20 years ago was a whole 'nother world - a different century and millennium, before the Internet Age and before Apple was back on form.
CDs were yet to reach their maximum potential, and Spotify was a distant sparkle in the eye of founder Daniel Ek. Still, lots of songs have endured and found their way into our hearts, seeping into the zeitgeist over the past two decades.
Here are 20 of the most important tracks celebrating their landmark birthdays this year...
The immensely popular title track from Cher's twenty-second studio album turns 20 this year, meaning we've had 20 solid years of unadulterated beltalongs and cheesy wedding moments to remember fondly. To some, "Believe" revived Cher's superstar status after a few wilderness years in the '90s, with the dance-pop stylings aimed at bringing her to a wider, younger audience after a long time leaning on pop and rock. Whether that's 100% true or not is kinda beside the point, as this bona fide banger elevated her to another plane of existence, smashing numerous records in the process.
Apparently it contains uncredited samples of Daft Punk's 1998 track "Revolution 909" and Electric Light Orchestra's "Prologue" and "Epilogue", but the jury remains out on those. LD
Release Date: 19 October 1998
US producer Jason Nevins burst into our lives with this pumped-up version of "It's Like That" towards the end of last century - despite being a far cry from the original, which was released 35 years ago this year, the remix found heaps of fans across the globe (especially in Europe), paving the way for more dance-y reworks of hip-hop classics from Nevins. In the two decades since his sudden arrival, he's had a bizarre career path, mixing soundtrack albums for Jersey Shore and High School Musical 2, and scoring hits with the Florida Georgia Line, Dannii Minogue, and Ariana Grande. LD
Release Date: 23 February 1998
The power ballad to end all power ballads has the bizarre honour to be nominated for both the Academy Award for Best Original Song and the Razzie for Worst Original Song. But who was behind this masterpiece? None other than primo balladeer Dianne Warren, perhaps better known for her Celine Dion and Cher collabs than her hair-metal chops. Funnily enough, even she found it all a bit saccharine, telling Performing Songwriter: "Some of the lyrics, like 'I can stay awake just to hear you breathing,' I'd be like, 'No, don't do that. Don't watch me breathe. I won't be able to sleep. Go do something else.' It's so funny, because part of me would never want someone to say that to me, but then again, I write it."
Obviously the track was a key part of the enduring appeal of disaster flick Armageddon (don't @ us), which obviously starred Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler's daughter Liv... but did you know controversial boxer Tyson Fury sang the song after he defeated Ukraine's legendary Vladimir Klitschko in a match in 2015? As you might expect, it's one of the cringiest things to ever happen in the squared circle.
Release Date: 31 August 1998
Album: Armageddon: The Album
This spaced-out jewel is a rarity that hasn't aged a day since its release in 1998. The track - the lead single from classic debut Moon Safari - brought French duo Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunckel to the wider world, and the enduring popularity of the song/album led them to work with director Sofia Coppola (on The Virgin Suicides most notably) and more in the years since.
Interestingly, Air's name isn't taken from the important gas all around us - it's actually an acronym standing for 'Amour, Imagination, Rêve', which is French for Love, Imagination, Dream.
Release Date: 9 February 1998
Album: Moon Safari
The first - and sole - single from the band's celebrated second (and most recent) record In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, "Holland, 1945" might only be two minutes in length, but it's two minutes of finessed freewheeling expression that packs as much of a punch now as it did 20 years ago: such is the enduring appeal of Neutral Milk Hotel.
One of the record's few more uptempo numbers, the track features every instrument the band had at their disposal in overdrive, from drums and guitars through brass, organ, and singing saw. Like much of the album, it takes the form of an intangible narrative loosely based around the life, hardships, and reincarnation of Anne Frank. References to death and renewal abound, while an allusion to the White Rose resistance group (which Jeff Magnum expresses he hadn't heard of before this record's release) only adds to the ethereal nature of the song, and indeed the album it's a part of. JG
Release Date: 13 October 1998
Album: In The Aeroplane Over The Sea
The second single from the 1998 album of the same name, "This Is Hardcore" is a six-and-a-half minute epic which sees Jarvis Cocker on a coke come-down, comparing his long-awaited life as a famous musician to that of a pornstar, performing cheap titillation on command for the camera. The promotional video was inspired by Still Life, a book of Hollywood film stills and promotional photography from the '40s, '50s, and '60s, and saw members of Pulp inserted into near-exact replicas of shots from films such as South Pacific and the original Ocean’s 11. An accompanying documentary short featured behind-the-scenes footage interspersed with interview clips of extras on set discussing sex, death, and pornography - the heady themes of the single’s parent album. CB
Release Date: 16 March 1998
Album: This Is Hardcore
It was their first single in the UK, but it didn't make a huge dent (only just breaking the Top 20) and has since been omitted from hits compilations in the years since. It was actually only meant as an EU territories release - debut US single "No, No, No" was released a few months earlier in 1997 - with the video (which features a cameo by Beyoncé's sister Solange) not even available in all those countries.
"With Me", which is a full five-part saga if you include the various CD single remixes and edits, is supposedly a response to "You Make Me Wanna..." by Usher. The video certainly plays up to this, with similarities in the colour scheme and similar disembodied fishbowl shots slotted into the fray.
Plus: this song marks two full decades of Bey in our lives. How time has flown.
Release Date: 20 January 1998
Album: Destiny's Child
The closing track on Death Cab For Cutie's debut record Something About Airplanes, a record which helped spearhead a new emo-infused wave of indie in the early '00s, but it has a special place for us here at The Line Of Best Fit for obvious reasons. The name of our lil site has gone unnoticed with the band, and when we had a chat with Ben Gibbard in 2011 he said: "It feels… very nice actually. Our band is named after a song by the Bonzo Dog Band, so it’s kind of nice to think that you’ve put something in the world that someone wants to name something after."
As well as all that, it's just a bona fide anthem that helped lay the foundations for Death Cab's heart-heavy, winding, wiry ballads. There'd be no "Transatlanticism" without this gem.
Release Date: 18 August 1998
Album: Something About Airplanes
Scottish electronic pair Michael Sandison and Marcus Eoin actually released "Aquarius" twice in 1998, once as an EP and a second time a few months later on their debut record Music Has The Right To Children. The landmark number is built around a sample of a song also titled "Aquarius" by Galt MacDermot and Ren Woods - which appeared in the film edition of musical Hair - and also features snippets of classic Sesame Street tapes from the late '80s.
One of the prominent spoken-word samples features a woman merely counting up from one to 36 before spouting random digits (including, famously, the number sixty-ten). Some say that this is a reference to the devil (the sum of all numbers one through 36 is 666) or potentially the illuminati, with the number 23 referenced heavily and the Sandison and Eoin having reportedly mentioned Robert Anton Wilson as an influence on their music. If you wanna head down that particular rabbit hole, head to the BoC Pages fansite.
Release Date: 5 January 1998
Album: Music Has The Right To Children
Madison, Wisconsin-born rockers Garbage first titled this jewel "Bend Me", with the final name only being settled towards the end of the whole process. During the recording sessions (full of maximalist FX experiments), the percussion was captured in an abandoned candy factory - drummer Butch Vig, guitarist Steve Marker, and sound engineer Billy Bush set up to take advantage of the unique acoustics, only to be told to move along by local police after noise complaints.
A few years after the initial release "I Think I'm Paranoid" found itself at the centre of a copyright dispute, with Helios Music Corporation filing a lawsuit against the band and their label because they believed that the track significantly infringed upon elements of "Bend Me, Shape Me", a song written by Scott English and Larry Weiss in the '60s. Garbage weren't massively fussed by the sounds of things.
Release Date: 6 July 1998
Album: Version 2.0