Tuesday, August 25, 1998

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill released August 25, 1998

image from rollingout.com

Originally posted 8/25/2012. Updated 3/9/2013.

Released: 25 August 1998
Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.) 1. Intro 2. Lost Ones (5/30/98, #27a RB) 3. Ex-Factor (1/2/99, #11a US, #4 UK, #1a RB) 4. To Zion (with Santana) (1/2/99, #63a RB) 5. Doo Wop (That Thing) (10/3/98, #1 US, #3 UK, #2 RB, sales: 0.5 m) 6. Superstar 7. Final Hour 8. When It Hurts So Bad 9. I Used to Love Him 10. Forgive Them Father 11. Every Ghetto, Every City 12. Nothing Ever Matters (with D’Angelo) (1/2/99, #20a RB) 13. Everything Is Everything (5/8/99, #35 US, #19 UK, #14 RB, sales: 0.5 m) 15. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill 16. Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You (6/13/98, #35a US, #10a RB) 17. The Sweetest Thing (with Refugee Camp Allstars) (4/5/97, #61a US, #18 UK, #2a RB)

Sales (in millions): 8.0 US, 0.6 UK, 15.6 world (includes US and UK)

Peak: 14 US, 2 UK


Review: Lauryn Hill had distinguished herself as “most distinctive voice” AZ and “social heart” AMG of the rap group the Fugees, but “few were prepared for her stunning debut.” AMG It sold more than 15 million copies worldwide, was a number one album in the U.S., and landed her eight Grammys, including Album of the Year and Best New Artist. She took “seventies soul and made it boom and signify to the hip-hop generation.” RS

Miseducation “is infused with African-American musical history.” EW Not only does Hill serve up an “Aretha Franklin–caliber vocal,” TM but she “has the funky grunt of vintage Stevie Wonder” EW and “recalls the moral fervency of Bob Marley” EW as well as the “uptown soul of Roberta Flack.” EW However, “Miseducation is no withdrawal from the nostalgia bank.” EW She also keeps things current, collaborating with R&B superstars like D’Angelo and Mary J. Blige, and “flowing from singing to rapping, evoking the past while forging her future.” EW Her “verses were intelligent and hardcore, with the talent to rank up there with Method Man” AMG and “she could move from tough to smooth in a flash, with a vocal prowess that allowed her to be her own chanteuse (à la Mariah Carey).” AMG “If her performing talents, vocal range, and songwriting smarts weren’t enough, Hill also produced much of the record, ranging from stun-gun hip-hop to smoother R&B with little trouble.” AMG

While she wasn’t shooting for a blockbuster, “she clearly realizes the benefit of wrapping even the harshest rhetoric in mesmerizing grooves.” EW “The swinging sermon” RS Doo Wop (That Thing) was a chart-topper which also was “an intelligent dissection of the sex game that saw it from both angles.” AMG That song’s line, “How you gonna win if you ain’t right within?’ also “turns out to be the defining question of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.” TM

Doo Wop (That Thing)

“You can hear and feel the messages she tries to get across about God, love, motherhood, and life.” CS The album was “a collection of overtly personal and political statements.” AMG On To Zion, which features Carlos Santana, about putting her family before her career. She also “speaks eloquently on how the creators of urban music could use a moral compass,” TM putting the industry – including her own former bandmates and record execs – for putting “more emphasis on the bottom line than making great music.” AMG

“Yet the beauty of the album lies in Hill’s ability to make her self-righteousness ravishing.” EW She made “an album of often astonishing strength and feeling” EW which is “a perfect blend of hip-hop, R&B, gospel, and soul.” CS It is “one of the best solo female albums ever recorded.” CS

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Monday, June 8, 1998

Time – People of the Century

image from cnn.com

As the 20th century came to a close, Time magazine published a series of magazines detailing its list of the 100 Most Important People of the Century. They were categorized in five sections: Leaders & Revolutionaries, Scientists & Thinkers, Builders & Titans, Artists & Entertainers, and Heroes & Icons. Albert Einstein was chosen as the Person of the Century. Listed below are the musicians who made the list, specifically in the June 8, 1998 issue on Artists & Entertainers:

  • Louis Armstrong
  • The Beatles
  • Bob Dylan
  • Aretha Franklin
  • Oscar Hammerstein II
  • Richard Rodgers
  • Frank Sinatra
  • Igor Stravinksy


Saturday, February 28, 1998

Celine Dion hit #1 with “My Heart Will Go On”: February 28, 1998

Originally posted 1/7/2015.

image from theatlantic.com

Celine Dion “My Heart Will Go On”

Writer(s): James Horner/ Will Jennings (see lyrics here)

First charted: 13 December 1997

Peak: 110 * US, 110 AC, 12 UK (Click for codes to singles charts.)
* Song peaked at #1 for 2 weeks on the Hot 100, but was #1 for 10 weeks on the airplay chart.

Sales (in millions): 0.6 US, 1.48 UK, 15.0 world (includes US and UK)

Radio Airplay (in millions): -- Video Airplay (in millions): 108.33

Review: When Titanic was released in 1997, it was the most expensive film ever made. TB-284 Such an oversized budget needed a larger-than-life voice to soundtrack it and Celine Dion was an obvious choice. True, detractors berated her over-the-top performance style and cheesy sentimentality as overwhelming her undeniably huge talent, but since that was often the same criticism of Titanic director James Cameron, hers was just the right voice to help sink one of the most hyped ships of all time.

In actuality, Cameron only wanted instrumental music in the film. BR1-864 As Walter Afanasieff, one of the song’s co-producers said, “Cameron didn’t want anything modern in his film…It was a period piece and he wanted to be true to the music of the time.” BR1-864 However, when James Horner composed “a melody to die for,” TB-284 lyricist Will Jennings couldn’t resist.

The song had a simple structure, but a range which few pop singers could handle. LW-179 Since Horner had a good relationship with Dion, LW-179 he asked her to record it, even though she didn’t like it initially. BR1-864 The originally reluctant director was won over. Jennings says that when Horner played the demo over the movie’s finale, “Cameron had to leave the room to compose himself.” BR1-864

Understandably, the melodramatic song drew eyerolls from some accusing it of being “overwrought and overblown,” TB-284 but the “money-shot line of ‘Near…far…whereeeeeeeever you are’…[made for] an operatic moment of almost Wagnerian pop.” TB-284 Truth be told, after Leonardo DiCaprio slips from his lover Kate Winslet’s grasp and into his watery grave, most of the audience were scrounging for tissues when the song kicked in as the credits rolled.

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Note: Footnotes (raised letter codes) refer to sources frequently cited on the blog. Numbers following the letter code indicate page numbers. If the raised letter code is a link, it will go directly to the correct page instead of the home page of a website. You can find the sources and corresponding footnotes on the “Lists” page in the “Song Resources” section.