In 1998 Hardcore was still riding high in the rave world. Arenas were still selling out month after month and releases were even charting.
The sound had evolved from the early days into something a lot deeper and production values had risen considerably too. Vocal tracks had gone from a simple hook to full blown songs, much to the annoyance of those that liked it a bit darker.
For those that preferred it a little less cheesy, Freeform and Trancecore had emerged and they would change the scene permanently.
As you are probably already aware, we at Retroheadz are serious Hardcore fans and remember these times as though they were only yesterday. So let us guide you through 20 of the greatest Hardcore tracks from 1998.
20. DJ Storm – (Now) Who’s In Control
Dj Storm is still a big name in the Hardcore scene and it’s thanks in no small part to his early releases on Blatant Beats. (Now) Who’s In Control is an absolute banger that had a much harder Bouncy Techno sound than your traditional releases.
19. Hixxy & Sunset Present OMG! – Fairytale (Full On)
Hixxy has always been at the forefront of the Hardcore scene and his OMG! Project with Sunset Regime produced arguably some of his finest releases. A much more experimental sound that was tougher and brought in Trance elements that helped send the scene in a new direction. Fairytale featured on Bonkers 3 and it was that insane Gabber mid-section that grabbed people’s attention.
18. DJ DNA – Somewhere Out There
Somewhere Out There wasn’t what you would expect to hear from DNA. This is straight down the middle Happy Hardcore with an anthemic vocal and some seriously bouncy synth work. This was absolutely caned at raves and quickly become a well-loved classic.
17. Kevin Energy – King of Rock
The first truly Freeform track on our list is by the scenes most influential artist. Energy, or Kevin Energy as he’s known these days completely changed Hardcore along with Sharkey and his label Nu Energy. King of Rock is a massive track and the first time we heard it in the raves we all asked the same question? What the hell is this?
16. Sy & Demo – Tears Run Cold
When the Scratchmaster and Godfather of Hardcore teams up with one of the scenes finest producers you know you’re in for a treat and Tears Run Cold didn’t disappoint. We all love a good breakbeat over the top of a Hard 4/4 kick, add to that a classic sing along vocal and it’s a winner.
15. Triple J – Wonderful World (Global Mix)
Cheese alert! Triple J wrote some absolute classics which are well known for their no holds barred cheddar. Wonderful World is perhaps the least offensive of their hits and is certainly a full blown anthem.
14. Brisk & Trixxy – Euro Love
Sampling the classic Wonderland – Fantasy of Love, Euro Love was a massive tune for Brisk & Trixxy. It was absolutely everywhere at the time and has received the remix treatment several times of the years.
13. DJ Demo & Mickey Skeedal – Love You Now
Demo is unique in the scene in that he stuck to his style and never sold out to the latest sounds. He fused Jungle beats and 4/4 kicks to perfection, writing some of the greatest Hardcore tracks of all time. Love You Now see’s him team up with Mickey Skeedale to create a Breakbeat Hardcore anthem.
12. Helix & Tekno Dred – Mindless Pleasure
Acid Techno meets Hardcore in this Freeform monster. Helix & Tekno Dred were masters of their sound and this is the real standout from their back catalogue. Twisted samples, deep acid and dark but uplifting synth rushes. This tune blew our minds back in the day and it still sounds totally fresh today. Freeform at its finest.
11. BDB Feat Lisa – I Want You
Billy ‘Daniel’ Bunter is, quite frankly, a legend of the rave scene. This track cleverly fuses the Freeform sounds of the time with more traditional Hardcore to create a heads down stomper that got you stomping and smiling in equal measure.
10. The Two MC’s feat MC Storm – Scratchin’
Sy & Storm became a duo that would takeover the Hardcore scene in 1998, they became so popular that Sy decided it was time to put some of Storms lyrics onto vinyl and so Scratchin’ was born. It may not be the greatest tune ever written but it was massive at the time and still brings back the nostalgia of those days.
9. Marc Smith – Encounters
Freeform strove to distance itself from the Happy Hardcore scene and in doing so created something new and totally original. Freeform doesn’t really do anthems but Encounters comes pretty close with its Close Encounters of a Third Kind samples and melody. This one still rocks dancefloors to this day which is testament to its quality.
8. DJ Breeze – Jump a Little Higher
DJ breeze would go on to have huge success when he teamed up with Darren Styles in the early ‘00s but back in 1998 he was still finding his way in the scene. That would all change when Jump a Little Higher featured on Bonkers 4, it really stood out from the other tracks with its high energy approach and great vocal sample from Poor Pocket Productions – Kick Your Legs in the Air.
7. 2 Without Heads – U & Me (Scott Brown Remix)
You and me Hardcore Forever become an anthem for teenage lovers in the Hardcore scene. It embodied the innocence and passion of young love and wasn’t afraid to cheese it up to the max. We love this track and don’t care how much you laugh.
6. Force & Styles Feat: MC Junior – Cutting Deep
Happy Hardcore isn’t exactly known for it’s melancholy but Cutting Deep could get grown men weeping like babies if the time was right. Again it bucks trends as it features the very taboo male vocal, something that’s normally a no go. But this is the legendary MC Junior (R.I.P) so it totally works. It’s just a beautiful track and always hits the spot.
5. Bang! – Sailaway (Hard As Fock Mix)
Bang! Are legendary in the Hardcore scene for having written some of its biggest anthems. ‘97 brought us Shooting Star and ’98 would bring us Sailaway and another anthem we’ll get to shortly. Sailaway is a pure summer anthem. It just has the feel of blue skies and hot beaches in its piano and epic vocal. And who doesn’t love a holiday anthem with a massive gabber kick.
4. Sharkey – Product of Society
Sharkey really is the face of Freeform and has been its biggest name since day one. He pushed the sound on his Bonkers CDs, which always stood out as they were so different to the sounds that Hixxy & Dougal were pushing. Product of Society is, in our eyes, on of Hardcores greatest tunes. A genuine masterpiece which can’t be matched. It’s unique and frankly immense breakdown captured hearts and imaginations at the time. This still sounds like the future to us, let’s hope it is.
3. Hixxy & Sunset Present OMG! – The One
Here they are again, we couldn’t have one without the other and The One deserves to be on any classic Hardcore list. One of Hardcore’s greatest vocals takes you on a real journey and that synth is absolutely epic. Literally OMG!
2. Bang! – Break of Dawn
We would almost go so far as to say that Break of Dawn is a superior track in many respects. It’s far more emotional and way more uplifting. The tune is also packed full of energy and absolutely bangs along.
1. Sub-Ace & Aura – My Dreams
Sing-along anthem in the house!!! My Dreams is one of those tunes that will have you screaming the lyrics at the top of your lungs. It’s the epitome of uplifting Happy Hardcore and is rightfully remembered as a true classic. Something bizarre about this track is that they never released anything else, just this one single and then nothing. How can that be? Just listening to it brings back so many memories of massive warehouses and smiling faces that it simply had to be our number one.
So that’s our top 20 anthems of 1998, we couldn’t use them all so what tracks do you love that we’ve missed out? Let us know in the comments and if you like it why not give it a share.