Tunes Du Jour Presents 1998

The year 1998 was a watershed moment for popular music. Emerging from the stylistic chaos and radical experimentation of the early/mid ’90s, the music of 1998 represented a culmination of daring artistic visions cohering into some of the most innovative, insightful, and flat-out infectious songs of the decade. Across genres, it was a year that shattered boundaries and solidified legends – a prolific melting pot of game-changing sounds destined to endure.

One of the standout tracks of the year was The Verve’s “Bitter Sweet Symphony,” a song that fused rock with sweeping orchestral arrangements, creating an anthemic yet melancholic sound that resonated with a wide audience. Its poignant lyrics and grandiose strings captured a sense of wistful longing and existential reflection that felt emblematic of the complicated late ’90s zeitgeist. Similarly, Radiohead’s “Karma Police” continued to explore the darker, more unsettling side of human experience with its haunting melody and cryptic lyrics, solidifying the band’s status as one of alt-rock’s most vital and cerebral forces.

The late ’90s also saw electronic music rapidly integrating into the mainstream pop landscape in visionary ways. Fatboy Slim’s “The Rockafeller Skank” was an explosively funky example of this trend, with its gritty, sample-heavy production and addictive dancefloor-ready beats. Stardust’s “Music Sounds Better With You” took a more soulful tack, combining classic house rhythms with a simple yet instantly catchy vocal hook to create an enduring dancefloor classic still beloved today. And the Norman Cook remix of Cornershop’s “Brimful of Asha” ingeniously blended Indian folk sounds with UK club vibes for a globe-spanning hit. For seekers of more atmospheric, boundary-pushing electronica, Massive Attack’s “Teardrop” provided a hypnotic, cinematic soundscape. This fertile era helped lay the groundwork for electronic music’s dominance in pop in the coming decades.

Hip-hop and R&B asserted their cultural force in 1998 as well, with few tracks as powerful as Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing)” – an undeniable feminist anthem of self-respect powered by Hill’s dexterous rapping and soulful crooning. Her ability to fuse hip-hop bravado with uplifting, socially-conscious lyricism over neo-soul grooves earned her massive critical acclaim. Similarly future-leaning was Aaliyah’s “Are You That Somebody?” which saw the singer’s sultry vocals gliding over Timbaland’s percussive, synthetic production for an alluringly sleek sound that felt years ahead of its time. 

While maintaining their commercial clout, pop’s biggest icons weren’t afraid to musically reinvent themselves in 1998. Madonna’s “Ray of Light” saw the Queen of Pop shedding her known persona for a more spiritually inquisitive stance matched by the song’s trance-inflected electronica textures. And Janet Jackson’s “Together Again” honored loved ones lost to AIDS with its uplifting, gospel-tinged dance-pop sound tempering heavier subject matter.

In retrospect, the diverse brilliance of 1998’s musical landscape feels almost overwhelming. From fist-pumping dancefloor anthems to raw outpourings of soul, from guitar-driven songs of profundity to mindblowing productions that rewrote pop’s boundaries – the year’s music seamlessly bridged the underground and the mainstream in a way that felt thrillingly new. It was the sound of artists across genres at their hungriest and most inspired, creating the shared musical memories that still bond generations of fans together in nostalgic reverie decades later. For many, 1998 was simply the rarest of cultural moments – when everything intersected with perfection. 

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Tunes Du Jour Presents 2002

The year 2002 was a turbulent one for the world, marked by wars, terrorism, scandals, and natural disasters. But it was also a year of creativity, innovation, and diversity in music. From hip-hop to rock, from pop to indie, from dance to folk, the music of 2002 reflected the mood and spirit of the times, offering both escapism and commentary, both nostalgia and novelty, both challenge and comfort.

One of the most dominant genres of the year was hip-hop, which reached new heights of popularity and influence. Eminem’s Lose Yourself became an anthem of determination and resilience, while Missy Elliott’s Work It showcased her inventive and playful style. Nelly’s Hot in Herre was a summer smash, while Clipse’s Grindin’ introduced a minimalist and gritty sound. Tweet and Missy Elliott’s Oops (Oh My) was a sensual and empowering ode to self-love, while Truth Hurts and Rakim’s Addictive sampled a Bollywood song and sparked a controversy. Cam’ron’s Oh Boy featured a catchy sample of Rose Royce’s I’m Going Down, while Khia’s My Neck, My Back (Lick It) was a raunchy and explicit hit.

Rock music also had a strong presence in 2002, with a variety of styles and sounds. Elvis Presley’s A Little Less Conversation (JXL Edit) was a remix of a 1968 song that became a worldwide hit, thanks to its inclusion in a Nike commercial. Avril Lavigne’s Complicated was a pop-rock anthem for the rebellious and misunderstood youth, while Coldplay’s In My Place was a melancholic and soaring ballad. The Strokes’ Hard to Explain was a garage rock revival, while Wilco’s Jesus, Etc. was a country-rock masterpiece. Interpol’s Obstacle 1 was a post-punk gem, while Spoon’s The Way We Get By was a catchy and quirky indie rock tune. The Libertines’ What a Waster was a punk rock blast, while Bruce Springsteen’s The Rising was a tribute to the victims and heroes of 9/11.

Pop music also had its share of hits and surprises in 2002, with some old and new faces. Christina Aguilera’s Dirrty was a provocative and edgy reinvention, while Beyonce’s Work It Out was a funky and soulful solo debut. Brandy’s What About Us was a futuristic and sleek R&B track, while No Doubt’s Hella Good was a disco and rock fusion. Bjork’s Pagan Poetry was a haunting and experimental song, while Las Ketchup’s Asereje was a catchy and silly novelty. Alanis Morissette’s Hands Clean was a confessional and catchy pop-rock song, while Rufus Wainwright’s Across the Universe was a beautiful and faithful cover of the Beatles classic.

Some of the most memorable songs of 2002 were not easily categorized, but rather blended genres and styles. Sugababes’ Freak Like Me was a mash-up of Adina Howard’s Freak Like Me and Gary Numan’s Are ‘Friends’ Electric?, creating a pop and electro masterpiece. The Flaming Lips’ Do You Realize?? was a psychedelic and uplifting song, while X-Press 2’s Lazy was a house and spoken word collaboration with David Byrne. The Streets’ Weak Become Heroes was a rap and piano tribute to rave culture, while Doves’ There Goes The Fear was a rock and electronic epic.

The music of 2002 was a reflection of the year itself: diverse, unpredictable, exciting, and sometimes challenging. It was a year of contrasts and surprises, of highs and lows, of old and new. It was a year that gave us some of the most memorable songs of the 21st century, and a year that we can revisit through this playlist. Enjoy!

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Glenn’s Ten – 7/16/14

There are two new entries in Glenn’s Ten this week – Spoon’s “Do You” and Beck’s “Heart is a Drum.” They replace Conor Oberst’s “Hundreds of Ways” and Paramore’s “Ain’t It Fun.” The Oberst track had a ten-week run. The Paramore track entered Glenn’s Ten the first week in April and spent two weeks at #1.

Glenn’s Ten for this week is:
1. “Every Time the Sun Comes Up” – Sharon Van Etten
2. “Somethin’ Bad” – Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood
3. “Control” – Broken Bells
4. “Do You” – Spoon
5. “West Coast” – Lana Del Rey
6. “Heart is a Drum” – Beck
7. “Just One Drink” – Jack White
8. “Do It Again” – Röyksopp and Robyn
9. “Come Get It Bae” – Pharrell Williams
10. “Love Never Felt So Good” – Michael Jackson

Rounding out today’s playlist are ten tunes that were #1 on this date in Glenn’s Ten history, in reverse chronological order.

Happy Hanukkah!

Tonight is the first of the eight nights of Hanukkah, so I thought I’d treat my readers to a Hanukkah playlist, with the hope that you’re not tired of all the Hanukkah music played on the radio and in stores this time of year.

I wanted to start with Beck’s “Little Drum Machine Boy,” which tells the little-known story of the Robot Funk, who does the blessing over the menorah candles, and the Hanukkah Pimp. Unfortunately, this holiday classic is not on Spotify.

As I couldn’t use the Beck song, I decided to kick off with the classic “Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel” as performed by the cast of South Park. Unfortunately, this holiday classic is not on Spotify.

Does Spotify have “Hanukkah Rocks” by Gefilte Joe & the Fish? No? Okay, then. Clearly Spotify is taking sides in the War On Hanukkah.

Suffice to say I have enough Hanukkah songs for each night of the holiday, save the last five.

Running out of Hanukkah-specific tunes, I turn to holiday fare associated with that other big holiday that’s coming up. Many of these songs are considered Christmas classics; however, they don’t mention Jesus or Santa, so for our purposes they now will be considered Hanukkah classics.

With those songs in the mix, our playlist clocks in at just over a half hour. Sigh. I’m adding in Thanksgiving tunes. Enjoy your holidays!