The lyric tells the story of the narrator falling for a childhood friend 'Deborah' ("Your name is Deborah (Deborah), it never suited ya") whom has since grown apart from them, reminiscing about how they were born so close together ("within an hour of each other, our mothers said we could be sister and brother") and how the narrator struggled with his feelings towards her especially when she hit puberty and developed breasts. The title lyric comes from the overarching theme of wondering what would happen if the two met up again "in the Year 2000" and how much both have grown up since then.
According to Jarvis Cocker, most of the lyrics are based on a true story. In a 2002 interview with Liz Kershaw on BBC 6 Music, Cocker explained: "I haven't got much of a sense of imagination so a lot of our songs are just straight true stories - there was a girl called Deborah - she was born in the same hospital as me - not within an hour - I think it was like three hours - but you can't fit three hours into the song without having to really rush the singing! ("We were born within-three-hours of each other") It don't work! So I took poetic license and cut it down to an hour. But basically you know the whole thing was the same - I fancied her for ages and then she started to become a woman and her breasts began to sprout so then all the boys fancied her then - I didn't stand a 'cat-in-hell's chance' - but then I did use to sometimes hang around outside her house and stuff like that. The only bit that isn't true is the woodchip wallpaper."
The "fountain down the road" referenced in the lyric is believed to be the Goodwin Fountain in Sheffield (Cocker's home town) city centre, formerly placed in Fargate - the irony being that the fountain itself was demolished by the 'year 2000' in reality!
Due to the song's millennial theme and subject matter, the band decided to pull the song's synchronization license at the start of 1999 to avoid the song constantly being used to soundtrack various promotions/adverts relating to the new millennium, only relinquishing this by the end of 2000 when the song would not be quite as relevant again. A synchronization license enables music to be 'synced' to other media, usually TV adverts, videogames and so forth.
The song was used to good effect in the BBC drama Life on Mars, where main character DI Sam Tyler is somehow transported from the present day back to 1973. In a sequence in the car with DCI Gene Hunt, "Disco 2000" mysteriously plays, and Tyler remarks to a bemused Hunt that he saw Pulp play the Manchester Nynex (now the MEN Arena) in 1996. Obviously Hunt, being a product of the 1973 world, has no idea who the hell Pulp are - and perhaps the usage of a Pulp song referencing the new millennium was intentional just to further exacerbate the clash between two different time periods.
The inspiration for the song was Cocker's childhood friend, Deborah Bone, a mental health professional who was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer in January 2013 and passed away at her home on December 30, 2014. She was awarded an MBE in the 2015 New Year's Honours List for developing the Brainbox device, which helps young people cope with stress and anxiety. Cocker reportedly sung "Disco 2000" at Bone's 50th birthday party.
Writing on her blog prior to her passing, Deborah said: "Born in Sheffield, my claim to fame is growing up and sleeping with Jarvis Cocker, well someone had to do it, and it was all perfectly innocent! I have been told and like to believe that I am the Deborah in the #1 hit 'Disco 2000' but we never did get to meet up by the fountain down the road."