Top 10 Rock Songs of 1998

Everlast reminded us 'What It's Like'

There was a lot of flying happening on the rock charts in 1998. Pearl Jam, Lenny Kravitz and the Offspring all scored big with “fly” songs, while other bands ruminated on flying from relationships and dingy bars. Now, let's take a look at the tunes that got stuck in our heads in 1998.

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The Offspring - "Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)"

The Offspring -
Columbia

This hodgepodge story about a dweeb trying to show his hip-hop muscle was equal parts parody and gleeful guitar riffing. The Offspring sampled Def Leppard’s “Rock of Ages” for the intro, threw in some lusty female backing vocals and sat back and watched the song’s popularity skyrocket. Comedic artist “Weird Al” Yankovic tipped his hat to the jam with his “Pretty Fly (For a Rabbi).”

Semisonic Feeling Strangely Fine
MCA

It pains this writer to call Semisonic a one-hit wonder band, as its 1998 album, Feeling Strangely Fine (MCA), is a power-pop masterstroke. But it was the bubbly tome about last call at a bar that earned the trio its kudos. “Closing Time” staggered to number one on the Modern Rock charts and to number 8 on the overall Billboard Top 40. Singer/songwriter Dan Wilson went on to collaborate with huge names such as Adele, Taylor Swift and Pink.

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550 Music

Written by guitarist Carl Bell about an ex of his caught in a bad marriage, “Shimmer” effortlessly straddled the rock and pop worlds. Sincere lyrics meshed with strings and the longing vocals of Brett Scallions. The top of the charts wasn’t “too far away for (Fuel) to hold”— this single zoomed to number 2 on the Modern Rock stats in 1998.

Days of the New
Outpost

So much of Days of the New’s vibe was immersed in grunge tactics: dropped Db tuning, angst-ridden crooning, inscrutable words… But if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. DOTN stuck to their formula and solidified a spot at number 3 on the Mainstream Rock charts for the third single off their self-titled debut album. Not long after, everyone but front man Travis Meeks would shelve his involvement with the band.

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Epic

A twisting, anthemic tale off the underrated Yield (Epic), “Given To Fly” saw Eddie Vedder and crew at their artsiest. Pulsating wah pedals bolstered the singer’s enraptured emoting (possibly) about the Christian son of God. (“A human being that was given to fly” returns to earth to give others the key to eternal freedom.) The gutsy single enjoyed six weeks atop the Mainstream Rock charts and became a favorite in live performances.

Lenny Kravitz - 5
Virgin

The man who would be Cinna was everywhere in 1998. His knack for catchy, impressive riffs paid off: The chord climb in “Fly Away” would become a theme song for Southwest Airlines and Nissan, and it nabbed him a Grammy in 1999. Unlike Samson, Kravitz didn’t lose his superhuman rock ‘n’ roll powers when he cut his famous hair— “Fly Away” morphed into an across-the-globe hit.

04
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Green Day - "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)

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Reprise

Long before he was covering the Everly Brothers with Norah Jones and starring on Broadway, Billie Joe Armstrong was known for his snotty punk-pop songs. Secretly, he always had a gift for sensitive songwriting, as proven by this acoustic gem originally penned in 1990. The experiment was successful: “Good Riddance” has since sold more than 2 million copies.

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RCA

Named after an X-Files character, Eve 6 were a polite yet verbose radio-friendly bunch. “Inside Out” was Red Bull-fueled adolescent poetry, but the music was so punchy that one couldn’t resist shouting along. “Wanna put my tender heart in a blender” was so grabbing that nu-metal dudes Limp Bizkit would borrow the phrase for “Nookie” the following year.

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Warner Bros.

For a fellow who sang, “I don’t want the world to see me ’cause I don’t think that they’d understand,” Johnny Rzeznik sure made the rounds in 1998. He and his Goo Goo Dolls compatriots couldn’t help it; “Iris” was a huge crossover success. Rock fans dug the singer’s passion, and pop lovers melted over the heartfelt lyrics. Not too many people remember the Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan movie in which it appeared, but “Iris” remains a ’90s classic.

01
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Everlast - "What It's Like"

Everlast -
Island

From House of Pain to Whitey Ford Sings the Blues(Tommy Boy), Everlast had a diverse career. This 1998 solo outing showed a downtrodden thug admitting his flaws, and audiences fully embraced this openness. The mellow yet seething song reached number one on both the Mainstream and Modern Rock charts and reintroduced the “Jump Around” artist to the world.

Chart positions courtesy Tunecaster.com