Various Artists

Now: 1998

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This installment of the Now series compiles some of 1998's biggest hits. But while there are favorites from the international stage -- U2's "Sweetest Thing," Fatboy Slim's unstoppable "Rockefeller Skank," the club sensation "Music Sounds Better With You" from Thomas Bangalter's Stardust -- this material will ring truer with U.K. audiences. For example, All Saints' "Never Never" made a dent domestically, but was a huge hit in the group's native England. The same goes for Melanie B.'s Missy Elliott collabo "I Want You Back." There are a few ringers here -- 1998: Millennium Edition might be the only comp to ever include both LeAnn Rimes' "How Do I Live" and Radiohead's "No Surprises." Also here are a few one-off singles from the year that was. Billie Myers' atmospheric, desperate "Kiss the Rain" continues to resonate, and the disposable bop of Vengaboys' "Up and Down" is at least as addicting as "We Like to Party," the group's bigger hit. This isn't surprising, as "Up and Down" (followed here by the similarly fun Euro-dance thrum of Aqua's "Doctor Jones") is nearly the same song. While the disposable quality and very frequency of the Now compilations makes this year-end version almost immediately dated, it is a concise packaging of the year's sounds.

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