With NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys booming through the scene in the 90s, there were many boy bands that fell through the cracks a bit. One of them is 98 Degrees. The band comprises Justin Jeffre, Jeff Timmons, Drew Lachey, and Nick Lachey. Jeff Timmons left college and wanted to start a band. He was given the name of Nick Lachey, who knew Justin Jeffre. The band originally had another member that quit and Drew, Nick’s younger brother, joined the band.
98 Degrees was signed by Motown Records. They wanted to differ from the regular boy band scene by having an R&B and soul music vibe instead of the heavy pop influence. From there, they recorded their first self-titled album, with mild success. They would then record a cover of True To Your Heart for the Disney movie Mulan. This would create a boom period of their success. They would work with Babyface and create the album 98 Degrees and Rising.
98 Degrees and Rising would go platinum 4 times over. The album would comprise 2 Billboard Top 100 hits, Because of You and The Hardest Thing, and two popular covers of songs, I Do (Cherish You) from Mark Wills, and She’s Out Of My Life by Michael Jackson. This album is the best-selling album for 98 Degrees.
Intro: There was a very cheesy intro that was 40 seconds that talked about there being a heat advisory of 98 Degrees and Rising. Wow, very cheesy and a rough start to this album. Heat It Up: This song has a great beat. The lyrics are very simple and don’t really mean anything. This song has 13 writers for a song that is unbelievably simple. They use a 98 Degrees pun; I hope this is the last one. It is repetitive and is not a great song to start the album. It is more of a middle-grade song and is not a great fun start.
If She Only Knew: Then we get to what 98 Degrees do best, great vocals and harmonies. They are amazing with ballads because they are 4 very competent singers that can sing. They don’t need the frills or the effects; they are just talented. This song is just a guitar, and a bit of a drum beat behind it and that is it. Two writers wrote a really beautiful song about loving someone that doesn’t see it. (I sang with this song. It is so great!)
I Do (Cherish You): The wedding song of the early 2000s. Everyone used this version of this song as their wedding song. A song that Mark Wills originally sang, 98 Degrees put their R&B flavor to this lovely song. It again is simple production and clean vocals. This is another prominent element of this group. When they have paired down production and vocals, they excel. When they are trying to be like everyone else, they don’t sound as great.
Fly With Me: This was another song that was used for a movie. It was used in Pokemon: The Movie. This song is strange. It has 9 writers, and you can tell. The songs that have a lot of writers tend to not be great songs from them. The beat is weird and has weird lyrics that seem like a movie song. Still: Amazing, one of my favorite songs. I listened to it twice. This is where they shine, great lyrics, great message, and an abundance of harmonies. It is pretty much just a guitar and vocals. Go listen to this song!
Because of You: This song is one single off of this album. It is a great mid-tempo song. They excel with love songs. “You’re my sunshine after the rain, you’re the cure against my fear and my pain, cause I’m losing my mind when you’re not around. It’s all, It’s all because of you.” A cute and simple chorus, that is effective. Do You Wanna Dance: Not great, I would skip. Another generic boy band song that you can tell is not their vibe. You get to hear Drew and Justin sing (a rarity), though. Also, it sounds like they sampled “Get Down On It” By Kool and the Gang, and it wasn’t credited.
True to Your Heart: This is a song that features Stevie Wonder and is from Disney’s Mulan. It is a really fun song, and Stevie brings a really exciting energy to the song! It brings back memories. To Me You’re Everything: This was their attempt to compete with NSYNC and Backstreet Boys. It sounds like a mixture of generic boy band hits. It does not sound like anything else on the album. Why is this album on here? I don’t know. It is a very strange song. It is not worth it to be on here.
The Hardest Thing: Another single, and this song is fun. It is a mid-tempo, heartbreak song. The music video is really great as well. The production is straightforward like many of these songs, and the harmonies are great. They do have a weird production trope here, that they use a few times that make it sound like they echo I don’t love. It isn’t enough to dislike the song, though. She’s Out Of My Life: This is the last song on the album, and it is a great rendition of this Michael Jackson song. This song is a cappella. This is a showcase of their talents and is as stripped down as you can get. Overall, an excellent addition to the album.
The album has some ups and downs but overall is an amazing album. I don’t understand why people slept on 98 Degrees so much. They are unbelievably talented. They just got lost in the shuffle.
Does it Hold Up?
It’s wonderful. I love it. It doesn’t sound like it was made in 1998. The production quality is exceptional, and the songs are endearing.
I wasn’t a huge 98 Degrees person back in the day, so the nostalgia rating is low.
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As always, Creating Nostalgia Millennial Style!