The 98 Best Songs of 1998: Pop's Weirdest Year

In 1998, boundaries blew open and new genres were invented each week. We look back at the best, brightest and weirdest from a pivotal year in pop

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40. The Verve, "Bitter Sweet Symphony"

The Verve's Richard Ashcroft was born to be a rock star: 40 per cent lips, 40 per cent cheekbones, 20 per cent shades, until he opened his mouth and became 100 per cent poetic pretensions. In the great tradition of English bands, the Verve hated each other so much they broke up every time they made an album. "Bitter Sweet Symphony" is Mad Richard at his most shamanic, a six-minute rant where he warns, "I'm a million different people from one day to the next," plus a video where he struts down the street knocking everyone else aside. "Bitter Sweet Symphony" sampled an orchestral remake of the Rolling Stones' "The Last Time," a song the Stones signed over to infamous ex-manager Allen Klein when they were under his thumb. To nobody's surprise except the Verve's, Klein sued; they lost the rights to their biggest hit. (That's why it's officially credited to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, even though it sounds nothing like the Stones' version of a gospel standard they had no business claiming as an original in the first place.) "Bitter Sweet Symphony" was the Verve's triumph, making them international stars. Needless to say, they immediately broke up.

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