Wednesday, 24 April 2019

25 Years Ago This Week: April 24, 1994

They once had three separate singles simultaneously in the top 40. And they managed three number 1 hits in less than two years. Yep, Roxette were massive... until they weren't.

Per and Marie enjoyed one last hit in 1994

This week in 1994, the Swedish hit-makers debuted on the ARIA top 50 with their last big single. It wasn't another chart-topper, but those days were behind them.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending April 24, 1994

Celine Dion, meanwhile, was just beginning her chart-topping career, with "The Power Of Love" moving up a spot to give her the first (of three to date) number 1s in Australia.

Off The Chart
Number 98 "Today I Am A Daisy" by Deborah Conway
Peak: number 98
I have no recollection at all of this second single from the ARIA Award-winning (for Best Cover Art) Bitch Epic, probably on account of its poor showing on the chart. This was Deborah's last top 100 appearance until 2000.

Number 95 "Sweet Silence" by Carmella
Peak: number 95
The lead single from the Byron Bay-based singer's debut album, Song To The Earth, was based on "Sun Arise", a Rolf Harris track from 1969, but doesn't appear to be online.

New Entries
Number 49 "Gin And Juice" by Snoop Doggy Dogg
Peak: number 49
Like the Deborah Conway song, I don't think I've ever heard this follow-up to "What's My Name?" - either at the time or in the decades since. Snoop Doggy Dogg's second single equalled the number 8 peak of its predecessor in the US, but "Gin And Juice" made a much smaller impression locally. A party anthem Snoop-style, the G-funk anthem extols the virtues of alcohol, weed and sex. Watch out for future rap star Lil Bow Wow in the opening seconds of the video below - he's one of the kids jumping on the couch.

Number 48 "Easy" by Hunters & Collectors
Peak: number 38
I also don't recall this lead single from Hunters & Collectors' eighth album, Demon Flower, which was the band's first new music since the Cut era finally drew to a close. Unlike the more musically adventurous sounds that featured on that album - and their best ever singles chart positions - "Easy" had more of a traditional rock feel. It was also the last time the band ever saw the inside of the singles top 40, with none of the three subsequent tracks lifted from Demon Flower even making the top 100. And while the album gave Hunters their best ever peak position of number 2, it spent just seven weeks in the top 50.

Number 42 "Animal" by Pearl Jam
Peak: number 30
Here's a song I am actually familiar with - one of my colleagues in the music section of department store Grace Bros, where I worked casually while at uni, was a huge Pearl Jam fan, and since she put up with my playing Pet Shop Boys' Very on high rotation, I had to listen to Ten and Vs. That said, I actually don't mind "Animal", which, like "Jeremy" and "Alive", has a great hook in amongst the grungy angst. One more single was taken from Vs, but "Dissident" doesn't seem to have been given a local release.

Number 21 "Sleeping In My Car" by Roxette
Peak: number 18
Since they made their international breakthrough in 1989, Sweden's Roxette had an impressive start to their chart career. In Australia, their first seven hits peaked inside the top 10, with three reaching number 1. And despite some unfortunate single choices from Joyride that ruined their streak, the duo continued to add to their top 20 tally with later releases from that album, and songs like "How Do You Do!" and "Almost Unreal". Returning in 1994 with the first taste of fifth album Crash! Boom! Bang!, Marie Fredriksson and Per Gessle chalked up another hit with "Sleeping In My Car" - a song that was a late inclusion because Per realised the album was too serious and not fun enough. If only more songs like "Sleeping In My Car" had been included, this lead single might not have ended up as Roxette's final major hit, with the pair never returning to the upper half of the top 50 again.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1994 (updated weekly):

Next week: eight new entries, including the latest from two superstars who made it a habit to release in the same week, plus a retro-inspired novelty dance track, a single by an actual comedian and a solo hit by a member of a duo that went through an acrimonious split.

Back to: Apr 17, 1994 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: May 1, 1994

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

25 Years Ago This Week: April 17, 1994

As big a fan of dance music as I was in 1994, not every club classic appealed to me - not even the ones that everybody else seemed to like.

I wasn't right into this Jam & Spoon smash 

This week in 1994, a song that almost topped the Australian chart was the highest new entry on the top 50, but it's a track that left me a little bored. The same can be said of a couple of the other new entries you'd think would've been right up my alley.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending April 17, 1994

A song that did top the Australian chart (and that I liked a lot) spent its final week there this week in 1994. "It's Alright" by East 17 registered seven weeks at number 1.

Off The Chart
Number 100 "Where Would We Be Without A.B." by Doug Parkinson
Peak: number 100
The veteran performer returned to the Australian chart with this OTT ode to cricketer Allan Border, who had just retired from international games. Doug Parkinson wouldn't be back in the top 100 until 2003, when he was part of another tribute.

Number 99 "If I Had A Ticket" by Ed Kuepper
Peak: number 72
The Saints co-founder had been releasing solo music for some years by this point, but this single from eighth album Character Assassination became only his second to chart.

Number 97 "Lady In The Front Row" by Redd Kross
Peak: number 97
This American indie rock band never really took off - either here or in the US - but this single from fourth album Phaseshifter did at least take them into the top 100.

Number 62 "Move On Baby" by Cappella
Peak: number 58
I wasn't familiar with any of the three songs above before now, but here's a single I was a big fan of in 1994. The middle of a string of five UK top 20 hits from the U Got 2 Know album, "Move On Baby" came closest to crossing over for the Italo dance act locally.

New Entries
Number 49 "Steppin' On Remix" by Sexing The Cherry
Peak: number 42
In the 1990s, there was no bigger dance label in Australia than Volition, home to Boxcar, Severed Heads, South End and Itch-E & Scratch-E. Also signed were this trio comprising Cherryn Lomas, Edwin Morrow and Luke Paramor. Disco-infused dance track "Steppin' On" had originally appeared on a Volition compilation in 1992 and was brushed off by the trio and co-producer Robert Racic for single release. Not a bad song, but also kind of forgettable.

Number 47 "The Way You Work It" by E.Y.C.
Peak: number 41
As "Feelin' Alright" dropped out of the top 20, boy band E.Y.C.'s next offering joined it on the top 50, but unfortunately "The Way You Work It" was nowhere near as successful as the debut effort from Damon, Dave and Trey. I say "unfortunately" because, in my opinion, it's a much better song that toned down the shoutiness of "Feelin' Alright". The trio would be back in the top 40 before long, but the next East 17 they would not be.

Number 43 "Groove Thang" by Zhané
Peak: number 17
As well as dance music and pop, I was into a fair bit of US R&B in 1994 - this is a good chart week, from that point of view. But when it came to the two hits by Zhané, they were songs I kind of liked rather than tunes I had on high rotation. The duo were proving quite popular with the rest of Australia, however, with "Hey Mr DJ" spending its 20th (and final) week in the top 40 and follow-up "Groove Thang" debuting not far below on its way to the top 20. The song features a sample of "Haven't You Heard" by Patrice Rushen (of the much-sampled "Forget Me Nots" fame).

Number 31 "Right In The Night (Fall In Love With Music)" by Jam & Spoon featuring Plavka
Peak: number 2
Speaking of samples, here's a dance track built around a riff from "Asturias (Leyenda)", a late 19th century instrumental work by Spanish composer Isaac Albéniz. The breakthrough hit for German trance duo Jam & Spoon, "Right In The Night (Fall In Love With Music)" was one of the biggest hits of 1994 in Australia and massive across Europe. For me, the track, which features vocals by singer Plavka Lonich, only ranks as my 148th favourite song for the year - I've always found it a bit monotonous. Kept from the top by Prince and Crash Test Dummies, it was the first of four hits for Rolf Ellmer and Markus Löffel - two as Jam & Spoon and two as Tokyo Ghetto Pussy.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1994 (updated weekly):

Next week: the final big hit for a Swedish duo that'd dominated the chart as the '80s became the '90s, plus new singles from Pearl Jam, Snoop Doggy Dogg and Hunters & Collectors.

Back to: Apr 10, 1994 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Apr 24, 1994

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

25 Years Ago This Week: April 10, 1994

It was one of those weeks again on the ARIA chart this week in 1994 - yep, it's time for another round of less successful singles by acts that had bigger hits.

Dance acts Urban Cookie Collective and Twenty 4 Seven had seen better days

The week's four new entries on the top 50 were by artists with higher-charting singles to their name, while many of the song that peaked between 51 and 100 were disappointments for acts that had or would achieve better.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending April 10, 1994

Things couldn't - and wouldn't - get any better for East 17, who remained at number 1 with "It's Alright", which had now racked up its sixth week on top.

Off The Chart
Number 98 "Do You Love Me?" by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Peak: number 62
This lead single from Let Love In was the best performing release by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds to date, while the album became their first top 10. Things would get even better in 1995 for them.

Number 97 The Raw Funk Power EP by Swoop
Peak: number 96
Another (very different) Australian band that'd break through in a major way in 1995 got the ball rolling with this EP led by "Everything I Do From Now On Is Going To Be Funky".

Number 86 "Gangsta Lean" by D.R.S.
Peak: number 86
This American R&B group, who received help landing their record deal from MC Hammer, hit the US top 5 with this debut single (and title track of their album) but had no such luck locally.

Number 85 "The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get" by Morrissey
Peak: number 85
The first taste of Morrissey's fourth album, Vauxhall And I, returned him to the UK top 10 for the first time since 1989, but it was the latest in a long line of songs not to breach the Australian top 50.

Number 73 "Memphis" by The Badloves
Peak: number 73
"Green Limousine" had provided the Australian band with their biggest hit under their own steam, but this fourth and final single from Get On Board became the album's least successful.

Number 63 "Roundabout" by Caligula
Peak: number 63
Now this song really should have done better. An original track that was just as good as the band's cover of "Tears Of A Clown", "Roundabout" just couldn't get past number 63, reaching that peak three separate times during its chart run.

New Entries
Number 49 "Sail Away" by Urban Cookie Collective
Peak: number 49
"The Key: The Secret" and "Feels Like Heaven" had been two of the best pop/dance tracks of 1993, but I pretty much agree with the lacklustre performance of this third single from the UK group. "Sail Away" is not a bad song, but it just doesn't measure up to either their earlier two releases or upcoming single "High On A Happy Vibe" and album track "Yours Is The Love". I relatively recently rediscovered the High On A Happy Vibe album, which is a pretty solid set of songs - pity Urban Cookie Collective ran out of steam by releasing the wrong song at this juncture.

Number 46 "I'm Ready" by Tevin Campbell
Peak: number 21
"Can We Talk" was still inside the top 20, and wouldn't actually reach its peak of number 12 until the following week, but that earlier single was joined on the top 50 by the title track of teen singer Tevin Campbell's second album. Another smooth R&B mid-tempo tune written and produced by Babyface and Daryl Simmons, "I'm Ready" would end up falling just shy of the top 20. In the US, it matched the number 9 peak of "Can We Talk".

Number 45 "Hush Sweet Lover" by k.d. lang
Peak: number 28
Australia was going k.d. lang crazy at this point, with the Canadian singer's tour of Australia prompting Ingénue to soar into the top 5 last week and her next album, the soundtrack to Even Cowgirls Get The Blues, to be on its way to a top 10 spot. "Hush Sweet Lover" was taken from the latter and ended up charting higher than her only other top 50 single to date, "Constant Craving", which had also re-entered the top 100 a year after it finally became a hit in Australia and is the song for which k.d. is much better known. An even bigger single would come in 1995, while perhaps her most iconic song would finally chart (and become her most successful hit) in 2010.

Number 40 "Is It Love" by Twenty 4 Seven featuring Stay-C & Nance
Peak: number 20
Still at number 13 after 17 weeks on the top 50, "Slave To The Music" was shaping up to be one of 1994's biggest singles and would end the year as the 12th biggest hit. Even so, I still found it a bit basic. And as for this follow-up, it really was a low rent version of Eurodance as far as I was concerned, with none of the edge of the Dutch group's contemporaries. Still, enough Australians liked - and bought - it to give Twenty 4 Seven a second top 20 hit. This would be their final top 50 appearance, however, and we'll see their chart career in Australia peter out over the coming months.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1994 (updated weekly):

Next week: some more less successful follow-ups to big hits, plus the arrival of a dance smash by a group that would chart under a couple of different names.

Back to: Apr 3, 1994 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Apr 17, 1994

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

25 Years Ago This Week: April 3, 1994

Success in America has always been seen as the jackpot for music acts around the world, and sometimes all the stops have to be pulled out to ensure that happens. In the 1990s, a couple of pop acts that were big in Europe had their debut album rejigged for US release, since the original versions weren't deemed suitable enough.

Some reworking of Ace Of Base's debut album gave them a second chart-topper

This week in 1994, a quartet from Sweden fast-tracked a song that had been intended for their second album and whacked it onto a revised tracklisting of their debut. The result: a worldwide number 1, including in Australia.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending April 3, 1994

The number 1 single in Australia this week in 1994 was still "It's Alright" by East 17, a song that was remixed from its original album version and included on a revised release of the boy band's debut, Walthamstow.

Off The Chart
Number 96 "Completely" by Michael Bolton
Peak: number 60
As "Said I Loved You... But I Lied" made its way down the top 10, the crooner's follow-up - a pained Diane Warren-penned mega-ballad - missed the top 50, wait for it, completely.

Number 86 "Something In Common" by Bobby Brown / Whitney Houston
Peak: number 82
A duet by a married couple of music superstars should have been a huge event, but this mediocre pop/R&B tune limped into the lower reaches of the top 100.

Number 74 "Hooligan's Holiday" by Mötley Crüe
Peak: number 60
The metal band's first single without Vince Neil, this lead release from their self-titled sixth album was sung and co-written by his replacement, John Corabi.

New Entries
Number 49 "Since I Don't Have You" by Guns n' Roses
Peak: number 47
Ah, The Spaghetti Incident - the bane of record stores all around the world. After the massive and long-running success of the Use Your Illusion albums, retailers ordered huge amounts of the next album by Guns n' Roses, expecting demand to be just as high... but it wasn't. Yes, it debuted at number 1 in December 1993, but it had exited the top 50 by this stage. And pretty much any CD shop (including the Grace Bros and Brashs stores I worked at while at uni) you walked into for the rest of the decade would have excess amounts of the covers album they were desperate to sell. Just when The Spaghetti Incident had run its top 50 course, a single was finally lifted from the album, delayed until the final Use Your Illusion release had been exhausted earlier in 1994. A remake of a song originally performed by doo-wop group The Skyliners, "Since I Don't Have You" might have been too little, too late.

Number 41 "The Sign" by Ace Of Base
Peak: number 1
Like a pop rose wedged in between two rock thorns this week, Ace Of Base returned to the top 50, but not with any of the other singles from original debut album Happy Nation - which included songs like "Wheel Of Fortune" and the title track. Instead it was a new tune, originally planned for the follow-up to Happy Nation. US record company executives felt that album was lacking a certain something - i.e. another monster hit like "All That She Wants" - and so the grabbed this fresh cut from the Swedish quartet, and named their American album The Sign as well. They clearly knew what they were talking about, with "The Sign" returning Ace Of Base to the top of the singles chart in Australia and the US, where it ended 1994 as the year's number 1 song. Another slice of Scandipop brilliance, the song wasn't the only new track included on what we knew in Australia as Happy Nation (US Version) - and we'll see more from Ace Of Base in the months to come.

Number 39 "Dry County" by Bon Jovi
Peak: number 31
This was the stage I went from being able to hum along to every Bon Jovi single - even the ones I didn't like - to often not having any idea what they sounded like. The sixth and final single from Keep The Faith, this nine-and-a-half-minute epic (an edited version trimmed off three minutes) was, I guess, the band's "November Rain" in terms of its scale. Lyrically, it dealt with the downturn of America's oil production and the subsequent struggles faced by that industry's workers. Yep, upbeat stuff.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1994 (updated weekly):

Next week: a batch of lesser-remembered follow-ups to big hits across dance, R&B and adult contemporary.

Back to: Mar 27, 1994 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Apr 10, 1994

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

25 Years Ago This Week: March 27, 1994

I've probably said this before - I do tend to repeat myself a bit - but when it comes to cover versions, if you're going to bother remaking a song, you may as well do something interesting with it rather than just record it in exactly the same way as the original.

Elton John and RuPaul had a kiki... without Kiki.

This week in 1994, three of the week's new entries on the ARIA singles chart were updates of old songs - two from the '70s and one from the '60s - and all of them did something quite different with them than what had been done before.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending March 27, 1994

There was nothing different about the number 1 spot on the top 50 this week in 1994 as East 17 stayed on top for a fourth week with "It's Alright".

Off The Chart
Number 99 "Heard So Much About You" by Nick Barker
Peak: number 88
With Nick Barker & The Reptiles having never really got off the ground, their frontman went it alone on this single produced by Richard Pleasance, but didn't manage to attract much more interest.

Number 94 "Thinking Of You '94" by Sister Sledge
Peak: number 88
It was actually a 1993 remix that took its time to come out in Australia, but this revamp of the girl group's 1984 single managed to do something the original hadn't - it made the top 100. 

New Entries
Number 50 "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" by Elton John / RuPaul
Peak: number 45
Our first remake of the week was actually revived by the man who originally performed it. In 1976, Elton John and Kiki Dee went all the way to number 1 in Australia, the UK and the US with "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" - the song that remained Elton's only British chart-topper right up until 1990's re-release of "Sacrifice/Healing Hands" there. In 1994, Elton revisited the track for his Duets album and took it in a new direction. Kiki Dee was out (although she performed on the album's lead single, "True Love") and in was future Emmy Award-winning reality TV host RuPaul. I can't say I loved what they did with what is one of the best pop songs of all time, but the video was kind of fun, with the pair dressing up as iconic duos from history, including Sonny and Cher, the latter of whom had recently bastardised one of her own classic tracks in a remake with Beavis and Butt-head.

Number 49 "Feel Like Making Love" by Pauline Henry
Peak: number 13
Her former band, The Chimes, had scored their biggest hit with a soulful remake of U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For", and Pauline Henry did the same in her solo career with her cover of Bad Company's "Feel Like Making Love", a song from 1975 that never charted in Australia. The big-voiced singer retained some of the rock punch of the track, but gave it a slick pop/R&B feel as well. As big a fan as I was of The Chimes, I have to say this single left me a bit cold.

Number 48 "Let The Beat Control Your Body" by 2 Unlimited
Peak: number 39
I was, however, still big into 2 Unlimited in 1994, but it seemed their fans were drying up in Australia with this fifth and final single from No Limits barely making the top 40 despite the single version of "Let The Beat Control Your Body" being quite different from the album version. Perhaps a new album in a few months would help matters... (or perhaps not).

Number 43 "You Made Me The Thief Of Your Heart" by Sinéad O'Connor
Peak: number 43
In The Name Of The Father (about the Guildford Four and starring Daniel Day-Lewis) was one of my favourite films of the 1990s, and this haunting song taken from the soundtrack prompted me to do something I'd never done before - buy a Sinéad O'Connor single. Co-written by Bono and produced by Bomb The Bass's Tim Simenon, it captured the anger and fury of the movie, and managed to make several seemingly incongruous elements - the singer's lilting vocal, stirring strings and a cool beat - all fit together perfectly. Unfortunately for Sinéad, her days of managing big hits in Australia were behind her.

Number 27 "Twist And Shout" by Chaka Demus & Pliers with Jack Radics & Taxi Gang
Peak: number 13
We finish off with another cover, by a reggae group whose last hit has also been a remake. A song that has been performed by numerous artists in a whole range of genres, "Twist And Shout" is best known in its version by The Beatles, but they weren't the first act to record it. Vocal groups The Top Notes and The Isley Brothers got to it before the Fab Four. In the UK, Chaka Demus & Pliers managed something The Beatles didn't - they reached number 1 on the singles chart with "Twist And Shout" (although The Beatles' version of the song had been originally released there on a three-track EP which topped the EP chart instead).

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1994 (updated weekly):

Next week: a band who hit the top of the chart in 1993 return to do the same in 1994.

Back to: Mar 20, 1994 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Apr 3, 1994

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

25 Years Ago This Week: March 20, 1994

If 1993 had been the year of reggae, 1994 was shaping up to be the year of the big ballad. In weeks past, we've seen hits by Celine Dion and Mariah Carey arrive, and this week in 1994, another female singer debuted on the ARIA singles chart with one of the year's biggest love song dedications.

The sound of 1994: slickly produced mega-ballads

Unlike Celine and Mariah, the week's newcomer was enjoying her first hit in Australia, and she'd almost top the chart with her big ballad - a style she'd become known for throughout the decade (with the odd upbeat jam thrown in for good measure).

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending March 20, 1994

A song that did manage to top the chart was enjoying its third week at number 1. East 17 stayed put with "It's Alright".

Off The Chart
Number 100 "Come Baby Come" by K7
Peak: number 68
This is exactly the sort of fun hip-hop song that usually translated in Australia, but the US top 20 and UK top 5 hit by the rapper born Louis Sharpe couldn't manage a home run here.

Number 95 "Tones Of Home" by Blind Melon
Peak: number 83
Originally Blind Melon's debut single, this was re-released, apparently with a brand new video that picked up where the clip for "No Rain" left off, although the one linked to above is perhaps the original version since there's no Bee Girl in sight.

Number 92 "What's Up?" by DJ Miko
Peak: number 92
Not even a thumping Eurodance remake of the 4 Non Blondes hit by Italian dance act DJ Miko could make me like the song. In the UK, this version peaked at number 6. 

Number 84 "Careless Whisper" by Sarah Washington
Peak: number 78
Another dance cover, and UK singer Sarah Washington's George Michael revamp was the follow-up to her rendition of "I Will Always Love You". Her original material in a couple of years' time would be much better.

Number 56 "Choose" by Color Me Badd
Peak: number 56
Perhaps this brilliant second single from CMB's criminally overlooked second album, Time And Chance, should have been released first (instead of the ordinary title track)? 

New Entries
Number 47 "Breathe Again" by Toni Braxton
Peak: number 2
A month ago, we saw Toni Braxton miss the top 50 with the lead single from her debut self-titled album, "Another Sad Love Song" - the song that had put her on the map in the US when it reached number 7. She recitified the situation in Australia wth the follow-up, "Breathe Again", a Babyface-penned plea for a lover not to end a relationship. For me, "Breathe Again" had the whiff of desperation about it - "if you walk right out my life/God knows I'd surely die" - and its lethargic, overly schmaltzy feel was where Babyface started to lose me, having been a big fan of his and LA Reid's (involved here as co-producer) from the late '80s. I much preferred Toni's debut single, "Love Shoulda Brought You Home" from 1992, as well as that year's Babyface collaboration, "Give U My Heart" (both from the Boomerang soundtrack), but she'd win me back with her next ARIA top 50 hit.

Number 45 "I Can See Clearly Now" by Jimmy Cliff
Peak: number 17
Back in late 1990, Hothouse Flowers had finally landed a decent-sized hit in Australia with their version of Johnny Nash's number 3 hit from 1972 peaking just outside the top 20. Thanks to its appearance on the soundtrack to Cool Runnings, Jimmy Cliff's reggae update did even better and gave the veteran performer his first top 20 hit in the process. Twenty-four years earlier, Jimmy had reached number 31 with his 1970 version of "Wild World", on which Maxi Priest had modelled his successful 1988 reggae cover.

Number 44 "Helping Hand" by The Screaming Jets
Peak: number 25
Continuing the one-on, one-off pattern of the previous singles from second album Tear Of Thought, this fourth single returned the band to the top 50 after the failure of "Here I Go/Hard Drugs". No doubt the cruisy, jazzy sound of "Helping Hand", which wasn't really what you'd expect from The Screaming Jets, helped it stand out. And given its 19 weeks inside the top 50 (quite a long time for a relatively modest hit), it clearly appealed beyond the band's normal fanbase. 

Number 41 "Let Me Show You" by K-Klass
Peak: number 18
One of those dance acts that seemed to manage a brilliant single once a year (see also: JX), K-Klass hadn't made any waves in Australia with "Rhythm Is A Mystery" (1991) or "Don't Stop" (1992), but they belatedly broke through with 1993's "Let Me Show You". Like their previous tracks, the British dance act utilised the lead vocals of female singer Bobbi Depasois on this, their best song.

Number 32 "Mr Jones" by Counting Crows
Peak: number 13
I'm sure there are going to be many of you with fond memories of this debut single by California rock band Counting Crows. Not me. I couldn't stand "Mr Jones", which, like the work of Hootie And The Blowfish later in the decade, was inescapable at the time, being the type of thing FM radio lapped up. Turns out, singer Adam Duritz came to hate the song, too, but for very different reasons - he came to regret the lyrics' suggestion that "when everybody loves me, I will never be lonely". In the US, "Mr Jones" was one of the decade's big radio hits that were never released as singles there (see also: "Don't Speak", "Torn"), requiring people to buy the album to own the song. And they wonder why people turned to illegal downloading as soon as they could...

Number 22 "Loser" by Beck
Peak: number 8
We finish this week with another of 1994's breakthrough hits - and again it's not a song I particularly like, although I'm sure many disagree with me. Originally released by Beck independently, "Loser" led to him being signed by Geffen Records and it was issued as his maor label debut. Like "Asshole", which was spending its final week inside the top 10, "Loser" was somewhat of a throwaway novelty track, but Beck would go on to become one of the most musically diverse, critically beloved artists of the past 25 years.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1994 (updated weekly):

Next week: two classic songs - one from the '60s and one from the '70s - return to the chart in quite different versions. Plus the return of the woman best known for releasing the highest selling single of 1990.

Back to: Mar 13, 1994 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Mar 27, 1994

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

25 Years Ago This Week: March 13, 1994

Each week, there's usually something really obvious for me to talk about before I dive into the new entries on the ARIA singles chart. It could be a major release or a pattern among the debuts or even a song I really hate.

Great songs, average chart positions for Haddaway and Janet Jackson

But there's nothing jumping out at me about the five new entries from this week in 1994. I like some, but don't like others; most of the songs weren't particularly big hits; the one that did reach the top 5 is by an artist I'm not that big a fan of. You see my dilemma.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending March 13, 1994

Anyway, having managed to string out having nothing to say for two paragraphs, I'll just get on with it. The number 1 single this week in 1994 was "It's Alright" by East 17, which spent a second week on top.

New Entries
Number 43 "I Ain't Goin' Out Like That / Hits From The Bong" by Cypress Hill
Peak: number 43
"Insane In The Brain" had put dope-loving hip-hop group Cypress Hill on the map in late 1993, and they returned to the top 50 with this double A-side release, which had actually been the third single from Black Sunday internationally. The group's fondness for marijuana landed them in trouble with Saturday Night Live when band member DJ Muggs lit up onstage, which resulted in a ban from the comedy show - the fact they also trashed their instruments and the set might also have had something to do with it. Guess that's one way to "go out" instead...

Number 41 "Return To Innocence" by Enigma
Peak: number 16
Last time we saw Michael Cretu's dance act on the top 50, it had been with the Gregorian chant-featuring "Sadness", but for his second album, the Romanian-born, German-based producer traded music from the Middle Ages for world music, sampling a chant by two Amis men on this Deep Forest-style track - the lead single from Enigma's second album, The Cross Of Changes. Turned out he didn't have permission to use the vocals - although he says he thought they were in the public domain - and legal proceedings ensued. The other vocals on "Return To Innocence" came mostly from German singer Angel X, with a short spoken word contribution from "Sadness" singer and Michael's wife, Sandra. The music video for "Return To Innocence" was memorable for showing a man's life in reverse, starting with his death and going back in time until we see him as a baby - a literal return to innocence, if you will.

Number 39 "Life" by Haddaway
Peak: number 34
More dance music from Germany now and the follow-up to "What Is Love", which had spent all summer in the top 20 and was still inside the top 30 this week. Unlike in many countries, where "Life" was as big as if not bigger than "What Is Love", "Life" didn't do anywhere near as well here, not even venturing into the top 30. Personally, I think it deserved a lot better. Fun fact: in the US, the song was released as "Life (Everybody Needs Somebody To Love)".

Number 35 "Streets Of Philadelphia" by Bruce Springsteen
Peak: number 4
A decade earlier, Bruce Springsteen had graduated to the big time, registering seven top 50 hits from the Born In The U.S.A. album (including two top 10 singles, one of which was the number 1 song of 1984 in Australia), but since then, he hadn't done so well, getting no further than number 17 with both "Brilliant Disguise" and "Human Touch". That changed with this song, written especially for the film Philadelphia at the request of director Jonathan Demme. Apparently Bruce thought his lyrics didn't work with a heavier rock beat and so he sent a more subdued track, which he considered an unfinished demo, to Jonathan, who was happy with what he heard. So too were music fans, as well as voters for the Oscars and Grammys, with "Streets Of Philadelphia" going on to the Oscar for Best Original Song and four Grammys, including Song Of The Year.

Number 27 "Because Of Love" by Janet Jackson
Peak: number 25
Janet Jackson had been enjoying the best start to an album campaign of her career with the singles from janet, and that continued with another top 30 hit: fourth single "Because Of Love". The poppiest of the singles released so far, the track was a straightforward love song that, while immensely enjoyable, maybe lacked some of the edge of earlier singles. Perhaps as a result, it became Janet's first single since 1987's "The Pleasure Principle" to miss the US top 5, peaking at number 10.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1994 (updated weekly):

Next week: we'd had "Creep" and "Asshole", next came "Loser". Plus, the arrival of one of the '90s' premier balladeers.

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