The 38th volume of the Hits series, Big Hits ’99, was released in September 1999. On the “featuring” section of the front cover were plugs for Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez, Jamiroquai, Five, A1, Westlife, Another Level, Lou Bega, TQ, Aerosmith, Moloko, Basement Jaxx, Fatboy Slim, Stereophonics “and many more.”
Just five of the 42 tracks had already appeared on a previous compilation:
Now That’s What I Call Music 43: Backstreet Boys – I Want It That Way, Adam Rickitt – I Breathe Again, New Radicals – You Get What You Give, Basement Jaxx – Red Alert, Honeyz – Love Of A Lifetime.
Like it or loathe it, Livin’ La Vida Loca was a phenomena. Widely credited with showing the way for the Latin pop explosion of 1999 and 2000, it sold a whopping 8,000,000 copies. Kudos: Livin’ received six nominations at the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards including Video of the Year, Best Male Video, Best Choreography in a Video and Viewer’s Choice. It won two primary awards for Best Pop Video, and Best Dance Video, and was voted three additional awards in the international Viewers Choice categories. It also won Ritmo Latino Music Award for Music Video of the Year. For Ricky Martin, the success that ensued was a just reward for almost a decade’s worth of solo material (four Spanish LPs) in addition to his 1980s releases with Menudo. In other news, he was a headliner in the 2001 inauguration celebration for President George W. Bush.
In the second lot are series regulars Five. The funkier than usual If Ya Gettin’ Down was the lead single from Invincible and includes a sample from In Deep’s Last Night A DJ Saved My Life. It reached #2 – kept off the top by Ricky Martin. Going one better were Westlife with their second 45, the competent If I Let You Go, a step up from Swear It Again. Pushing the envelope in the music world, Jennifer Lopez’s If You Had My Love is a pretty impressive debut, a neat combination of swingbeat and salsa with a distinct edge. The memorable video has a voyeuristic theme, taking in the still-new(ish) internet theme, wherein a range of viewers watch Lopez through webcams by accessing “Jennifer Lopez Online.” On a similar tip, Lou Bega drops in with Mambo No. 5, a Perez Prado cover which is then followed by Perez himself with Rosemary Clooney in tow – Sway. At the time, there were two versions of Sway in the charts – Dean Martin’s and a heavier dance version from Shaft so the inclusion of the 1960 collaboration is unusual but welcome.
After this fiery beginning we then settle into a club groove with Another Level’s party blaster Summertime which sits nicely against Jamiroquai’s spacious and intensely expansive Canned Heat. Remember it from Napoleon Dynamite and hang up your hang ups. We’re back in the boyband arena with A1’s first outing, the soaring Be The First To Believe. Shining brightly – but briefly – the cute duo Marvin and Tamara with the juvenile fluff of Groove Machine. Sweeping them aside are Destiny’s Child with the absolutely divine Bills, Bills, Bills; Beyoncé singing deep alto. The music video was directed by Darren Grant and shot in a beauty salon as a tribute to Beyoncé’s mother, Tina. The R&B heat continues with TQ’s mournful Better Days, closing track on They Never Saw Me Coming and should have done an awful lot better than stalling at #32 in the UK chart.
Guitar heroes: it’s single #4 from Performance And Cocktails, the road trip set to music, I Wouldn’t Believe Your Radio. The video is a homage to Easy Rider while there’s a whole lotta regret going on. Meanwhile Tsunami were a US indie outfit from Arlington that delighted hipster fans of Velocity Girl and Bikini Kill. The Manic Street Preachers’ song of the same has nothing to do with them. Instead it’s inspired by The Silent Twins, June and Jennifer Gibbons, who gave up speaking when they were young, became involved in crime and ended up being sent to Broadmoor Hospital. Equally cursed are Catatonia with their weary and affecting Londinium while Suede’s She’s In Fashion is marvelously summery, featuring a swirling synth line that makes everything dreamy. Elsewhere Aerosmith crash in with the re-released Pink, a form of garish rock jangle. Best ’til last: channel some teen spirit with Hepburn’s evocative Bugs. “You’re the last thing in my head.” A gem that grows with repeated plays, it’s tough punka suss belying a vulnerable centre.
One of 1999’s most ubiquitous tunes was Kiss Me by US Christian rock group Sixpence None The Richer. The original music video is a homage to Jules Et Jim while the track featured in Dawson’s Creek and was the main theme song of Miramax’s teen romantic comedy film She’s All That. The BBC used the song as a closing theme during its broadcast coverage of Prince Edward’s royal wedding upon the request of the British Royal Family. It’s followed by another massive number, Moloko’s Sing It Back which became a late summer smash the second time around – following a remix by DJ Boris Dlugosch. Don’t confuse them with Morcheeba. Elsewhere Doolally’s Straight From The Heart was first released in 1998, and reached #20. They then became Shanks and Bigfoot and after the success Sweet Like Chocolate, re-released Straight which peaked at #9. Born to party.
We’re in the midst of the Playstation’s golden era. Phats & Small’s Feel Good takes me right back to those days; a fine example of quality vocal house. Check my paranoia! Apollo 440 break through with Stop The Rock: remember it from the soundtracks to FIFA 2000, Gone In 60 Seconds, Boys and Girls and Bedazzled. Inspired by Status Quo’s Caroline and vocals by Ian Hoxley, ex-Gaye Bykers On Acid. Feeling blue? Eiffel 65 “blend Cher-esque vocoder vocals, trance-like synth riffs, unabashed Eurodisco beats and a baby-babble chorus so infantile it makes the Teletubbies sound like Shakespeare.” (Rolling Stone) It’s followed by an oddity: Soul Surfing, a Fatboy Slim album track of indeterminate quality. And then Best Friend, Mark Morrison’s joint jam with Conner Reeves with Gabrielle in the background. She gets no credit because her label didn’t approve the project.
It’s probably more familiar as a 2001 record, but BBMak’s gorgeous Back Here was originally released in 1999. An extremely well-crafted slice of harmonious pop. We go blue with Fierce’s nifty bass-led So Long while Brandy’s Almost Doesn’t Count slips past, a ghostly ballad. Still in the R&B zone, Imajin’s competent jam No Doubt. Next come The 3 Jays and the urban filter disco classic Feeling It Too which is followed by the strung out beach banger Makes Me Love You from Eclipse. Heavy on the Sister Sledge Thinking Of You sample, Harry. Meanwhile Grace resurfaces to assist Planet Perfecto promote Not Over Yet ’99 – still a catchy number. Less memorable are the dubious Dope Smugglaz who fail to lift their version of Malcolm McLaren’s Double Double Dutch above mediocrity. Suck rock. To close the disc, there’s what appears to be a change of pace as Gary Barlow’s Stronger gently strums in before speeding off in a dance direction. Nice. And almost like a postscript, a country tune from the Dixie Chicks, There’s Your Trouble. Austin visit vibes.
BBMak – Back Here
Suede – She’s In Fashion
Manic Street Preachers – Tsunami
Stereophonics – I Wouldn’t Believe Your Radio
Catatonia – Londinium
Lest we forget
Hepburn – Bugs
Missing tracks and other thoughts
Definitely one of the strongest volumes of the late 1990s, this instalment manages to evoke a peak nostalgia buzz from almost every single track. More tunes to consider:
Will Smith – Wild Wild West. Good tune, flop film.
Lauryn Hill – Everything Is Everything. Third and final Miseducation treatise.
Alanis Morissette – So Pure. Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie. Midst of life etc.
Eminem featuring Dr Dre – Guilty Conscience. Slim Shady horrorcore.
Super Furry Animals – Fire In My Heart. Stuart and Marie’s wedding song.