Top 10 Pop Songs of 1998

Erykah Badu and Wyclef Jean perform at the 1998 Grammy Awards
Erykah Badu and Wyclef Jean perform at the 1998 Grammy Awards.

KMazur / WireImage

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, which is reflected in the diversity seen in this list of the top 10 pop songs of the year.

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Madonna - "Ray Of Light"

Album art for Madonna - "Ray of Light"

Warner Bros.

With her first completely new studio album in 4 years, Madonna brought electronica to the top of the pop charts with "Ray of Light." 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)"

Album art for Jay-Z - "Vol. 2 Hard Knock Life"


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)"

Album art for Backstreet Boys - "Backstreet's Back"


With the backlash against boy bands, too few remember that some great pop songs were recorded by these all-male vocal groups. "Everybody" 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"

Album art for Deborah Cox - "Nobody's Supposed To Be Here"


"Nobody's Supposed to Be Here" 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"

Album art for Sarah McLachlan - "Adia"


Sarah McLachlan's voice is almost other-worldly in its beauty. "Adia" 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"

Album art for Ben Folds Five - "Brick"


Ben Folds and company brought the issue of abortion on to the pop charts, from a male point of view, with "Brick." 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 '90s. 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"

Album art for Will Smith - "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It"


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. "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It" went all the way to #1 and earned a gold certification for sales.

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Alanis Morissette - "Uninvited"

Album art for Alanis Morissette - "Uninvited"


"Uninvited" 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"

Album art for Barenaked Ladies - "One Week"


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')"

Album art for Celine Dion - "My Heart Will Go On"


"My Heart Will Go On" 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.