Thursday, 13 August 2020

25 Years Ago This Week: August 13, 1995

In the mid-'90s, it seemed like dance acts were trying to outdo each other with the bizarre and unexpected things they could turn into club records. A snatch of dialogue from an old film, a decades-old dance craze and, this week in 1995, a piece of music from a cantata written in the 1930s.

The words "remixed by Nick Skitz" were peak '90s dance music

Like those other inventive (and often quite terrible) dance tracks, the song that debuted on the ARIA singles chart this week in 1995 was massive... and only just kept off the number 1 spot.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending August 13, 1995

That number 1 spot was occupied this week, as it had been for the previous five weeks, by U2's "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me". Also noteworthy was that behind the Batman Forever single for the entirety of its six-week run on top was Bryan Adams' own soundtrack hit "Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman?", which spent a total of eight non-consecutive weeks at number 2, broken up by its one-week stint at number 1 in the week prior to U2's debut.

Off The Chart
Number 100 "December" by Collective Soul
Peak: number 97
Just like the second single from their debut album, this follow-up to "Gel" peaked in the 90s, but it wasn't all over for Collective Soul's self-titled second album.

Number 99 "Remember Me This Way" by Jordan Hill
Peak: number 99
Signed by super producer David Foster, this teenage singer belted out this big ballad from the soundtrack to live action-meets-CGI film Casper, but although the film was a hit, the song was not.

Number 92 "Rock Dog" by Swoop
Peak: number 83
A third top 100 entry for the Australian funk/rock band, this noisy single from upcoming album The Woxo Principle was not going to be the one to give them a hit.

Number 89 "Feel Me Flow" by Naughty By Nature
Peak: number 89
Their previous two albums has each yielded a top 40 hit, but Naughty By Nature were out of favour with the singles from Poverty's Paradise

New Entries
Number 50 "Try Me Out" by Lee Marrow featuring Charme
Peak: number 37
We saw the remake by Corona debut last week, but some people clearly favoured the original "Try Me Out" (or bought it by mistake). First released in 1993, the Lee Marrow version of the Eurodance track featured vocals by Annerley Gordon under the alias Charme (although I'm not sure that's her in the music video). After many years performing behind-the-scenes, Annerley would have a hit in her own right - as Ann Lee - with "2 Times", an ARIA top 5 hit in 1999. Quite why anyone would purposely choose to buy this version of "Try Me Out" over the far superior Corona version is unclear to me, although I assume it has its supporters. As I noted last week, Lee Marrow (aka Francesco Bontempi, who was behind Corona) was a winner either way.

Number 45 "Can't Cry Anymore" by Sheryl Crow
Peak: number 41
After two back-to-back top 3 hits, Sheryl Crow's latest release from Tuesday Night Music Club peaked just outside the top 40 - and I can see why. Not as strong a single as "All I Wanna Do" or "Strong Enough", "Can't Cry Anymore" did about as well as it should have, especially since the album had been on the top 50 since October 1994 and spent two weeks at number 1 in June 1995.

Number 14 "Excalibur" by F.C.B.
Peak: number 2
Australia couldn't get enough of novelty-ish techno tracks in 1995, with this "O Fortuna"-sampling epic blasting into the top 100 at number 14 before making the leap to number 2 the following week. Making use of the piece of music from Carl Orff's Carmina Burana made a lot of sense since it seemed to be everywhere in the '90s (including in an ad for coffee), but that didn't make it pleasant to listen to - and this is coming from someone whose personal year-end countdown for 1995 is littered with dance tracks (playlist here). Remixed by Nick Skitz (who was the first person I ever conducted a face-to-face interview with a couple of years later), "Excalibur" came out of Italy - where else? - with the F.C.B. coming from the surnames of the three men responsible: Carlo Favilli, Maurizio Cristofori and Alex Bresil.

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

Next week: another awful dance smash, the end of an era for a big boy band and an event ballad with an interesting video from the King of Pop.

Back to: Aug 6, 1995 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Aug 20, 1995

Monday, 10 August 2020

This Week In 1980: August 10, 1980

The Olympic Games have always been a big deal in Australia, with the nation stopping for certain medal events and taking particular pride in the two ocassions our country has played host.

Genghis Khan made Village People look understated

And while 2020's Games have been pushed back due to COVID-19, that Olympic spirit was alive and well 40 years ago, with a song named after that year's host city and used extensively in the Channel 7 coverage becoming one of 1980's biggest hits.

Australian Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending August 10, 1980

The biggest hit this week in 1980 was "Funkytown" by Lipps Inc, which took over at number 1 from Village People

Off The Chart
Number 100 "Sister Europe" by The Psychedelic Furs
Peak: number 100
Just sneaking onto the top 100 - something they wouldn't do at home until the following year - the British band charted with their second single, taken from their self-titled debut album.

Number 88 "Play The Game" by Queen
Peak: number 85
Queen were sure having trouble following "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" with another hit. Typically dramatic ballad "Play The Game" became their second single in a row to miss the top 50.

Number 78 "Moscow" by Nexus
Peak: number 54
Nice try, Nexus. A locally produced spoiler single of "Moscow" by Melbourne band Nexus came close to the top 50 but couldn't compete with the original version.

Number 77 "The Royal Mile" by Gerry Rafferty
Peak: number 52
Also just missing the top 50 was this latest release by the man who'd reached number 1 with "Baker Street" a couple of years earlier. He never was able to land another hit.

New Entries

Number 49 "Me Myself I" by Joan Armatrading
Peak: number 24
She'd had a single and an EP both fall short of the top 50 so far in 1980, but Joan Armatrading finally broke through on the singles chart with the title track of her sixth album. A song about the enjoyment to be found in solitude, "Me Myself I" was the British singer/songwriter's most commercial offering to date - and performed accordingly.

Number 47 "Fallin' In Love (Bein' Friends)" by Rocky Burnette
Peak: number 6
Often wrongly described as a one-hit wonder, Rocky Burnette followed his chart-topping smash, "Tired Of Toein' The Line", with another top 10 hit - one that you rarely (if ever) hear about these days. The rockabilly artist never ventured into the top 100 again, joining the ranks of bona fide two-hit wonders like Juice Newton and Kelly Marie.

Number 45 "Cupid/I've Loved You For A Long Time (Medley)" by The Spinners
Peak: number 17
Their previous medley fell out of the top 20 this week, and vocal harmony group The Spinners followed "Working My Way Back To You" with another musical mash-up, combining a remake of Sam Cooke's "Cupid" with "I've Loved You For A Long Time", a song written by Michael Zager, who also produced this record. The result: another top 20 hit.

Number 44 "The Other Side Of The Sun" by Janis Ian
Peak: number 44
Slow-burn top 10 hit "Fly Too High" had spent 20 weeks in the top 50, but this delicate follow-up could only manage a fraction of that, with four weeks spent in the 40s. It would be the fourth and final hit in Australia for Janis, who spent much of the rest of the '80s focussing on songwriting rather than releasing her own music.

Number 42 "All Out Of Love" by Air Supply
Peak: number 9
Formed in 1975, Air Supply had found instant success in Australia with debut single "Love And Other Bruises", a top 10 hit in 1976, but the soft rockers had only managed one other major hit in the years since, "Lost In Love", which reached number 13 in 1979. It was that song that led to everything changing for Air Supply, which essentially consisted of singer Russell Hitchcock and guitarist Graham Russell with various backing musicians. The song caught the interest of American A&R legend Clive Davis, who released a remixed version in the US, where it shot to number 3. Mega ballad "All Out Of Love", a song that Clive insisted receive some lyrical tweaking before release (giving him a writer credit) was the international follow-up - and reached the top 10 in both Australia and the US, where it peaked at number 2. As we'll see in coming months, "All Out Of Love" kicked off a particularly successful period for Air Supply in Australia, but even more so in the US, where the pair continued to enjoy top 5 hits long after we had lost interest.

Number 39 "Moscow" by Genghis Khan
Peak: number 1
Originally titled "Moskau" and released by German disco group Dschinghis Khan in 1979 as the follow-up to their eponymous Eurovision entry from earlier that year, "Moscow" was the English translation of the record, which was an obvious choice for Channel 7 to use in their coverage of that year's Olympic Games held in the Russian city. The saturation play on the top-rating broadcast resulted in "Moscow" becoming a huge hit in Australia, racing to number 1 within three weeks and staying there for six. The type of song that would not itself have been out of place at Eurovision - it even had a key change - "Moscow" was not so popular in Russia itself, at least not officially, with Genghis Khan (the name given to the group in Australia) banned in the USSR. Almost needless to say, this was their only hit in Australia.

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

Next week: the second most successful member - for the time being - of a famous family, plus new hits by The B-52's, Alice Cooper and Paul McCartney.

Back to: Aug 3, 1980 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Aug 17, 1980

Thursday, 6 August 2020

25 Years Ago This Week: August 6, 1995

Sometimes it just takes one song to change everything. This week in 1995, a new entry on the ARIA singles chart threw out the rulebook for female artists and paved the way for a new type of performer.

We all knew Alanis Morissette before long

The song was bold and aggressive, and was a massive hit as well. It didn't quite reach number 1, but it helped its album top the chart and become one of the biggest releases of the decade.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending August 6, 1995

U2 were still at number 1 this week in 1995, but "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me" was under pressure in some states from The Steppers, who topped the Queensland and South Australian charts. But since "Alice, Who The F..k Is Alice?" hadn't yet entered the Victorian or New South Wales top 50s, it had to make do with a number 11 slot.

Just above that, "U Sure Do" by Strike blasted back into the top 50 at number 9 this week, after dropping off the chart from number 33 a couple of weeks earlier. The roller-coaster performance was due to the dance track's distributor changing from Possum Records, who released a three-track CD single in March, to Festival Records, who had the rights for the updated five-track CD single with all the new mixes from its UK re-release. That had come out locally in July, just as copies of the Possum single were drying up.

Off The Chart
Number 96 "Million Miles From Home" by Keziah Jones
Peak: number 92
Coinciding with a visit to Australia, Nigerian singer/songwriter Keziah Jones scored his only top 100 appearance in Australia with this track from second album African Space Craft.

Number 83 Mr Kneebone by Powderfinger
Peak: number 83
Another state chart oddity, Brisbane's Powderfinger had already reached the Queensland top 30 with two earlier releases, but this EP featuring "Swollen Tongue" became their first national top 100 placing.

New Entries
Number 49 "You Oughta Know" by Alanis Morissette
Peak: number 4
In the early '90s, Canadian singer Alanis Morissette was just one of an endless supply of dance-pop singers, releasing tunes like "Too Hot" and ballad "No Apologies", both of which reached the top 20 for her at home. But when her original two-album deal ended, Alanis changed direction, completely overhauling her sound for third album Jagged Little Pill. Out were the dance routines and stirring sentiments, and in their place were emotionally raw lyrics about sex acts in cinemas, grinding guitars and impassioned vocals unlike anyone else's. Case in point: the album's lead single, "You Oughta Know", in which Alanis let an ex-boyfriend have it. Who was the target of her fury and venom? She'll never say, but the attitude expressed, which had been recorded in one take, resonated with millions and the song became her international breakthrough hit. It also led to dozens of imitators in the years to come as every record company wanted their own rock chick. As we'll see in the coming months, "You Oughta Know" was just the beginning for Alanis...

Number 48 "The Ghost Song" by Jim Morrison
Peak: number 48
Spending just one week in the top 50 following a visit to Australia by surviving members of The Doors to promote the reissue of the band's final album from 1978, this spoken word track by the late singer had been updated with a new arrangement.

Number 44 "Colors Of The Wind" by Vanessa Williams
Peak: number 16
Third time - and a bit of help from Disney - was the charm for Vanessa Williams, who finally scored another decent-sized hit to follow "Save The Best For Last" after ballads "Love Is" and "The Sweetest Days" barely made the top 50. The theme to that year's animated hit from the House of Mouse, Pocahontas, "Colors Of The Wind" followed the newly established tradition of getting a pop star to perform the song for the film's closing credits, while it was sung in the movie by voice actor Judy Kuhn. The lyrics of the Grammy-, Academy Award- and Golden Globe-winning song explored the relationship of humanity and nature, with Pocahontas pointing out John Smith's lack of understanding in that respect. It would be Vanessa's final hit in Australia.

Number 33 "Try Me Out" by Corona
Peak: number 10
Italo dance act Corona were really on a roll, with their third single becoming their third consecutive top 10 hit. And like both their previous successes, "The Rhythm Of The Night" and "Baby Baby", there is some backstory to this song. "Try Me Out" was originally released in 1993 by Lee Marrow featuring Charme and took its hook from 1987 track "Toy" by Teen Dream. That original version of the song was also on the top 100 this week in 1995, having been re-released in anticipation of the Corona remake charting. But Lee Marrow was essentially Corona, with both projects created by producer Francesco Bontempi - so whichever version of "Try Me Out" you preferred, it was win-win for him. As was so often the case for dance acts in the '90s, the hits dried up for Corona as rapidly as they began, and the group was unable to break into the top 100 again, not even with the '70s-influenced remix of The Rhythm Of The Night's fourth single, "I Don't Wanna Be A Star".

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

Next week: the original version of "Try Me Out" shows its face in the top 50, as does an operatic dance smash.

Back to: Jul 30, 1995 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Aug 13, 1995

Monday, 3 August 2020

This Week In 1980: August 3, 1980

Some artists are lucky to have a hit at all, while others visit the top 50 multiple times. And sometimes, a performer will be successful in a number of different guises - with a band, as a solo artist, in collaboration with other artists...

James Freud started his ever-evolving chart career in 1980

This week in 1980, an Australian singer whose career brought him to the top 50 in four different capacities landed his first ever hit as frontman of a new local band. He would go on to be part of two more bands and release solo recordings, all of which yielded chart hits.

Australian Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending August 3, 1980

The biggest chart hit in Australia this week in 1980 was "Can't Stop The Music" by Village People, which spent its fourth and final week at number 1.

Off The Chart
Number 99 "Danger" by The Motels
Peak: number 88
"Total Control" was on its last legs, but The Motels weren't able to replace it with another hit as this lead single from second album Careful fell way short of the top 50

Number 98 "Here Comes Another Heartache" by Darryl Cotton
Peak: number 89
And here comes another artist with a recent top 10 hit failing to reach the top 50 with their follow-up. Album Best Seat In The House had also faltered, peaking at number 56 in May.

Number 96 "After The News" by The Reels
Peak: number 65
The Reels had yet to land a major hit and at this stage were also struggling to even get back into the top 50. "After The News" would end up featuring on the band's second album, Quasimodo's Dream, released in May 1981.

Number 95 "Broken English" by Marianne Faithfull
Peak: number 75
I came to know this song when UK dance act Sunscreem covered it in 1992 - and while I loved all the other singles from their debut album, I did not care for "Broken English". That's doubly the case in its original form. Tortured is the word that comes to mind.

New Entries
Number 45 "Modern Girl" by James Freud & The Radio Stars
Peak: number 12
He would go on to reach number 1 as part of Models, land a top 20 hit in 1989 from the most expensive album Mushroom Records had released up until that point and team up with Martin Plaza for another visit to the top 50 in the early '90s, but this is where James Freud's Australian chart career started. Twenty years old at the time, the late singer had played in a number of bands since his high school days - including Teenage Radio Stars with future Models band-mate Sean Kelly - but this was the first one that landed a single on the chart. And with debut release "Modern Girl" almost reaching the top 10, things were off to a good start. But album Breaking Silence and follow-up single "Enemy Lines" (released under James Freud's Berlin due to an Icehouse-type name change situation) failed to capitalise on the early success, and the Gary Numan-produced "Automatic Crazy" missed the top 100 entirely. By 1981, James dissolved the band and teamed up with Sean in Models the following year.

Number 44 "Emotional Rescue" by The Rolling Stones
Peak: number 8
Continuing in the rock-meets-disco vein that had produced 1978's "Miss You", The Rolling Stones returned to the same chart peak reached by that earlier hit with the title track of their latest album. ("Respectable" had peaked at number 19 between them.) But the shift in their sound didn't sit well with everyone in the band, with Keith Richards said to have disliked the musical direction, contributing to the friction between him and Mick Jagger. And while some fans might have felt like the Stones were selling out, enough others went out and bought "Emotional Rescue", which became the band's 22nd top 10 hit in Australia.

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

Next week: a follow-up to a recent number 1, an upcoming number 1 linked to one of the biggest events of the year and the latest hit by an Australian band that was taking off in the US.

Back to: July 27, 1980 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Aug 10, 1980

Thursday, 30 July 2020

25 Years Ago This Week: July 30, 1995

Sometimes a song needs a well-timed re-release to find its audience, who missed it first time around. Or perhaps a remix to freshen up a track that didn't work the first time.

Seal's song went from chart-flopper to chart-topper in 1995

And sometimes a song just needs to feature in a Hollywood blockbuster for it to become the chart-topping hit it was always destined to be. No prizes for guessing what new entry from this week in 1995 I'm talking about.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending July 30, 1995

A song from that very same big budget film kept the number 1 spot warm for its soundtrack-mate this week in 1995. "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me" by U2 spent its fourth week on top.

Off The Chart
Number 100 "Devil's Diary" by The Caulfields
Peak: number 61
Possibly better known by its unofficial subtitle "Bigger Than Jesus Now", which seems to have been added by way of a sticker on the single's cover, this was the debut single by the Delaware rock band.

Number 82 "Common People" by Pulp
Peak: number 65
This quintessential Britpop track might not have made much impact locally, but it put Pulp in the big league in the UK when it reached number 2 (held off by Robson & Jerome).

Number 69 "Alice, Who The X Is Alice? (Living Next Door To Alice)" by Gompie
Peak: number 54
Last week, we saw the dance version by The Steppers enter the top 50, but mercifully, Australia showed some restraint and didn't allow the original, more traditional-sounding revamp of "Living Next Door To Alice" join it. 

New Entries
Number 50 "Kiss From A Rose" by Seal
Peak: number 1
When this second single from Seal's second self-titled album reached number 87 in 1994 it seemed likely "Kiss From A Rose" would be little more than a chart footnote for a singer whose success had dwindled since his 1991 solo debut. But then the ballad, which Seal had written in the late '80s but only shared with producer Trevor Horn when they were working on Seal II, found its way onto the soundtrack for Batman Forever, playing over the closing credits. Re-released with a new film-related music video, the song blossomed (sorry!) into a major international hit, going all the way to number 1 in Australia and bringing the album back to the top 50 after an absence of 10 months. The meaning of the song, which has typically vivid but unclear lyrics, has been left up to interpretation by Seal, who never returned to the Australian top 50 after this in his own right - "My Vision" with Jakatta reached nunber 43 in 2002 - but did wind up as a coach on the local version of The Voice for a few seasons.

Number 49 "Party" by Christine Anu
Peak: number 20
She'd missed the top 50 with her first few singles, but Christine Anu finally broke through with the third track lifted from Stylin' Up. And while feel-good tune "Party" was a great song in its own right, I wonder how many of its sales came thanks to criminally overlooked previous single "Island Home" being included as a bonus track. In fact with three mixes of each song on the CD single and cassingle, this was effectively a double A-side release. "Party" remains Christine's highest-charting single, with the singer/actress coming closest to matching its top 20 performance five years later when her remake of "Sunshine On A Rainy Day" peaked at number 26.

Number 47 "I Believe" by Blessid Union Of Souls
Peak: number 18
Time now for some Christian soft rock with the debut single from Cincinnati band Blessid Union Of Souls. US top 10 hit "I Believe" does have a subtle religious component to it, but it works as a straight romantic love song as well and was written by the band's singer, Eliot Sloan, about an earthly relationship he'd been in. It was one of two top 20 hits the band managed in Australia - the other would come in four years' time.

Number 46 "Under The Water" by Merril Bainbridge
Peak: number 4
"Mouth" was one of the biggest songs of 1995 and remained in the ARIA top 5 this week in its 17th week on the top 50, but what plenty of people forget is that Merril Bainbridge had a second substantial hit with the follow-up, "Under The Water", which featured backing vocals from the late Chris Wilson. Written by two members of Tlot Tlot, the song had started life as a track called "Marshall", featuring frente!'s Angie Hart and appearing on the band's 1991 debut album, A Day At The Bay. 

Number 45 "Accidentally Cool" by Chocolate Starfish
Peak: number 39
Their self-titled debut album had yielded four top 50 hits, including two songs that just missed the top 10, and so expectations would have been relatively high for this first taste of Chocolate Starfish's second album, Box. As it turned out, lead single "Accidently Cool" only did marginally better than the fourth of those hits from the previous album, "4-Letter Word".

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 angriest songs of all time makes its performer a massive star, plus the latest Disney ballad to reach the chart.

Back to: Jul 23, 1995 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Aug 6, 1995

Monday, 27 July 2020

This Week In 1980: July 27, 1980

Sometimes even the most floundering of careers can get right back on track with one hit single - all it takes is the right song at the right time.

Guess who's back?

This week in 1980, a singer who would make two comebacks during the decade returned to the top 50 after a lengthy absence - and all it took was a little help from a former chart-topper.

Australian Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending July 27, 1980

The chart-topper this week in 1980 was still "Can't Stop The Music" by Village People, which remained at number 1 for a third week.

Off The Chart
Number 98 "Should've Never Let You" by Neil Sedaka / Dara Sedaka
Peak: number 69
The final top 100 appearance by the easy listening singer who'd enjoyed five top 10 hits in Australia in the 1960s was a duet with his daughter on a track he'd previously recorded solo for 1978's All You Need Is The Music.

Number 88 "Shining Star" by Manhattans
Peak: number 67
They'd reached number 4 here (and number 1 in America) with 1976's "Kiss And Say Goodbye", but this US top 5 hit didn't do so well locally for the R&B vocal harmony group.

New Entries
Number 50 "When I'm With You" by Sparks
Peak: number 17
One of those bands whose influence far outstrips their chart success - at least in Australia - Sparks had missed the top 50 with two of their biggest international singles, "This Town Ain't Big Enough For The Both Of Us" (number 69 in 1974) and "The Number One Song In Heaven" (number 85 in 1979). But the band, who had moved in a more electronic direction in the previous few years, finally broke through with "When I'm With You", which was taken from their ninth album, Terminal Jive. As on their previous album, No. 1 In Heaven, Sparks worked with producer Giorgio Moroder on Terminal Jive - although it is unclear what the division of labour was between the Italian electronic pioneer and co-producer Harold Faltermeyer. The top 20 success of "When I'm With You", which didn't do too well in most other parts of the world despite being one of their more commercial offerings, was a one-off for the band led by brothers Ron and Russell Mael, who continue to record to this day.

Number 48 "We Live For Love" by Pat Benatar
Peak: number 28
Another top 50 debut, but this time by a singer who would go on to score many more hits in Australia, notably number 1 "Love Is A Battlefield" and "All Fired Up", which reached number 2 in 1988. Before that, however, Pat Benatar would get stuck in the range between numbers 28 and 33 with her first five hits, starting off with this latest single taken from her debut album, In The Heat Of The Night, which sounds to me like a cross between Blondie and Joan Jett And The Blackhearts. While the bulk of that album, including previous top 100 single "Heartbreaker", consisted of remakes, "We Live For Love" was one of three original songs. Specifically, it was written by Neil Giraldo, who would go on to become Pat's main musical collaborator - and her husband.

Number 44 "I'm Alive" by Electric Light Orchestra
Peak: number 27
The first hit lifted from the Xanadu soundtrack had arrived on the top 50 last week - and bounded up nine spots this week for Olivia Newton-John. "Magic" was swiftly followed onto the chart by a song from the other main contributor to the film soundtrack, Electric Light Orchestra. Unmistakably an ELO song, "I'm Alive" would possibly suffer from the album's arrival on the chart the following week and the fact it reached number 1 a month later. As a result the song doesn't number among the band's biggest hits in Australia. That said, none of those circumstances prevented the title track from almost topping the chart, as we'll see in due course... 

Number 43 "Downhearted" by Australian Crawl
Peak: number 12
After back-to-back number 22 hits with their first two releases, Australian Crawl's third and final single from The Boys Light Up took the local band 10 places higher. The mid-tempo rock track was the last we'd see of James Reyne and pals until mid-1981 on the singles chart, but their album would prove to have a lengthy shelf life, registering 101 weeks inside the top 100.

Number 39 "Help" by John Farnham
Peak: number 8
A man who covered "Downhearted" in 2005, John Farnham had last been in the top 50 back in 1973, when he was still known as Johnny and "Shake A Hand" limped to number 48. In 1980, it had been five years since his last studio album (although a greatest hits collection had been issued in 1976) and three since the release of stand-alone single "Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame", which failed to chart. Having focussed more on his TV and live work in the intervening years, the time was ripe for John, who'd shortened his stage name in 1979, to stage a comeback. Newly signed by former Master Apprentice bass player and Little River Band manager Glenn Wheatley, John recorded an emotional ballad version of The Beatles' "Help!" (a number 1 in 1965) and it returned him to the top 10 for the first time since "Everything Is Out Of Season" reached number 9 in 1973. The comeback was short-lived - nothing else from Uncovered made the top 50 and neither did two subsequent singles. But, if John could have one comeback, why not another (after standing in as vocalist for LRB)? 

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

Next week: another Australian male artist whose solo career would be interrupted by a stint in a local group, plus one of the biggest bands of all time returns with another top 10 hit.

Back to: Jul 20, 1980 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Aug 3, 1980

Thursday, 23 July 2020

25 Years Ago This Week: July 23, 1995

Like all genres, dance music has its good songs and its bad. But what exactly did anyone do to deserve the cavalcade of crap that debuted on the ARIA top 50 this week in 1995? 

What the f..k

Three songs, all of which made the top 20, that I couldn't stand at the time and still find painful to listen to all these years later. And I like dance music.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending July 23, 1995

At number 1 this week in 1995, U2 remained in place with "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me", which spent its third week on top.

Off The Chart
Number 99 "Just Wanna Funk With Your Mind" by Timbuk 3
Peak: number 99
The future had looked bright for this American group back in 1986, but this lead single from what would be their final album, A Hundred Lovers, was a long overdue second visit to the top 100.

Number 89 "Lick It" by Roula
Peak: number 65
Although credited to singer Roula, this was effectively a follow-up by 20 Fingers to their hit "Short Dick Man". Available in an array of mixes and versions, "Lick It" (which is about one of the two things you might think it is) took until mid-September to move higher than this debut position.

Number 85 "I'll Be Around" by Rappin' 4-Tay featuring The Spinners
Peak: number 59
A top 40 hit in the US, this single by the rapper born Anthony Forté sampled the 1972 song of the same name by The Spinners (which peaked 20 places lower here in early 1973).

New Entries
Number 47 "I Can Love You Like That" by All-4-One
Peak: number 12
Last week, we saw that the latest hits by Boyz II Men, MN8 and Kulcha all peaked in the 30s, and the week before, we saw the same thing happen to 4PM. One vocal harmony group bucking the trend were All-4-One, and they did it with another cover of a song originally performed by John Michael Montgomery, who had also performed "I Swear" before they turned it into a mainstream chart-topper. Although not as big as their number 1 smash, "I Can Love You Like That" did take the quartet back towards the top 10 and returned them to the US top 5.

Number 45 "I Wanna Be A Hippy" by Technohead
Peak: number 20
One of the many aliases of husband-and-wife electronic duo Michael Wells and Lee Newman (who were also behind Tricky Disco and GTO), Technohead's debut offering was "I Wanna Be A Hippy", a happy harcore track that sampled "I Like Marijuana" by David Peel from the film Rude Awakening. Remixed by Dutch duo Flamman & Abraxas into a gabber atrocity, which to me sounded like the musical equivalent of a jackhammer digging up the footpath, the song became a UK top 10 hit and reached the ARIA top 20. Tragically, Lee passed away from skin cancer in August 1995 just as "I Wanna Be A Hippy" was taking off here. Now I feel bad for my harsh words.

Number 44 "I Like It" by A.K. Soul
Peak: number 28
It's not exactly a terrible dance song, but this latest release by Andrew Klippel, who tried his hand as Elastic in 1994, was not a patch on his work as the musical brains behind dance-pop group Euphoria. As this latest rebranding suggests, A.K. Soul took things in more of an R&B and hip-hop direction, complete with a drum sample from an Ice Cube track. Its mid-table peak position was about right as far as I was concerned.

Number 42 "Right Type Of Mood" by Herbie
Peak: number 10
In theory, I should like this only hit for Herbert Crichlow, given it was co-written by Max Martin, and produced by the future Swedish hit machine and Denniz PoP (who'd been behind hits by Ace Of Base and Dr Alban, and would work with Max until his untimely death in 1998). But with a vocal that sounds like Shaggy shouting over a particularly aggressive Eurodance accompaniment, it was not for me. Herbie redeemed himself in my eyes by going on to be responsible for some rather fine pop efforts as a songwriter, contributing to hits by Robyn, Five and Backstreet Boys, among others.

Number 37 "Alice, Who The F..k Is Alice?" by The Steppers
Peak: number 2
In a week where there is some tough competition for worst new entry, this abomination takes the prize. First recorded by New World in 1975 before being made famous by Smokie the next year, "Living Next Door To Alice" gained its crowd participation "Alice, who the fuck is Alice?" line in a version by Dutch band Gompie (whose release we'll see miss the top 50 in due course). The Steppers, about whom I know nothing, whacked a dirty big dance beat onto the concept and raced into the top 2, proving that Australia's traditional resistance to dance music had completely disappeared by 1995. In the UK, Smokie had the last laugh, with their new version featuring comedian Roy "Chubby" Brown reaching number 3 and triumphing over Gompie's single. Almost needless to say, this was The Steppers' only hit.

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

Next week: another chart-topping hit from the Batman Forever soundtrack (which thankfully kept The Steppers from reaching the top), plus a female singer follows up her recent number 1 single.

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