Sunday, October 20, 2019

McQ's Best Of 1998 Vol 5 - Mainstream Clubby Shite

Primarily a mainstream disco/R&B mix, plus a few tasty outliers that just seem to fit, Volume 5 here begins our two-mix look at the vast number of mainstream hits that made 1998 such an appealing singles year.

We'll take a listen to the rock side of this equation on Vol 6 - Mainstream Rocking Shite, but for now, lace up your dancing shoes and enjoy!

Here's the Spotify Link!

About The Artists/Albums/Songs Represented On This Mix:

1. Feel It - The Tamperer & Maya: Many songs featured on this mix were born out of the Euro-club scene, but maybe none more so than Italian dance group The Tamperer & Maya's Feel It, from their only album Fabulous. As the story goes, producer/band member Mario Fargetta went vacationing in Ibiza the year prior and realized the club kids went craziest every time The Jackson's Can You Feel It was played, so he and writing partner Alex Farlofi set to work on a loose remix, and recruited American singer Maya Days to deliver it. The resulting single was one of the biggest songs of 1998 across Europe. 

2. Everything Is Everything - Ms. Lauryn Hill: So many strong tunes to choose from on The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill. Going into this mix, I assumed that the two songs I would profile here would come from a pool that included the album's three most popular songs after Doo Wop (That Thing) - Ex-Factor, Nothing Even Matters, To Zion - and/or the great hidden track that closes the record Tell Him.  But in the end, two slightly less heralded tracks  - the more militant Everything Is Everything and the album's most intense cut When It Hurts So Bad - just seemed to gel best with the rest of the material here.

3. Le Mobilier - Rinocersoe: This lead 1998 single from Rinocersoe's 1999 second album Installation Sonore might be my favorite track on this entire mix, and comes to us courtesy of a pair of French dance-rock moonlighters, Jean-Phillippe Free and Patrice Carrie, who have maintained their daytime professions as practicing psychologists throughout their still ongoing musical career.

4. Natacha - Czerkinsky: A quirky little tune in the Serge Gainsbourg tradition from the eponymously titled 1998 solo debut of Algerian-born Frenchman Gregory Czerkinsky.

5. The Boy Is Mine - Brandy & Monica: Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the top selling US single of 1998, which may be the only song in history to be the featured lead single from two separate albums by two separate acts, as it was for both Brandy's 1998 album Never Say Never and Monica's 1998 album The Boy Is Mine. Written as a conceptual gender reversal of Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney's 1982 duet The Girl Is Mine, The Boy Is Mine also went on to win the 1999 Grammy for Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group.

6. Frank Sinatra - Miss Kittin & The Hacker: Almost didn't included this song as its aggressively crude lyrics felt so jarring when set against the lyrically safe mainstream numbers that surround it, but to many this is the definitive anthem of the late 90s electroclash scene, which aimed to break-up the vanilla monotony of much of the era's synth pop and techno music by infusing it with a heavy dose of songwriting structure, performance art, and dead pan humor. It originally appeared on the French duo's 1998 EP Champagne, and then later on their 2001 debut full length First Album.

7. Music Sounds Better With You - Stardust: So all year long, I've been asking myself, how the hell is Music Sounds Better With You, the only song ever recorded by the French trio Stardust, presently considered the very best song released in 1998, at least as laid out by critical aggregator I'm mean, it's a sweet dance floor jam, but there's so many 1998 songs that are so much better (just on this mix alone, I would take Le Mobilier, This Boy Is Mine, Matrimony, Machistador, No Regrets, When It Hurts So Bad, A Trip Into Space, and Ceigo, Sordomuda over Music Sounds Better in a heartbeat). But then, with a little research, came my aha moment! One third of Stardust was Thomas Bangalter of the perennially overrated Daft Punk, so blame the residual robot effect for the critical-overvaluing of this otherwise enjoyable '98 disco hit.

8. Matrimony: MaybeYou - Maxwell: From a famous song I like but have issues with to a slightly lesser known number I flat-out love, this track from former Brooklyn pizza delivery boy and neo-soul pioneer Maxwell's third full-length Embrya might be the smoothest booty-call track of 1998. 

9. ...Baby One More Time - Britney Spears: One of the best selling singles in history (over ten million individual copies), Britney Spears' debut single, which would later appear on her 1999 debut album of the same name, was released when she was just sixteen years old.

10. Machistador - -M-: I know next to nothing about this still active French artist other than I really enjoy this funky 1998 single that originally appeared on his 1997 debut album La Bapteme.

11. The First Night - Monica: Released as The Boy Is Mine the album's second single in the summer of 1998 after the earlier smash success of the Brandy-collaboration title track, Monica's "do-I-or-don't-I-pondering" The First Night did almost as well, also hitting number one in the weeklies, and ending the year as the #18 best selling song on the Billboard Hot 100. 

12. Sexy Boy - Air: We've already said a bunch about Air's fantastic 1998 electro-pop album Moon Safari in the write-ups for our 1998 Best Of The Best and Trip-Hoppin' To Those Big Beats mixes, but I also wanted to highlight the album's more playful disco side, so the slightly heavier-hitting Sexy Boy just barley wins out over the equally appealing Kelly Watch The Stars as representative of that facet of the album here .

13. Outside - George Michael: Outside, the lead original single for his greatest hits collection Ladies And Gentleman: The Best Of George Michael, was George Michael's first new song following his arrest in Will Rodgers Memorial Park for engaging in a lewd act in public, and the forced coming out that followed. As the song's title suggests, it's a direct response to those events, but more importantly, the song also signaled a return by Michael to his signature livelier, funkier sound following a couple years pursuing a heavier, downbeat musical direction that had been turning off his fans in droves.

14. It's Not Right But It's Okay - Whitney Houston: Despite being a huge club hit in 1998, most of the critical attention for this lead single from Whitney's fourth full-length My Love Is Your Love focused on how specifically it should be interpreted as dialogue between Whitney and her own rumored-to-be-philandering husband Bobby Brown.

15. Beat Goes On - The All Seeing I: The 1967 Sonny & Cher standard got a surprise reworking in 1998 with this hit UK cover single by British electronic act The All Seeing I.

16. I Am The Sub-Librarian - Piano Magic: Doubt this 1998 lead ambient-pop single from London's long-running Glenn Johnson-led art-rock collective Piano Magic's 1999 album Low Birth Weight was much of a fixture in clubs back in the day, but it just seemed to fit with the other tunes in this mix.  

17. King Of My Castle - Wamdue Project: Originally recorded in 1997 by New York producer Chris Brann under his Wamdue project alias, the song took off in clubs in 1998 when Roy Malone crafted a remixed version for his album Program Yourself

18. Love Like This - Faith Evans: Produced by Sean "Puffy" Combs and built around a Chic sample, this lead single from Faith Evens' sophomore effort Keep The Faith was one of the biggest hits of her career and a nominee for Best Female R&B Performance at the 1999 Grammies. 

19. Daydream In Blue - I Monster: Strange evolution for this well-known reworking of The Wallace Collection's Daydream, Daydream In Blue first appeared on the band's 1998 debut These Are Our Children, but due to complications that sprung from I Monster member Dean Honer also being a part of The All Seeing I (see #15 on this mix), wasn't released as a single proper until 2001. 

20. No Regrets - Robbie Williams: I've always loved this Robbie Williams breakup song of another nature, in which he tries to make peace with his decision to leave his previous band Take That. The second single off of his 1998 album I've Been Expecting You, it features allstar backing vocals from the Pet Shop Boys' Neil Tennant and The Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon, and went on to reach number 5 on the UK charts. 

21. A Rose Is Still A Rose - Aretha Franklin: Written and produced by Lauryn Hill for Franklin for Aretha's 1998 album of the same name, and profiled in a popular music video that was production designed by our own Nancy's amazing lifelong friend Ron Norsworthy, A Rose Is Still A Rose became a surprise hit for the Aretha forty-plus years into her career

22. Music Makes You Lose Control - Les Rythmes Digitales: A minor club hit, Music Makes You Lose Control was the second lead single for Les Rythmes Digitales' (one of the many aliases for renowned, multiple grammy winning DJ/Producer Stuart Price) 1999 album Darkdancer.

23. When It Hurts So Bad - Ms. Lauryn Hill: Our final inclusion from The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill has always been, for me,  the album's most emotionally potent song

24. a trip into space - Spearmint: Just love this ebullient early number from London indie poppers Spearmint. The title track to their 1998 7" EP, it was later included on their 1999 album A Week Away as well. 

25. Believe - Cher: One of the most successful singles of all time, selling in excess of 11 million copies, the title track from Cher's 22nd album Believe was also the first hit song to ever feature the use of autotune to dramatically pitch-alter vocals. So the next time you hear some second-rate contemporary-pop, indie, hip hop or R&B track that obnoxiously overuses the effect, blame Cher.

26. Ciega, Sordomuda - Shakira: How did I miss this one when it first came out? It's such a great freakin' pop song!!! In many ways the song that broke Shakira in the US, this lead single from her fourth album Donde Estan Las Ladrones was her first to hit number one on Billboard's US Hot Latin Charts, and was a monster hit across all of Latin and South America as well, reaching #1 in every non-island Western Hemisphere country south of the Rio Grande. Translating into English as "blind, deaf, dumb" the song conveys the disoriented physical excitement Shakira feels whenever her boyfriend draws near, but I gotta admit, that same description applies to me this year whenever I hear this song, making it my natural closer for this 1998 Mainstream Clubby Shite mix. 

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