Monday, 18 November 2013

The Best Of 1998 - part 4

JUMP TO: 100-76 II 75-51 II 50-26 II 25-1

Pop was back in a big way in 1998 - and I couldn't have been happier. My annual countdowns in recent years had been filled with faceless house acts, superstar DJs and one-album-wonder Eurodance artists, which was fine up to a point. But, in the wake of Spice Girls' success, it was nice to have a bit of personality back in the charts and, you know, artists whose names and faces you recognised.

Steps managed to turn a novelty debut into an enduring pop career

In the rest of this countdown, I've been banging on about my time in Europe in 1998. One other upside to being out of Australia was that I was spared from songs like "Iris" by Goo Goo Dolls, "Time Of Your Life" by Green Day and The Living End's breakthrough EP, "Second Solution/Prisoner Of Society", which were all among the year's best sellers here. Other massive hits that did follow me around Europe include songs by Shania Twain, Celine Dion, Pras Michel and The Offspring. Thank goodness there was enough pop to drown all that out.

Number 25 "If You Could Read My Mind" by Stars on 54: Amber, Ultra Naté, Jocelyn Enriquez
Two decades after Studio 54 was the hottest night spot in New York, the film 54 told the story of the club through the eyes of a young bartender played by Razzie Award nominee Ryan Phillippe. Unlike the previous year's Boogie Nights, which had also delved into the excess of the era, 54 wasn't that great - but it did offer up this all-star collaboration from its soundtrack.
Well, "all-star" might be a bit of a stretch since none of the three dance singers were that famous outside the club scene. Sure, Amber and Ultra had managed a couple of hits - including "One More Night" (number 46 on this list) and "Found A Cure" (number 35) respectively - but this collaboration was very much about the strength of the song.
Originally released in 1970 by Gordon Lightfoot, "If You Could Read My Mind" started life as a folk ballad but in 1980 it was transformed into a disco hit by Viola Wills - and it's from that version that this cover takes its cues.

Number 24 "Pray" by Tina Cousins
We saw her back in Part 3 guesting on the Sash! single "Mysterious Times", and that was just the exposure struggling pop/dance singer Tina needed to spur her career into life. Her first two singles, "Angel" and "Killin' Time", had been flops but "Pray" finally gave her a top 20 solo hit in the UK - and would also go on to be even bigger in Australia the following year.

Number 23 "I Wanna Love You" by Solid HarmoniE
Mentioned below

Number 22 "Life Is A Flower" by Ace Of Base
Only a music act with English as a second language could come up with a title like this - but while most of the English-speaking world was fine with Ace Of Base's quaint choice of title and lyrics, not so the States, where "Life Is A Flower" became "Whenever You're Near Me". Interestingly, the original version of the track was another big hit for them in Europe but the meddled-with version didn't even break into the US top 70 - so make of that what you will.

Number 21 "I Want You To Want Me" by Solid HarmoniE
The second of four fantastic singles from the overlooked British girl group was, like the other three tracks, written and produced by increasingly in-demand Swedish pop maestro Max Martin. My favourite of the bunch was breakthrough hit "I'll Be There For You" (number 3 on this list), but this follow-up, as well as "I Wanna Love You" (number 23) and "To Love Once Again" (number 42), were all deserving of much more success.

Number 20 "Until The Time Is Through" by Five
Yep, despite better-known tracks like "When The Lights Go Out" (number 40 on this list), "Everybody Get Up" (number 114) and "Got The Feelin'" (number 149) all being released in 1998, it was this Christmas-time ballad that ended up as my favourite Five track for the year - no doubt because of the involvement, once again, of a certain Max Martin. The Swedish hit-maker was also one of the co-writers of "It's The Things You Do" (number 45), a single released from Five's debut album in America, although not back home in the UK. As I mentioned at the start, personality was starting to find its way back into pop music - and no boy band had more personality than Five. In the end, their rambunctious ways would end up being their undoing, but, for now, being the most unpredictable boy band on the block was working for them.

Number 19 "This Is How We Party" by S.O.A.P.
The duo of Malaysian-born, Danish-based sisters Heidi and Saseline Sørensen had a big hit on mainland Europe (which is where I heard it) with this, their debut single. And, despite not having similar success with it in the UK, the song did go top 10 in Australia. I'm sure the letters in the band name stand for something, but, despite owning a copy of their album (which, from memory, I bought in Switzerland), I'm none the wiser to what that could be.

Number 18 "Jackie" by B.Z. featuring Joanne
When I visited Australia for two weeks in 1999, this song - which had been a massive hit after being released at the end of 1998 - was played everywhere. The chart champion of two rival versions, this featured the vocals of Joanne Accom and sampled a previous version by Blue Zone (a British group featuring Lisa Stansfield) - thus the credit to B.Z.
The alternate version was by Australian dance group Redzone, but while Joanne's take on the track reached number 3, Redzone could only manage a number 37 peak. The two covers aren't wildly different, but I think the B.Z. version was the deserving winner of the chart battle.
The song dates back even further than 1988, which was when Blue Zone released it. It was originally recorded by Elisa Fiorillo (of "On The Way Up" fame) in 1987 for the soundtrack to the Mark Harmon film Summer School. Final fact: "Jackie" was written by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly, the songwriters of mega-hits "Eternal Flame", "Like A Virgin", "Alone" and "True Colors".

Number 17 "When You're Gone" by Bryan Adams / Melanie C
She wasn't the first Spice Girl to release something away from the group - that achievement went to Melanie B, whose collaboration with Missy Elliott, "I Want You Back", hit number 1 in the UK and remains the only good solo record she's released. Despite Geri Halliwell's departure from the group earlier in 1998, it was Mel C who struck out on her own next. Well, not quite on her own, since Mel duetted with Canadian rocker Bryan Adams on this song, which was unavoidable on music TV that Christmas. So ubiquitous was "When You're Gone" that holiday season that it became "our song" for my boyfriend and me - I even bought him the CD single as a Christmas present. It kind of started as a joke but, 15 years later, it's stuck and those opening chords still bring a smile to our faces.

Number 16 "Crush" by Jennifer Paige
One-hit wonder time! A massive hit during the (European) summer of 1998, "Crush" was the debut single by the American singer, whose real surname is Scoggins (Paige is her middle name). A chart-topper in Australia, "Crush" was unlucky enough to spend several weeks stuck at number 3 in the US, while Jennifer, like so many other singers with huge debut releases, was unfortunate enough to never again enter the US, UK or Australian top 40.

Number 15 "Tearin' Up My Heart" by *NSYNC
Every boy band needs a chart rival and *NSYNC were kind of like the Boyzone to Backstreet Boys' Take That. But, the similarities between the two groups were much stronger. Hailing from the same city as BSB, managed by the same man, working with the same writers and producers, and breaking in the same country (Germany) before anywhere else in the world, *NSYNC (or 'N Sync, as their name was initially styled) were pretty much BSB Mk II.
Still, there was more than enough teenage girl fandom to go around and Justin, JC, Lance, Chris and Joey quickly carved out their own place in the charts with songs like this and debut hit "I Want You Back" (number 12 on this list). Well, I say "quickly" but "I Want You Back" was actually first released in Germany back in October '96 and "Tearin'..." in February '97, but it took until 1998 for the rest of the world to catch on.

Number 14 "Eurodisco" by Bis
One of only two releases by the Scottish trio to breach the UK top 40, "Eurodisco" is indie pop at its best. Darlings of the alternative scene, Bis were the right mix of perky and electro-punky to be massive, but always existed a bit more under the radar, probably to the delight of fans who no doubt would have accused them of selling out if they'd ever gotten any bigger. 

Number 13 "Goodbye" by Spice Girls
Mentioned below

Number 12 "I Want You Back" by *NSYNC
Mentioned above and previously featured here

Number 11 "C'est La Vie" by B*Witched
Mentioned in Part 2 and previously featured here

Number 10 "Stop" by Spice Girls
No one can sustain an unbroken run of number 1 singles forever - and Spice Girls' downfall came with this third release from the Spiceworld album, which, by only reaching number 2 in the UK, was the only single from the group's original era not to reach the top.
Obviously, 2007 comeback single "Headlines (Friendship Never Ends)" did even worse by not even reaching the UK top 10, but the less said about that track the better. Personally, I liked "Stop" - with its cheesy dance routine and Motown sound, it appealed more to me than the ballads released either side of it ("Too Much" and "Viva Forever").
One ballad I did like from the group was their first post-Geri single, "Goodbye" (number 13 on this list), which became their third UK Christmas number 1 in a row. It was the first time I was in the UK for the all-important race for the festive chart-topper, and I like to feel that I contributed something by buying the cassette single of "Goodbye" when the store I worked for sent me to Virgin to buy some Christmas music.

Number 9 "Frozen" by Madonna
Previously featured here

Number 8 "The Right Time" by Ultra
The only song on this list that I bought while in Turkey was by one of my favourite new groups from 1998. Not strictly speaking a boy band (since they played instruments), Ultra were clearly marketed at the teenage audience, and had a cute lead singer and catchy tunes to complete the pop package. Never as big as I thought they should have been, the four-piece managed to land hits - especially with "Say It Once" (number 38 on this list) - as far afield as Australia and South-East Asia, but were dropped by their label after one album. "The Right Time" was actually their least successful single, but my second favourite after debut hit "Say You Do" (number 4).

Number 7 "One For Sorrow" by Steps
Mentioned below

Number 6 "Feel It" The Tamperer featuring Maya
It was genius really - taking the instrumental hook from The Jacksons' "Can You Feel It" and lines from club hit "Drop A House" by Urban Discharge about causing real estate to fall on "that bitch", this debut single about a cheating partner was destined for big things. American vocalist Maya Days fronted the track (and even dressed as Dorothy in a memorable Top Of The Pops performance) while The Tamperer were a bunch of Italian producers, including Mario Fargetta, who we last saw on my 1993 countdown with "The Music Is Movin'".

Number 5 "High" by Lighthouse Family
Yes, their music might be pretty safe and, to some ears, boring - but there's no denying Lighthouse Family had some undeniably catchy songs. In fact, whenever my mother hears this song she tells me she remembers me singing along to it in my bedroom at the top of my voice. "High" was easily their biggest hit, reaching number 4 in the UK (their equal highest position) and going all the way to number 1 in Australia. Surprisingly, the follow-up, "Lost In Space" (number 37 on this list), didn't even chart in Australia and they were pretty much never heard from again here.

Number 4 "Say You Do" by Ultra
Mentioned above and previously featured here

Number 3 "I'll Be There For You" by Solid HarmoniE
Mentioned above and previously featured here

Number 2 "Heartbeat / Tragedy" by Steps
Mentioned below

Number 1 "Last Thing On My Mind" by Steps
I would never have guessed at the start of 1998 that the act that'd end up dominating my list of favourite songs for the year would be the five-piece group behind "5,6,7,8". I was not a fan of the line-dancing song at all, but little did I know Steps would not be a one-off novelty act.
My first clue came when I interviewed group member Claire Richards early in the year. At the time, I'd started writing reviews and interviews for street press dance music newspaper 3D World - I handled the commercial dance and pop stuff - and I was writing a story about Steps' success with "5,6,7,8". During my interview, Claire told me the group were working with Pete Waterman and would release a cover of Bananarama's long-forgotten 1992 single "Last Thing On My Mind".
As big a fan of Bananarama as I am, I'd never really liked "Last Thing On My Mind". The ABBA-lite production didn't really suit the group and the song just lacked life. But, when I heard Steps' "ABBA on speed" version, I was hooked. Everything that was wrong with the original had been remedied (the girls had better voices, the song had life) and it was the start of a string of near faultless pop classics by Steps, including the songs at number 2 and number 7 on this list.

My top 200 for 1998 in full:

1        LAST THING ON MY MIND Steps
2        HEARTBEAT / TRAGEDY Steps
3        I'LL BE THERE FOR YOU Solid HarmoniE
4        SAY YOU DO Ultra
5        HIGH Lighthouse Family
6        FEEL IT Tamperer featuring Maya
7        ONE FOR SORROW Steps
8        THE RIGHT TIME Ultra
9        FROZEN / REMIX Madonna
10      STOP Spice Girls
11      C'EST LA VIE B*Witched
12      I WANT YOU BACK 'NSync
13      GOODBYE Spice Girls
14      EURODISCO Bis
15      TEARIN' UP MY HEART 'NSync
16      CRUSH Jennifer Paige
17      WHEN YOU'RE GONE Bryan Adams / Melanie C
18      JACKIE B.Z. featuring Joanne
21      I WANT YOU TO WANT ME Solid HarmoniE
22      LIFE IS A FLOWER Ace Of Base
23      I WANNA LOVE YOU Solid HarmoniE
24      PRAY Tina Cousins
25      IF YOU COULD READ MY MIND Stars on 54: Amber, Ultra Nate, Jocelyn Enriquez
26      RESTLESS Neja
27      BELIEVE Cher
28      MOVE MANIA Sash! featuring Shannon
29      SEXY RHYTHM Mario Piu
30      MYSTERIOUS TIMES Sash! featuring Tina Cousins
31      TAKE CONTROL State Of Mind
32      HORNY 98 Mousse T vs Hot 'n' Juicy
33      HERE'S WHERE THE STORY ENDS Tin Tin Out featuring Shelley Nelson
34      SENSUALITY Lovestation
35      FOUND A CURE Ultra Nate
37      LOST IN SPACE Lighthouse Family
38      SAY IT ONCE Ultra
39      END OF THE LINE Honeyz
41      LITTLE BIT OF LOVIN' Kele Le Roc
42      TO LOVE ONCE AGAIN Solid HarmoniE
43      I CAN'T HELP MYSELF Lucid
44      YOU'RE MY HEART, YOU'RE MY SOUL 98 Modern Talking
45      IT'S THE THINGS YOU DO Five                           
46      ONE MORE NIGHT (REMIX) Amber
47      DREAMING Ruff Driverz presents Arrola
48      GOTTA BE...MOVIN' ON UP PM Dawn featuring Ky-Mani
49      MY ALL (DAVID MORALES MIX) Mariah Carey
51      THE STORY OF LOVE OTT                                 
52      STRANDED Lutricia McNeal
53      ALL MY LIFE K-Ci & Jo Jo                                  
54      ROLLERCOASTER B*Witched
55      NO MATTER WHAT Boyzone
56      OUTSIDE George Michael
57      ALL THAT MATTERS Louise                                
58      NAKED IN THE RAIN 98 Blue Pearl                                  
59      ONLY WHEN I LOSE MYSELF Depeche Mode
60      EVERY TIME Janet Jackson
61      THE POWER OF GOODBYE Madonna
62      SOMEDAY I'LL FIND YOU Shola Ama & Craig Armstrong / I’VE BEEN TO A MARVELOUS PARTY Divine Comedy
63      THE SEA Morcheeba
64      MADE IN VAIN Peach
65      SAVE TONIGHT Eagle-Eye Cherry
66      TALKING WITH MYSELF 98 Electribe 101
67      NEEDIN' U David Morales presents The Face                               
69      LA Marc et Claude
70      BE ALONE NO MORE Another Level featuring Jay-Z
71      REWIND Celetia
72      IF YOU WANT ME Hinda Hicks
73      I GET LONELY (TNT MIX featuring Blackstreet)  / JASON NEVINS MIX Janet Jackson
74      BEEN A LONG TIME The Fog
75      THIS IS IT State Of Mind  
76      UH LA LA LA Alexia
77      LOVE IS ALIVE 3rd Party                        
78      TEARDROPS Lovestation
79      ALL I NEED Air
80      MY FAVOURITE GAME The Cardigans
81      A LITTLE BIT Pandora
83      NO TEARS TO CRY Whigfield
84      I PUT A SPELL ON YOU Sonique
85      SUPERSTAR Novy vs Eniac
87      NOBODY BETTER Tina Moore
88      LOOKING FOR LOVE Karen Ramirez
89      I THINK I'M PARANOID Garbage
91      RIDIN' HIGH Tracy Shaw
92      REAL GOOD TIME Alda
93      YOU'RE THE ONE FOR ME Preluxe featuring Clive Griffin
94      THE WORD IS LOVE (SAY THE WORD) Voices Of Life
95      SHE WANTS YOU Billie
96      ONE, TWO, THREE / LIVIN' FOR THE WEEKEND 98 Dina Carroll
97      DREAMS (TODD TERRY MIX) The Corrs
98      RAY OF LIGHT Madonna
99      LOVER Rachel McFarlane
100    FOR AN ANGEL Paul van Dyk
102    THE SILENCE Mike Koglin
103    CAFE DEL MAR 98 Energy 52
105    PASH / REMIX Kate Ceberano
106    BREATHE / SASH! REMIX Kylie Minogue
107    BLINDFOLD Morcheeba
108    WHEN YOU BELIEVE Whitney Houston / Mariah Carey
109    TEARDROP Massive Attack
110    DRIVE ME CRAZY Smash 'n' Grab                                  
112    PUSH IT Garbage
114    LOVE IS ALIVE Kate Ceberano
115    NEW KIND OF MEDICINE Ultra Nate
116    LET ME ENTERTAIN YOU Robbie Williams
118    ADDICTED TO BASS Josh Abrahams & Amiel Daemion
119    DEEPER LOVE Ruff Driverz
120    SO YOUNG (K-KLASS REMIX) The Corrs
121    ANGEL STREET M-People
122    THE MUSIC I LIKE Alexia
123    DISREMEMBRANCE Dannii Minogue
124    ALL THE MAN THAT I NEED Shernette May
126    SOMETIMES Tin Tin Out featuring Shelley Nelson
127    JOY Deni Hines
128    ALL THAT I NEED Boyzone
129    MORE THAN A WOMAN 911
131    GIVIN' ALL MY LOVE Whigfield
132    LIFE AIN'T EASY Cleopatra
133    BAMBOOGIE Bamboo
134    CRUEL SUMMER / REMIX Ace Of Base / with Alliage
135    SPECIAL Garbage
136    LOVESHY / TUFF JAM MIX Kristine Blond
137    GO DEEP Janet Jackson
138    THE FUTURE OF THE FUTURE (STAY GOLD) Deep Dish with Everything But The Girl
139    BRIMFUL OF ASHA (REMIX) Cornershop
141    MILLENIUM Robbie Williams
142    EACH TIME E-17
143    TESTIFY M-People
145    READ MY MIND Conner Reeves
146    THE BAD PHOTOGRAPHER Saint Etienne
147    ALL I HAVE TO GIVE Backstreet Boys
148    I HAD NO RIGHT PM Dawn
149    SEXY BOY Air
150    GOD IS A DJ Faithless
151    SUNDANCE 98 Sundance
152    ROCK WITH YOU D’Influence
153    RHYTHM OF THE NIGHT Powerhouse
154    HUMAN BEINGS Seal
155    PART OF THE PROCESS Morcheeba
156    GOT THE FEELIN' Five
157    FINALLY FOUND Honeyz
158    POSTCARD FROM HEAVEN Lighthouse Family
159    WHAT CAN I DO (REMIX) The Corrs
160    SO INTO YOU Tamia
161    I WANT YOU BACK Cleopatra
162    JE SERAI LA Worlds Apart
163    TO YOU I BELONG B*Witched
164    LET ME SEE Morcheeba
165    WAR OF NERVES (REMIX) All Saints
166    YOU MAKE ME FEEL (MIGHTY REAL) Byron Stingily
167    GIMME LOVE Alexia
168    CLEOPATRA'S THEME Cleopatra
169    QUESTION OF FAITH Lighthouse Family
170    I.O.U. Dr Jane
171    DEEPER UNDERGROUND Jamiroquai
172    SO GOOD Juliet Roberts
173    READY FOR A NEW DAY Todd Terry
174    WOULD YOU... Touch & Go
175    DELICIOUS Deni Hines / Don-E
177    BIG MISTAKE Natalie Imbruglia
178    LOVE LIKE THIS Faith Evans
180    TOUCH IT Monifah
181    I BELONG TO YOU Lenny Kravitz
182    SHOUT TO THE TOP Fire Island featuring Loleatta Holloway
183    VIVA FOREVER Spice Girls
184    TOO CLOSE Next
185    THE BOY IS MINE Brandy & Monica
186    THE HEART’S LONE DESIRE Matthew Marsden
187    BURNING Baby Bumps
188    MUSIC MAKES YOU LOSE CONTROL Les Rythmes Digitales
190    COWBOY STYLE Kylie Minogue
191    HONEY Moby
193    WISHING I WAS THERE Natalie Imbruglia
194    NO FOOL NO MORE En Vogue
195    SHORTY (YOU KEEP PLAYIN’ WITH MY MIND) Imajin featuring Keith Murray
196    THE FIRST NIGHT Monica
197    UP AND DOWN Vengaboys
198    SWING MY WAY KP & Envyi
199    CRUEL Human Nature
200    YOU DON'T HAVE TO WORRY Family Stand

So, that just leaves 1999 for the decade and I'll get to that before the year is out. As usual, I'll recap the ARIA chart from 25 years ago this Wednesday. Until then...

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Friday, 15 November 2013

The Best Of 1998 - part 3

JUMP TO: 100-76 II 75-51 II 50-26 II 25-1

In Parts 1 and 2 of my countdown of my favourite songs from 1998, I talked about my backpacking holiday through Europe - and in this batch of my favourite singles from that year, you can really see the impact of spending time "on the continent".

Before she became a professional farewell-er,
Cher staged one of music's all-time biggest comebacks

Normally, unless a song released in Europe broke through onto the Australian, UK or US charts, I wouldn't become aware of it. After all, there were only so many international charts one can follow. Also, although the internet was around, YouTube, Soundcloud, iTunes and all the other ways to easily discover music from other countries were not. So, as we count down from number 50 to number 26, brace yourselves for unexpected Euro delights... 

Number 50 "Te Garder Pres De Moi (Working My Way Back To You)" Alliage / Boyzone
What better place to start than with this international boy band bonanza? It wasn't just the UK that was going boy band crazy in the late '90s. France had their fair share, too - including the revamped Worlds Apart (who we've seen in my countdowns for the previous two years), 2 Be 3 (who recorded a French version of "Never Gonna Give You Up" called  "Toujours là pour toi") and Alliage.
This duet with more established Irish hitmakers Boyzone was a bilingual cover of "Working My Way Back To You", originally recorded by The Four Seasons and remade as part of a medley by The Spinners (as featured on my 1980 countdown). Boyzone were already quite familiar with the tune, it having been their debut single back in 1994, and the collaboration helped their profile in France, where they'd only had middling success until this point.
Meanwhile, the song was Alliage's fourth consecutive top 5 hit in France - and they'd also collaborate with Ace Of Base in 1998 on an alternative version of the Swedish group's remake of "Cruel Summer". I heard both duets while in France - and bought the French version of Boyzone's Where We Belong album to get this track (I wasn't as keen on the Bananarama cover).
Boyzone, of course, had a massive hit back in Ireland and the UK with the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Jim Steinman composition, "No Matter What" (number 55 on this list), in 1998 - a song that, interestingly, didn't even make the top 40 in France (one of the only countries Boyzone were known where that happened).

Number 49 "My All (David Morales mix)" by Mariah Carey
Back in Part 2, we saw a track by David Morales: dance artist, and here we have one of the many songs the prolific remixer made over for Mariah Carey. Originally, a typically breathy ballad, David transformed the Butterfly track into a club-friendly anthem. Mariah added a few new vocals (as she usually did on uptempo remixes) and the result received the lion's share of airplay in the UK at the time. For me, it was the first year Mariah had featured in one of my annual countdowns since 1994 - and the last time until 2005.

Number 48 "Gotta Be... Movin' On Up" by PM Dawn featuring Ky-Mani
PM Dawn's first appearance since 1996 came thanks to this single from the soundtrack to Senseless, a flop comedy film starring Marlon Wayans, David Spade and Matthew Lillard. Sampling the 1982 Imagination track "Just An Illusion", "Gotta Be... Movin' On Up" was a marked change from the duo's more ethereal singles around that time like "Sometimes I Miss You So Much" and "I Had No Right" (number 153 on this list). The group hadn't lost any of their quirkiness, however, with their 1998 album bearing the typically wordy title, Dearest Christian, I'm So Very Sorry for Bringing You Here. Love, Dad. Featured on "Gotta Be..." was Ky-Mani Marley, one of reggae legend Bob's children.

Number 47 "Dreaming" by Ruff Driverz presents Arrola
The fourth and biggest hit for the UK dance duo comprising Brad Carter and Chris Brown (no, not that one) featured vocals from Katherine Ellis (aka Arrola), who's also performed on tracks by Cappella, Raven Maize and, as recently as this year, Freemasons. Although she'd sung on the previous singles by Ruff Driverz - including "Deeper Love" (number 121 on this list) - Arrola received a credit for the first time on "Dreaming", which she co-wrote.

Number 46 "One More Night" by Amber
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 45 "It's The Things You Do" by Five
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 44 "You're My Heart, You're My Soul 98" by Modern Talking
Back to France now, where everyone was going nuts for this update of the debut single by the German duo, who'd reunited after 11 years apart. Massive on mainland Europe throughout the mid-'80s, Thomas Anders and Dieter Bohlen had only ever scored one hit in the UK (1986's "Brother Louie") - and I had no idea who they were whatsoever. But, after hearing this constantly during my time in France, I snapped up the CD single from that country's equivalent of JB Hi-Fi, fnac.

Number 43 "I Can't Help Myself" by Lucid
Thank goodness for the ever-reliable Now! compilation series. I missed this single's success in the UK while I was sunning myself in Italy, but caught up with it when I bought Now 40 on my return to England. The debut release from the duo of Adam Carter-Ryan and former Loveland member Mark Hadfield, it reminded me a little bit of Faithless tracks like "God Is A DJ" and "Insomnia", just without Maxi Jazz's raps.

Number 42 "To Love Once Again" by Solid HarmoniE
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 41 "Little Bit Of Lovin'" by Kele Le Roc
In Part 2, I mentioned the onslaught of young female R&B singers in the UK in the wake of Shola Ama's success - and here was my favourite of 1998's newbies. Unlike her American contemporaries, who mostly just cooed over a hip-hop beat, Kele's songs had a discernible melody and were more on the pop end of the R&B spectrum. Not surprisingly, Kele was handled by the First Avenue team, who'd been behind other British pop/R&B stars like Michelle Gayle, Eternal and MN8.

Number 40 "When The Lights Go Out" by Five
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 39 "End Of The Line" by Honeyz
Here's another act steered to fame by First Avenue - and, like B*Witched and Five, a group that recently reformed for The Big Reunion. Although, the current line-up of Honeyz is one that never actually existed during their late '90s/early '00s run of hits. On "End Of The Line", their second of five UK top 10 hits, the three-piece girl group consisted of founding members Célena Cherry (the only member to be in every line-up), Heavenli Denton and Naima Belkhiati, who combined pretty harmonies (well, those in the group whose microphones were switched on) with sex appeal thanks to skimpy outfits and men's mags shoots.

Number 38 "Say It Once" by Ultra
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 37 "Lost In Space" by Lighthouse Family
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 36 "Music Sounds Better With You" by Stardust
I needn't have been in France to have heard this song in 1998 - it was everywhere. The house track was the one and only release by Stardust, which was made up of Daft Punk's Thomas Bangalter, Alan Braxe and singer Benjamin Diamond. The song, which sampled a riff from "Fate" by Chaka Khan, came with a video directed by Michel Gondry, who's been behind some of the most memorable clips of the last couple of decades for artists like Bjork, The White Stripes and Massive Attack, to name a few.

Number 35 "Found A Cure" by Ultra Naté
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 34 "Sensuality" by Lovestation
They appeared on my 1995 countdown with a couple of their under-rated vocal house tracks, "Love Come Rescue Me" and "Shine On Me", but in 1998, Lovestation changed tack and tried UK garage on for size. The new sound - and a timely cover of Womack & Womack's "Teardrops" - paid off, and the dance act suddenly found themselves in the UK top 20. "Sensuality" was the follow-up to "Teardrops" (number 78 on this list) and may as well have been by a different group entirely, so little did it sound like the songs that had brought them to my attention three years earlier.

Number 33 "Here's Where The Story Ends" by Tin Tin Out featuring Shelley Nelson
Another UK dance act changing sound in 1998 was the duo of Darren Stokes and Lindsay Edwards, who traded in the thumping beats of "Strings For Yasmin" and "Always Something There To Remind Me" for a pop sound not too dissimilar to that of The Corrs (for whom they'd provided remixes). "Here's Where The Story Ends" was a radio-friendly cover of the 1990 single by indie band The Sundays and, like Lovestation's sound swap, the transformation worked for Tin Tin Out, who went from UK chart also-rans to a top 10 act.

Number 32 "Horny 98" by Mousse T vs Hot 'n' Juicy
Sex sells - and that's nowhere more true than in the world of music. "Horny 98" was actually fairly inoffensive, but the fact that a song about how horny someone was (so horny, as it turned out) charted without anyone batting an eyelid showed how much things had changed in the previous decade. Just over 10 years earlier, George Michael's "I Want Your Sex", which had even less explicit lyrics, was the subject of radio and TV bans. For the record, Mousse T is German DJ/producer Mustafa Gündoğdu, while Hot 'n' Juicy were Birmingham duo Emma Southam and Nadine Richardson.

Number 31 "Take Control" by State Of Mind
By 1998, the vocal house that had proliferated in the middle of the decade started to make way for trance - but production duo State Of Mind proved the genre still had life in it with two great tracks: "Take Control" and "This Is It" (number 75 on this list). Although they only managed two singles in this guise, Fran Sidoli and Ricky Morrison would go on to create more dance classics as Blockster and M&S in the years to follow.

Number 30 "Mysterious Times" by Sash! featuring Tina Cousins
Mentioned below

Number 29 "Sexy Rhythm" by Mario Più
While working in record stores over the years, I'd become used to people approaching the counter and singing a song to me that they didn't know the name of - and then laughing with my co-workers after I'd sold the customer the song in question since the renditions were normally terrible. In 1998, it was my turn to embarrass myself after hearing this track by Italian DJ Mario Più throughout my three weeks in his country and being unable to find a song called "Deep Inside", "Your Love" or any other words that were actually in the lyrics.

Number 28 "Move Mania" by Sash! featuring Shannon
After releasing a trio of hits from debut album It's My Life in 1997, Sash! moved on to album number two, Life Goes On, and landed another three UK top 10 singles. "Move Mania" featuring Shannon (of "Let The Music Play" fame) was actually the least successful of the three, landing at number 8, but was my preference over "Mysterious Times" (number 30 on this list) and "La Primavera" (number 118).

Number 27 "Believe" by Cher
Unlike her 1980s comeback, when she returned after a chart absence of five years, it had only been a couple of years since Cher had last released an album: 1996's It's A Man's World. That did reasonably well in the UK, but it really had been as far back as 1991 that Cher had enjoyed worldwide success. And, global acclaim is exactly what happened with the release of the Autotuned dance anthem "Believe". A number 1 hit in over 20 countries, sales of over 11 million and even a Grammy Award winner, the track put her well and truly back on the pop radar.

Number 26 "Restless" by Neja
We finish off this batch of songs as we began - with an entry I owe to my time in Europe, specifically a tune I heard in Italy. Unike "Sexy Rhythm", though, the title to this track by the singer born Agnes Cacciola was repeated often enough for me to work out what it was called without having to resort to singing at shopkeepers. I did, however, have to resort to using the Google translation tool to turn an Italian Wikipedia entry into English to read up on Neja. Well, kind of English, as this quote proves: "His repertoire ranges from songs of Celtic music to those gospel, even if it was the dance to declare its success, coming to sell about 4 million copies worldwide." OK, then.

In the fourth and final part of my 1998 countdown, the start of my charts being dominated by a carefully choreographed pop group, and a duet that has special meaning to me.

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