mars, “Paris in 1901 was better than it is now. So the song is a fantasy about Paris.”
Tallest Man On Earth – ‘1904’
The lead single from the Swedish musician’s third studio album There’s No Leaving Now, ‘1904’ references “them shaking the earth in 1904.” Typical of the European’s style, the track features a fast-strummed guitar and the artist’s Bob Dylan-like vocals.
The Who – ‘1921′
Featuring on the British rock icons’ 1969 album Tommy, which was mostly composed by songwriting genius Pete Townshend, ‘1921’ follows the story of “a deaf, dumb and blind boy” who eventually becomes a messiah. The album was regarded as one of the first albums to be overtly billed as a rock opera.
The Gaslight Anthem – ‘1930’
Picking up the pace a notch, alternative rock outfit The Gaslight Anthem’s 2006 track ‘1930’ – which was salvaged from the band’s co-founder Brian Fallon’s previous band This Charming Man – features the usual alternative/punk rock qualities: muted power chord bashing, ride cymbal crashing, overdriven melody driven antics.
Hilltop Hoods – ‘1955’
A nostalgic piece that looks back at the fact that the band’s hometown of Adelaide is a city lost in time, ‘1955’ is arguably one of the most popular Hilltop Hoods songs in recent years. Featuring guest vocals from Montaigne and Tom Thum, ‘1955’ holds a place in the hearts of countless Adelaideans and nostalgia fans alike.
New Order – ‘1963’
Featuring a cleverly transitioning video clip, English rock band New Order’s new track ‘1963’ was released in 1987 as a B-side track to single ‘True Faith’, and again as a single 1995. The track has seen most of its success through remixes, such as the 1995 Arthur Baker radio remix.
The Stooges – ‘1969’
Kicking off with some hypnotic mind circling wah pedalism, The Stooges released this track in, well, ‘1969’. The track was one of the two singles released from their debut album, with the other being ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’.
The Vines – ‘1969’
The concluding track of the Aussie rock groups’ award winning release Highly Evolved,’ 1969’ shares many Nirvana-esque characteristics and is renowned for being a player in the revival of garage rock.
The Smashing Pumpkins – ‘1979’
One of Billy Corgan’s masterpieces, ‘1979’ was uncharacteristic of previous Smashing Pumpkins tracks as it featured a series of loops and samples – a trait not commonly associated with the Chicago-bred grunge icons. ‘1979’ is the Smashing Pumpkins’ highest-charting single, reaching number 12 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1995.
David Bowie – ‘1984’
Inspired by George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, the flamboyant pop icon released the track 10 years before the event it focused around, and was originally intended for a stage musical based on the novel which was never-produced.
Bowling For Soup – ‘1985’
Despite actually being a cover, this 2004 hit song is more of a glamourised whinge, complaining about modern pop culture, claiming that mid-eighties pop culture was better.
The chorus “Bruce Springsteen/ Madonna/ Way before Nirvana” was briefly changed by the group to “Stacy/ Madonna/Melting in the lava“after a tour in 2008, when German fans chanted it before the band’s set at a Berlin festival.
Afroman – ‘1988’
Not renowned for his extensive lyrical vocabulary, the puff distracted Emcee’s track ‘1988’ features some of the decades worst lyrics in “You can hear that bass/All over the place/Intensity/On my face.”
Azealia Banks – ‘1991’
Often frowned upon for her extensive use of profanity, the young rapper’s track ‘1991’ characteristically features provocative lyrics including ”Flirting with a cool French dude named Antoine/Wanna taste the pastry chocolate croissant.” The song also has an equally confronting video clip.
The Wombats – ‘1996’
The sixth single of their hugely successful sophomore album This Modern Glitch, the gloomy faced Brits wrote ‘1996’ as a tribute to the good old days of the mid ’90s. Featuring their marquee synth pop sound, the track opens up with ”I had no cares in the 1990s/I knew of no downfalls/War was breaking out all around me/My concerns were with prank calls.”
Prince – ‘1999’
Glamour icon Prince’s hit ‘1999’ is about as disco as you can get (if you don’t believe us, check out the video clip). Coming from the album of the same name, the track made it all the way to #2 on the Australian charts in 1983.
Silverchair – ‘Anthem For The Year 2000’
In 1998, a baby-faced Daniel Johns plugged in his guitar and belted out one of the bands most successful hits, inciting a youthful rebellion in us all.
The track posed many questions, mostly regarding the events that would eventuate as a result of the arrival of the new millennium. The stylings of the track gave fans a little taste of home grown late ’90s grunge, in a genre dominated by US groups.
Gorillaz – ‘19-2000’
Innocently playful track ‘19-2000’ is a result of the combined creative juices of Gorillaz masterminds Damon Albarn and comic book artist Jamie Hewlett. Featuring a quirky animated visual, the track was the collaboration’s second single release from their self-titled 2001 debut.
The Herd – ‘2020’
Known for stirring the political pot, Sydney hip-hop outfit The Herd once again target the ill-consent of the Australian government and their willingness to run blindly into a financially devastating war in the Middle East. “War on drugs/War on terror, 9-11?/we knew where Johnny stood/Where’s Kevin?”
Yeasayer – ‘2080’
Spiritually psychedelic US pop rock group Yeasayer take a a realistic approach to life with years, with the lyrics “It’s a new year, I’m glad to be here/It’s a fresh spring, so let’s sing/On 2080 I’ll surely be dead/So don’t look ahead, ever look ahead.” If it weren’t for the music being so uplifting, the track would almost be depressing.
Zager And Evans – ‘In The Year 2525’
With a name like a pair of deep space travellers, and a musical sound to match, Zager And Evans work their way through dates in the not-so-near future, previewing some of things we have to look forward to, 1000+ years from now… “In the year 6565/You won’t need no husband, won’t need no wife/You’ll pick your son, pick your daughter too/From the bottom of a long glass tube.”
Childish Gambino – ‘3005’
Arguably Donald Glover‘s breakthrough hit, ‘3005’ gave fans an insight into the world play that the multi-talented US rapper was capable of.
Plus, above it all, we were given a brilliant chorus that shows off one of the most dedicated relationships ever: “No matter what you say or what you do/When I’m alone, I’d rather be with you/Fuck these other n****s/I’ll be right by your side, till 3005.”