Friday, 20 December 2013

The Best Of 1999 - part 3

JUMP TO: 100-76 II 75-51 II 50-26 II 25-1

As 2013 comes to an end, so too do my recaps of my favourite songs from the '90s. I'm halfway through my top 100 for 1999, and as I think about that year, it reminds me that this time 14 years ago, I had just completed my first stint on a magazine.

I'd been temping in London and was working on reception for the IQA (the body for professional quality assurers) without ever quite knowing what they did. As luck would have it, there was a vacancy on their in-house magazine and because my CV had publishing experience (due to my time writing for street press in Australia while at uni), they moved me from the front desk to work as a sub editor on the magazine until they hired someone full-time.

A fresh-faced Christina Aguilera burst onto the scene in 1999

It was hardly Smash Hits or Billboard, but it was a crucial step in my career. Just weeks earlier, a visiting friend from Australia, who knew I had no plans to put my law degree to use, suggested I'd make a good sub editor (and explained what that meant) - so it was all quite timely. The rest is history and I was soon on my way to working full-time in magazines. Speaking of history, here's my next batch of songs from 1999...

Number 50 "Everyday" by Agnelli & Nelson
Also known as "Every Day, Every Moment, Every Time", this trance/pop track from producers Christopher Agnew and Robert Nelson wasn't a massive hit (number 17 in the UK, number 73 in Australia), but it was a song I liked better than most of the other trance songs around in 1999 - mainly because it had a vocal.

Number 49 "Life's Too Short" by The Lightning Seeds
"Three Lions" might've given Ian Broudie and friends a number 1 single - twice! - in the UK, but by 1999, they were having trouble creating the same sort of enthusiasm for their non-sporting releases. "Life's Too Short" was the lead single from the Tilt album, and it floundered outside the British top 20 - where the group had been accustomed to charting. As it turned out, things got worse for the band with "Life's Too Short" their last appearance in the UK top 40 until 2002 - with a re-release of, yep, "Three Lions 98".

Number 48 "It's Not Right But It's Okay" by Whitney Houston
Mentioned below

Number 47 "Nothing Really Matters" by Madonna
Previously featured here

Number 46 "When I Grow Up" by Garbage
The best was saved till second last from Version 2.0 - with that album's fourth single, "When I Grow Up", becoming the band's biggest hit up until that point in Australia, reaching number 22. It also gave Garbage their third number 9 single from the album in the UK - proving they were nothing if not consistent. Also in 1999, the band was chosen to record that year's James Bond theme, "The World Is Not Enough", a song which doesn't rank within my top 200 for the year.

Number 45 "My Love Is Your Love" by Whitney Houston
After years spent recording songs exclusively for movie soundtracks, Whitney returned with a new studio album in 1999 - and it was a stunning comeback for the singer who'd once made herself at home at the top of the US singles chart. She came close to the top spot in the US with the first three singles from My Love Is Your Love, "Heartbreak Hotel", "It's Not Right But It's Okay" (number 48 on this list and the lead single in the UK) and the title track (which was my favourite of the three). It was her most consistent run of chart success in the States since the days of "I Will Always Love You" and its follow-ups. A fourth single from the album, "I Learned From The Best" (number 58 on this list), didn't do quite as well in the States (only making the top 30) but gave her another UK top 20 hit.

Number 44 "You Get What You Give" by New Radicals
It's likely Gregg Alexander (who, like Simply Red's Mick Hucknall and Jamiroquai's Jay Kay, essentially was New Radicals) would have had more success than this debut single - a smash hit around the world. As we'd see over the next few years, he had more hit songs in him - he just gave them to other artists after disbanding the New Radicals project by the end of 1999 and stepping out of the spotlight.

Number 43 "Re-rewind When The Crowd Say Bo Selecta" by Artful Dodger featuring Craig David
Stepping into the spotlight as the face of the UK's 2-step scene was the singer for this garage anthem, which became the biggest crossover hit from the dance genre up until that point. Both Artful Dodger (Mark Hill and Pete Devereux) and Craig would have even more success in 2000 - while "Re-rewind" would open the floodgates for a wave of imitators.

Number 42 "From The Heart" by Another Level
Previously featured here

Number 41 "Mi Chico Latino" by Geri Halliwell
After quitting Spice Girls in 1998, Ginger Spice's solo career got off to a flying start in 1999. I wasn't a fan of her debut solo single, "Look At Me", but this follow-up, which tapped into the year's Latin explosion, and third single "Lift Me Up" (number 87 on this list) did the trick - even if her vocals were pretty ropey. With Emma Bunton releasing her first single outside the girl group ("What I Am" with Tin Tin Out, which went head-to-head in the UK chart with "Lift Me Up") and a full album from Melanie C out before the year's end, there were more solo Spice Girls releases than you could poke a stick at.

Number 40 "All Out Of Luck" by Selma
We've already seen the UK Eurovision entry from Precious on this list back in Part 1 - and here's another song from that year's competition. But, like "Say It Again", "All Out Of Luck" by Icelander Selma Björnsdóttir didn't win - that honour went instead to Sweden's Charlotte Nilsson with the ABBA-esque "Take Me To Your Heaven". Runner-up Selma performed Iceland's first English-language entry ever - something many European countries did as a result of a rule change in 1999 that allowed countries to perform in any language.

Number 39 "Eternal Flame / Shake You Outta My Head" by Human Nature
Yes, it's that "Eternal Flame". Human Nature's harmony-laden version of The Bangles classic was released as the fourth single from second album Counting Down after "Cruel", "Last To Know" and "Don't Cry" (none of which had excited me too much). It's pretty hard to go wrong with "Eternal Flame" (as Atomic Kitten would prove a few years later) and Human Nature's version gave them another top 10 hit in Australia. The song was backed with "Shake You Outta My Head", a song performed by the group in Happy Days: The Arena Spectacular, in which they appeared as The Naturals.

Number 38 "Strong Enough" by Cher
She was never going to have another hit as big as "Believe", but this follow-up was a pretty good effort. "Strong Enough" was written and produced by Mark Taylor and Paul Barry, who we'd be hearing a lot from in the next few years - including on Cher's subsequent two singles, sound-alikes "All Or Nothing" (number 66 on this list) and "Dov'è L'Amore" (number 113).

Number 37 "Forever" by Tina Cousins
With UK chart success drying up for PWL singer Tina Cousins in the UK, she spent a lot of time in 1999 in Australia, where "Forever" hit the top 20 (and 1998 hit "Pray" did even better, going top 10 in 2000). Soon enough, Australian success dried up, with "Nothing To Fear" only managing a number 66 peak - and Tina facing a wait until 2005 for another solo hit.

Number 36 "Everything My Heart Desires" by Adam Rickitt
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 35 "You Don't Know Me" by Armand van Helden featuring Duane Harden
He'd been remixing other people's records for years (most notably the transformation of Tori Amos' "Professional Widow" which appeared on my 1997 countdown) and releasing his own tracks like 1996's "The Funk Phenomenon", but 1999 was the year the DJ and producer scored a UK a number 1 with this song, which samples "Dance With You" by Carrie Lucas. Vocalist Duane Harden popped up on another house track in 1999: "What You Need" by Powerhouse (number 133 on this list).

Number 34 "Flying Without Wings" by Westlife
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 33 "Let The People Know" by Toploader
They'd go on to sell a million copies of their oddly titled debut album, Onka's Big Moka, in 2000, but in 1999, British band Toploader struggled with their first two singles, "Achilles Heel" (which would be re-released the following year) and "Let The People Know", which I liked in a New Radicals kind of way.

Number 32 "Perfect Moment" by Martine McCutcheon
It took me a while, but after spending all of 1999 in the UK, I finally became hooked on EastEnders. However, I wasn't watching when Tiffany Mitchell was tragically run over in the final episode for 1998 - leaving actress Martine McCutcheon free to return to pop music (she'd previously been in girl group Milan). And, what a return it was - "Perfect Moment", a cover of a 1997 song by Polish singer Edyta Górniak, gave her an instant number 1 hit in the UK.

Number 31 "No Scrubs" by TLC
Previously featured here

Number 30 "Red Alert" by Basement Jaxx
The British duo of Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe had been releasing EPs and singles for years, mostly unnoticed by the general public - but that all changed in 1999 with the success of their debut album, Remedy. Lead single "Red Alert", which sampled funk track "Far Beyond" by Locksmith, reached the UK top 5 and started a string of hits that continued into the middle of the next decade.

Number 29 "Made It Back 99" by Beverley Knight
Mentioned below

Number 28 "Genie In A Bottle" by Christina Aguilera
You can always rely on record companies for one thing - any time one label has massive success with a particular type of artist, a bunch of similar acts will pop up seemingly overnight. With Britney Spears' astonishing debut as 1998 ended and 1999 began, there were suddenly a bunch of blonde-haired American female singers on the scene - including this lady, Britney's former cast-mate on The Mickey Mouse Club. Christina had previously performed the track "Reflection" for the soundtrack to Disney film Mulan, but it was this song that made her a serious contender for the pop princess crown - an image she'd shake off before too long.

Number 27 "Keep On Movin'" by Five
Mentioned in Part 2 and previously featured here

Number 26 "Greatest Day" by Beverley Knight
After years of plugging away, British soul singer Beverley Knight finally broke through in 1999 thanks to a revised version of her Prodigal Sista album, which contained a remix of 1998's "Made It Back" and "Greatest Day", which became her highest charting single up until that point. Like Michelle Gayle's single version of "Happy Just To Be With You" (which we saw on my top 100 for 1995), "Made It Back 99" (number 29 on this list) featured a sample of Chic's "Good Time", while "Greatest Day" maintained that breezy retro feel.

In Part 4: two of the biggest British pop acts for the next few years make their debuts, as does an American singer who'd eclipse all other solo artists for the next decade.

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