Thursday, 9 July 2020

25 Years Ago This Week: July 9, 1995

In 1995, debuting at number 1 on the ARIA singles chart was still a rarity. Even rarer: an act managing to do it twice.

The fifth record to debut on the ARIA singles chart at number 1

In fact, up until this week in 1995, no one had debuted at the top of the chart on two separate occasions. But if anyone was going to do it, it made sense that it was the biggest band in the world.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending July 9, 1995

Not only that, but the single debuting at number 1 broke another record, which you can find out about at the bottom of the post...

Off The Chart
Number 95 "Dreamer" by Livin' Joy
Peak: number 90
A UK chart-topper when remixed and re-released in 1995 (after the original version placed in the top 20 in 1994), "Dreamer" didn't become a hit in Australia for the Visnadi brothers (who were also involved in Alex Party).

Number 94 "Do You Wanna Party" by DJ Scott featuring Lorna B
Peak: number 94
This British dance track was the latest single reworked by the reformed production team of Mike Stock and Matt Aitken after an initial release in 1994. DJ Scott featuring Lorna B would also release a dance update of Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams" in 1995.

Number 79 "Angel (Ladadi O-Heyo)" by Jam & Spoon featuring Plavka
Peak: number 59
Although the latest Jam & Spoon single didn't become the third hit by Rolf Ellmer and Markus Löffel in this guise, they did have a current top 20 hit under the Tokyo Ghetto Pussy moniker. 

New Entries
Number 48 "Let Her Cry" by Hootie & The Blowfish
Peak: number 4
I don't think people in Australia realise just how massive Hootie & The Blowfish were in the US in the mid-'90s. I certainly wasn't aware until now that their debut album, Cracked Rear View, is among the 20 highest-selling albums of all time, with 21 million copies sold. And although second single "Let Her Cry" was their only susbstantial hit in Australia, four tracks from the album reached the top 15 of the Billboard Hot 100. Clearly there was a massive market there for listeners who liked their rock a bit mellower than the music offered by all the post-grunge bands popping up. This song was inspired by singer Darius Rucker's alcoholism, although he flipped the genders in the lyrics to make it about a man dealing with his wife's drinking.

Number 42 "Misery" by Soul Asylum
Peak: number 22
Their breakthrough hit, "Runaway Train", had been unlucky to miss the top 10 in 1993, peaking at number 11, and the American rock band's only other song to reach the ARIA top 50 just missed the top 20. Taken from Soul Asylum's seventh album, Let Your Dim Light Shine, "Misery" is one of those nondescript alt-rock songs that goes in one ear and out the other for me, but I'm sure it has its fans among regular readers.

Number 31 "Lay Down Your Love" by 4PM
Peak: number 31
Most one-week wonder hits sneak in and out of the top 50 much lower down, but this follow-up to 4PM's cover of "Sukiyaki" bounded up from number 87 before dropping down to number 69 the following week. The reason for the brief burst of sales? The vocal harmony group had visited Australia for a promotional visit so I'm guessing they might have made some in-store appearances. As a song, "Lay Down Your Love" was a pleasant enough but fairly generic R&B ballad.

Number 19 "Human Nature" by Madonna
Peak: number 17
She might have made a deliberate attempt to move away from the sexually charged material she's released earlier in the decade, but Madonna wasn't about to apologise for the likes of Erotica, Sex and her various other envelope-pushing endeavours. Indeed, on this fourth single from Bedtime Stories, she addressed the media backlash she'd received as a result and literally said she was not sorry. With its pointed lyrics - "Oops, I didn't know I couldn't talk about sex" - and striking music video, "Human Nature" worked incredibly well as a statement, but as a song, I have to say the sample-driven R&B track is among my least favourite Madonna singles. 

Number 18 "This Is A Call" by Foo Fighters
Peak: number 9
You can keep your Hooties and Soul Asylums, when it comes to American rock bands, this is more like it. The debut single by Dave Grohl's post-Nirvana musical outlet, "This Is A Call" was an instant success, charging to number 9 within three weeks - progressing 69-18-9 - despite not having a music video. And despite Dave not intending the whole Foo Fighters project to be a major deal. Unlike the majority of the album, which was comprised of songs he'd written before and during his time in Nirvana, "This Is A Call" was written while on his honeymoon in 1994, and deliberately used mostly meaningless lyrics since he expected anything he released in the aftermath of Kurt Cobain's suicide to be overanalysed - the line "this is a call to all my past resignations" is the only nod to that event. I'm quite partial to a bit of Foo Fighters, and this was definitely a good start by a band that has gone on to become one of the biggest in the world in the past couple of decades.

Number 1 "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me" by U2
Peak: number 1
And here's the biggest band in the world in 1995 with their second single to debut atop the ARIA singles chart. In 1991, U2's "The Fly" had arrived at number 1 in its first week, giving instant approval for the Irish band's radical new sound and image. Four years later, Bono et al. earned themselves a second instant chart-topper with their contribution to the soundtrack of Batman Forever. Since debuting at number 1 in itself was nothing new for U2, they raised the stakes even further with "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me" becoming the first ever release to also debut at number 1 on every individual state chart - previous releases by Midnight Oil, Kylie Minogue, Meat Loaf and U2 themselves had all debuted on most but not all state charts at number 1 in the week they debuted nationally at the top.
As for the song itself, "Hold Me..." had its genesis in the sessions for the band's previous album, Zooropa, and was completed when the band agreed to contribute a song to the superhero film's soundtrack. Compared to the three singles released from Zooropa in Australia, "Hold Me..." was a much more straightforward pop/rock track, with a title that played on "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me", recently covered by Gloria Estefan. It also became their 10th straight top 11 hit in Australia, with "Even Better Than The Real Thing" having been the only song to just miss the top 10 in that time.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1995 (updated weekly):

Next week: the latest battle of the vocal harmony groups, with three new entries by R&B boy bands from around the world.

Back to: Jul 2, 1995 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jul 16, 1995

Monday, 6 July 2020

This Week In 1980: July 6, 1980

Plenty of music acts gain a devoted following - in recent years, everyone from One Direction to Beyoncé has had a fanbase with a cute little name. But back in 1980, one band had a fan club like no other.

KISS were at the peak of their popularity in Australia in 1980

The band's army of fans ensured their latest single was the highest new entry on the Australian singles chart this week in 1980 and would go on to give them a third consecutive top 5 hit. 

Australian Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending July 6, 1980

For a second week, the biggest single in Australia this week in 1980 was "Turning Japanese" by The Vapors, but Village People were closing in fast.

Off The Chart
Number 99 "Boys Don't Cry" by The Cure
Peak: number 99
Reaching the Australian top 100 - just! - before they did so at home in the UK, The Cure would bring "Boys Don't Cry" back to the ARIA top 30 in a re-recorded version in 1986.

Number 97 "Up Your Nose With A Rubber Hose" by Dave And The Derros
Peak: number 73
We've seen a few hits from regional radio stations so far in 1980, and this was another - a novelty track from Newcastle DJ David Jones, who'd created the character of Dave for his show.

Number 96 "Wondering Where The Lions Are" by Bruce Cockburn
Peak: number 92
At the end of the decade, he'd visit the top 50 with conservation-themed "If A Tree Falls", but before then Canadian folk musician Bruce Cockburn charted with this track from Dancing In The Dragon's Jaws, a song that became his only US hit.

Number 95 "Spacer" by Sheila & B. Devotion
Peak: number 95
Their disco version of "Singin' In The Rain" had made it to number 23 in 1978, but the group fronted by French singer Sheila missed the mark with this track, which would later be sampled by Alcazar.

Number 92 "Against The Wind" by Bob Seger
Peak: number 92
The first single from Against The Wind had almost made the top 50, but the title track fell way short, despite making the US top 5.

Number 91 "Give Me A Break" by The Ritchie Family
Peak: number 91
"Can't Stop The Music" was racing to the top of the chart, but this track, also from the Village People film, came nowhere close for the group who'd previously hit number 3 with "The Best Disco In Town".

Number 87 "Living By Numbers" by New Musik
Peak: number 55
This was the biggest UK hit for the synthpop group, getting as far as number 12 there. It was also their highest-charting single in Australia, but that's not saying much.

New Entries
Number 50 "Magic Rhythm" by Christie Allen
Peak: number 38
She'd had a pretty good run up until now, with her previous two singles, "Goose Bumps" and "He's My Number One", both reaching the top 5 and "Falling In Love With Only You" making number 20 before that, but this attempt to squeeze one more hit out of Christie Allen's debut album, Magic Rhythm, was only moderately successful. Released as the LP's fifth single, the title track resulted in another top 40 hit, but as a song, it was nowhere near up to her usual standard.

Number 49 "You'll Always Find Me In The Kitchen At Parties" by Jona Lewie
Peak: number 21
He'd been performing since the late '60s and releasing music as a solo artist since the mid-'70s, but 1980 was the year that Jona Lewie's career took off. The singer born John Lewis reached the UK top 20 and just missed ours with this synthpop track, which featured memorable, bored senseless-sounding backing vocals by the wives of the song's producer and the owner of Jona's record label. Kirsty MacColl would later sing in live performances of the tune. We'd be seeing a lot more of Jona over the next 12 months.

Number 48 "Special Lady" by Ray, Goodman & Brown
Peak: number 46
Next up, another act that had been active since the '60s, albeit under an alternate name and with different members. Previously called The Moments, the R&B vocal harmony group changed their name to the surnames of the three men who comprised the line-up at that point and enjoyed a US top 5 with their first single under their new moniker. They also reached the Australian top 50, having never done that as The Moments. But success as Ray, Goodman & Brown was short-lived.

Number 39 "Little Jeannie" by Elton John
Peak: number 9
He'd come close a few times in recent years, but Elton John had not had a top 10 hit in Australia since 1976's chart-topping duet "Don't Go Breaking My Heart". He returned to that section of the chart with this lead single from 21 At 33 - his 21st release, which came out when he was 33 years old. I don't have any recollection of "Little Jeannie" from the time, and it's a song that has been overlooked in the years since, including by Elton himself. Listening to it now, it sounds exactly like you'd expect an Elton John song from that era to sound - the kind of thing an automated song generator would come up with if you typed in all the key ingredients of an Elton tune.

Number 37 "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" by Olivia Newton-John
Peak: number 32
In late May, a disco version of the Evita tune had infiltrated the very bottom of the top 100. Whether that had prompted renewed interest in Olivia Newton-John's three-year-old version of the song, or whether her local record company were trying to cash in on Livvy's upcoming success with the Xanadu soundtrack (released on a different label), I'm not sure. Either way, after having been overshadowed at the time by Julie Covington's chart-topping version, ONJ's take on "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" finally had its time in the top 40 sun.

Number 31 "Shandi" by KISS
Peak: number 5
KISS had been popular for some years in Australia, but things really exploded for the make-up-wearing rockers on the Australian singles chart in 1979 and 1980. Following number 2 hit "I Was Made For Lovin' You" and top 5 follow-up "Sure Know Something", both taken from the Dynasty album, KISS returned with a brand new song, "Shandi", the lead single from eighth album Unmasked, and it also reached number 5. The mid-tempo track came at a crossroads for KISS, with Peter Criss leaving the band after appearing in the song's music video (despite not playing on "Shandi") and their US chart fortunes going through a downturn. In Australia, the local members of the KISS Army were as devoted as ever, with Unmasked vaulting to number 3 in its second week on the albums chart this week, but it would prove to be a last hurrah for KISS, with the band never scoring a hit as big as "Shandi" again.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1980 (updated weekly):

Next week: Michael Jackson slows things down for his latest Off The Wall hit and a power pop/rock track that narrowly missed topping the chart.

Back to: Jun 29, 1980 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jul 13, 1980

Thursday, 2 July 2020

25 Years Ago This Week: July 2, 1995

There is an inner circle among one-hit wonders - those artists who achieved the ultimate in chart one-off-ness: a chart-topping single followed by no further top 50 entries. And they don't come along that often.

Australia insensitively turned its back on Jann Arden after this big hit

In the whole of the '90s, only six acts scored a number 1 and then had no further hits. This week in 1995, one of those ultimate one-hit wonders arrived on the ARIA singles chart, with a song I still wouldn't be able to sing for you without listening to it first.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending July 2, 1995

A man who was becoming all too familiar with the number 1 spot ascended to the top this week in 1995. Bryan Adams' latest ballad, "Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman", spent its only week in premier position.

Off The Chart
Number 92 "That Look In Your Eye" by Ali Campbell
Peak: number 80
Stepping out from his role as UB40 frontman, Ali Campbell's debut solo single featured vocals by Pamela Starks, who co-wrote the song, and was a UK top 5 hit.

Number 82 "Wynona's Big Brown Beaver" by Primus
Peak: number 80
With a title like that - not a reference to Winona Ryder - this lead single from the funk metal band's fourth album, Tales From The Punchbowl, gained Primus more attention than ever before, but not enough to give them a hit.

New Entries
Number 49 "Anybody But You" by The Cruel Sea
Peak: number 49
We start off this week's top 50 debuts with a couple of one-week wonders. This third single from Three Legged Dog is only remarkable in that it continued the trend of tracks taken from the album peaking 10 places lower than the one before - "Better Get A Lawyer" had reached number 29 and "Just A Man" got to number 39.

Number 48 "Made In England" by Elton John
Peak: number 48
Another single spending a solitary week in the top 50 was the latest from Elton John. The title track of his 24th album, "Made In England" featured references to the singer's own life (courtesy of lyricist Bernie Taupin). It's not a bad song, if somewhat forgettable.

Number 42 "Insensitive" by Jann Arden
Peak: number 1
Speaking of forgettable... Despite this single from Canadian singer/songwriter Jann Arden reaching number 1 in Australia, "Insensitive" is a tune with a melody I can never recall. Then I listen to it - as I'm doing now while I type this - and I go, "Oh yeah, that one." Although the song about an unreciprocated love was Jann's only hit in Australia, it was one of eight top 10 singles she enjoyed in her homeland. In 1996, it also took off in the US following its use in Christian Slater romantic drama Bed Of Roses. And as I come to the end of this blurb and the video below has stopped playing, I find myself wondering, "How does it go again?"

Number 37 "Love & Devotion" by Real McCoy
Peak: number 7
German Eurodance group Real McCoy - they'd trimmed their name from the unwieldy MC Sar & The Real McCoy by now - were really on a hot streak in 1995. Their third consecutive top 10 hit, the reggae-ish "Love & Devotion" followed chart-topper "Another Night" and top 5 hit "Run Away". And although "Another Night" was one of my favourite singles for 1994, "Love & Devotion" and "Run Away" just didn't do it for me. Maybe I was tiring of Eurodance? Or maybe just something as generic as this...

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1995 (updated weekly):

Next week: only the fifth record to debut at number 1 from a band who'd already done it once. Plus, two of the biggest new American bands make an impact locally.

Back to: Jun 25, 1995 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jul 9, 1995

Monday, 29 June 2020

This Week In 1980: June 29, 1980

We've reached the halfway point of our look back at the Australian singles chart of 1980. And to mark the occasion... a pretty dull chart week with just three minor hits entering the top 50.

Australian Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending June 29, 1980

There was some action at the top of the chart, with The Vapors' "Turning Japanese" barging Rocky Burnette out of the way to take its first week at number 1.

New Entries
Number 48 "Games Without Frontiers" by Peter Gabriel
Peak: number 44
Taking its name from the literal translation of European game show Jeux Sans Frontières (which was adapted in England and Australia as It's A Knockout), this track from Peter Gabriel's third self-titled solo album made a one-place improvement on the peak of his debut single, "Solsbury Hill". The anti-war "Games Without Frontiers" features backing vocals by Kate Bush, who would later duet with Peter on one of his biggest Australian hits, "Don't Give Up". But at this stage, the former Genesis singer's music didn't have that same commercial appeal.

Number 46 "Space Race" by Mi-Sex
Peak: number 28
After back-to-back top 10 hits, new wave back Mi-Sex settled into a part of the chart they'd become very familiar with over the next few years, with none of their subsequent singles able to venture past the 20s. The title track of their second album, "Space Race" wasn't up to the standard set by "Computer Games" and "People", so number 28 was probably about right - not something that could be said of the peaks of some of the band's underrated upcoming releases.

Number 45 The Monkees by The Monkees
Peak: number 44
Although it had been a decade since their last hit single, 1970's "Oh! My My / I Love You Better", which reached number 34, The Monkees were enjoying something of a resurgence thanks to the TV show that launched them becoming as ubiquitous as Batman and The Brady Bunch in re-run programming. While two different greatest hits compilations reached the top 50 in 1979-80, this four-track EP poked its nose into the singles chart. Containing big hits "I'm A Believer" (number 1), "Last Train To Clarksville" (number 14), "Daydream Believer" (number 2) and "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" (number 4), it was the perfect snapshot of the band, who would make a proper comeback in 1986 with brand new music.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1980 (updated weekly):

Next week: a much more interesting week, with the first hit of the '80s for a man we'd be seeing a lot of throughout the decade, plus new entries from Australia's sweetheart and the country's favourite make-up-sporting rockers.

Back to: Jun 22, 1980 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jul 6, 1980

Thursday, 25 June 2020

25 Years Ago This Week: June 25, 1995

Musical taste is a funny thing - one person's ear candy is another's noise pollution. And it always amuses me when I get a sudden influx of likes on the Chart Beats Facebook page and then a gradual drop-off of a handful of those as people realise exactly what type of music I celebrate. It ain't called A Journey Through Pop for nothing.

Paula Abdul was back with a new sound in 1995

The two highest entries on the ARIA singles chart from this week in 1995 demonstrate that quite effectively. One was the return of a female pop star that music snobs hate, and the other was the top 50 debut of a beloved independent Australian band - a group I didn't have a lot of time for.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending June 25, 1995

A song that seemed universally liked continued its reign at number 1 this week in 1995. "Mouth" by Merril Bainbridge stayed on top for a sixth week.

Off The Chart
Number 58 "Tic-Tok / 1-2-3-4" by Ultra-Sonic
Peak: number 58
Seems only techno tracks that had novelty hooks or were remakes could make the top 50, with this latest release by the Scottish act falling just short despite spending 11 weeks in the top 100.

Number 51 "Immortality" by Pearl Jam
Peak: number 51
Coming even closer to being a top 50 hit was the third and final single from Pearl Jam's Vitalogy album. They'd be back before long with their biggest hit to date.

New Entries
Number 49 "Somebody's Crying" by Chris Isaak
Peak: number 5
Speaking of biggest hits to date, this lead single from Chris Isaak's fifth album, Forever Blue, outperformed "Wicked Game" and "Blue Hotel" to become his highest charting single up until this point. And by going top 5, it's a chart high he has been unable to beat since. Written following a painful break-up, the song is deceptively upbeat - just as the lyrics don't give away the fact that the somebody who is crying is Chris himself until the chorus.

Number 42 "Milkman's Son" by Ugly Kid Joe
Peak: number 40
Next up, a band whose days of scoring big hits were behind them. This lead single from the American band's second album, Menace To Sobriety, would also prove to be Ugly Kid Joe's final top 50 appearance. 

Number 35 "Freek'N You" by Jodeci
Peak: number 23
They'd been enjoying success in the US since 1991, but this lead single from third album The Show, The After Party, The Hotel was the first to gain traction in Australia for Jodeci. Comprised of two sets of brothers - Devanté Swing (real name: Donald DeGrate Jr) and Mr Dalvin (Dalvin DeGrate), and K-Ci (Cedric Hailey) and JoJo (Joel Hailey) - the R&B quartet's breakthrough hit was one of those slow jams that exudes sex (see also: "Freak Me", "Pony"). Although "Freek'N You" was Jodeci's only chart action in Australia, it certainly spurred interest in their back catalogue - at least in the record store where I worked casually at the time. We were constantly selling out of and reordering their three albums.

Number 25 "My Love Is For Real" by Paula Abdul
Peak: number 7
Three years after "Will You Marry Me?" became the final top 100 single from her second album, Vibeology, Paula Abdul returned to the chart with the song that would become only her third ARIA top 10 hit - compared to a run of eight consecutive top 10s (including six number 1s) in the US from her first two albums. As it would turn out, "My Love Is For Real' did considerably better here than in America or the UK, peaking at number 28 in both countries. Something of a new sound for Paula, the lead single from third album Head Over Heels boasted trip hop influences, guest vocals from Ofra Haza and a sitar - a gear shift that was reminiscent of Kylie Minogue's "Confide In Me". While I liked the original version of "My Love Is For Real", I was also a fan of the piano house remix by current chart stars Strike, who would go on to release their own cover of the song in 1996. Unfortunately, this would be Paula's last hit in Australia, with the next two singles from Head Over Heels missing the top 50.

Number 23 "(He'll Never Be An) Ol' Man River" by TISM
Peak: number 23
If this was a different blog, I would make a much bigger deal about the chart debut of this song, since it was one of the most noteworthy releases of the year. But I'll leave that to Double J. The commercial breakthrough for the band whose name is an acronym for This Is Serious Mum, "(He'll Never Be An) Ol' Man River" gained a lot of attention due to its fairly brusque lyrical reference to the 1993 death of actor River Phoenix. A Triple J favourite - it was number 9 in 1995's Hottest 100 - the song was taken from the album Machiavelli And The Four Seasons, which had spent two weeks inside the top 10 earlier in June. And while I could see why TISM, who had been around since the early '80s, had developed such a huge following, I couldn't get into the musical style of their satire.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1995 (updated weekly):

Next week: one of the decade's ultimate one-hit wonders (one number 1 hit, no other top 50 appearances).

Back to: Jun 18, 1995 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jul 2, 1995

Monday, 22 June 2020

This Week In 1980: June 22, 1980

A couple of months earlier, disco seemed to be on its last legs, but it's not over until the fat lady sings. Or a group of six men in fancy dress costumes.

Nobody could stop Village People getting to number 1 in 1980

This week in 1980, two major disco records burst onto the Australian singles chart on their way to number 1. Genre resurgence or last hurrah?

Australian Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending June 22, 1980

Rocky Burnette enjoyed a last hurrah at number 1 this week at number 1 as "Tired Of Toein' The Line" spent its second week on top.

Off The Chart
Number 100 "Blue Skies" by Willie Nelson
Peak: number 53
The country star's version of the Irving Berlin standard briefly charted in late 1978 when it was released from the Stardust album. Returning to the chart in mid-1980, it moved Willie Nelson ever closer to his first top 50 hit.

Number 95 "Let Me Be" by Korona
Peak: number 80
As Starbuck, this American band reached number 25 in 1976 with US top 3 hit "Moonlight Feels Right". Whatever the reason for their rebranding as Korona, it didn't help their chart fortunes.

New Entries
Number 50 "Don't Fall In Love With A Dreamer" by Kenny Rogers with Kim Carnes
Peak: number 38
Just six months after he released his eighth album, Kenny (from which top 10 hit "Coward Of The County" was taken), Kenny Rogers moved quickly on to his ninth LP, Gideon. The album's only single was a duet with Kim Carnes, who made her first appearance on the Australian top 50 with "Don't Fall In Love With A Dreamer", a song she wrote with her husband, David Ellingson. The ballad was the first of a number of duets Kenny scored with in the next few years, while Kim would go on to much bigger things in the next 12 months.

Number 49 "Stomp!" by The Brothers Johnson
Peak: number 13
Funk duo The Brothers Johnson had last been seen on the top 50 in 1977 with their version of "Strawberry Letter 23", which peaked at number 25, and the pair did even better with "Stomp!". The dancefloor-ready track was once again produced by Quincy Jones, who had worked on all George and Louis Johnson's records up until this point, and gave "Stomp!" a disco-adjacent feel similar to the funk and R&B-influenced work he'd done on Michael Jackson's Off The Wall that ensured it thrived despite the growing disco backlash of the time. 

Number 45 "Funkytown" by Lipps Inc.
Peak: number 1
While "Stomp!" was part of the shift away from disco, this debut single by Lipps Inc. was pure disco. Created by songwriter Steven Greenberg, the group fronted by singer Cynthia Johnson hit number 1 around the world (including Australia) with this song inspired by New York - the funky town that Minnesota-based Steven was drawn to. With its earworm of a synth riff and simple, repetitive lyrics, "Funkytown" is one of those songs that is once heard and never forgotten. It is also one of a small number of tunes that has been to number 1 on more than one occasion, with Pseudo Echo's slightly retitled synthrock remake, "Funky Town", hitting the top in 1986. Although Lipps Inc. continued to release music until the middle of the decade, "Funkytown" would be the group's only substantial hit, but not their only top 50 appearance, as we'll see in the coming months.

Number 44 "I Only Want To Be With You" by The Tourists
Peak: number 6
While Lipps Inc. just miss out on technically being a one-hit wonder, here is a band that does qualify as one - although two of its members both scored many hits following their time in The Tourists. Featuring future Eurythmics duo Annie Lennox and David Stewart in its line-up, the British band reached the top 10 both here and at home with their rocky version of the much-covered debut single by Dusty Springfield. By reaching number 6, The Tourists' remake equalled the chart position achieved in Australia by Dusty in 1964 (and outdid other hit recordings of the song by Bay City Rollers and Samantha Fox). In the UK, The Tourists had one more top 10 single, "So Good To Be Back Home Again", but they never visited the Australian top 100 again.

Number 36 "It's Still Rock And Roll To Me" by Billy Joel
Peak: number 10
"You May Be Right" was still inside the top 40, and this week, the next single from Glass Houses joined it on the chart. The song that would give Billy Joel his first US chart-topper, "It's Still Rock And Roll To Me" was the singer/songwriter's comment on new wave music and other developing genres, which he believed weren't that new at all. Far from being out of touch, Billy landed his biggest hit since 1978's "My Life" with the song - his first of six top 10 hits in the 1980s.

Number 28 "Can't Stop The Music" by Village People
Peak: number 1
The movie of the same name had premiered in Sydney at the start of the month and was followed by queues outside cinemas to see it, and this week in 1980, the title track of the film very loosely inspired by the formation of Village People stormed into the top 50 on its way to spending four weeks at number 1. Although the movie was panned - it won two Razzies, including Worst Picture - and the single didn't even reach the Billboard Hot 100, Australia could not get enough of Can't Stop The Music, with the soundtrack staying at number 1 for nine weeks. We even had the album in my house - I've mentioned before that my parents' record collection was not very extensive - and I distinctly remember seeing the movie on the big screen. The second chart-topper for Village People locally, following 1978's "Y.M.C.A.", "Can't Stop The Music" maintained the group's disco feel (which is why it didn't do so well in the US), but even in Australia, their time was soon-to-be up.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1980 (updated weekly):

Next week: a band that scored 10 top 10 hits in the late 60s were back with an EP featuring a number of those. Plus, Peter Gabriel and Mi-Sex return to the top 50.

Back to: Jun 15, 1980 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jun 29, 1980

Thursday, 18 June 2020

25 Years Ago This Week: June 18, 1995

We've already seen a number of cover versions from 1995 in our look back at the ARIA singles chart from that year, but this week featured a bumper crop of remakes - some making the top 50 and some falling short.

Ten years after they were hits in Australia, "Forever Young" and "Axel F" were back

Two of the songs were back in the top 50 a decade after they were last hits... for other artists. And both were turned into pumping dance tracks.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending June 18, 1995

At number 1 this week in 1995, "Mouth" by Merril Bainbridge stayed put for a fifth week.

Off The Chart
Number 94 "For All We Know" by Nicki French
Peak: number 89
As "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" fell out of the top 40, the British singer's follow-up was another hi-NRG remake - this time of the song made famous by The Carpenters (number 10 in 1971) and also covered by Shirley Bassey.

Number 93 "Falling In Love" by Rave-O-Lution
Peak: number 85
Our next oft-covered song is a happy hardcore version of "Can't Help Falling In Love" by a German dance group. UB40's recent chart-topping success with their remake probably stopped this becoming very big (and the fact that's it awful).

Number 87 "Get It On" by Diesel
Peak: number 75
A song so forgettable that it doesn't have an official YouTube video and has even been overlooked on Diesel's Wikipedia discography, "Get It On" was the third track lifted from Solid State Rhyme.

Number 57 "Leave Virginia Alone" by Rod Stewart
Peak: number 53
Written by Tom Petty, this song didn't make the cut for his Wildflowers album, but wound up as the lead single from Rod Stewart's 17th studio album, A Spanner In The Works

New Entries
Number 50 "Evidence" by Faith No More
Peak: number 27
Just when you thought you'd heard every style of music from Faith No More, they went all jazzy on this second single from King For A Day, Fool For A Lifetime. Although "Evidence" peaked considerably lower than the album's lead single, it did stay on the top 50 more than twice as long, suggesting it was the greater success overall.

Number 46 "Crazy" by Past To Present
Peak: number 46
The floodgates were really opened for local boy bands, with this New Zealand-born, Melbourne-based quartet the latest vocal harmony group to jump on the (not so) new jack swing bandwagon. "Crazy" was a fairly generic-sounding attempt at the R&B genre, and charted accordingly. Fun fact: Past To Present member Frank Laga'aia is the younger brother of actor and former Play School host Jay Laga'aia.

Number 42 "Axel F / Keep Pushin'" by Clock
Peak: number 42
Somewhat overshadowed by both the Harold Faltemeyer original and the Crazy Frog remake, this 1995 cover of the Beverly Hills Cop instrumental was a top 10 hit in the UK and Clock's only top 50 appearance in Australia. In theory, a double A-side release, the single really only sold because of "Axel F". Such was its success at home in Britain, Clock started churning out cheesy dance cover versions (everything from "Whoomph! (There It Is)" to "U Sexy Thing") at the expense of their original material, which was much better. The dance act followed the 2 Unlimited model of having a couple of behind-the-scenes studio types (Stu Allan and Pete Pritchard), and a male rapper (ODC MC) and female singer (Tinka) out the front - although they didn't have that much to do on the mostly instrumental "Axel F".

Number 40 "Love Is All Around" by DJ BoBo
Peak: number 24
Despite its title and the fact that it came out so close to the Wet Wet Wet hit of the same name, this "Love Is All Around" was not a cover version. The third and final hit for DJ BoBo didn't really progress the Swiss Eurodance star's sound beyond his breakthrough hit, "Somebody Dance With Me", and to me, sounded a little dated as a result. Still, the single performed better than previous hit "Let The Dream Come True" by some margin.

Number 39 "Forever Young" by Interactive
Peak: number 15
Back to the covers, and this happy hardcore version of the Alphaville single, which reached the ARIA top 50 in 1985, maintained only the main lyrical hook and replaced everything else with what is still a pretty banging backing track. I didn't think too much of this cover by the German dance group at the time - this kind of techno was never really my thing - but it holds up OK.

Number 38 "Baby" by Brandy
Peak: number 16
I had completely forgotten that this second single by Brandy followed her debut, "I Wanna Be Down", into the ARIA top 20, since many of her other early hits - including two US top 10 singles - missed the mark here ahead of 1998's "The Boy Is Mine". But "Baby" was another success, both here and in the US, where it reached number 4. The song came with a music video that is now unmistakably the work of director Hype Williams, who would really cross over in 1995 and be behind some of the biggest R&B clips of the year.

Number 4 "This Ain't A Love Song" by Bon Jovi
Peak: number 4
Their 1994 greatest hits album, Cross Road, had served as a reminder of just how massive Bon Jovi had been since their 1986 breakthrough. And so a brand new track from the band who'd spent weeks stuck as number 2 with "Always" and registered yet another top 10 hit with "Someday I'll Be Saturday Night" was ensured a welcome reception by fans. Spending three weeks at number 4 and another three at number 5, "This Ain't A Love Song" was indeed well received, with the continued shift to a more serious rock sound ensuring Bon Jovi remained relevant in a post-grunge world. I have to say I missed their more fun earlier stuff.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1995 (updated weekly):

Next week: the return of everyone's favourite choreographer/singer, and the top 50 debut of a controversy-courting Australian band with a song about a deceased Hollywood star.

Back to: Jun 11, 1995 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jun 25, 1995