The fourth year-end Hits collection was released in October 1999. In common with the previous three, many of the tracks had already been included on earlier Hits volumes. And the ratio of already compiled: new-to-Hits songs was seriously light – 37 vs 5.
To recap, 26 tracks had already made their first appearances on the last four Hits albums:
Hits ’99: Will Smith – Miami.
New Hits ’99: B*Witched – Blame It On The Weatherman, NSYNC – I Want You Back, The Corrs – Runaway, Manic Street Preachers – You Stole The Sun From My Heart, Shanks & Bigfoot – Sweet Like Chocolate, Another Level – I Want You For Myself, TQ – Westside, Tatyana Ali – Boy You Knock Me Out, Barenaked Ladies – One Week.
Fresh Hits ’99: Westlife – Swear It Again, Catatonia – Dead From The Waist Down, ATB – 9PM (Till I Come), Wiseguys – Ooh La La, Lauryn Hill – X-Factor, Glamma Kid featuring Shola Ama – Taboo.
Big Hits ’99: Eiffel 65 – Blue (Da Ba Dee), Louie Bega – Mambo No. 5, Ricky Martin – Livin’ La Vida Loca, Five – If Ya Gettin’ Down, Jamiroquai – Canned Heat, A1 – Be The First To Believe, Sixpence None The Richer – Kiss Me, New Radicals – You Get What You Give, Jennifer Lopez – If You Had My Love, Destiny’s Child – Bills Bills Bills.
And then there were the songs that were first snared by their rivals:
The 1999 Brit Awards: Fatboy Slim – Praise You.
Now That’s What I Call Music 42: Armand Van Helden featuring Duane Harden – You Don’t Know Me, Steps, Tina Cousins, Cleopatra, B*Witched and Billie Piper – Thank ABBA For The Music.
Smash Hits Summer ’99: Phats & Small – Turn Around.
Now That’s What I Call Music 43: S Club 7 – Bring It All Back, Backstreet Boys – I Want It That Way, Boyzone – You Needed Me.
Now Dance 2000: Britney Spears – Sometimes, Ann Lee – Two Times, Bob Marley vs Funkster De Luxe – Sun Is Shining, Onephatdeeva – In And Out Of My Life.
Second out the traps is a single that was 12 months old by the time Huge Hits 99 emerged. Outside was the lead single from George Michael’s 1998 compilation, Ladies & Gentlemen: The Best Of George Michael. It was his first release since his arrest in Beverly Hills and subsequent coming out. The song takes a swipe at the circumstances surrounding the incident with the music video features a number of public affection scenes which end with the police taking action. It’s wonderfully satirical and begins with a parody of a 1970s porn film. Outside reached #2 in the UK, held off by the Cher juggernaut of Believe, and stayed on the chart for 20 weeks. The title of the Best Of is also a dig at toilets. All together now: “I’d service the community but I already have.” A jubilant classic.
Steps’ Love’s Got A Hold Of My Heart was the first single taken from their second album, Stepacular. The video was shot in Cannes and directed by Dani Jacobs. The main plot sees the group chase a man who has stolen the film reel for Steps: The Movie, interspersed with clips of the band jiving on a jetty dressed in yellow outfits like some form of weird ‘n’ zany futuristic Men Without Hats. All in all, a great package; a fantastic carefree pop song with the usual shades of ABBA. Reload: it shouldn’t work but it does – Tom Jones & The Cardigans tackling Talking Heads’ 1983 tune Burning Down The House. The Welshman’s voice is perfect for it while the production by Tore Johansson (chosen by The Cardigans) is perfect. B-Sides included covers of EMF’s Unbelievable and The Beatles’ Come Together.
CD2 kicks off with the radio edit of Whitney Houston’s My Love Is Your Love, all mid-tempo reggae produced by Wyclef Jean. Totally gorgeous stuff which displays a real soulful maturity (she just turned 36 as it climbed the charts). A song that’s both rhythmic and blue. Another #2 hit. Last of the new tunes is from Thunderbugs, a short-lived girl group cut from the same cloth as the poptastic Hepburn. Friends Forever was their wonderful and sole hit. An extremely well-crafted tune. Remember them –
Jane Vaughan: lead vocals
Stef Maillard: bass and backing vocals
Nicky Shaw: drums and backing vocals
Brigitta Jansen: guitar
An interesting postscript to the story: “Back in 2015 I was photographer for a wedding in Ireland. The lead singer got up and sang this song for the bride and groom. I found out she’s living in Killybegs, Co Donegal.” (Pauric McGinley)
George Michael – Outside
Whitney Houston – My Love Is Your Love
Sixpence None The Richer – Kiss Me
Tom Jones & The Cardigans – Burning Down The House
Steps – Love’s Got A Hold Of My Heart
Lest we forget
Thunderbugs – Friends Forever
Missing tracks and other thoughts
I’m remain unconvinced by the need for a mop-up end of year compilation given that the Hits team were releasing regular volumes throughout the previous 12 months. However the public disagreed and it went straight in at #1 on the compilations chart. To be fair, the five “new” songs are top quality. Two more that could have gone on?
Madonna – Beautiful Stranger. Killer tune from Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
Cliff Richard – The Millennium Prayer. Although inclusion may have affected sales as the single wasn’t released until mid-November. Would have been a nice exclusive.