The 36th volume of the Hits series, New Hits ’99, was released in March 1999. Making the “featuring” section of the front cover were Whitney Houston, Blondie, Steps, Cher, The Corrs, Robbie Williams, Boyzone, B*Witched, Fatboy Slim, Five, Another Level, Savage Garden, N Sync “and many more.”
Just four of the 42 tracks had already appeared on previous compilations:
Now That’s What I Call Music 41: Robbie Williams – No Regrets, Boyzone – No Matter What.
The Brit Awards 1999: Fatboy Slim – Praise You, Pras – Blue Angels.
Hallelujah! B*Witched make it four number ones out of four attempts with Blame It On The Weatherman. Rain symbolizes tears. The weatherman is everyone who didn’t warn Edele that heartbreak is inevitable. Her tears won’t stop falling. The music video was directed by Michael Geoghegan and features the band floating on a large upside-down articulated lorry through a flooded London, picking up numerous floating items from the water and also rescuing a puppy. And then, a most surprising comeback – Blondie’s first single since 1982’s War Child – the driving Maria. A burst of dopamine when Debbie sings “You got to see her.” Next comes the neo-R&B of Whitney Houston’s It’s Not Right But It’s Okay while Steps leave the past behind with the resigned Better Best Forgotten.
After the rather bland ‘n’ grey grooves of Another Level’s I Want You For Myself, comes the punchy Strong Enough, another step in the Cher reboot. Meanwhile Tatyana Ali takes care of scarves, sorry business on the jacked-up Boy You Knock Me Out with TQ rocking the urban sound on the dope Westside. Justin time: making their debut were N Sync on the superb I Want You Back – with its brilliant vocal and beat. It’s a boyband game as Five drop the slick It’s The Things You Do while Mr Oizo’s Flat Beat is a prime example of electro house – all nagging bassline and headbanging puppet. Get into the garage – it’s Shanks and Bigfoot’s most clinical banger Sweet Like Chocolate.
On the Ministry Of Sound label – Brandon Block AKA Blockster’s house meets disco take on the Bee Gees’ You Should Be Dancing. The past keeps coming back to haunt us: the underrated Dreaming is the 19th and final single from M People, the second single lifted from their greatest hits album. Elsewhere Savage Garden’s I Want You gets another push after the success of Truly Madly Deeply and To The Moon And Back. Next comes the uptempo and positive This Kiss, a crossover hit for Faith Hill. Equally upfront, Ace Of Base’s Motown sound on Always Have, Always Will – the intro samples The Supremes’ Where Did Our Love Go and The Four Tops’ I Can’t Help Myself. Last one before half-time: Isaac Hayes or Chef’s Chocolate Salty Balls (PS I Love You), the Christmas #1 all the way from South Park. We get the rare radio version which comes with an extra verse.
CD2 starts with a remixed version of Runaway, which was originally released in September 1995 as The Corrs’ debut single. The Tin Tin Out Remix sees the bass moved into the foreground, standing out but not overpowering the gorgeous vocals. The Barenaked Ladies rather unsubtle One Week comes next before we slip inside the indie disco. First up are the Manic Street Preachers and the bruising You Stole The Sun From My Heart described by Nicky Wire as “a mix of New Order and Nirvana.” And then the jaunty National Express by The Divine Comedy, based on Neil Hannon’s observations of life from the window of a coach. To a song for shop assistants by the Stereophonics, the wistful Just Looking before Garbage’s memorable juggernaut, the glam stomp of When I Grow Up.
Bang on: Underworld’s menacing advance that is Push Upstairs. Definitely one of their most atmospheric creations, a progressive pre-millennium tension reliever. Slotting in after, the armageddon meets psych bop Mystical Machine Gun from Kula Shaker. Next: the powerful house blast that’s Supercar’s Tonite and the loopy disco sound of Mirrorball’s Given Up. Which nicely leads into Cevin Fisher and (You Got Me) Burning Up which features diva vocals by Loleatta Holloway. More of the same – Soulsearcher’s freshly served anthem Can’t Get Enough before an updated version of Inner City’s 1988 classic masterpiece Good Life. One for summer fiestas everywhere.
Time for some old skool funk with a new twist; the party jam Candy from Big Willie Style, utilising Will Smith’s trademark friendly ‘n’ humorous pop-rap with classic Cameo samples. Following this, the Psycho-inspired Gimme Some More from Busta Rhymes. The rap is frantic, the video has a nightmarish Looney Tunes edge. Jam on with Ginuwine’s brutal What’s So Different which comes with top Timbaland production. And there’s more local R&B – Kleshay’s pleasant jam Rush – and in its wake, slow dance time. We get A Touch Of Love – another single from Cleopatra’s debut LP and then, Ultra’s top 10 breakthrough Rescue Me. Finally it’s breakfast time with Johnny Vaughan and Denise Van Outen,the presenters of the Channel 4 show, getting together to cover Especially For You.
N Sync – I Want You Back
Manic Street Preachers – You Stole The Sun From My Heart
Garbage – When I Grow Up
Underworld – Push Upstairs
Busta Rhymes – Gimme Some More
Lest we forget
Kula Shaker – Mystical Machine Gun
Missing tracks and other thoughts
The 1999 spring tide brings forth a fresh and most satisfying journey. I wouldn’t have objected if the following trio made the team:
Unkle featuring Ian Brown – Be There. Another rich dance meets indie clash.
George Michael featuring Mary J Blige – As. Ladies and gentlemen – doppelgängers.
Beth Orton – Stolen Car. A suitable example of the late-period VH1 style.