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Backstreet Boys hit Dubai stage as some popular nineties songs turn 20 this year

Rachel McArthur

Published: Updated:

Backstreet’s back, alright. Following their first appearance in Dubai in 2008, the boys are returning – now as their original fivesome – for a sold-out appearance at the Blended Festival on 22 April. Tickets for this show have been like gold dust… in fact, they’re so hard to find that people on social media are still scrambling to find tickets.

There’s just something about 90s nostalgia that seems to get people going these days. It was a simpler time… LA Gears were in fashion, mobile phones were just about becoming a thing, and the closest thing to social media was in the form of ICQ and MSN Messenger.

Music was arguably one of the biggest talking points amongst teens; Smash Hits was one of the most popular magazines around, and MTV actually played music videos, many of which we tried to record by holding a cassette recorder as close to the TV as possible (and how annoying would it be when the channel cut off the song before it ended?)

So to celebrate the return of one of the biggest boybands to the region, here’s a look at 20 of the most popular pop songs of 1998. How many do you remember?

1) ...Baby One More Time - Britney Spears

Released: October 23, 1998

This has to be one of the most iconic songs of 1998 - the year that introduced the world to a 17-year-old pop princess in the making.

“Ah, yes the schoolgirl outfit,” says Tamer Hassan. “There was not a single teenage boy who didn’t have a crush on Britney at the time. And all the girls wanted to be her!”

2) Believe - Cher

Released: October 19, 1998

If there was one song you couldn’t avoid on the radio, it was this one. Staying at Number One for what seemed like an eternity, there was no escaping ‘Believe’.

“Everybody was mimicking that robot voice,” says Tamara Fahim. “In fact, I think if apps were available back then, someone would have released a Cher voice manipulator!”

3) You’re Still the One - Shania Twain

Released: January 27, 1998

Another massively overplayed song of the nineties, ‘You’re Still the One’ became the go-to track for star-crossed lovers, and the lead choice for many-a-mix tape. Wonder where all those cassette tapes are now…

4) The Boy Is Mine - Brandy and Monica

Released: May 19, 1998

If you ever argued over a crush with your mate, then chances are you blasted this anthem once… or a hundred times.

5) My All - Mariah Carey

Released: April 21, 1998

Say what you will, but we think ‘Butterfly’ is one of Mariah Carey’s best albums to date. And ‘My All’ was a sensual and seductive track that also no doubt made it onto many mixtapes in the 90s.

6) Turn Back Time - Aqua

Released: May 18, 1998

They were known as the quirky Danish group that sang about Barbies and Doctor Jones, so it was strange - and refreshing - to see Aqua scale it back and release something totally different. ‘Turn Back Time’ was a song featured on the soundtrack for the film ‘Sliding Doors’.

7) Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It - Will Smith

Released: January 27, 1998

One that still gets people on their feet today, ‘Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It’ became one of Will Smith’s catchiest tunes of the nineties.

8) Millennium - Robbie Williams

Released: September 7, 1998

Remember when everyone started freaking out about the ‘millenium bug’ in 1999? Well, British pop star and Take That alumni Robbie Williams was singing about the thousand years a year before. This became his first Number One single.

9) Because of You – 98 Degrees

Released: September 22, 1998

Another boyband massively popular in the 90s was 98 Degrees, comprising Nick and Drew Lachey, Justin Jeffre and Jeff Timmons. Fun fact: Unlike most boy bands, the foursome got together independently and were later picked up by a record label.

10) All I Have to Give - Backstreet Boys

Released: January 13, 1998

This single was the only one that the BSBs released in 1998, due to the fact they were heavily touring at the time. Sarah Mahmoud from Egypt recalls how this single was very traumatic for some: “We were middle schoolers at the time and for some reason a rumour started going round claiming that Nick Carter had died in a car crash. Of course, it was false, but remember, it was a time when satellite and the internet were barely available. So many girls were traumatised!”

11) No Matter What – Boyzone

Released: August 3, 1998

One of the most successful songs by the Irish boyband, going Platinum in countries including the UK, Australia and Germany, ‘No Matter What’ was the only Boyzone hit to become popular in the United States.

12) When the Lights Go Out - 5ive

Released: March 2, 1998

The nineties were of course full of boy bands, and 5ive were considered the bad boys of that world (haha). ‘When the Lights Go Out’ was one of the group’s few tracks that gained success in both their native UK and the US. Which was a big deal back then.

13) Frozen - Madonna

Released: March 17, 1998

The queen of reinvention was back, this time with ‘Frozen’, the lead single off Madonna’s seventh studio album, ‘Ray of Light’. Collaborating with William Orbit, it marked a totally new direction for the songstress; fans and critics were impressed.

14) Ghetto Supastar (That Is What You Are)

Released: June 9, 1998

Produced by Wyclef Jean and Jerry ‘Wonda’ Duplessis for American rapper Pras’ debut solo album of the same name, ‘Ghetto Supastar’ was a hit and a half. A great summer anthem.

15) I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing - Aerosmith

Released: August 18, 1998

Selling over one million copies in the UK alone, this single – which is Aerosmith’s biggest hit to date – is an anthem. It was the lead track off the film ‘Armageddon’ which starred Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler’s daughter Liv.

16) Viva Forever - Spice Girls

Released: July 20, 1998

This was the song that, sniff, marked the departure of Geri Halliwell. Cue heartbreak for millions of fans around the world.

17) Goodbye - Spice Girls

Released: December 14, 1998

The heartbreak didn’t stop at ‘Viva Forever’ – the Spice Girls then released ‘Goodbye’, their first single without the vocals of Geri, and we all knew it was the end of the Spice Girls as we knew them.

18) Because We Want To - Billie

Released: 29 June 1998

The Spice Girls were on their way out, and the world needed more rebellious girls to keep the spirit of girl power alive. Enter Billie aka Billie Piper with her Number One anthem ‘Because We Want To’. It so popular it became the official song of the 1999 Women’s World Cup.

19) C’est la Vie - B*Witched

Released: 25 May 1998

A little more wholesome were Irish quartet B*Witched, who burst onto the scene with their debut single, ‘C’est La Vie’. The song was a huge hit across the world.

20) All My Life - K-Ci & JoJo

Released: March 17, 1998

One played at every prom in the 90s, ‘All My Life’ was a huge commercial success, becoming the R&B duo’s longest-running number-one single of their career.

EXTRA, EXTRA – Backstreet Boys live in Dubai: Here's your essential pre-gig playlist:

1. We’ve Got It Goin’ On
2. Get Down (You’re the One for Me)
3. Quit Playing Games (with My Heart)
4. Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)
5. As Long as You Love Me
6. I Want It That Way
7. Larger than Life
8. Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely
9. Shape of My Heart
10. More than That