Excuse me, can I please talk to you for a minute? 2018 marks the twentieth anniversary of a number of amazing pop albums, but it was also a moment for R&B. The Fugees followed up their Grammy wins with solo projects for all the members, resulting in Lauryn Hill producing her best work to date. Whitney Houston finally stopped appearing on soundtrack albums and gave us a new studio album with possibly her most clearly defined R&B sound yet. Brandy and Monica shook off the threat of a sophomore slump by following up their debuts with even stronger second albums and teaming up on a #1 collaboration that is still arguably the defining hit of both of their careers. This rate honours these four incredible women and their 1998 albums, which all celebrate their twentieth anniversary this year. There's rap! There's an entire orchestral string section! There's a cover of a 1960s country song! There are Diane Warren ballads and Darkchild bops! There are songs from soundtracks to two animated (/partially-animated) films! There's a Sting sample that got reused by the Sugababes! But, @londonrain, my fave released an R&B album in 1998 and isn't one of these four! Don't worry - I've added in a "best of the rest" section including the key singles from some less successful albums of that year. Aretha Franklin, Debelah Morgan, Deborah Cox, Faith Evans, Kelly Price, Monifah, Mya and Tamia are all represented. But, @londonrain, I don't know who some of these people are! Well, think of it as a voyage of discovery. All of this is top-drawer R&B, so you shouldn't be disappointed. What kind of rate would this be if it weren't educational? Okay. What do I need to do? Simply rate each of the songs on a scale from 0 to 10. I'll allow decimals, but keep it sensible. Nobody wants me to screw up the results because I accidentally put down 5.2642 instead of 5.6422. You may award one song, and one song only, a score of 11. Choose wisely. When you're done, send me a message (using the little envelope in the top right corner of your screen) that contains your scores for all the songs. There are no optional sections in this rate, so you must give a score to all of the songs. Are we rating intros and interludes? No. They've been removed from the list of songs below. I know Lauryn tacked a bunch of interludes onto the end of several tracks on her album, so I've included links below to versions that don't include those interludes. Are we rating The Boy Is Mine twice? Obviously not. The version on Monica's album has a shorter intro than the one on Brandy's album, but otherwise there's no difference. (Irritatingly, the Monica album version isn't on Spotify, so I've put the radio edit in its place.) Please put The Boy Is Mine at the top of your ballot (as it is in the plain-text list below). Can I rate a version that isn't on the album? For songs with multiple versions (e.g. single edits that differ from the album, or dance mixes that you prefer to the original) rate the version that you prefer. The only exception to this rule is Whitney Houston's If I Told You That, for which you must rate the 1998 album version and not the later duet version with George Michael. We're trying to capture the nostalgia here, okay? (Also, Fabolous's cover of So Into You does not count as a "version" of Tamia's original, even though her vocals are still on it.) The links in the Best of the Rest section below only cover the single versions and the album versions, but if you want to tell everyone how amazing the original soundtrack version of Things Just Ain't The Same is, then feel free to tell everyone in the thread! Do I have to include commentary? Commentary is highly encouraged, but is not mandatory. Sure, you can just send in a bunch of numbers, but it will make the elimination posts a lot more interesting if you tell us a bit more about why you gave the scores you did. Have you ever tried to get hold of the outfit Whitney is wearing in the video for It's Not Right But It's Okay? Do you know all the words to the rap section in Doo Wop (That Thing)? Have you secretly stanned for the Street Symphony video for the last twenty years? Have you ever loved somebody so much it makes you cry? I really can't stand some of the songs in this rate. Can I still vote? I fully accept that you will all have differences of opinion. That's the point! Feel free to submit anyway. But if your ballot is really just trolling (like if you give zeroes to the entire Monica album), this will happen: VOTES ARE DUE ON SATURDAY, MAY 5 WEDNESDAY, MAY 9, 2018 AT 23:59 PACIFIC TIME.