Released- 23rd November 1998
Nothing overly interesting happened, so here are the 10 best albums of the year, according to the NME, with my own grades applied;
1. Mercury Rev – Deserters Songs A+
2. Beastie Boys – Hello Nasty A+++
3. Beck – Mutations B+
4. Air – Moon Safari B-
5. Massive Attack – Mezzanine B+
6. Elliott Smith – Either Or B
7. Pulp – This Is Hardcore B+
8. Royal Trux – Accelerator B-
9. Jurassic 5 – Jurassic 5 A
10. Leila – Like Weather I honestly have no idea!
I am in two bands. The first, Loose Ends is a pretty solid blues and rock cover band, with a talented guitarist. We get pretty regular pub gigs and they pay us in actual cash! While I begrudge playing the same five chords for 7 minutes during Still Got the Blues, it’s damn good fun. The other, called Cajlerclit is named after the noise our guitarist made when passing out drunk two hours before out debut gig. Said guitarist is now a very talented dub/step/raga/drum and bass DJ under the name Whut? It’s good fun, we almost certainly made a financial loss, but we do a great cover of Tourettes by Nirvana. I am a skinny teenage rock god, except without the godliness.
If I had to save one track from this album, and the rest were doomed to become less than a footnote in rock ‘n’ roll history, that track would be… Gangster Trippin’ by Fatboy Slim. To be honest, it’s the best of a weak bunch, but it is just all of the fun, and has a great video too!
Track by Track Breakdown
Boyzone – “No Matter What”
Impartial hat on, this is a very warm little ballad. It’s one flaw? It’s perfect for Stephen Gateley’s sweeter, softer voice, and Ronan Keating’s parts are too strong and lose some of the vulnerable charm of the song.
Robbie Williams – “Millennium”
Yeah, this one’s genuinely great, to the point it’s probably more recognisable than the Bond theme (You Only Live Twice) it samples.
The Beautiful South – Perfect 10
These days, a song like this would launch 100 think pieces about skinny shaming. Which would miss the point of the song entirely, which is funny, witty and open minded.
U2 – “Sweetest Thing”
Maybe I’m just a contrarian, but I like this silly, sweet love song. U2 should allow other members to write more songs.
Culture Club – “I Just Wanna Be Loved”
Culture Club break their run of bad singles! While not mind blowing, this is a perfectly enjoyable reggae slowie.
Ace of Base – “Life Is a Flower”
Not a patch on their early 90’s heyday, but still a slightly downbeat pop song that you can get behind.
Jennifer Paige – “Crush”
Loathed it at the time. But actually it’s pretty fun, massively melodramatic, and rather enjoyable.
Steps – “Heartbeat”
Terribly standard inspiroballad. I miss silly fun Steps.
Honeyz – “Finally Found”
I hated this song at the time so much it caused an argument with my teenage girlfriend. I hate to go Larry David here, it’s been 17 years and I should have grown as a human being… but I was totally in the right.
East 17 – “Each Time”
They’re still here! Minus Brian Harvey, who was sacked for extolling the pleasures of MDMA to a journalist. Oops. The song is less interesting than the gossip, I’m afraid.
Kele Le Roc – “Little Bit of Lovin'”
I like a lot of the parts, but the song doesn’t really come together for me. Feels like it needs one more element, or maybe one less to make it good. But it’s by no means bad.
Sweetbox – “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright”
The song over the top of its crap, but who doesn’t like JS Bach’s Air on the G String? Or as people my age know it, the song from the old Hamlet Cigar adverts.
UB40 – “Come Back Darling”
A pretty standard entry from the Brummie reggae collective. Yow gwan den bab.
Melanie B featuring Missy Elliott – “I Want You Back”
Quite a coup! Missy is, of course, a genius, and at the Peak of her powers at this time. If Mel B had maintained this level of quality, she’d still be doing music today.
All Saints – “Bootie Call”
Now that their deeply average slew of covers has been and gone, they’re back doing the sort of sleazy R&B that they’re really good at.
Aqua – “Turn Back Time”
Actually a genuinely good, non novelty song, with a hint of the ABBA about it. Didn’t realise Aqua could do serious. I’m honestly a bit freaked out by this discovery.
Spice Girls – “Too Much”
Good enough. Not near their best, but a nice, simple ballad.
Lutricia McNeal – “Someone Loves You Honey”
I am not that someone, I’m afraid.
Lighthouse Family – “Question of Faith”
Just a little more groove to it, and the Lighthouse Family achieve an average single. Which is a minor miracle.
Phil Collins – “True Colors”
Phil Collins gets away with a lot from me. But this is one of the singular worst things to be done to music since Phil Spector bought a gun.
Janet Jackson – “Every Time”
Thanks to licensing issues, JJ is killing MJ in the Now appearance chart. This is a cute, okay, ballad.
Billie Piper – “Girlfriend”
Charming, in its silly, uncomplicated way.
911 – “More Than a Woman”
As with Louise from Eternal, the disco cover is an admission that your career is dead. And for God’s sake stop messing with the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. Unless you can improve on A Fifth of Beethoven. NB You can’t. It’s scientifically impossible.
T-Spoon – “Sex on the Beach”
Only acceptable if you’re ten, and the word sex still makes you giggle. Otherwise, a travesty.
The Tamperer featuring Maya – “If You Buy This Record Your Life Will Be Better”
Say what you like about them being formulaic- they switched a Jackson 5 sample for a Madonna one this time, but the title, as a marketing strategy, is absolute genius.
Stardust – “Music Sounds Better with You”
It’s a great French disco house classic. It’s also the first appearance from a member of Daft Punk (Stardust was a one off group with Thomas Bangalter and Alan Braxe). So finally one of my favourites appear!
Vengaboys – “Up and Down”
Stupidly simple and irritatingly effective. Musical crabs, in a good way.
Sash! featuring Shannon – “Move Mania”
Sash try to wind it back to 1993. Like the wise man said, you can’t go home again.
Touch and Go – “Would You…?”
It’s a novelty song, true, but the horn line is an absolute killer.
The Corrs – “Dreams” (Tee’s Radio Mix)
Gaelic house version of the Fleetwood Mac classic. Everything apart from Fleetwood Mac is unnecessary, I’m afraid.
The Cardigans – “My Favourite Game”
Actually brilliant. Hyperactive squarking guitars and relentless drums and all the fun.
James – “Sit Down’98”
Deeply unnecessary reversion of their own classic. By trying to be cool and clever, they remove a lot of the dappy joy of the original.
Fatboy Slim – “Gangster Tripping”
I’ll not lie, he’s on a run of about five classic singles, bouncing, big beat repetitive genius singles. This is one of those.
Eagle Eye Cherry – “Falling In Love Again”
Very similar to Save Tonight. He lacks his sister’s talent for wild invention, it seems.
Sheryl Crow – “My Favorite Mistake”
Like cauliflower and cornflakes, perfectly digestible, but why would you bother?
Robbie Williams – “No Regrets”
I need to point out I don’t hate Robbie Williams. But a lot of his music doesn’t match up to his abilities ability an entertainer. Even a guest spot from the Pet Shop Boys can’t lift this song above the doldrums. Good outro though.
Space – “We Gotta Get Out of This Place”
Pretty faithful cover of an absolute classic. It would have been hard to get wrong, but it’s still a relief to hear it done right.
Embrace – “My Weakness Is None of Your Business”
The torturous death fart of Britpop.
Alisha’s Attic – “The Incidentals”
It’s not bad, but it’s all a bit bad open mic night, or to use modern parlance, Ed Sheeran.
Deetah – “Relax”
I can think of no other situation where I’ll ever be able to say, damn, that’s a great Dire Straits sample. Lovely, chilled hip hop/R&B.
R Kelly featuring Keith Murray – “Home Alone”
Chic Cheer sampling jam right in R Kelly’s filthy comfort zone. You kind of wish Biggie were still alive for the guest verse, the beat is right in his mileu.
Sham Rock – “Tell Me Ma”
Suddenly, the potato famine seems a whole lot less tragic.
21 out of 42. We’re at 50% again. 1998 clearly the year of exacting mediocrity. Bleh.
This article is part of a series, chronicling a foolish attempt to chronicle the history of modern pop, through the Now That’s What I Call Music series. All the previous articles, and some other fun stuff, can be found here.