I was only 12 years old in 1998, but a lot has happened in the two decades since. Think about it – the quickest access to new music was still radio, we wanted to take y’all through some of the hot tracks that were pumping out of our stereo two decades ago. Brace yourself – this list is about to make you feel old AF. So bust out your Airwalks and ... Jnco's (LOL), you're in for a treat.
“...Baby One More Time” – Britney Spears
Oh Britney, what happened girl? Almost instantaneously crowning herself the princess of pop with the release of “...Baby One More Time,” a track almost anyone could recognize within the first two seconds, Britney Spears would go on to become an icon in the pop world, but not without some very public controversy. 2007 was a difficult year for everybody, amiright?
“The Boy is Mine” – Brandy + Monica
Fun fact: BET did a sort of VH-1: Behind The Music bio on Brandy a few years back. Of course it mentioned her collaboration with Monica, one of the dopest R&B duets of all time, but they conveniently forgot to mention that she killed someone with her car. Maybe they were trying to rebrand her image? Who knows, regardless, the track is a bop.
“Ray of Light” – Madonna
The second single off of the eponymously named record – Ray of Light – was a first glimpse at Madonna’s journey towards spirituality and … raves? While this album in general was unlike anything we’d heard from the Queen of Pop, “Ray of Light” would become the unexpected club hit of the year.
“The Dope Show” – Marilyn Manson
You guys … how iconic is the album Mechanical Animals and the song “The Dope Show” in particular? Even if you didn’t dig the self-proclaimed Antichrist Superstar’s music, it was impossible to not know about Marilyn Manson in 1998 and the legendary hoofed alien with breasts he had transformed into.
“Thank U” Alanis Morissette
Three years after the mega-success of 1995’s Jagged Little Pill, Alanis Morissette returned with the highly-anticipated and surprisingly less-angsty Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie. The first single off the record – “Thank U” – was sort of a first glimpse at a calmer side of the Canadian singer. It was like she had processed all her frustration and anger in Jagged Little Pill and was ready to move on. Good for you, Alanis.
“Ghetto Supastar (That Is What You Are)” – Mya, Pras and Old Dirty Bastard
Arguably the best track from the soundtrack Bulworth, “Ghetto Supastar” was the hip-hop anthem in 1998. I mean, who’s idea was it to throw Mya, Pras and Old Dirty Bastard together for a track that samples Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton's 1983 single "Islands in the Stream?” Pure genius, y’all. Pure genius.
“King of Carrot Flowers Pts. 2 & 3” – Neutral Milk Hotel
One of the oddest indie rock bands of all time, Neutral Milk Hotel’s unique approach to songwriting and sounding catchy as fuck while retaining their weirdness made them a favorite upon the release In the Aeroplane Over the Sea – a concept album about Anne Frank. On “King of Carrot Flowers Pts. 2 & 3,” in particular, frontman Jeff Magnum pulls listeners through a psychedelic intro saying “I love you Jesus Christ,” with swirling, horns, and bagpipes before plummeting into grungy punk rock for second half of the song.
“Got the Life” – Korn
After two albums launched the Bakersfield band into international stardom, Korn returned with Follow The Leader. The kings of nu-metal blended hip-hop rhythms, low-tuned guitars and emotional snarls from frontman Jonathan Davis went in a poppier direction for a few tracks. Especially on the group’s second single “Got the Life,” which literally has a disco beat running through the entire track. Like, listen to Gloria Gaynor’s 1978 hit “I Will Survive” and tell me that isn’t the same drum beat.
“Rosa Parks” – Outkast
Andre 3000 and Big Boi had already made a name for themselves by the time “Rosa Parks” hit the airwaves. Known for their weirdo fashion style and abilities to lyrically murder any track the the duo blessed with their vocals, “Rosa Parks” reaffirmed our convictions that, indeed, Outkast could even make a harmonica fueled hoedown bridge sound dope as fuck.
“Doo Wop” – Lauryn Hill
In the late ’90s Lauryn Hill’s singing and rapping skills were matched by few, if any, MCs in the game, male or female. I mean, The Fugees we were already beyond impressed by Hill's conscious approach to hip-hop while still spitting with the fire of a hardcore rapper. So when we thought the bar couldn’t be raised any higher, “Doo Wop (That Thing)” from Hill’s solo album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill dropped and we were collectively slayed by arguably the most talented female rapper/singer of all time. The track would go on to win Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song at the 1999 Grammy Awards.
“Are You That Somebody” – Aaliyah
“Closing Time” – Semisonic
“Nobody’s Supposed To Be Here” – Deborah Cox
“Intergalactic” – Beastie Boys
“Iris” – Goo Goo Dolls