Top 10 Pop Songs of 1998

1998 was a year of musical diversity. From Celine Dion's traditional big pop ballad "My Heart Will Go On" to Madonna and Jay-Z pushing musical boundaries with their latest work. Musical eclecticism is the order of the day for 1998.

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Madonna - "Ray Of Light"

Madonna Ray of Light
Madonna - "Ray of Light". Courtesy Warner Bros.

With her first completely new studio album in 4 years, Madonna brought electronica to the top of the pop charts. Working with collaborator William Orbit, the music sounded fresh, new, and invigorating. The song peaked at #5 on the US pop chart and features a celebrated Jonas Akerlund music video.

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Jay-Z - "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)"

Jay-Z Vol. 2 Hard Knock Life
Jay-Z - Vol. 2 Hard Knock Life. Courtesy Roc-a-Fella

Jay-Z consolidated his status as the best of East Coast rappers with this brilliant single that weaves a showstopping number from the Broadway musical Annie into a stunning hip hop opus. Pop audiences were made aware that the range of experimentation in hip hop was limitless. Peaking at #15 on the pop singles chart, "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)" became Jay-Z's biggest pop hit to date.

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Backstreet Boys - "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)"

Backstreet Boys Everybody Backstreet's Back
Backstreet Boys - "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)". Courtesy Jive

With the backlash against boy bands, too few remember that some great pop songs were recorded by these all male vocal groups. This is a pop masterpiece that helped the Backstreet Boys conquer the hearts of millions. Peaking at #4 on the pop singles chart, it was the group's second top 5 charting smash.

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Deborah Cox - "Nobody's Supposed To Be Here"

Deborah Cox Nobody's Supposed To Be Here
Deborah Cox - "Nobody's Supposed To Be Here". Courtesy Arista

This song is a gorgeous r&b ballad, but revved up with a club mix, it is one of the top dance hits of the decade. Record industry execs intended Deborah Cox to be the next Whitney Houston. That didn't quite work, but she did contribute this timeless smash. The song peaked at #2 on the pop singles chart while going all the way to #1 on the dance chart. It also topped the R&B chart for a phenomenal 14 weeks.

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Sarah McLachlan - "Adia"

Sarah McLachlan Adia
Sarah McLachlan - "Adia". Courtesy Arista

Sarah McLachlan's voice is almost other-worldly in its beauty. This single came out as the Lilith Fair all-female concert tour, organized by McLachlan, was kicking into gear. Peaking at #3 on the pop chart, it was Sarah McLachlan's top 10 breakthrough in the US.

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Ben Folds Five - "Brick"

Ben Folds Five Brick
Ben Folds Five - "Brick". Courtesy Epic

Ben Folds and company brought the issue of abortion on to the pop charts, from a male point of view. A particularly fascinating twist is that it seems the male narrator of the song is selfish and a bit of a jerk. Lyrically, this is one of the most unique major hit songs of the 90's. It was a top 10 hit on the modern rock chart and broke into the top 20 on the pop chart.

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Will Smith - "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It"

Will Smith Gettin' Jiggy Wit It
Will Smith - "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It". Courtesy Sony

Will Smith set out solo for the first time, and the results were very pleasing. His brand of clean, good-humored, party hip hop caught on instantly. The song went all the way to #1 and earned a gold certification for sales.

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Alanis Morissette - "Uninvited"

Alanis Morissette Uninvited
Alanis Morissette - "Uninvited". Courtesy Maverick

This is one of Alanis Morissette's most memorable, and lyrically uncluttered, songs. The gothic, foreboding musical textures match well with her vocal intensity. It was her fifth top 10 pop hit peaking at #4. "Uninvited" topped the mainstream pop radio chart.

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Barenaked Ladies - "One Week"

Barenaked Ladies One Week
Barenaked Ladies - "One Week". Courtesy Reprise

For many, the mileage varied on Barenaked Ladies' breakthrough hit. The pure kinetic energy of "One Week" certainly invigorated pop radio playlists, but a little of the cheeky, self-indulgent humor can go a long way. The song served as Barenaked Ladies commercial breakthrough in the US going all the way to #1 on the pop singles chart.

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Celine Dion - "My Heart Will Go On (Love Theme From 'Titanic')"

Celine Dion My Heart Will Go On
Celine Dion - "My Heart Will Go On". Courtesy Columbia

This was certainly one of the most over-played ballads of the year. However, if you listen once again, the song is beautiful, and Celine Dion is one of the most reliable voices in the business. The song was a worldwide #1 pop smash.