1998 Revisited, Part 3: Natalie Imbruglia, Another Level etc…

October 8, 2008
And now we make a much delayed return to our 1998 Revisited series today viewers, looking this week at 5 more rather well performing chart acts from the year that saw army combat wear come back into fashion via All Saints, and the year that Denise Van Outen was very annoyingly everywhere, including on the ill fated and completely unfunny ITV1 sitcom Babes In The Wood.


It was a good year for the Aussies again this year in the charts. Although both Kylie and Dannii Minogue were to both be dropped by their respective record labels this year after the underperformance of the final singles from their commercially maligned new studio albums – “Breathe” from Kylie’s “Impossible Princess” album and “Disremembrance” from Dannii’s “Girl” album which reached #14 and #21 respectively in the UK singles chart – it was a fruitful year for the lady who would go on to be Neighbours’ second biggest chart star after Kylie.


Reknowned for playing the role of Beth on the popular Aussie soap until the mid 90’s, Natalie Imbruglia first came to our musical attention at the end of the previous year when her debut single, the timeless radio favourite/scorned woman classic “Torn” rocketed to UK #2 and became the first ever single in UK chart history to sell a million copies and never reach the top spot. Still, this bittersweet achievement didn’t stop Natalie from releasing three more fantastic singles from her best selling debut album “Left of the Middle” in 1998 – first with “Big Mistake” (UK #3, March 1998), then “Wishing I Was There” (video above, UK #17, June 1998) and finally, the poignant piano pop of “Smoke” (UK #5, October 1998), all of which helped build a following that would reward her with two BRIT award wins the following year.





The other big Aussie chart act of the year were a band who could probably sympathise with the situation that Gabriella Cilmi and Sam Sparro now must be in after their hits, “Sweet About Me” and “Black and Gold” respectively, have become bigger than them and possibly prevented them from undeservedly ever getting another chart hit of similar chart performing proportions again. In Savage Garden’s case, their never ending hit of the year was the Dawson’s Creek soundtracking mid tempo “Truly, Madly, Deeply” (UK #4).

It was a track that not only went onto be the 8th biggest of the year in the UK, but after it’s release in February that year stayed on the charts until the end of June. As a result, it ended up eclipsing the success they had with “To The Moon and Back” (UK #3, August 1998, video above) and “I Want You” (UK #12, December 1998) in terms of chart runs and sales performance worldwide. Nevertheless, it helped their self titled debut album tot up worldwide sales of over 4 million copies, something that their follow up, 2000’s “Affirmation” album never quite managed to achieve.


This year would also see the prototype being set for a still unformed Blue, as whilst Boyzone occupied the seats Westlife were to occupy a year later and Five were busy being “the bad boys of pop”, Another Level, a London four piece of Dane, Mark, Wayne and Bobak who were more closely associated in sound with the likes Blackstreet and Boyz II Men spent the large part of 1998 soundtracking millions of chav teenage pregnancies up and down the country with their chart topping second single from July that year, a cover of Keith Sweat’s “Freak Me”.

Before and after that though, were a couple of other chart botherers from their self titled debut top 30 album – “Be Alone No More”, a collaboration with a pre-Beyoncified Jay-Z that reached UK #6 in February that year (video above), and the “Lately”-esque “I Guess I Was A Fool” that hit UK #8 in November. Needless to say, despite a few more chart hits and another album, “Nexus” in 1999, after 18 months inside the charts they were soon to be no more, with Dane famously going onto solo greatness vocoder stylee with the True Steppers and a solo Victoria Beckham.


After a plethora of success with the likes of “Killing Me Softly” and “Ready or Not” from their multi million selling, Grammy winning debut album “The Score” two years previously, The Fugees all branched into solo ventures over the course of 1998. Wyclef Jean started things off with “Gone Til’ November” (UK #7, February 1998), soon followed by Pras Michel with one of that year’s summer anthems with “Ghetto Superstar” (UK #2, July 1998). But the one that was to eclipse them all, in terms of sales and certifications alike, was Lauryn Hill.

Getting things off to a great start with “Doo Wop (That Thing)” at UK #3 in October 1998, it was the first of three singles from her so far only solo album, “The Miseducation Of” that was to give her the biggest solo success of the Fugees, as well as bag her a few Grammy award wins the following year. She’s remained unusually silent since then with the exception of an MTV Unplugged album, but has since announced that she’s hard at work on a new album that is due for release early next year.


Continuing their success following the re-activated hit “Scooby Snacks” from 1997, Fun Lovin’ Criminals released their second album “100% Colombian” in August this year, the follow up to their 1996 debut, “Come Find Yourself” which is noted for paving the way for the likes of Bran Van 3000 and LEN to name but a few. The first single from the second album “Love Unlimited” (UK #18, video below) was then followed by “Korean Bodega” which hit UK #15 in May the following year, however, after one more big hit – 2001’s “Loco” (UK #5), their hits all but dried up and their last album could only reach UK #57.

Next week, we reach the final installment of our look back at 1998, as we look back at two more of that year’s biggest girlbands, Denmark’s biggest act of the year and a girl who was the youngest female to top the UK charts ever in this year. Also coming your way we have another Retro Album Review, so watch this space.







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