How many of the ’90s references in Charli XCX and Troye Sivan’s ‘1999’ did you spot?

This video is historical document that needs protected status

Charli XCX and Troye Sivan’s video for ‘1999’ is finally here, and for anybody born in the ’90s, it’s like being sucked straight down a rose-tinted timewarp of Sketchers trainers and Nickelodeon cartoons.

Admittedly there’s a little bit of historical inaccuracy, here; the first version of everybody’s favourite sadistic computer game The Sims wasn’t released until the year 2000, and TLC’s ‘Waterfalls’ – which also gets a nod – is an entire year older than Troye Sivan. It’s also hard to believe that Troye and Charli (aged four and seven years-old respectively in 1999) spent the year driving a Mercedes around the market town of Bishop’s Stortford listening to Eminem’s ‘My Name Is’. Mainly because the only place most seven-year-olds can obtain a driving license is Legoland.

To be honest, though, who cares? Looking back on the ’90s  – a completely ridiculous decade of all-denim formal-wear (shout out to JT and Britney) and gigantic trainers – the whole thing blurs into one mangled hunk of alien-baby goo. Remember them, those tiny foetal space creatures that you could hatch out of little plastic eggs? Those were simpler times…


The vision of Troye Sivan – a veritable angel – sporting Justin Timberlake noodle hair, and the absolute splendour of Charli XCX donning drag to cosplay as an oddly alluring Steve Jobs, is nothing short of magnificent. The breadth of reference points? Staggering.

Immortalise this shit in a dusty old museum asap, because ‘1999’ is a historical document that needs protected status. Here’s a play by play of all the ’90s references in the video.

Steve Jobs

Award Charli XCX an Oscar immediately for her weirdly sexy drag king portrayal of Steve Jobs. It’s a spot on impersonation, and the attention to detail… ! Not only is the screen displaying high tech highlight of the time AOL Instant Messenger, she’s even nailed the distinctive Steve Jobs clasped hands. Charli is also cuddling a gigantic iMac G3 Blueberry, because let’s remember that, back then, computers were unwieldy beasts, and being able to strain your arms to reach around around your screen circumference was a major achievement.

Musical icons

‘1999’ pays tribute to a range of iconic figures; Troye Sivan dons D12 temporary tattoos for a frighteningly accurate impersonation of Eminem in his ‘The Slim Shady’ video. Creating his own iconique drag moment, he also borrows from the age old tradition of ‘scribbling on a goatee with a sharpie’ for a bold reenactment of Backstreet Boys’ ‘I Want It That Way’.


Charli XCX, meanwhile, bravely depicts ALL FIVE of the Spice Girls in the ‘Say You’ll Be There video’ and goes chasing ‘Waterfalls’ with a nod to TLC’s most majestic ballad of all time.

Fashion-related trailblazers

These days Justin Timberlake spends his time galavanting around the forest impersonating Bon Iver and building log cabins; it’s almost like he’s actively willing us to forget the time he bleached his hair and happily walked around resembling a pack of instant noodles. Anyway, thanks to Troye Sivan for taking one for the team and bringing it all back. In the ‘1999’ video Sivan curls his perfectly lustrous platinum locks into frightfully taut ramen curls, and… lo, an instant flashback to Justin’s curly-haired style era (1998-2001, probably several years longer than it should’ve been).

Charli and Troye also join forces to resurrect another bold fashion look, too: Marilyn Manson and Rose McGowan’s appearance at the ‘98 MTV Video Music Awards. Fun trivia fact about McGowan’s dress; she had to adopt a kneeling pose in the limo on the way to the red carpet. Why? Well, to avoid “griddle butt… like a waffle print”, of course.


Is there anything more wholesome than the sight of Charli and Troye as Jack and Rose having a nice little hug at the front of a boat, the aperol -hued sunset sparkling behind them? No. No there is not. Love’s young dream, and knowing these two, Chaz would definitely scoot over a bit on the mantelpiece at the end to leave a bit of room for her pal. Heart-wrenching disaster averted.

Other notable film moments

Remember going to Blockbuster after school on a Friday, tasked with the major responsibility of picking out a VHS tape for you and your mates to watch later on? Chances are, you probably fell into one of three camps – all of which are comprehensively covered in the ‘1999’ video.

Scenario 1

You picked out American Beauty and held it in your hands for approximately 2 milliseconds before your mum snatched it away and muttered something inaudible about naked ladies and smoking the marijuana drugs.

Scenario 2

You were one of those sadistic children who actually enjoyed age-inappropriate horror films and terrifying your entire peer group, and therefore, you chose The Blair Witch Project. Amelia’s mum promptly banned you from all sleepovers for life, and you’ve still not forgiven her nineteen years later.

Scenario 3

Your friendship group went through an emo phase at some point in your collective teenage years, and owned at least one floor-length leather coat. So of course, you all watched The Matrix.

’90s Capitalism

As well as dressing up like a bucket-hatted member of New Radicals and donning gigantic trainers for a Sketchers shoe ad, Charli XCX also pays her respects to Baby G watches, and the e-number riddled beverage Sunny D. Troye Sivan, meanwhile, goes to the extraordinary lengths of making Charli his pixellated Nokia phone background; bonus points for the dogtag necklace.

Leaving no stone unturned, the video also name-checks: eBay, Nickelodeon, Bubble Tape, Beanie Babies, old school web browser Netscape, and the ‘comfortable clothes’ brand Hanes.

Amusements of the age

Post-millenium whippersnappers don’t know how lucky they are. As a child in the 90s, the height of entertainment was an absolutely grotesque creation named ‘Dancing Baby’, and so naturally he flails his way around the ‘1999’ video. Also known by the pseudonym Baby Cha-Cha, it was one of the first ever viral videos, and rose to ‘notoriety’ after featuring on Ally McBeal.

Charli XCX and Troye Sivan also take an adventure into the world of The Sims, and earn a tonne of respect for dancing around in a flaming room. Because, let’s face it, if you’re one of those smug gits who claimed you never, ever filled your Sims kitchens with ovens and joyously watched them perish in the flames – not once – you’re a plain-faced liar. What else did people ever do on The Sims, anyway?

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