With so many albums being released on a daily basis, it is hard to keep track of it these days. Somehow, classics will remain as classic especially the albums that were released in the 1990’s. Let’s take a step back to remember the great music releases from two decades ago that made an impact in many of our lives growing up. 1998 was a good year for music from Lauryn Hill’s one and only solo album to Fatboy Slim’s incredibly fun album You’ve Come a Long Way Baby. Each of the 20 albums below have made a mark in 1998 and have continued to be talked about, but never forgotten.
Madonna – Ray of Light
(February 22nd, 1998)
Innovative is how you would refer to Madonna’s music career. Prior to Ray of Light, her 6th studio album Bedtime Stories released in 1994 was a beautiful mix of R&B and pop music that included the Babyface-produced smash hit “Take a Bow.” She went on to mix things up by teaming up with English electronic music producer William Orbit for Ray of Light and it was definitely ahead of its time. This is the first time that Madonna showcased her singing abilities to its fullest potential as well as taking electronic music to the mainstream arena. The results resulted in hits like “Frozen,” “Ray of Light” and “Nothing Really Matters” with four wins at the 41st Annual Grammy Awards.
Pulp – This is Hardcore
(March 30th, 1998)
UK band Pulp released their sixth album titled This is Hardcore after a very successful Different Class release. It reached the top spot in the UK Albums Chart and was nominated for the 1998 Mercury Prize too. Pulp gave us hits like “Help the Aged,” “This is Hardcore,” “A Little Soul,” and “Party Hard” through this well-received album that has ended up in many list of the best alternative or Britpop categories.
Massive Attack – Mezzanine
(April 20th, 1998)
From blockbuster movie Matrix to hit TV series House, they have managed to capture moments of anticipation so well with tunes from Massive Attack’s incredible album Mezzanine. The songs on this album have been used in many occasions especially the haunting lead single “Teardrop.” Massive Attack took on the feeling of yearning and uncertainty as a musical direction that gave us songs like “Inertia Creeps,” “Angel” and “Risingson.” This album was released during the rise of trip-hop music with acts like Tricky and Portishead who gave us incredible moments as well. 20 years later, Mezzanine remains as one of the most incredible albums that does not age.
Garbage – Version 2.0
(May 4th, 1998)
Garbage came into the music scene with a strong self-titled 1995 debut album and the follow-up sophomore release is no slack either. Version 2.0 by American rock band Garbage found lead singer Shirley Manson digging deeper into the darker approach to her lyrics which garnered the band with a few Grammy Awards nominations including Album of the Year and Best Rock Album. It gave us amazing tunes like “Push It,” “I Think I’m Paranoid,” “Special,” and more.
DMX – It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot
(May 12th, 1998)
Rapper DMX released his debut album It’s Dark and Hell is Hot in 1998 with a bang. He was known for the aggressive delivery with a distinctive growl through singles like “Get at Me Dog,” “Stop Being Greedy,” “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem,” and “How’s It Goin’ Down.” The album was produced by Dame Grease, PK, as well as Irv Gotti and Lil Rob, Younglord and Swizz Beatz. This has definitely gone down as a classic album for many hip-hop fans.
The Smashing Pumpkins – Adore
(June 2nd, 1998)
The Smashing Pumpkins were riding high from the success of their double album Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness that turn them from an alternative rock back to superstars. Even with hits like “Ava Adore” and “Perfect,” Adore was unfortunately the mark of the band’s breakup already through their blend of electronic and folk elements. Adore may not be as ground-breaking as Mellon Collie, but it leaves a special place for many Smashing Pumpkins fans. It was a defining moment in music of electronica or acoustic-driven tunes that reminds us of goth vibes in the late 1990’s.
Monica – The Boy Is Mine
(July 14th, 1998)
The title is the iconic collaboration between two young R&B artists Brandy and Monica. The latter used it as the album title for her second album in which she collaborated with producers like Dallas Austin, Daryl Simmons, David Foster, Jermaine Durpi and Rodney Jerkins. Monica continued to bring us hits after hits from The Boy Is Mine with “The First Night,” “Angel of Mine,” “Inside” and “Street Symphony.” The album also features a cover of Richard Marx’s “Right Here Waiting” with R&B group 112 and contains “For You I Will” from the Space Jam soundtrack.
Beastie Boys – Hello Nasty
(July 14th, 1998)
It felt like the world stopped for 5 minutes in order to appreciate the futuristic and comical way Beastie Boys delivered the first single “Intergalactic” off Hello Nasty. This hip-hop single was loud and in-your-face just like any Beastie Boys records, but this gave them an even bigger international appeal. Hello Nasty is undoubtedly a forward-thinking album for fans and first-time listeners. This trio’s old school hip-hop with alternative combo proved to be the most effective and topics that still got us talking until this day.
Korn – Follow the Leader
(August 18th, 1998)
Nu metal band Korn released their third album Follow the Leader produced by Steve Thompson and Toby Wright that reached the number one spot on Billboard 200 chart. This album received a very commercial success with singles like “All in the Family,” “Got the Life,” “Children of the Korn,” “B.B.K.” and “Freak on a Leash.” The last single won Best Rock Video at the MTV Video Music Awards and Best Short Form Music Video at the Grammy Awards.
Kid Rock – Devil Without a Cause
(August 18th, 1998)
Kid Rock moved away from his usual hip-hop sound to a mixture of rap and rock elements with the redneck pimp persona he portrays. His single “Cowboy” garnered him a commercial success, along with singles like “I Am the Bullgod,” “Bawitdaba,” and “Only God Knows Why.” This rock and roll rap artist has definitely gained Kid Rock a lot of attention for fusing the country rap genre as well through “Cowboy.” He even received a Grammy Awards nomination for Best New Artist despite having been in the music scene for more than 10 years in the year 2000.
Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
(August 25th, 1998)
The vocalist and rapper from hip-hop group Fugees created one of the best albums of all-time. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill broke barriers and emotions for music lovers. With just one solo album, Lauryn Hill have gained icon status and the album also became the first hip-hop release to win Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards. From “Doo Wop (That Thing)” to “Ex-Factor,” Lauryn Hill digs deep with her message and vocals that got us talking about it every year. She inspired many new artistes we have today and her songs have been sampled numerous times with the most recent one being “Nice For What” by Drake. The world will never stop talking about The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
Hole – Celebrity Skin
(September 8th, 1998)
Fronted by the ever-intriguing Courtney Love and ex-lover to the late Kurt Cobain from band Nirvana, Hole released their third album Celebrity Love and it was a departure from their old sound. The album even got Billy Corgan from The Smashing Pumpkins to write five of the songs on the album. Celebrity Skin is Hole’s most commercially successful album and is also the last release before they were disbanded in 2002. The title track is also one of the most exciting singles by Hole.
Marilyn Manson – Mechanical Animal
(September 14th, 1998)
Marilyn Manson is an enigma and despite his controversies or image, there is always a message to deliver. Mechanical Animal is Marilyn Manson’s third album release that plays with the glam rock elements from the 1970s. This album talks about fame and drug abuse which gave us singles like “The Dope Show,” “I Don’t Like the Drugs (But the Drugs Like Me),” and “Rock Is Dead.” This is also Marilyn Manson’s first album to debut at the number one spot on the Billboard 200 chart.
Jay-Z – Vol. 2... Hard Knock Life
(September 29th, 1998)
“Can I Get A...” with Amil and Ja Rule made Jay-Z a household name and the album debuted at the top of Billboard albums chart. Jay-Z went from being a respected underdog to a rap superstar with Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life. With major producers like Irv Gotti, Kid Capri, Jermaine Dupri, Swizz Beats and Timbaland on the bill, Jay-Z’s third studio album earned him a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album in 1999, but he boycotted the show because the show would not broadcast the rap nominations segment. It made the world took notice Jay-Z.
Outkast – Aquemini
(September 29th, 1998)
Before the world heard the successful “Ms. Jackson,” André 3000 and Big Boi of Outkast have been a forefront of hip-hop fusing their Atlanta influence. Aquemini is Outkast’s third album discusses about addiction, relationships as well as human nature. It received a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group with the lead single “Rosa Parks.” Along with the other singles “Skew It on the Bar-B” and “Da Art of Storytellin’ (Pt. 1),” Outkast will always be known for their unique approach to music and lyrics, which makes them stand out among the rest.
Fatboy Slim – You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby
(October 19th, 1998)
It was a rise of electronic dance music producers and Fatboy Slim was definitely at the forefront with You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby as the songs from the album were heard in many major TV shows and movies. This UK producer gave us memorable tunes like “The Rockafeller Skank,” “Gangster Tripping,” “Praise You,” and “Right Here, Right Now.” He became an international household name that got us dancing in the clubs to our own homes. This album released won him a Brit Awards in 1999 for Britist Dance Act.
Robbie Williams – I’ve Been Expecting You
(October 26th, 1998)
The bad boy of Take That released his second solo album I’ve Been Expecting You after a successful debut Life thru a Lens. This is the album that spawned hits like “Millenium,” “She’s The One” and “No Regrets.” It was the era when members of boybands would go solo and Robbie Williams did it so well. I’ve Been Expecting You went on to become UK’s best-selling album of the year and plenty of recognition from Europe, Latin America and Asia.
Alanis Morissette - Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie
(November 3rd, 1998)
Comparing to her previous album Jagged Little Pill, this isn’t Alanis Morissette’s best work, but Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie managed to bag 2 Grammy Award nominations for “Thank U” and “So Pure.” This Canadian-American artist received the Album of the Year at Juno Awards for this release. It required an acquired taste for this album, but one thing is for sure- Alanis Morissette is a one of a kind artist of her time.
Mariah Carey – #1’s
(November 17th, 1998)
According to Mariah Carey, #1’s is not a greatest hits album because they are merely a collection of her number one hits. This album also features the lead single “Sweetheart” with producer/rapper Jermaine Dupri, that duet with Whitney Houston on “When You Believe,” a re-released “Whenever You Call” with Brian McKnight, as well as covers of Brenda K. Starr’s “I Still Believe” and Diana Ross’ “Do You Know Where You're Going To (Theme from Mahogany).” It received mixed reviews, but it was a refreshing release that won Best Original Song at the 71st annual Academy Awards for “When You Believe.”
Whitney Houston – My Love Is Your Love
(November 17th, 1998)
The late Whitney Houston released her fourth album after cruising on her acting career in The Bodyguard, Waiting to Exhale and The Preacher’s Wife. Her last studio album I’m Your Baby Tonight was released eight years before that. Whitney teamed up with super producers Rodney Jerkins, Soulshock & Karlin, Missy Elliott, Wyclef Jean, David Foster, and Babyface to receive seven Grammy nominations in 2000. My Love Is Your Love received more success outside of America, but her music comeback in 1998 definitely left a great mark in music with songs like “It’s Not Right but It’s Okay,” “Heartbreak Hotel” and “My Love Is Your Love.”
Writer | Kevin Yeoh
Kevin was the former editor of two music and lifestyle platforms in Malaysia. He is an all-round music enthusiast from the '90's R&B to K-Pop.