The third year-end Hits collection was released in November 1998. In common with the previous two, many of the tracks had already been included on previous volumes. However the ratio of already on: new-to-Hits songs was seriously disimproved – 37 vs 4 or 35 vs 6 if you allow for the differing mixes of Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On and Jennifer Paige’s Crush On You – both are now here in their regular single versions.
To recap, 24 tracks had already made their first appearances on the last three Hits albums:
New Hits ’98: Another Level – Be Alone No More, Will Smith – Gettin’ Jiggy With It, Destiny’s Child – No No No Part 2, Cleopatra – Cleopatra’s Theme, Backstreet Boys – All I Have To Give, Run DMC and Jason Nevins – It’s Like That, Cornershop – Brimful Of Asha (Norman Cook Remix), Catatonia – Mulder And Scully.
Fresh Hits ’98: Celine Dion – My Heart Will Go On (Tony Moran Mix), B*Witched – C’est La Vie, Five – Got The Feelin’, Wyclef Jean – Gone Till November, Busta Rhymes – Turn It Up (Remix) / Fire It Up (Clean), Dario G – Carnival De Paris, Kula Shaker – Sound Of Drums, The Corrs – Dreams (Tee’s Radio), Simply Red – Say You Love Me, Baddiel and Skinner and Lightning Seeds – Three Lions ’98.
Big Hits ’98: Sweetbox – Everything’s Gonna Be Alright, Aqua – Turn Back Time, Jamiroquai – Deeper Underground, Apollo 440 – Lost In Space, Manic Street Preachers – If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next, Des’ree – Life.
And then there were the songs that were first snared by their rivals:
Now That’s What I Call Music 39: Robbie Williams – Let Me Entertain You*, Boyzone – Baby Can I Hold You, Spice Girls – Stop, Sash! – La Primavera, Space with Cerys – The Ballad Of Tom Jones.
Smash Hits Summer ’98: Steps – Last Thing On My Mind*, The Tamperer featuring Maya – Feel It*.
* denotes that these tunes were subsequently included on Fresh Hits ’98.
Now That’s What I Call Music 40: All Saints – Under The Bridge, Mousse T vs Hot ‘N’ Juicy – Horny, Eagle-Eye Cherry – Save Tonight, K-Ci & Jo-Jo – All My Life.
Now Dance ’98: Jennifer Paige – Crush (Dance Mix), T-Spoon – Sex On The Beach.
“”Retaliation, revenge, hate, regret, that’s what I deal with in Frozen” (Madonna)
Madonna’s Frozen is worth the price of admission on its own. Deep breath: wind the clock back to February 1998; I had the radio on while cooking dinner at Northbrook Avenue. 2FM, The Hotline, Tony Fenton. I don’t think this was its Irish radio debut but it was my first time hearing the song. The stir fry was stopped dead with this mid tempo electronic ballad. No tape deck to hand so it stayed in my head for the rest of the evening. I was into Abbey Discs the following morning and picked up the jukebox 7″ (which contains the album version; the radio edit is here). The CD single would follow at a later stage.
“In the middle of Spicestreet Boys-mania, she did this and got all the kids and all the grownups and all the haters aboard.” (Vasilios, Pop Justice)
Inspired by both classical and medieval sounds, Frozen is a cinematic masterpiece from what’s probably her finest LP – Ray Of Light – immaculately produced by William Orbit. At the beginning, there’s some solemn orchestral strings while a dramatic crescendo, rhythm and ambient electronic effects are added gradually. The carefully nuanced lyrics tell of a cold and emotionless man and dovetail perfectly with the electronic textures of the music. The haunting melody, lush strings and lone drum sound combine to heighten the atmosphere, giving the song a Wuthering Heights feel. The video was directed by Chris Cunningham and filmed at Cuddeback Lake within California’s Mojave Desert.
So what else is new? Mariah Carey’s superb tale of one-more-night longing My All also shows up early on. It’s built on a gentle Latin acoustic strum before gradually progressing into conventional R&B albeit a more lush slow jam style. The monochrome video was shot in Puerto Rico and features a beach, a lighthouse and the ocean. Meanwhile Brandy and Monica issue their response to The Girl Is Mine with a male-themed duet which won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group. Lastly there’s Natalie Imbruglia’s mellow Smoke, a beautiful final single from Left Of The Middle.
Madonna – Frozen
Mariah Carey – My All
Natalie Imbruglia – Smoke
Catatonia – Mulder And Scully
Manic Street Preachers – If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next
Lest we forget
Baddiel and Skinner and Lightning Seeds – Three Lions ’98
Missing tracks and other thoughts
I’m still not fully convinced by the need for a mop-up end of year compilations given that the series was releasing regular volumes throughout the previous 12 months. The inclusion of the standard mix of My Heart Will Go On was a nice touch and a clear statement of intent. While the majority of the tracks are familiar, the four “new” songs are of an exceptionally high standard – although I’d have preferred the radio edit of Smoke as opposed to the album version. Maybe this pair of crackers should be there:
Lauryn Hill – Doo Wop (That Thing). Absolutely crucial.
James – Runaground. Obligatory Best Of single. Video shot in Dingle.