220px-theoffspringamericanaalbumcoverThe Offspring – “Why Don’t You Get a Job?” – (1998)

The second biggest single from Americana, “Why Don’t You Get a Job?” is one of The Offspring’s better offerings. The video is interesting because it was shot on Universal’s backlot in California and features a lot of famous places from film and TV, like the square from Back to the Future

Godsmack – “Whatever” – (1998)

This was Godsmack’s first single – and it remains one of their best-remembered songs. You can tell it was the first single but an up-and-coming rock band because the video is terrible: it’s the band playing a show at some outdoor venue. It’s quite typical of late-90s rock videos. This song was a top ten hit on the Mainstream Rock chart back in 1998.

Juvenile feat. Mannie Fresh & Lil Wayne – “Back That Thang Up” – (1998)

C’mon, you have to admit: that’s one of the work album covers you’ve ever seen. “Back That Thang Up” was the edited (and MTV-friendly) version of Juvenile’s “Back That Azz Up” (which we’ll feature at a later date). Notice that no matter what you are backing up, it is spelled incorrectly. This only made it to #15 on the Hot 100 (Juvenile would late have a #1) but this is definitely his signature song. This was actually a decent hit on TRL in 1999 and it marks an early appearance of Lil Wayne before he really got famous about five years later. His rap sort of marks the first major appearance of “drop it like it’s hot” – which I guess makes this a cultural landmark? Just kidding. Happy 4th of July.

Brandy & Monica – “The Boy is Mine” – (1998)

Here’s one of the greatest R&B songs of the 90s. Man I loved this song when it came out and have no idea how it wasn’t included in the top 50 in our 200 Best Songs of the 90s countdown. I messed that one up. The song was released on albums by both Brandy and Monica (Brandy first, hence her album over there at left). The song was a Hot 100 #1 for 13 weeks over the summer of 1998. It was everywhere. It won a Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group and was nominated for Record of the Year. Awesome, awesome song.

Celine Dion & R. Kelly – “I’m Your Angel” – (1998)

This #1 hit from late 1998 appeared on albums by both Celine Dion and R. Kelly. It was the first #1 that took Billboard’s new rules into account regarding tracks that were never officially released as a single (otherwise referred to as “airplay-only”). This is neither artist’s best song although even if it was a big smash.

Celine Dion & Andrea Bocelli – “The Prayer” – (1998)

Here’s a Christmas song that really isn’t a Christmas song. It’s religious – but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily about Christmas – even if it was on Celine Dion’s 1998 Christmas album (it was on a standard non-Holiday Andrea Bocelli album). It was featured in the movie Quest for Camelot and won a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Oscar and a Grammy. The vocals here, as you can probably guess, are amazing. Celine re-recorded this with Josh Groban in 2008, but the original is better. It was a minor hit in the U.S. and a slightly bigger one in Canada.

Eve 6 – “Tongue Tied” – (1998)

As Monday’s song was sappy, this song is awesome. Eve 6 was known for “Inside Out” which got all the airplay off their self-titled debut album. But “Tongue Tied” is more alternative rock – or, at least, the late-90s version of alternative rock. It kicks-ass in the same way those Third Eye Blind hits kick ass. The video stars a young Katie Holmes and is mega-1998: the clothes, the hairstyles, the VCR in the classroom. Gah, the good old days.

U2 – “Sweetest Thing” – (1987/1998)

Okay, while Wednesday’s song made me look stupid, this one hopefully restores some faith, as the decade it hails from is actually kind of confusing. Let me first by saying two things: 1. Bono totally looks like Elvis Costello in the music video and 2. This is the greatest song U2 has ever done. The song was originally released as a b-side on the “Where the Streets Have No Name” single in 1987. It was re-recorded and re-released in 1998 on the compilation album “The Best of 1980-1990.” While essentially the same, the new version is far superior. In the late 1990s, it was a top ten in the U.S. and Australia, hitting #1 in Canada and Ireland and entering the top five in the U.K. Versions of the song have appeared in various films and it was everywhere on the radio in 1998 and 1999. It is a wonderful tune.

#17 – Kid Rock – “Cowboy” – (1998)

Since “Bawitdaba” was on our 90s countdown, I had to substitute “Cowboy” in for it, not that it’s a bad song. It’s a great example of Kid Rock – a mixture of southern rock and hip-hop. Rap Rock, but without calling it Rap Rock. This was the follow-up single to “Bawitdaba” and it was a top ten hit on the Modern Rock chart (#11 on the Mainstream Rock chart). It missed hitting the Hot 100 by four positions. But it was all over TRL, with a music video featuring Gary Coleman and Ron Jeremy. The video also has a Smokey & the Bandit feel with the old, black Trans Am with poultry on the hood. All I can say, when I go back and watch it now, is that Kid Rock looks way more dignified now than he did then. Maybe it’s because he always wears sunglasses now and buttons his shirt. Buttoning your shirt can go a long way.

#29 – Rob Zombie – “Dragula” – (1998)

I don’t listen to near the amount of rock music like this that I used to, but damn, I love this song. It charted okay in the U.S. but where I remember hearing this most was in video games – back in the late 90s this appeared on multiple popular titles including Twisted Metal 4, and more iconically (in my mind), in Gran Turismo 2. Dragula is the name of a car from the TV show The Munsters – it and The Munster Coach were built by legendary car builder George Barris. It’s basically a coffin with a huge V8 sitting out front – which is perfect for Rob Zombie. It’s weird, but I don’t know of an artist whose songs align more with their image than Rob Zombie – his songs are about death, the undead, and freakish things like that. But this is the best.

#36 – Godsmack – “Voodoo” – (1998)

This album (their self-titled debut) came out in 1998 even though this song was released as a single until early 2000. It’s one of the top two Godsmack songs, in my opinion. I think this is Sully Erna’s best vocal performance. Rarely do a song title and the feel of the song match up so well as it does here. There is a distinctly creepy and supernatural feel to the music, lyrics and the overall vibe of this track.

#44 – Orgy – “Stitches” – (1998)

“Stitches” was actually the first single by Orgy, but it didn’t’ go anywhere. Then they covered “Blue Monday” – which went wild – and they re-released “Stitches” as the follow-up single to “Blue Monday” and it performed better the second time around. It was a success enough to film a music video of it which was popular enough to hand around on TRL for a while. Yeah, “Blue Monday” is way better but that was on our 90s countdown. It’s just one of those late decade rock songs that is tied to good memories, better days, and all that.

Barenaked Ladies – “It’s All Been Done” – (1998)

This is my favorite BNL song. And what does it have to do with being in Europe (besides the lyric “I met you before the fall of Rome”)? Nothing. On my return journey I stopped in Toronto and the Barenaked Ladies are my favorite Canadian band. And after 7 weeks, it had all been done. Well, not really – I’d still love to go back but I accomplished a lot and saw even more. The rumor is that Steven Page wrote this song because “Brian Wilson” was “too wordy” and he wanted to use something like “who ooh ooh” in the chorus – and it’s catchy as hell. The lyrics are really great regardless of how simple they are supposed to be. Way to go Steven Page! Now let him rejoin the band!

#8 – Barenaked Ladies – “One Week” – (1998)

Stunt is one of my all-time favorite albums. Who doesn’t (or didn’t at some point in time) love this song? It is BNL’s only Hot 100 #1 hit in the United States (for one week) and it just might be their most well known song. Ed Robertson gets to show off his ability to talk really really fast in the parts of the song that everyone thinks they can sing but ends up just making noise through. During those times when he is rapping, he is rattling off pop culture reference after pop culture reference. And is it just me or is the music video very similar to that of Smash Mouth’s “All Star?” Other singles from Stunt include “Call and Answer” and “Alcohol” (which I can’t recall every hearing on the radio). The best song from the album has to be “It’s All Been Done” (“One Week” included). Two other tracks that were apparently never singles but I swear I heard on the radio (maybe I just listened to them on the album a lot back in the day) are “I’ll Be That Girl” and “Light Up My Room.” There are some great other versions of “One Week” as well. The Bluegrass Version is classic and the Bathroom Sessions Version is great as well.

#10 – Eagle-Eye Cherry – “Save Tonight” – (1998)

It amazes me that Eagle-Eye Cherry (yes, that’s his name) never had another hit. This is a wonderful pop/rock song with simple guitar and enthusiastically delivered lyrics. And I love it. I don’t have a ton to say about it, however, so I’ll just post some lyrics from the chorus: “Save tonight, fight the break of dawn, come tomorrow, tomorrow I’ll be gone.”

#22 – Semisonic – “Closing Time” – (1998)

Holy $@#! I love this song. I know someone who generally listens to metal and old-school punk – and he loves this song. “I know I want to take me home” is a classic lyric and after that first visit to the chorus, the song picks up in intensity and never lets up. It’s wonderful. I can’t recall the video from days gone by, but within the last year or so I flipped on Fuse and they have/had (I don’t know if it’s still on) this brilliant show called Video Yearbook. The episode I caught (and have caught multiple times since) was “1998” and they played this video. I watched it because I love the song, but the video turned out to be amazing. There are two continuous shots played side by side that somewhat interact with each other… if you don’t know the timing trick being played it might give you a headache trying to make sense of it. There are big-budget Hollywood movies that are far less technically interesting.

#43 – Fastball – “The Way” – (1998)

During the opening of the song as they scroll through radio stations, you can apparently hear three songs, but the one that stands out the most is Jewel’s “Foolish Games.” This song hit #1 on the Modern Rock chart – and deservedly so. The lyrics, “The road that they walk on is paved in gold/And it’s always summer, they’ll never get cold/They’ll never get hungry/They’ll never get old and gray” are great and the guitar has a very distinct sound to it. There were two other big singles from All the Pain Money Can Buy: the very popular but slower (and organ-heavy) “Out of My Head” and “Fire Escape.”

#55 – Brian Setzer Orchestra – “Jump, Jive an’ Wail” – (1998)

Swing revival strikes again! And this was the biggest of them all and rightfully so as it comes from the best possible source. Brian Setzer is an otherworldly musician who does what he wants to do. The fact that this single was a pop smash was coincidental. Sure, it was a cover of a Louis Prima song – and most of his songs are covers or ‘new takes on old songs’ but that shouldn’t take away from the credit Setzer deserves for his talent and for being just plain cool. I won’t go into it here, but let’s just say there is plenty more Brian Setzer to be featured on this site.

#59 – Aerosmith – “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” – (1998)

Remember Armageddon? The movie with Ben Affleck, Bruce Willis and… Liv Tyler? Diane Warren, who primarily wrote this song, said that Celine Dion was the original choice to sing it. Hmm, interesting that it ended up in the hands of Steven Tyler… Conspiracy theories aside, this was Aerosmith’s most successful single of their career, hitting number one and staying there for four weeks. It was also the most overplayed song of the late 90s. Aerosmith had a handful of successful singles from the 1993 album Get a Grip – they also had a minor hit in 1997 with “Pink” (which has a somewhat disturbing music video).

#66 – Goo Goo Dolls – “Iris” – (1998)

This song was featured in the film City of Angels – a movie that has been responsible for multiple songs on this list. It was also released on Dizzy up the Girl, which itself is responsible for three songs on this list. The music on this track is beautiful with its mandolin, violins and cellos. It’s the Goo Goo Dolls’ most popular song and one of the best slow-dance songs of the decade.

#67 – Kid Rock – “Bawitdaba” – (1998)

Ah, this was one of my very favorites from 1999. I think I know most of the words – even though they are just a bunch of random things strewn together in true rap metal style. Kid followed this up with the hillbilly rap rock song “Cowboy,” which wasn’t too dissimilar to “Bawitdaba.” Devil Without a Cause was the original Kid Rock style. As was the follow-up album, A History of Rock. After the release of that album, Joe C, Kid Rock’s diminutive rapper friend, passed away and the rap left the rap-rock of Kid Rock and we were left with just rock – and the occasional ballad, that started with this album’s “Only God Knows Why.”

#78 – Goo Goo Dolls – “Slide” – (1998)

“Slide” was a big hit on both the Adult Top 40 and Modern Rock charts (actually it was a number one on both). It only hit number 8 on the Hot 100, but it help solidify Dizzy Up The Girl as one of the best albums of the 1990s – and the Goo Goo Dolls as masters of alternative pop music. The only big single from this album that didn’t make this list was “Broadway.”

#79 – Madonna – “Ray Of Light” – (1998)

Ray of Light was Madonna’s best effort from the 90s (or ever). Some of the music on this album, especially this song, was more electronic in style than the straightforward pop style everyone was used to from her. This song borders on trance music and the music video was available in “Special Edition VHS” format (how 90s is that?). Some other singles from this album include “Frozen” and “The Power of Good-Bye” – although in 1999 she had a hit with the theme to the second Austin Powers movie with “Beautiful Stranger.”

#82 – Everlast – “What It’s Like” – (1998)

It’s hard to believe that this well-written song came from the same guy behind “Jump Around.” This really is an absolutely fantastic song – if you really listen to the lyrics. Unfortunately, I’ve noticed that in recent years the radio version has become more and more censored. Instead of playing a weird electronic shriek over f-bombs like they’ve been doing since 1998, now they just blur the lyrics when he says words like “clinic” or “smoke” or “green.” What is wrong with America? You can’t make reference to drugs – not actually saying their name but just saying “smoke?” Really? It’s sad that just a powerful song can be ruined by people who are apparently offended way too easily.

#92 – Robbie Williams – “Millennium” – (1998)

Yet another song referencing the coming of the year 2000… The song samples one of the Bond themes and the video views like an audition tape for an aspiring Bond. This was his first #1 in the U.K. and his first (and nearly last) single anyone in America paid any attention to. If you’re a big Robbie Williams fan, you probably remember his follow-up “Angels,” but chances are you don’t.