Name: Adam Bernard Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States About Me: Entertainment journalist with 20 years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, and B-movies. Part time ninja. Kicked cancer’s ass. My memoir, ChemBro, is out now!
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Welcome to your weekly dose of pop world musings. Covering all things pop culture, this week I’m hopping into my time machine again, this time setting the coordinates for 21 years ago this week.
In September of ’98 I was entering my Junior year of college, so the passage of time may not be the only reason my memories are a bit hazy, but stepping out of my time machine I hear ... well, actually, I hear a little bit of everything.
Aerosmith was at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 with “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” arguably the least essential of their plethora of hits (and I love Aerosmith). People were hyped about the movie it was from, Armageddon, propelling the song to the top of the charts.
Thankfully, there were plenty of other songs in heavy rotation, so let’s get into this exploration of chart history! Of course, since this is Pop Shots, you know everything is seasoned with a little bit of attitude.
3. Jennifer Paige – Crush
With a wonderfully addictive chorus, “Crush” has stayed in our heads, and on various in-store playlists, for the past 21 years.
This was one of the last pop hits before the Britney Spears / Max Martin era began, with “…Baby One More Time” being released just one month after “Crush” had ascended into the Top 5.
This changing of the guard in the fall of 1998 brought about a noticeable shift in pop music.
FYI – I interviewed Jennifer Paige a few years ago, and you can check out that Q&A here.
5. Brandy and Monica – The Boy Is Mine
An R&B collaboration for the ages, listening to two young women fight over a guy has never sounded so good.
With a bouncy beat provided by Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins, and a phenomenal music video, “The Boy Is Mine” has stood the test of time.
I still own the cassingle, and I know I’m not the only one!
Fun Fact – Monica also had the #2 song on this chart, with “The First Night.”
7. Edwin McCain – I’ll Be
If Edwin McCain’s “I’ll Be” didn’t play at your wedding did you even really get married?
No. The answer is no.
Even if you exchanged vows before this song came out, you’re required to go back in time and put it in your wedding playlist. Hey, I don’t make the rules!
8. Tatyana Ali ft. Lord Tariq & Peter Gunz – Daydreamin’
Tatyana Ali was hot off the success of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Lord Tariq & Peter Gunz had one of the biggest hits of the year with “Deja Vu (Uptown Baby),” so the trio joined forces for “Daydreamin’,” which happens to use the same sample used for “Deja Vu.”
The song was a success, eventually reaching #6, and helping Ali’s Kiss the Sky album achieve gold status.
Not surprisingly, I am one of the people who own the album (and one of these days I’m gonna get that CD autographed).
9. Next – Too Close
If you thought, “In the year 1998 there’s no way there could’ve been a hit song about getting an erection on the dance floor,” you would be wrong!
With lyrics that had all the subtlety of a late night Skinemax flick, “Too Close” has become an unlikely classic. It has a place of honor on numerous Throwback Thursday playlists, as well as in our hearts … and pants.
30. Beastie Boys – Intergalactic
There’s a reason the Beastie Boys are legends. Actually, there are LOTS of reasons why the Beastie Boys are legends. The fact that they could pull off making a song like “Intergalactic,” which sounded like nothing else in music at the time, and make it a gigantic hit … did we ever consider the trio might actually be from another dimension?
Side Note – On a really nice day recently I had all my windows down, and this song playing loudly when I was at a stoplight next to a Mexican restaurant that has outdoor seating. I can’t speak for the people who were there, but Beastie Boys and burritos is my kinda combo!
33. Big Pun ft. Joe – Still Not A Player
Had Big Pun not passed away at such a young age (28), he’d probably have ended up being considered one of the greatest rappers of all-time. The fact that some of us still put him on those lists despite him having a limited catalogue says a lot about his skills, and the level of respect he earned.
“Still Not a Player” came out during the heyday of rappers and R&B artists collaborating, and you’d be hard pressed to find a better example of such efforts. Pun and Joe worked perfectly together, complimenting each other’s styles, and creating something that sounded like it was always meant to be.
60. Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star – Definition
In 1998, Mos Def and Talib Kweli, as well as the label they were on, Rawkus Records, were about to take the hip-hop world by storm. “Definition” put everyone involved on the map, including producer Hi-Tek (who was my first artist interview ever, way back in 2001!).
It was truly remarkable that in an era before streaming an underground hip-hop duo could find their way onto the Billboard Hot 100, and while this song peaked at #60, just making it that high was a sign that there was a fairly decent sized contingent of hip-hop fans that weren’t interested in the shiny suit era a certain label CEO was proselytizing.
For a lot of hip-hop fans, “Definition” was also the starting point for digging into underground hip-hop, and finding, and founding, some of the original hip-hop websites.
And with that, my time is up for the week, but I'll be back next week with more shots on all things pop.