Wednesday, 15 August 2018

25 Years Ago This Week: August 15, 1993

Back in 1993 when the release of a new album wasn't preceded by a dripfeed of tracks in the weeks prior, getting the order of singles right was crucial in setting up a successful album campaign. And no one knew that better than Janet Jackson, whose lead single from her then-current album had given her the first Australian chart-topper of her career.

Things might have been very different if Janet Jackson had gone with "If" as lead single

As she arrived with the album's second single this week in 1993, it was worth reflecting what might have happened if the order of the two songs coming out had been reversed, as was mooted at one point. I guess we'll never know...

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending August 15, 1993

Earning themselves a chart-topping double this week in 1993 were UB40 who remained at number 1 for a sixth week with "(I Can't Help) Falling In Love With You" and debuted at the top with album Promises And Lies

Off The Chart
Number 99 "Sometimes" by Southern Sons
Peak: number 99
"You Were There" had briefly put Southern Sons back on the radar, but it was back to the chart doldrums for this next single lifted from the Nothing But The Truth album.

Number 90 "A Prayer For Jane" by Jo-Beth Taylor
Peak: number 61
A couple of years after frothy pop confection "99 Reasons", the Australia's Funniest Home Video Show host tried to get her music career back on track with this song written about a friend who'd committed suicide.

Number 75 "Girl U For Me" by Silk
Peak: number 57
While "Freak Me" was lodged firmly at number 3, this nowhere near as good (or as racy) follow-up, a US top 30 single, peaked just outside the top 50.

Single Of The Week
"Something In Your Eyes" by Bell Biv DeVoe
Peak: number 73
Like Silk, fellow R&B/hip-hop group Bell Biv DeVoe had seen better days on the ARIA chart, namely with top 20 hit "Gangsta", which had spent 20 weeks inside the top 50. Australia seemingly skipped over "Above The Rim", the lead single from the trio's second album, Hootie Mack, for this LA Reid & Babyface (and Daryl Simmons and BBD themselves) production - a slinky, sexy number at the opposite end of the R&B spectrum from "Gangsta". A top 40 single in the US, it failed to connect here.

New Entries
Number 50 "Sweat" by Usura
Peak: number 48
Usura's album, Open Your Mind, featured two tracks called "Sweat" - one, a six-minute song that sampled U2's "Where The Streets Have No Name" and did little else; and another called "Sweat (Soakin' Wet)" which was a much more commercial slice of Italo house. The latter was released as the follow-up to "Open Your Mind" and poked its head just inside the ARIA top 50. To confuse matters, the CD single was titled just "Sweat" with the main track subtitled "Soakin' Wet mix edit".

Number 39 "If" by Janet Jackson
Peak: number 18
As "That's The Way Love Goes" spent its 14th and final week inside the top 5 (before tumbling rapidly out of the top 50 due, no doubt, to the single's deletion), the second of a mammoth eight hits from janet debuted at the other end of the top 50. Closer in style to previous tracks like "Rhythm Nation" and "State Of The World" than the laidback "That's The Way..." had been, "If" was earmarked by Janet Jackson's new label, Virgin, as the album's lead release - but she had other ideas. Keeping the club-oriented, crunching guitar-featuring song back for second single, Janet embraced her sexy side in both the song's lyrics ("If I was your girl/Oh the things I'd do to you") and accompanying music video. Nowhere near as big as "That's The Way..." - the album had already been out for a couple of months, after all - "If" was the first of four singles from janet that would make the ARIA top 20 over the coming months.

Number 33 "Bad Boys" by Inner Circle
Peak: number 25
Another week, another new reggae hit - and this week's entry came from a band who jumped into the top 10 with the other song called "Sweat" on the chart. First recorded by Inner Circle in 1987, a re-recorded version of "Bad Boys" had been used since 1989 as the theme song to long-running ride-along factual series Cops and, in the wake of the success of "Sweat (A La La La La Long)", was re-released and finally became a hit in its own right. Later to be featured in the Will Smith/Martin Lawrence movies of the same name, "Bad Boys" has become one of those songs with a much greater legacy than its chart peak would suggest, with the chorus hook becoming a pop culture reference point for people finding themselves in trouble with the law.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1993 (updated weekly):

Next week: yet another of 1993's big reggae hits arrive, while an Aussie pop star returns with her third top 50 cover version in a row.

Back to: Aug 8, 1993 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Aug 22, 1993

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

25 Years Ago This Week: August 8, 1993

What a difference three years makes. In 1990, countless R&B songs that had been big hits in the US made little to no impact in Australia. By 1993, even the whiff of a new jack swing beat or four-part vocal harmonies was enough to send a song charging into the ARIA top 50.

Johnny Gill finally rubbed Australian audiences up the right way in 1993

This week in 1993, one artist who'd been unfortunate not to see his US top 10 singles translate locally made up for lost time with his first (and only) Australia hit arriving on the singles chart.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending August 8, 1993

There was no change at the top this week in 1993, with "(I Can't Help) Falling In Love With You" by UB40 spending its fifth week at number 1.

Off The Chart
Number 97 "Ditty" by Paperboy
Peak: number 97
I have no recollection of this Grammy-nominated US top 10 single, which may be down to the fact that this was as far as Paperboy (real name: Mitchell Johnson) got in Australia.

Number 93 "Mr Moon" by Headless Chickens
Peak: number 93
Big in New Zealand, with three top 10 hits under their belt already, Headless Chickens' blend of rock and electronic influences started to find an audience locally.

Number 92 "Believe In Me" by Utah Saints
Peak: number 92
Like its two predecessors, this latest UK top 10 was packed with samples (The Human League, Crown Heights Affair, Sylvester) but couldn't live up to the success of "Something Good".

Number 90 "Back To My Roots" by RuPaul
Peak: number 90
Iconic debut single "Supermodel (You Better Work)" hadn't reached the top 100 but this follow-up by the future Drag Race host, originally titled "Black To My Roots", peeked inside.

Number 85 "In The Heart Of A Woman" by Billy Ray Cyrus
Peak: number 77
Firmly establishing that "Achy Breaky Heart" had been a one-off, this lead single from Billy Ray Cyrus's second album bombed out here and in the US, where it only got one place higher.

Number 66 "Bullet In The Head" by Rage Against The Machine
Peak: number 53
Here's another act failing to live up to past glories. As "Killing In The Name" continued to rise inside the top 10, Rage Against The Machine stalled just outside the top 50 with their second single.

New Entries
Number 49 "The Floor" by Johnny Gill
Peak: number 6
"Rub You The Right Way". "My, My, My". "Fairweather Friend". They were all excellent singles - two of them US top 10 hits - from Johnny Gill's self-titled previous album that had failed to make an impact in Australia. But the New Edition member made up for it with this lead release from fourth album Provocative. Like "Rub You...", "The Floor" was a slice of Jam & Lewis-produced R&B that had smash written all over it. Interestingly, although "The Floor" made the ARIA top 10, it missed the mark in America, only reaching number 56. Johnny wouldn't return to the top 50 under his own steam, but we would see him on the chart again in 1996 as part of a six-piece New Edition.

Number 44 "Come Undone" by Duran Duran
Peak: number 19
"Ordinary World" had been their best performing single in years, and the Duran Duran comeback continued with this second release from "The Wedding Album", which gave the British band consecutive top 20 hits for the first time since 1985's "A View To A Kill" and "Notorious" the following year. Continuing the more mature sound of their previous single, "Come Undone" evolved from a track Nick Rhodes and Duran Duran's then-guitarist Warren Cuccurullo thought might end up for a side-project they were considering, but instead became a last-minute inclusion on the album - and the band's last major worldwide hit.

Number 35 "Three Little Pigs" by Green Jelly
Peak: number 6
Combining two of my least favourite things - comedy records and heavy metal - this bastardised nursery rhyme was exactly the type of thing that would become a massive hit. American band Green Jelly had been going since 1981 (and still exist today), but with the success of this single had to change their name from their previous moniker, Green Jello, after a lawsuit from Kraft Foods, the makers of Jell-o. And that is all I have to say about this one-hit wonder, of whom my more rock-oriented readers will no doubt have fonder memories.

Number 31 "What's Up?" by 4 Non Blondes
Peak: number 2
Here's another big single I was none too enamoured with, although in the case of the only big hit for 4 Non Blondes, I can actually sit through the whole thing without needing to turn it off. Titled "What's Up?" despite not featuring those lyrics to avoid confusion with Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On?", the track was written by frontwoman Linda Perry, who after the relatively rapid demise of this band, went on to become one of the most in-demand songwriters of the 2000s thanks to tracks like "Get The Party Started" for Pink and Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful".

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1993 (updated weekly):

Next week: two acts still inside the top 10 register another hit on the top 50, including a song that'd be used as the theme to a long-running observational TV series.

Back to: Aug 1, 1993 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Aug 15, 1993

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

25 Years Ago This Week: August 1, 1993

Music acts remake songs for all sorts of reasons. This week in 1993, Australia's favourite British boy band debuted on the ARIA chart with a track they seemingly covered purely because the lyrics and their name went hand-in-hand.

East-end boys took on "West End Girls"

As remakes go, it was a wholly unneccessary update, but it did keep the group in the singles chart and allow them to whack out a re-release of their debut album (something they'd have to do all over again with their next single).

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending August 1, 1993

Another cover version was still at number 1 this week in 1993. UB40's "(I Can't Help) Falling In Love With You" spent its fourth week on top.

Off The Chart
Number 100 "It's So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday" by Boyz II Men
Peak: number 100
Originally released after "Motownphilly", this former Billboard number 2 remake of the 1975 single by GC Cameron (from film Cooley High) finally cracked the chart locally. Seems most BIIM fans already owned the a cappella track on album Cooleyhighharmony, which had spent several weeks in the top 5 at the start of the year.

Number 80 "Too Young To Die" by Jamiroquai
Peak: number 53
Debut single "When You Gonna Learn" had just missed the top 100 but this follow-up almost took the acid jazz group into the top 50, somewhere they'd finally reach in 1996 with "Cosmic Girl".

Number 72 "Run To You" by Whitney Houston
Peak: number 72
Expecting a fourth hit off Bodyguard was amibitious, and this latest ballad, which had originally been written as a break-up song before the lyrics were changed, performed accordingly.

New Entries
Number 50 "Love Is" by Vanessa Williams / Brian McKnight
Peak: number 49
Creeping in to the bottom of the top 50, this sophisticated ballad duet made it three simultaneous hits from the Beverly Hills, 90210 soundtrack (with singles by Jeremy Jordan and Shanice still on the chart). For Vanessa, it was her first single to chart since number 1 "Save The Best For Last", while for Brian, it was his breakthrough release, both here and in the US, with nothing from his 1992 self-titled debut album having taken off up until this point.

Number 46 "I Don't Wanna Fight" by Tina Turner
Peak: number 39
Keeping things on a sophisticated tip (well, compared to the raucous top 50 hits she'd scored in recent years) was Tina Turner with the lead single from What's Love Got To Do With It, her soundtrack album from the biopic of the same name, in which Angela Bassett played her. A pleasant enough tune, it was co-written by Lulu, who had something of a pop renaissance in 1993 thanks to this and her guest vocal on upcoming Take That remake "Relight My Fire".

Number 33 "The River Of Dreams / No Man's Land" by Billy Joel
Peak: number 1
The last time Billy Joel had scored a big hit on the ARIA chart, it was with 1989's angry history lesso,n "We Didn't Start The Fire", which peaked at number 2. The Piano Man went one better with the (almost) title track of 12th album River Of Dreams, which became his first chart-topper here in a decade. Theoretically part of a double A-side release (although I never did hear "No Man's Land" at the time), "The River Of Dreams" came to Billy in his sleep - he woke up singing it - but he initially resisted recording a gospel-influenced song. Bet he's glad he changed his mind.

Number 27 "Ain't No Love (Ain't No Use)" by Sub Sub featuring Melanie Williams
Peak: number 11
Not only was this debut single by UK act Sub Sub (with Melanie Williams on vocals) one of the best dance tracks of the year, but it was one of the best songs of any genre of 1993. Based around a sample from disco tune "Good Morning Sunshine" by Revelation, "Ain't No Love (Ain't No Use)" was under three minutes of pop perfection. Unfortunately, the band's follow-up singles, "Respect" and the exquisite "Angel" received next to no attention, and Sub Sub traded in dance for indie rock when they transformed into Doves later in the decade.

Number 13 "West End Girls" by East 17
Peak: number 4
It was kind of inevitable that boy band East 17, who hailed from East London, would tackle Pet Shop Boys' breakthrough single, "West End Girls", if for no other reason than to have a situation where East End boys were singing/rapping about West End girls. There wasn't really any other cause to revisit the 1985 hit (1986 in Australia) and the East 17 version certainly didn't add much to the original. 
Once again, Australia skipped over a single by the quartet that had been released in the UK - in this case, "Slow It Down" - to leap straight from "Deep" to "West End Girls", and the strategy worked, with the cover giving the boys a third straight top 10 hit locally. Not included on the original version of debut album Walthamstow, "West End Girls" was added to the tracklisting for a re-release when it seemed like all potential singles had been exhausted. Towards the end of 1993, however, another original Walthamstow track would be given a radical makeover to emerge as the album's final single (requiring another re-release). Before then, "Gold" would finally be issued in Australia and peak at number 101.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1993 (updated weekly):

Next week: two of my least favourite songs from 1993, plus the biggest Australian hit from the man who replaced Bobby Brown in New Edition.

Back to: Jul 25, 1993 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Aug 8, 1993

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

25 Years Ago This Week: July 25, 1993

This week in 1993 on the ARIA singles chart, two instances of a common problem for musicians occured: the less successful follow-up to a smash hit debut single. 

Jeremy Jordan and Snow had two of the biggest hits of the year... and these forgotten follow-ups

In both cases, the earlier hits were still inside the top 10, while both new singles would end up stalling at the top 30 and go on to be all but forgotten about by the general public.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending July 25, 1993

A song that wasn't going to be forgotten about was still at number 1 this week in 1993. UB40 spent a third week on top with "(I Can't Help) Falling In Love With You".

Off The Chart
Number 97 "Do You Love Me Like You Say?" by Terence Trent D'Arby
Peak: number 69
Kicking off the Symphony Or Damn campaign in Australia with "She Kissed Me" had been a good move, with this UK lead single peaking 60 places lower on the ARIA chart.

Number 88 "Whatzupwitu" by Eddie Murphy
Peak: number 88
Seven years after he scored with "Party All The Time", not even the presence of Michael Jackson (in whose "Remember The Time" clip he'd appeared) on guest vocals could help Eddie Murphy land another hit with this new jack swing-lite track.

Number 87 "Jimmy Olsen's Blues" by Spin Doctors
Peak: number 86
As "Two Princes" dropped out of the top 10, the US band arrived with this follow-up, which features album title Pocket Full Of Kryptonite in its lyrics and is about the Superman photographer trying to lure Lois Lane away from the Man Of Steel.

Number 79 "Will You Be There" by Michael Jackson
Peak: number 58
And here's Jacko again with the eighth single from Dangerous - and the first to miss the top 50, although this "Man In The Mirror"-esque ballad would reach number 42 in the wake of Mchael's death in 2009.

New Entries
Number 49 "Wannagirl" by Jeremy Jordan
Peak: number 22
While "The Right Kind Of Love" moved back up inside the top 10 in its 16th week on the top 50, teen heartthrob Jeremy Jordan unleashed his follow-up, a fairly forgettable slice of watered down new jack swing that had originally been a B-side for "I'll Be There" guest vocalist Trey Lorenz. In fact, so forgettable is "Wannagirl" that, despite almost reaching the top 20, the song has been pretty much written out of pop history, with the buff blond widely considered a one-hit wonder. (Of course, he's not.) In the music video for "Wannagirl", Jeremy once again flaunted that chiselled physique, swapping the basketball court for the boxing ring as an excuse to get his shirt off - not that his fans were complaining.

Number 47 "The Honeymoon Is Over" by The Cruel Sea
Peak: number 41
I'm a bit shocked to recall this title track from The Cruel Sea's breakthrough album and the follow-up to breakthrough single "Black Stick" didn't actually reach the top 40. "The Honeymoon Is Over" seemed to be everywhere at the time and felt like a much bigger hit. Of course, the fact that the album was only in its seventh week on the chart and had recently been in the top 5 might have had something to do with this single's lack of chart success. Nevertheless, the song's classic status was cemented when it won the ARIA Awards for Song and Single Of The Year the following March.

Number 44 "Girl I've Been Hurt" by Snow
Peak: number 26
Here's our second male artist following up a still-massive hit - "Informer" slid down to number 4 this week - with a song that many people have entirely forgotten reached the top 30. And fair enough, since it's likely that without the prior success of Snow's chart-topping track, "Girl I've Been Hurt" would not have done anywhere near as well. A fairly monotonous reggae-inflected ballad, it would be the last we'd see of the Canadian performer on the top 50. If you watch the video below to refresh your memory of "Girl I've Been Hurt", spare a thought for the poor female dancers forced to cavort around in bikinis and unfastened winter coats in freezing conditions.

Number 28 "Shock To The System / Heroin" by Billy Idol
Peak: number 28
He'd been registering hits on the ARIA chart for more than a decade, including six top 10 singles, but despite crashing into the top 30 this week in 1993, Billy Idol got no further with this double A-side release from Cyberpunk. Something of a concept album inspired by Billy's interest in computers, the nascent internet and electronics, Cyberpunk was a natural progression from the synthrock we'd come to expect from him, but neither original track "Shock To The System" (which came with an LA riots-inspired music video) or cover version "Heroin" (originally performed by The Velvet Underground) were up to his usual standard.

Number 21 "Big Gun" by AC/DC
Peak: number 19
In July 1991, Guns n' Roses' "You Could Be Mine" had provided the soundtrack for Terminator 2: Judgment Day. For Arnold Schwarzenegger's latest blockbuster, Last Action Hero, it was AC/DC's turn to bring the rock to the big screen. And that's pretty much all I have to say about this song, which even the band themselves seem to have more or less forgotten about.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1993 (updated weekly):

Next week: an '80s classic is given a boy band makeover, one of the year's best dance tracks and another hit taken from the Beverly Hills, 90210 soundtrack

Back to: Jul 18, 1993 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Aug 1, 1993

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

25 Years Ago This Week: July 18, 1993

In between all the reggae, grunge, Eurodance and rock remakes that defined 1993, moments of pure pop were few and far between. Thank goodness, then, for the return of my favourite group (although they're techically a duo) of all time.

So ask yourself now what were Pet Shop Boys thinking with this look?

Back after a two-year absence, the synthpop pair released the first in a string of singles that dominated my year-end top 100. And they enjoyed some of their best chart action in years in Australia.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending July 18, 1993

Enjoying another week at number 1 this week in 1993 was UB40, as "(I Can't Help) Falling In Love With You" stayed on top for a second week.

Off The Chart
Number 87 "Here I Go / Hard Drugs" by The Screaming Jets
Peak: number 63
The yo-yoing fortunes of The Screaming Jets continued with this double header from second album Tear Of Thought placing them back in the 60s.

Number 86 "Elated" by Euphoria
Peak: number 66
They started their career with three consecutive top 10 hits (including two number 1s), but local dance act Euphoria hit a brick wall with this brand new single - the first featuring vocals by Holly Garnett's replacement, Jodie (later Jodhi) Meares.

Number 79 "Persuasion" by Tim Finn
Peak: number 62
He ended his brief tenure in Crowded House to return to his solo career, but this lead single from Before & After failed to take Tim Finn back into the top 50, despite being quite a pleasant track.  

Single Of The Week
"My Country" by Midnight Oil
Peak: number 52
Two years earlier, "One Country" from Blue Sky Mining had peaked just outside the top 50, and the similarly named "My Country" from Earth And Sun And Moon reached one spot lower. It was a change of fortunes for Midnight Oil, who'd made a habit of reaching the top 50 with more than one single per album previously. According to Peter Garrett, it's "a song about how the flag is often used to cover a multitude of sins and crimes - and how people hide behind the patriotism."

New Entries
Number 49 "Burnt Sienna" by Margaret Urlich
Peak: number 33
The previous two poppy singles from her second album, Chameleon Dreams, had missed the mark, and so Margaret Urlich changed tack for her next release, going with bluesy (or is it jazzy?) ballad "Burnt Sienna" - a song about as far removed from the likes of "Number One (Remember When We Danced All Night)" and "Escaping" as you could get without changing genre altogether. And, I'm reliably informed, it was also a very personal song for Margaret, written about her sister's suicide. The strategy of trying something new (and possibly some price discounting) worked, with "Burnt Sienna" taking her back into the top 40.

Number 46 "Can You Forgive Her?" by Pet Shop Boys
Peak: number 17
Last seen on the ARIA top 50 with their reinvention of U2's "Where The Streets Have No Name" - their three subsequent singles missed the top 100 completely - Pet Shop Boys made a welcome return after taking 1992 off. They did so with the first taste of fifth album Very, which I'd give a hammering over the next year, so much so that other staff members at the department store where I worked on weekends tried to have the music department banned from playing it. They weren't successful.
"Can You Forgive Her?" was a great return, and with its synth blasts and big beats, was a major departure from previous album Behaviour and more in line with some of their earlier releases. As lyrically articulate as ever, the song told the story of a guy whose girlfriend was getting annoyed because he seemed to be in love with a childhood friend, and the implication that the friend was also male was mirrored by an increased openness by the duo about their sexuality in the '90s - a fact no one could have been mistaken about given they had in store for us next...

Number 45 "Voice Of Freedom" by Freedom Williams
Peak: number 41
He'd been one of the voices of C+C Music Factory - and properly credited, too! - but rapper Freedom Williams didn't achieve the same level of success with his first venture into solo territory. Based around a sample of George Michael's "Freedom 90", "Voice Of Freedom" sounded like the kind of thing Marky Mark & The Funky Bunch would've released a couple of years earlier.

Number 40 "I'm So Into You" by SWV
Peak: number 40
While fellow new jill swing trio Jade had missed the top 50 earlier in the year, Sisters With Voices managed to land a minor hit with this former US top 10 smash. Comprised of Cheryl "Coko" Clemons, future Survivor contestant Tamara "Taj" George and Leanne "Lelee" Lyons, SWV would fare much better with a remix of the song that had preceded "I'm So Into You": debut single "Right Here".

Number 39 "Is It...?" by Melissa
Peak: number 39
It wasn't a great week for Australian pop acts associated with E Street. Like Euphoria, Melissa Tkautz's music career had been given a major boost by the recently defunct primetime soap in which she had also starred. Next to be seen on the shortlived series Paradise Beach, Melissa released this brand new song, presumably intended as the lead single from a second album. But when "Is It...?" stalled right here at number 39, so too did her singing career. Unlike "Elated", which I quite liked, I can see why "Is It...?" didn't do any better - as well as the downturn in pop in 1993, it just wasn't as good a song as the likes of "Read My Lips" or "Sexy (Is The Word)".

Number 36 "Sweat (A La La La La Long)" by Inner Circle
Peak: number 2
It really was like waiting for buses with reggae hits - you wait for one to come along for ages (if that's your thing) and then a bunch of them arrive at once. Following Snow, UB40 and Shaggy into the ARIA singles chart was this long-awaited (for them) breakthrough hit by Jamaica's Inner Circle, who'd been making music since the late '60s. One of those songs I knew would wear out its welcome very quickly, "Sweat..." spent a la la la la long time on the top 50 - half a year exactly, by which time I was well and truly sick of it. Despite being a massive worldwide hit, no attention was given at the time to the questionable nature of these lyrics: "Girl I'm gonna make you sweat/Sweat 'til you can't sweat no more/And if you cry out/I'm gonna push it, push it some more."

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1993 (updated weekly):

Next week: two long-forgotten follow-ups to a couple of the year's biggest singles by male performers widely considered to be one-hit wonders. Plus, the latest comeback by one of the biggest male artists of the '80s.

Back to: Jul 11, 1993 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jul 25, 1993

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

25 Years Ago This Week: July 11, 1993

Some songs are bigger than a chart position - going on to sum up a moment in time or become a statement about life. "Everybody Hurts" by R.E.M. is one of those songs.

Michael Stipe in the memorable video for "Everybody Hurts"

Although a substantial hit following its debut on the ARIA singles top 50 this week in 1993, its sentiment and message have seen its legacy go beyond sales success into something more meaningful.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending July 11, 1993

The biggest sales success of this week in 1993 was UB40's cover "(I Can't Help) Falling In Love With You", which started a seven-week run at number 1.

Off The Chart
Number 91 Caressing Swine by Died Pretty
Peak: number 74
1993 was going to be a pivotal year for this Sydney indie band, who'd just signed a major label deal with Columbia Records. The title track of this four-track EP was the first, er, taste of the upcoming Taste album.

Number 90 "Spill The Rhyme" by A Lighter Shade Of Brown
Peak: number 90
Sampling the same song that Freaked Out Flower Children took into the top 50 in 1992, this was the first chart appearance by the hip-hop duo who would score a much bigger hit the following year.

Number 84 "Pressure US" by Sunscreem
Peak: number 64
The original mix of this song was an underserving flop when it came out ahead of breakthrough single "Love U More". At least this remix gained some attention in Australia.

Number 80 "Distant Thunder" by Richard Clapton
Peak: number 80
The title track of the Australian music legend's first studio album in six years also provided him with his first top 100 appearance since 1987's "Glory Road".

Number 72 "It's On" by Naughty By Nature
Peak: number 51
Sampling jazz record "French Spice" by Donald Byrd, this follow-up to "Hip Hop Hooray" came oh so close to giving the hip-hop group a second top 50 hit from the one album - a feat they've never achieved.

Single Of The Week
"Buddy X" by Neneh Cherry
Peak: number 102
Australia had never taken to Neneh Cherry as much as the UK or the US, with her debut single, "Buffalo Stance", reaching number 3 in both countries. That classic hadn't even made the ARIA top 20, while none of the ensuing string of excellent singles from Raw Like Sushi cracked the top 50. But Australia wasn't alone in under-appreciating the singer/rapper's second album, Homebrew, which, despite being a really good collection of songs, met with relatively disappointing sales around the world. Second single "Buddy X", which really should've been much bigger didn't even make the top 100 - either in 1993 or in remixed form in 1999.

New Entries
Number 50 "Single Perfect Raindrop" by Things Of Stone & Wood
Peak: number 50
They'd started off the year with a top 10 single, and this week in 1993, Things Of Stone & Wood crept into the top 50 with the final single from debut album The Yearning. Looking and kind of sounding like one of those medieval bands of minstrels, it was fitting that the video for "Single Perfect Raindrop" was filmed in the hipster heartland of Glebe in Sydney's inner city.

Number 43 "Everybody Hurts" by R.E.M.
Peak: number 6
The three singles released thus far from Automatic For The People hadn't exactly set the ARIA chart alight, with none reaching higher than number 34. But that all changed with "Everybody Hurts", a song that became the biggest hit of R.E.M.'s career. Dealing with a topic that most people could empathise with if not identify with personally, the ballad spoke about the feeling of despair that drives some to suicide and offered a plea to those feeling like they've had enough to "hold on". 
Not exactly cheery stuff, but certainly an important message to communicate. "Everybody Hurts" is one of those songs that has transcended its original performers and, as Michael Stipe once said, "This song instantly belonged to everyone except us." Seventeen years later, an all-star ensemble (and some former UK X Factor contestants) assembled for a charity cover version to benefit those afflicted by the 2010 Haiti earthquake, and numerous other performances and recordings have been made, notably a duet by Pink and Kelly Clarkson at the 2017 American Music Awards.

Number 37 "Have I Told You Lately" by Rod Stewart
Peak: number 12
From a song that went on to be covered numerous times, we come now to Rod Stewart's second remake of Van Morrison's "Have I Told You Lately". Originally released by Van in 1989, the song was recorded by Rod for his 1991 album, Vagabond Heart. Two years later, he included it in his MTV Unplugged set list and the live version was lifted as a single from the Unplugged...And Seated album. Rod's biggest hit here since "Rhythm Of My Heart", and a top 5 smash in the UK and the US, it was just another of his '90s singles I avoided as best I could.

Number 31 "Don't Tell Me What To Do" by Baby Animals
Peak: number 24
The highest two new entries this week came from Australian acts that had a lot to live up to - a chart-topping album each. In the case of Baby Animals, they finally got around to releasing the lead single from second album Shaved And Dangerous, having kept themselves in the top 50 (just) with 1992's standalone single, "Impossible To Fly". Although it had a pretty catchy chorus, "Don't Tell Me What To Do" was not as big as you might've expected from the band whose self-titled debut had spent almost a year on the albums top 50, but that could be because people just went out and bought Shaved... instead. Unlike Baby Animals, which took months to get to number 1, the follow-up went straight in at its number 2 peak. "Don't Tell...", meanwhile, would be Baby Animals' final top 50 single.

Number 18 "Never Miss Your Water" by Diesel
Peak: number 12
Like Baby Animals, Diesel was coming off a number 1 album that had been one of the top 5 biggest sellers of 1992. And he delivered yet again with The Lobbyist following Hepfidelity to the top of the albums chart and its lead single, "Never Miss Your Water", giving him a ninth top 20 hit (including his tally with The Injectors). I'd actually pretty much forgotten all about this song until now, but I have to say that it's my second favourite of Diesel's songs after "Man Alive". Of course, the fact that I could have forgotten about my second favourite song gives you an indication of what I think of much of the rest of his output...

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1993 (updated weekly):

Next week: the return of one of my favourite acts of all time, another reggae smash and a couple of minor hits from artists that'd burst onto the scene with hugely succesful songs.

Back to: Jul 4, 1993 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jul 18, 1993

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

25 Years Ago This Week: July 4, 1993

By 1993, sampling was well-established as part of music - and was generally being done much more legally than at first. 

Great samples helped PM Dawn and Us3 into the top 50 

This week that year, two singles based heavily on samples made their debut on the ARIA top 50 and also worked well as new songs in their own right.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending July 4, 1993

A track with a couple of samples in it was still at number 1 this week in 1993. "Informer" by Snow spent its fifth and final week on top.

Off The Chart
Number 96 "Space Time Disco" by Def FX
Peak: number 70
Not even their most commercial offering yet could prevent Def FX being unlucky on the chart yet again. The band would eventually benefit from continuing to plug away and land a top 50 hit... but not until 1994.

Number 92 "Break It Down Again" by Tears For Fears
Peak: number 82
With Curt Smith off doing his (far superior) solo thing, Roland Orzabal was left to fly the Tears For Fears flag on his own with this lead single from the Elemental album.

Number 89 "Animal Nitrate" by Suede
Peak: number 89
In the UK, this punningly titled track gave Suede their first top 10 hit, but Australia was less keen, with the band failing to land a second hit and not returning to the top 100 for another six years.

Number 81 "Down With The King" by Run-DMC
Peak: number 81
Returning with their first studio album in three years, hip-hop trio Run-DMC were back on form musically and in terms of their US chart success, but this style of hip-hop was probably not mainstream enough for Australian palates at this point.

Single Of The Week
"Pets" by Porno For Pyros
Peak: number 68
Jane's Addiction had never crossed over in Australia, with "Been Caught Stealing" stalling at number 56 just ahead of the grunge explosion at the end of 1991. From the ashes of that band came Porno For Pyros, which included singer Perry Farrell and drummer Stephen Perkins in its line-up. The subdued, psychedelic "Pets" was the closest the band ever came to scoring a hit locally.  

New Entries
Number 50 "Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)" by Us3
Peak: number 32
Our first sample-ridden hit comes from jazz fusion group Us3, who spliced together hooks from Blue Note Records' back catalogue with present day hip-hop. On their breakthrough hit "Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)" they incorporated elements from Herbie Hancock's 1964 track "Cantaloupe Island". A flop first time around in their homeland of the UK, the song reached the US top 10 before catching on around the world. The type of tune that continues to pop up in films and ads, and on TV shows, it was the perfect blend of old and new genres.

Number 42 "Looking Through Patient Eyes" by P.M. Dawn
Peak: number 20
Not since their breakthrough hit, "Set Adrift On Memory Bliss", had P.M. Dawn visited the ARIA top 20 and they did so for a second time following the same template as that top 10 smash. Taking an easily recognisable hook from an '80s classic - in this case George Michael's "Father Figure" - and using it as the foundation of a new song, the duo released what I consider to be their best song in "Looking Through Patient Eyes". It came out just ahead of their second album, on which the Cordes brothers once again indulged their love for a lengthy title: The Bliss Album...? (Vibrations Of Love And Anger And The Ponderance Of Live And Existence). Deep.

Number 27 "Gloria" by Van Morrison / John Lee Hooker
Peak: number 22
It didn't feature a sample, but the week's highest new entry did revisit the past, with Van Morrison updating a song he'd first recorded with his former band, Them, in 1964. A collaboration with blues legend John Lee Hooker, this new version of "Gloria" matched the exact peak the original version reached in Australia in 1966.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1993 (updated weekly):

Next week: new chart hits by top 50 regulars R.E.M., Rod Stewart, Diesel and Baby Animals.

Back to: Jun 27, 1993 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jul 11, 1993