There have been several stages of “I feel old” when it comes to The Mickey Mouse Club. When the revival of the House of Mouse produced children’s variety show hit The Disney Channel in the early ‘90s, there was the “it’s been 40 years since Annette and Cubby started this whole thing???” wave of “I feel old.” Then when cast members like Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Justin Timberlake stormed the music industry in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, there was the “oh my gosh, they’re all grown up now!” wave of “I feel old.”
Hold onto your mouse-ear hats. Here comes the biggest “I’m old” wave yet. Today marks the 20th anniversary of the Mousketeers debuts of Spears, Aguilera, Timberlake, and an actor you might have heard of by the name of Ryan Gosling. Yes, it’s been 20 years. In 1993, the now-famous quartet joined the show alongside fellow future stars Keri Russell and Timberlake’s NSYNC bandmate J.C. Chasez, who made their MMC debuts a few seasons earlier.
They were babies! Now we’re all old.
What better way to collectively work through our feelings about pending said oldness than nostalgically watching clips of today’s biggest celebrities two decades (sadface) ago when they were just wee ones covering Whitney Houston songs in plaid sweatshirts and denim joutfits.
Cringe. Delight. Weep. Enjoy.
Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake – “I’ll Take You There”
This clip should be familiar to anyone who watched a news story on the rise of Spears or Timberlake in the late ‘90s. Spears, even as a precocious 12 year old, seems to have already mastered her signature style of singing, which one might lovingly refer to as “the sexy frog.” And Timberlake? Well, he does a reggae rap while wearing a bandana on his head. This is the best video of all time.
The only thing less convincing than Britney Spears’s lip-synching? Her acting skills. Hey-o! She co-stars with Timberlake, Gosling, and Aguilera—who doesn’t acquit herself any better—in a skit about passing notes in class. Credit to the boys though for selling the cheesy dialogue. Credit to The Mickey Mouse Club for having the foresight to know what a joy it would be 20 years later to hear young Ryan Gosling say the word “dweeb-meister.”
Ryan Gosling, Justin Timberlake, and J.C. Chasez – “Cry for You”
That dream you’ve had over and over again for the past five years, where Justin Timberlake and Ryan Gosling wear oversized lounge suits, sultrily swivel their hips, and sing a ‘90s R&B love song to you? It’s real.
Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, and Christina Aguilera – “Fools Rush In”
Boy With Brown Hair gets far too much singing time in this clip—sorry Boy With Brown Hair, you never became famous!—but it’s worth watching just to see Spears, Aguilera, Timberlake soporifically mark what may be the cheesiest choreography ever put on stage. And also for Aguilera’s outfit. (Wide-leg jeans, striped tee, plaid vest, and a newsboy cap? Glorious.)
Christina Aguilera – “I Have Nothing”
Christina Aguilera was already torching power ballads when she was just 12 years old. Duh. (Britney Spears was singing background vocals for Aguilera.) (Gasp!)
Keri Russell – “The Teenage Zone 2
“All I need now is for my hair to fall out and my day will be complete,” a teenage Keri Russell says in a skit about how everything was going wrong in her life. Foreshadowing?
Britney Spears – “I’m Gonna Get You”
Britney Spears was born leading tightly choreographed group dance routines. (Britney Spears is also tiny!)