Hits ’99 was released on 19 December 1998 and was the 35th volume of the series. 13 of its 40 tracks had already been included on the following compilation albums:
Now That’s What I Call Music 40: Billie – Because We Want To, Boyzone – All That I Need.
Now Dance ’98: Touch & Go – Would You?, Sash featuring Tina Cousins – Mysterious Times, Jennifer Paige – Crush (Dance Mix).
Huge Hits 1998: Natalie Imbruglia – Smoke.
The Greatest Hits Of 1998: T-Spoon – Tom’s Party, Sham Rock – Tell Me Ma, Lutricia McNeal – Someone Loves You Honey.
Now That’s What I Call Music 41: Steps – Heartbeat, The Tamperer featuring Maya – If You Buy This Record, Your Life Will Be Better, Space – We Gotta Get Out Of This Place.
Smash Hits ’99: Tina Cousins – Pray.
The re-invention of Cher: Believe arrived in mid-October and immediately made radio waves with its uptempo dance sound and strong empowerment lyrics. A #1 in nearly every country, it’s also one of the first songs to use Auto-Tune as a vocal effect while production was handled by Mark Taylor and Brian Rawling. The music video was directed by Nigel Dick and showed Cher in a nightclub performing the song in two sequences: one in which she is seen singing on stage and the other as a supernatural being locked in a cage. The uncredited samples belong to Daft Punk’s Revolution 909 and ELO’s Prologue & Epilogue. Believe is a pop masterpiece and one of the decade’s most enduring 45s.
Follow that! B*witched’s Rollercoaster is all denim and dancing; a pleasant and laidback successor to the more energetic C’est La Vie. Lindsay, Edele, Keavy and Sinead really knew how to buzz. Then we get Five’s sixth single, the earnest Until The Time Is Through, Another Level’s regret anthem I Guess I Was A Fool while in between, Will Smith drops a grunting bomb on The Whispers’ sampling Miami. Spacedust or Paul Glancy and Duncan Glasson; Gym & Tonic was the worst-selling #1 of the year. The original was recorded by Bob Sinclar with Thomas Bangalter producing and includes a sample of Jane Fonda’s workout. Spacedust gets a session musician to re-record the fitness piece while their cover of Stardust’s (Music Feels Good With You) was far more uptempo than the “original”.
Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem) was Jay-Z’s nadir. It features a pitch-modified sample of the song It’s the Hard Knock Life from the 1977 musical Annie. And sounds just as bad as you’d expect. Of much more interest is Fatboy Slim’s big beat blaster Build It Up, Tear It Down. My inlay says Gangster Tripping. It’s one of the many highlights on You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby and was also included on the soundtrack of Human Traffic. The album was recorded entirely using Atari ST computer, Creator software and floppy disks. Sail away with Aqua’s pirate odyssey My Oh My and 4 The Cause’s hip hop take on Stand By Me. CD1 ends on a gorgeously harmonic tip, All Saints’ War Of Nerves; the video shot in London’s Met Bar, nicely scoring a memorable week spent there in October ’98.
“Let’s chase the dragon.” The Corrs open up the second half with a lovely song about their parents. “The gap that grows between our lives The gap our parents never had.” We get a second single from the Manic Street Preachers’ This Is My Truth, Tell Me Yours – the elegaic strum of The Everlasting. Video heave on to Euston Station, playing with fire. Staying in Wales – via Space – and then the heavy sound of the Stereophonics’ The Bartender And The Thief. A little later come Catatonia and their dreamy Game On – the time to act is now. Zip left: Republica plus the wonderful Saffron and the sleeping 007 beauty From The Rush Hour With Love. The Best Of M People was one of my Selectadisc purchases; Testify the carrot single, a sweetly sung tune from the heart.
Monica tells a tale of abstinence on The First Night, sampling Diana Ross’ Love Hangover. Over to the coolest sister in town: The Fresh Prince of Bel Air actress Tatyana Ali who hit the Billboard top 10 with Daydreamin’, a nostalgic jam. After reboots of Jungle Brother and I’ll House You, the JBs turned to 1988 for Because I Got It Like That. One for every hour on the hour. Elsewhere there’s Meja’s simple pop tune All About The Money while Corrie mechanic Matthew Marsden teams up with Destiny Child on She’s Gone. Not a patch on his earlier work. Move with with R Kelly protégé Sparkle and Des’ree’s super shiny What’s Your Sign. Nil points for LeeAnn Rimes’ awful Blue and Alberta’s charmless Yo-Yo Boy but Sarah McLachlan saves the day with the pure soulful AOR of Adia.
Cher – Believe
Manic Street Preachers – The Everlasting
Republica – From The Rush Hour With Love
All Saints – War Of Nerves (’98 Remix)
Sarah McLachlan – Adia
Lest we forget
Fatboy Slim – Build It Up, Tear It Down
Missing tracks and other thoughts
Definitely the weakest of the regular four Hits albums from 1998. Too much samey slow stuff on the second disc. It could have been livened up by these:
Conner Reeves – Searching For A Soul. Vastly underrated.
Placebo – You Don’t Care About Us. Indie rock anthem from Whelan’s.
Alanis Morisette – Thank U. Terrific, hypnotic, a crystalline melody.
2 Pac – Happy Home. Milking the hits until the end of time.
Destiny’s Child with Matthew Marsden – still never fails to boggle the mind. Doubt if Beyonce puts that on her CV. A lot of the tracks on here that you haven’t covered previously are ones that I can barely remember, and considering that I would have been playing quite a lot of them ont he radio, that’s some feat.
I do remember Alberta’s awful cash-in as Yo-Yos briefly became popular yet again. The Des’Ree song is also absymal (though marginally better than ‘Life’, one of the worst songs ever made)
The Fatboy Slim track is truly brilliant though, and although I can’t usually stand Will Smith’s songs released under his own name, for some reason I really like ‘Miami’.
Yes Andy – there’s certainly an unremarkable streak on this one. Miami is good fun alright. I wonder why so many copies of the back inlay refer to Gangster Tripping – in any case, great to have its replacement.
Ah, Believe. What a detestable song that truly is. It so clearly showed that Cher still can’t sing and decided to make a novelty out of it.
As for B*Witched, I always had a thing for Lindsay. Seeing her again a few years ago in that big reunion show only cemented that thing. The years had been very kind. And then they showed her topless in some film she made! My 1998 self would not have been able to cope with that maturely (my older self had problems as it is!)
I’ve seen Lindsay around Dublin a few times over the years. Still looks great. B*witched had a one night stand gig in Manchester last month.
Just noticed the “biggest hits of the year” tagline. I had to search Sparkle to see how big the song was. It made #40 in the charts. T-Spoon: #27, Catatonia: #33.
Yes – they certainly stretch the definitions! The previous volume said “41 of the biggest hits of 1998”.
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