Harman Patil (Editor)

1998 in British music

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1998 in British music

This is a summary of 1998 in music in the United Kingdom, including the official charts from that year.


1998 was a transitional year for music, when the hyped up sound of pure pop from the mid-1990s began to fade and popular artists began to experiment with different styles and new artists were brought onto the scene, while previous popular artists began to fade out. The usual domination of UK acts was continued like most other years during the 1990s. Four singles went on to sell over a million copies and throughout the year, 28 songs reached the summit. This year is also remembered for the debuts of B*Witched, the rise of the All Saints and the end of the career for girl group phenomenon, the Spice Girls. The Corrs, The Verve and George Michael all experienced great success on the albums chart.


The first chart of the year saw the BBC Children In Need single "Perfect Day", performed by a collaboration of various stars, return to the top of the charts for a week, displacing "Too Much" by the Spice Girls.

Disappearances & Resurgences

January saw R'N'B vocalist, Usher Raymond score a No. 1 with his debut single "You Make Me Wanna..."; he would not return to the top of the UK singles charts until 2004. Although Usher's resurgence was yet to come, the lead singer of The Stone Roses was to resurge this year. Ian Brown released his debut solo single "My Star" which peaked at #5. His debut album also became a success, making No. 4 on the charts. Oasis also scored their 4th UK chart topper in January, which was their last release for two years as they embarked on a massive world tour which brought along the expected controversy and increased publicity for the band.

Girl Groups & Boy Bands

Throughout the year, girl groups remained prevalent. All Saints who made No. 4 with their debut single in late 1997, clocked up 3 chart toppers across the year. The 1.25 million selling "Never Ever", popular covers of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Labelle "Under the Bridge/Lady Marmalade" and laid-back dance track "Bootie Call" were all tracks from their debut self-titled album, which itself was a success, reaching #2. They did not release any new material during 1999, but returned to the charts in 2000. Irish quartet B*Witched receive great success across Europe and even mild success in the US. Comprising Irish folk with mainstream Western pop, they scored many hits. Their debut single "C'est la Vie" made them the youngest group to debut at No. 1 in the UK and even went Top 10 in the US. Dance-associated "Rollercoaster" and emotional ballad "To You I Belong" quickly became 2 more UK chart toppers for the girls. Cleopatra made up of three sisters from Manchester. Cleo, Zainam & Yonah had major success in the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States their first 3 singles went straight into the top 5 and later that year they were signed to Madonna's U.S. label Maverick Records.

Success was made easy for The All Saints and B*Witched because of the declining career of the Spice Girls. Their third release from their second album, Spiceworld, "Stop" was a minimal hit in the US and became their first single to fail to top the UK charts, ending the run of consecutive #1's at 6. To make matters worse for them, Geri Halliwell (also known as Ginger Spice) announced her departure from the group on the 31 May after missing various concerts and an appearance on the national lottery. Their final release from their second album was able to top the charts for 2 weeks. "Viva Forever" became quite a popular single and the video was an animated one with the Spice Girls featured as fairies. At the time the Spice Girls were touring America hence why they couldn't shoot a video for it. "Goodbye" became the girls 8th chart topper at the end of the year, and was seen as a tribute to Geri. It took the Christmas number one position, making the Spice Girls only the second act to achieve 3 consecutive Christmas number one singles; the first being The Beatles. Solo careers started for the two Melanies from the group in 1998 with Melanie B hitting the top of the UK charts with "I Want You Back", a duet with female rapper Missy Elliott and Melanie C hitting No. 3 with "When You're Gone", a duet with Canadian rocker, Bryan Adams. Whilst Melanie B's career slowly went into a downward spiral, Melanie C's was yet to grow.

Although the 1990s was full of boybands, 1998 was not the strongest year for them on the singles or albums chart. Five managed to have their debut album hit the top, but were yet to experience a No. 1 single. Boyzone were by far the most successful boyband of the year with 2 No. 1 singles "All That I Need", and "No Matter What", the latter of which sold over 1.07 million copies (it was taken from Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical, Whistle Down the Wind) and also saw their new album Where We Belong hit the top of the albums chart. American group Backstreet Boys would start the year with the release of All I Have To Give, their third and final single from their 1997 album Backstreet's Back. The single was big in the UK, reaching number 2. However, they had no more releases until the following year.

American Acts

Many American acts this year were very successful in the UK, yet were still slightly more successful back home. Brandy & Monica made No. 2 with "The Boy Is Mine", which had a 13-week run at the top of the US chart, but it was a very successful year in the UK for Brandy, who had 2 No. 2 hits. Another US No. 1, "I'm Your Angel", by R. Kelly and Céline Dion, only made No. 3 in the UK. Mariah Carey hit No. 4 with solo release "My All", which became another chart-topper for her in the US; however, her duet with Whitney Houston, "When You Believe" from the soundtrack to The Prince of Egypt was a bigger hit in the UK than in the US, making No. 4 here and only making No. 15 on the Hot 100. Aerosmith scored their biggest global hit throughout their career to date: "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing", from the soundtrack to Armageddon, made No. 4 in the UK and entered the US charts at #1. Former Fugees member Lauryn Hill hit No. 3 with her debut solo single "Doo Wap (That Thing)", which topped the charts in the US. Her worldwide hit album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was very successful in the UK, hitting No. 2 on the albums chart.

Other US acts who succeeded in the UK during 1998 but were not quite as popular back home were Aaron Carter and Madonna. Carter had his most successful year ever in the UK, clocking up 3 Top 30 hits and a place in the Top 20 with his eponymous debut album. Madonna failed to top the US charts, but did so in the UK, with "Frozen", becoming her 8th UK chart-topper; it was only able to make No. 2 in the US. Her new, dance-influenced, album, Ray of Light also topped the charts, producing several other hits including the title track which made #2. Hip Hop trio Destiny's Child began their career with the release of their single, "No, No, No", which made No. 5 in the UK and No. 3 in the US. Their debut album was a relative flop in both countries, but was more successful here than in the US.

Noted for its long-lasting popularity was the debut single from LeAnn Rimes, "How Do I Live", which spent 33 weeks in the UK Top 40, selling 714,000 copies and becoming the biggest-selling single ever to peak at No. 7 (it finished higher in the "year end" chart than in the weekly charts). It was more popular in the US, spending 32 weeks in the US Top 10, 61 weeks in the US Top 40 and 69 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100.

British Acts

Two UK rock bands were prevalent on the albums and singles chart. The Verve hit the top of the albums chart with Urban Hymns for 7 weeks (non-consecutive). The album was largely successful and spawned 2 hit singles: the chart topping "The Drugs Don't Work" and the better remembered No. 2 hit, "Bittersweet Symphony", which was on the soundtrack to the film Cruel Intentions. Welsh rock band, Manic Street Preachers scored their first No. 1 single, "If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next" and their new album This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours also topped the charts, despite their career starting in 1988. The album brought along a huge fanbase for the band, which continued to last as their career moved forward.

Ex-Take That member, Robbie Williams topped the albums chart twice during the year, when his debut album, Life Thru a Lens returned to the charts and managed to climb to the No. 1 spot. His second album, I've Been Expecting You topped the charts later on in the year and gave the star his first No. 1 single, "Millennium". Despite all this chart success, no single was as large selling as his No. 4 hit "Angels" from 1997 which went on to win the award for Best British Song of the Past 25 Years at the 2005 BRIT Awards. I've Been Expecting You, however is his biggest selling album to date, with over 2.7 million copies sold. Irish family folk band, The Corrs received massive success with their album, Talk on Corners which went on to sell over 2.7 million copies and topped the albums charts for 10 weeks (6 of them were during 1998). The album also produced high peaking singles hits for the band, including the likes of "Dreams", "So Young" & "What Can I Do?" which all hit the Top 10.

Acts From Other Countries

As for acts outside of the UK and the US, there were a few successes. Australian singer, Natalie Imbruglia followed up the success of her No. 2 hit "Torn" from 1997 with 3 more hits, 2 of which went top 5. Danish-Norwegian pop outfit, Aqua completed a hat-trick of #1's after the massive success of "Barbie Girl", as "Doctor Jones" and "Turn Back Time" both hit the top. The first was a slightly similar sounding track to their debut single, but "Turn Back Time" was a much slower track than their previous two singles. Their debut album, Aquarium was also a great success clocking up high sales and peaking at No. 6 on the albums chart. They followed up their 3 consecutive #1's with two further hits by the end of the year; the former hit the Top 10 and the latter made the Top 20. They did not return to the UK charts until 2000.

Covers & Reworkings

Despite not being very successful in the French World Cup themselves, the 1996 hit "Three Lions" was re-written for the World Cup as "Three Lions '98" and topped the charts for 3 weeks, becoming more successful than the original. Reworkings of songs were very popular this year with the massive success of the remix of Run DMC's 1983 hit "It's like That", which, thanks to Jason Nevins topped the charts for 6 weeks and sold 1.12 million copies. It also kept "Stop" off the top of the charts, breaking the run of consecutive No. 1 singles of the Spice Girls. The song was one of the fastest selling singles of the year. A Norman Cook remix of the Cornershop single, "Brimful of Asha" saw the British duo top the charts with a track that originally failed to make the Top 40 the previous year. The song comprised music from the duo's Indian roots with Western rock beats.

Popular Genres

Various styles of rock bands topped the albums and singles charts in the earlier part of the year with everything from pop-rock to alternative electronic rock. This included Oasis, Garbage, Catatonia, Space, Embrace, Pulp and Massive Attack. Jamiroquai even topped the singles chart with their release "Deeper Underground"; their album Synkronized made No. 1 the following year. However, this did not stop resistance from pop acts such as Savage Garden who made No. 2 with their debut self-titled album after the massive success of their No. 4 hit from 1997, "Truly Madly Deeply". Simply Red are able to top the albums chart with their new release Blue, however their 1991 release Stars still remains their most successful in their career by far. Extending the success of pop acts on the albums chart during 1998 was singer Jane McDonald whose debut self-titled album topped the charts for 3 weeks. She released one single from the album, "Cruise Into Christmas", a special release for the festive season which made No. 10 on the singles chart.

Breaking records

Age records were broken in 1998 at both ends of the spectrum. Billie became the second youngest solo female to obtain a chart topper at the age of 15 (Helen Shapiro being the youngest – 14 years old) and became the youngest solo female to enter at #1. The year was successful for her after receiving a recording contract from appearing in an advertising campaign for Smash Hits magazine. Her debut single "Because We Want To" and more laid-back follow up "Girlfriend" both topped the UK charts, each for one week. On the other end of the range, Cher at 52 years of age became the oldest solo female to top the UK charts. "Believe" topped the charts for 7 weeks, becoming the longest stay since "Wannabe" in 1996 and also the last single to spend more than 3 weeks at the top in that millennium. "Believe" also became the largest selling single by a female artist in the UK, with 1.67 million copies sold. Her album of the same name became very successful also, producing other hits and both the single and the album topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic.

Greatest Hits

The last few months of the year were filled with greatest hits compilations. Reaching No. 10 in the albums chart was the #1's compilation from Mariah Carey; a collection of all her No. 1 singles to that point. It contained everything from her debut single "Vision Of Love" to the likes of her most recent work "Honey", but also came with some bonus tracks, "When You Believe" a duet with Whitney Houston "Sweetheart" a duet with Jermaine Dupri & "I Still Believe", a cover of the hit song from Brenda K. Starr. The more successful compilations came from Phil Collins, whose album was entitled Hits and from U2 who released The Best Of 1980 – 1990 & B-sides. Both were able to top the albums chart. However, the most successful came from George Michael, who topped the albums chart for 8 weeks, the longest stay since Spice managed a consecutive 8-week run in 1996, with Ladies And Gentlemen – The Best Of George Michael. It included his 7 UK #1's such as "Careless Whisper", "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)" and "Jesus to a Child" and other hits since his career began in 1984.

Hip Hop

The Beastie Boys had their biggest UK hit to date with the single "Intergalactic" which got to No. 4, and their studio album Hello Nasty got to #1. Unlike the previous year, where LL Cool J, Puff Daddy and Will Smith all topped the UK singles chart, no Hip Hop single reached number one. Jason Nevins's remix with Run DMC "It's like that" reached the top spot, but the remix is considered as a dance song. Jay-Z and Busta Rhymes both got as high as #2. Pras Michel of The Fugees released his breakthrough track "Ghetto Superstar", featuring Mýa and ODB, was one of the best-selling tracks in the UK, selling 680,000 copies.

Film music

Film music dominated the February chart with the soundtrack to Titanic topping the albums chart for a cumulative total of 3 weeks. Composed by James Horner, the soundtrack was a massive success worldwide and the love theme from the song, "My Heart Will Go On" was also incredibly successful. Sung by Céline Dion, it sold 1.31 million copies in the UK alone and topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. The film is the biggest selling worldwide in terms of box office sales.

English composer Anne Dudley won an Academy Award for Best Original Musical or Comedy Score for The Full Monty. Work by Scottish composer Craig Armstrong was featured in the score of The Negotiator, and John Powell produced his second major film score, for Antz.

Classical music

Another film composer, John Barry, produced his first full-length classical work, The Beyondness of Things. One of Britain's most successful classical composers, Sir Michael Tippett, died at the age of 93, having developmed pneumonia while visiting Stockholm for a retrospective of his concert music. It was also the year when 12-year-old soprano Charlotte Church produced her first album, Voice of an Angel, which was certified 3x Platinum in UK sales alone and launched her career as an opera crossover artist. Her fellow-countryman, rising star Bryn Terfel, gave a recital at Carnegie Hall. The more well-established opera singer Lesley Garrett released her hit album of the same name, including songs from popular musicals as well as operatic arias.

Classical music

  • John Barry – The Beyondness of Things
  • Graham Fitkin - Clarinet Concerto
  • Matthew King - Gethsemane
  • Oliver Knussen - Eccentric Melody
  • Gordon McPherson – Miami
  • Mark-Anthony Turnage - Evening Songs
  • Opera

  • Gavin Bryars - Doctor Ox's Experiment
  • Jonathan Dove - Flight
  • Films

  • Hilary and Jackie, starring Emily Watson and James Frain as Jacqueline du Pré and Daniel Barenboim
  • Births

  • 24 March – Isabel Suckling, singer
  • 11 December – Gabz, Britain's Got Talent singer
  • Deaths

  • 8 January – Sir Michael Tippett, composer, 95
  • 5 February - Nick Webb, jazz musician and composer, 43/44 (pancreatic cancer)
  • 24 February
  • Geoffrey Bush, organist and composer, 77
  • Henny Youngman, British-born American comedian and violinist, 91
  • 13 March – Judge Dread, ska and reggae performer, 52, (heart attack on stage)
  • 5 April – Cozy Powell, rock drummer, 50 (car crash)
  • 17 April – Linda McCartney, US-born wife of Paul McCartney, businesswoman and member of Wings, 56 (breast cancer)
  • 19 May – Edwin Astley, composer, 76
  • 3 July – George Lloyd, composer, 85
  • 25 October – Dick Higgins, composer, poet, printer and artist, 60 (heart attack)
  • 4 December - John Hanson, Canadian-born tenor and West End star, 66
  • 7 December – John Addison, film composer, 78
  • 8 December - Michael Craze, actor and singer, 56 (heart attack)
  • 21 December
  • Avril Coleridge-Taylor, pianist, conductor, and composer, 95
  • Karl Denver, Scottish singer, 67
  • BRIT Awards

    The 1998 BRIT Awards winners were:

  • Best British producer: The Verve, Chris Potter and Youth
  • Best selling British album act: Spice Girls
  • Best soundtrack: "The Full Monty"
  • British album: The Verve – "Urban Hymns"
  • British breakthrough act: Stereophonics
  • British dance act: The Prodigy
  • British female solo artist: Shola Ama
  • British Group: The Verve
  • British male solo artist: Finley Quaye
  • British single: All Saints – "Never Ever"
  • British Video: All Saints – "Never Ever"
  • Freddie Mercury award: Sir Elton John
  • International breakthrough act: Eels
  • International female: Björk
  • International group: U2
  • International male: Jon Bon Jovi
  • Outstanding contribution: Fleetwood Mac
  • Mercury Music Prize – Gomez, Bring It On.
  • The Record of the Year – Boyzone – "No Matter What".
  • References

    1998 in British music Wikipedia

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