Released- 29th March 1999
I’m 15. I’m an idiot. While bowling I nick a couple of ciggies off my friend Ben. 16 years later I still haven’t kicked the habit. I have also discovered house parties and cider. That is more forgivable.
If I had to save one track from this album, and the rest were doomed to the inevitable smokers doom, that track would be… this, with no apologies
Track by Track Breakdown
Boyzone – “When the Going Gets Tough”
I wasn’t keen on the original on Now 6 or so, and this is worse.
Steps – “Better Best Forgotten”
Built over an interesting minor key chord progression, that they they try to hide under pop dance tropes. Gives it a slightly elegiac, defeated feel that fits the lyric very well. Surprisingly good!
Cher – “Believe”
And a trend that hasn’t yet stopped (Yeezy, Imma let you be, but I blame you for this), say hello to autotune laid on with a trowel as an instrument. It’s so prevalent today that it’s usage now sounds subtle to 21st century ears.
Steps, Tina Cousins, Cleopatra, B*Witched, Billie Piper – “Thank ABBA for the Music”
An ABBA medley which would be better if it had been performed by, say, ABBA.
Spice Girls – “Goodbye”
Cheerio. You probably stayed an album too long. And this sounds suspiciously like Mama
Honeyz – “End of the Line”
All pretty standard. It feels like one of those dissapointing comeback singles by a marquee 70’s soul singer.
Billie Piper – “Honey to the Bee”
Wonderfully kitsch. The lyrics are subtle as a sledgehammer.
The Corrs – “What Can I Do?”
Absolves the sin of their horrible Fleetwood Mac cover last time around. Sweet and warm, and remarkably simple.
Emilia – “Big Big World”
Cloying twee R&B with an annoying disregard for syntax.
Tina Cousins – “Killin’ Time ’99”
Atmospheric vocal house. But the ’99 is deceptive, it sounds more like it should be ’95 or ’96, it’s already dated.
Vengaboys – “We Like to Party”
Stupid, in a good way. Wish I’d seen it at the time and saved my hatred for something more deserving!
Cartoons – “Witch Doctor”
Adds a beat. Removes the charm.
Ace of Base – “Always Have Always Will”
If it were a piece of furniture you’d call it reclaimed. 60’s soul given a sanding down and a new vocal line, but ultimately nothing on what it was.
Blockster – “You Should Be…”
First of one of those fantastic ‘double bills’ the compilers enjoy putting on here, a dance remix of You Should be Dancin’, which toys with the original little enough it keeps the originals charm, while turning it to disco house.
A+ – “Enjoy Yourself”
Okay, I know I said not to mess with the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, but rapping over the top of Walter Murphy’s A Fifth of Beethoven just plain works!
Deetah – “El Paraiso Rico”
And another great choice of song to interpolate, this time Mi Chico Latino, partnered with that late 90’s slightly Chic sounding hip hop sound, and a good flow.
Emmie – “More Than This”
But a lot less than Roxy Music’s original. Brian Eno is turning in his yurt.
DJ Sakin & Friends – “Protect Your Mind (For the Love of a Princess)”
Trance, sampling the Braveheart soundtrack and describing a simplified version of the plot over the top. For those who haven’t seen it, it’s basically how the SNP was formed, with famous anti semite Mel Gibson playing Alex Salmond.
Fool Boona – “Popped”
Get the hell off Iggy Pop you monsters.
Sash! – “Colour the World”
Mainstream dance music is in a poor way in ’99. Much as it is today. Let it die for a few years, I say.
Justin – “Over You”
You haven’t earned single name status. I can think of at least two better Justins. And one for those is Beebles. And Justin Beebles is crap.
Robbie Williams – “Strong”
Damn it. I’m going to have to rethink my position on Robbie. When he’s good, he’s really pretty good, and this song is actually pretty bleak and touching, with some wit behind it.
Lenny Kravitz – “Fly Away”
His best song in the best part of a decade. It’s not Are You Gonna Go My Way, but it’s diverting and funky.
Fatboy Slim – “Praise You”
And yet another great single. Even better, the Spike Jonze directed video beats YouTube by 6 years to the stupid, single camera prank.
Armand Van Helden featuring Duane Harden – “You Don’t Know Me”
Unlike a lot of his prodigious output, here’s one that deserves it’s reputation as a classic. Defiant and BIG.
Mr. Oizo – “Flat Beat”
If you told me one of the best songs of ’99 was essentially a farting, buzzing noise over a house beat, I’d have called you cray. But best it is.
The Cardigans – “Erase/Rewind”
Atmospheric backing, but it only serves to hide a fairly dull song beneath.
Stereophonics – “Just Looking”
Lovely little simple number. Sadly, they only ever had two albums in them, and this is from the second. It’s a bit of a downward trajectory from here.
The All Seeing I featuring Tony Christie – “Walk Like a Panther”
Firstly, they beat Peter Kay to the Tony Christie revival by YEARS. Secondly, this is a fantastically bitter and fun record.
The Divine Comedy – “National Express”
Once again proving they are one of the funniest bands around, along with being great songwriters. This lovely paean to all that is great about being British is an underrated gem of a song.
Terrorvision – “Tequila” (Mint Royale Shot)
Compared to their prior singles, an embarrassing novelty song, but on its own merits, it’s fun enough, and gets the music to stupidity ratio about right.
The Beautiful South – “How Long’s a Tear Take to Dry?”
Despite slide guitar and Hammond organ, it’s one of their least lovable songs.
Roxette – “Wish I Could Fly”
Again, atmospheric, but fairly empty. Honestly, I thought Roxette had disappeared about 20 Now albums ago!
911 – “A Little Bit More”
Okay… I know it’s a cover, and it’s not very good, but I like it more than their other efforts, for reasons I cannot understand.
Dru Hill – “These Are the Times”
The platonic ideal of what 90’s R&B is supposed to sound like. What a cheesy playa would put on as he dims the lights over his leopard print couch.
Kele Le Roc – “My Love”
Slow Jamz corner continues. Simple and it works, but not world changing or anything.
All Saints – “War of Nerves”
Just plain gets on mine. Inexcusably weak after some good singles.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo – “Inkanyezi Nezazi (The Star and the Wiseman)”
Never question Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Love it. I think it’s on here because it was on a baked bean advert.
Blur – “Tender”
How many bands could take inspiration from an F Scott Fitzgerald story and match it for emotional impact? Also, I was lucky enough to feature on a live version of this, a few years ago. See if you can pick out my voice from the 20,000 or so backing singers!
Dusty Springfield – “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me”
Makes Tender look part time. One of the single most staggeringly heartbreaking, beatific songs ever composed. When she belts out, ‘Believe me’ towards the end it’s like having your soul torn in two.
21 out of 40, or 53%. I think this is a transition era, just waiting for the hip hop explosion of 2000/2001 to move on from 90’s sounds that are starting to become a little long in the tooth.
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.