Monday, 26 August 2013

The Best Of 1996 - part 2

JUMP TO: 100-76 II 75-51 II 50-26 II 25-1

We're a quarter of the way into my top 100 for 1996, and as I write this next post, I'm also watching this year's MTV Video Music Awards. In 1996, many of the big winners at the VMAs were rock acts: Smashing Pumpkins, Alanis Morissette, Beck, Metallica and Foo Fighters.

Daniel Jones and Darren Hayes shot to fame in 1996

If you've read any of my posts before, you'll know I'm not the world's biggest rock fan, so I was pleased that genre's stranglehold of music started to loosen in 1996 - and in this batch of songs is our first glimpse of five ladies who helped pop stage a comeback and two Australian acts who'd be our biggest pop groups for the next few years. First, some more dance tracks...

Number 75 "So In Love With You" by Duke
The alter ego of the not-as-impressively named Mark Adams, Duke was behind this song, which, like all good club classics, took a couple of releases to make its mark, finally reaching number 22 in the UK in late '96.

Number 74 "Breathe" by The Prodigy
1996 was the year The Prodigy went ballistic, thanks to the two-pronged attack of "Firestarter" (number 118 on this list) and this follow-up, which spent months in the Australian top 40. Bridging the gap between electronic and rock, the British group pretty much created a whole new genre and proved than dance acts could sell albums, too. For a short period of time, they were the hottest band in the world. Then, "Smack My Bitch Up" happened. 

Number 73 "I Don't Wanna Be A Star" by Corona
OK, so when I talked about "Baby Baby" in my 1995 countdown, I promised I'd discuss the question of who actually performed on Corona's hits, like this disco-tastic fourth single from The Rhythm Of The Night. Turns out that, like Black Box and C&C Music Factory, Corona used vocals by one singer and had another person entirely front the act. In this case, Italian vocalist Jenny B performed "The Rhythm Of The Night" and British singer Sandra Chambers performed "Baby Baby" and the rest of the debut album. Brazilian Olga Souza was hired to lip sync in Corona's music videos and do live appearances - although apparently she did get to sing on later records by the group. Yep, Corona did have more than the one album.

Number 72 "This Is Your Night" by Amber
More Eurodance now from the German-based singer born Marie-Claire Cremers, who had a big hit in Europe, Australia and the US with this, her debut single. "This Is Your Night" is one of the rare examples of a Eurodance song being big here but not in the UK.

Number 71 "You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) 96" by Dead Or Alive
Next, we have a remix that also performed well in Australia but did nothing in the UK. The original version of "You Spin Me Round...", of course, had been released in 1985 and gave producers Stock Aitken Waterman their first British chart-topper. Eleven years later, this new version, remixed by Sugar Pumpers, coincided with the Australian and European release of the Nukleopatra album (which had come out in Japan the previous year). Dead Or Alive toured Australia at the time, and - brush with fame alert - I got my copy of Nukleopatra (as well as their other albums) signed by singer Pete Burns at a Virgin Records in-store appearance.

Number 70 "Hot Shot (Never Never Gonna Lose Control)" by Barbara Tucker
She's popped up in both my 1994 and 1995 year-end charts, and here she is again with another club favourite, which sampled N'Joi's 1991 dance classic, "Anthem". I'm not sure if a music video was ever made for the song, but enjoy instead the homoerotic YouTube clip below.

Number 69 "Lifted" by Lighthouse Family
Mentioned below

Number 68 "Anything" by 3T
Calling themselves The Jackson Three might've been a bit tacky, but Michael Jackson's nephews (sons of his brother Tito) did incorporate their names, Toriano (or Taj), Taryll and Tito (TJ), into their group moniker. 3T looked like they might take after their father and his brothers when this slush-fest of a debut single shot to number 2 in the UK and went top 20 in the US, and four follow-ups (including "Why", a duet with Michael) also performed well in the UK. But, it was over as quickly as it began and the trio didn't have another hit after 1996.

Number 67 "2 Become 1" by Spice Girls
Mentioned in Part 3

Number 66 "My Love Is For Real" by Strike
They'd remixed Paula Abdul's original in 1995 and obviously liked the results so much that they decided to release a more or less identical version themselves the following year. Unfortunately, the British dance act didn't manage to beat Paula's chart performance and "My Love Is For Real" became their third single to miss the UK top 20 in a row.

Number 65 "One And One" by Robert Miles featuring Maria Nayler
"Children" had been a monster record in 1995 - and was responsible for the emergence of a new sub-genre: dream trance. After soundalike single "Fable", the Italian-based producer mixed things up by enlisting a vocalist for this third single, which was another huge seller across Europe. Robert didn't have as much luck with his second album, and "One And One" was his last major chart appearance in most countries.

Number 64 "One By One (Junior Vasquez mix)" by Cher
From "One And One" to "One By One", and a track from Cher's (mostly) covers album, It's A Man's World, on which she tackled songs originally recorded by Marc Cohn, James Brown and Don Henley, among others. "One By One" had originally been recorded by The Real People and then covered by double Eurovision winner Johnny Logan - but Cher had actually co-written the song with The Real People vocalist Anthony Griffiths in the late '80s. The version of the song on It's A Man's World was quite different to this poppier dance mix, which became a top 10 hit in the UK.

Number 63 "Cosmic Girl" by Jamiroquai
Mentioned in Part 3

Number 62 "I Want You" by Savage Garden
I remember when this single first came into the record store where I had a casual job in 1996 and thinking it sounded like it could be by Roxette. At that stage, no one knew anything about the Queensland duo and "I Want You" was released on film distributor Roadshow's fledgling record label, which meant it didn't have the established machinery of a BMG or Warner behind it. Still, a song this catchy was bound to get noticed, and before long "I Want You" was climbing the ARIA chart and Savage Garden were taking their first steps towards becoming Australia's biggest musical export of the 1990s. This is still my favourite of their singles, since I was never a big fan of their ballads - too saccharine for my taste (and that's coming from someone who like 3T's "Anything"). There's a link to the original Australian video in the song title above and the new clip they filmed for the international market below.

Number 61 "In The Evening (remix)" by Sheryl Lee Ralph
She was the Beyoncé Knowles of her generation. Well, she played the Deena Jones role in the original stage production of Dreamgirls - and this track was originally released in 1984 from her album of the same name. Quite why it scored a remix in 1996, I'm not sure - but there was no escaping it in clubs up and down Sydney's Oxford St strip that year. Although a career in pop music didn't ever bear fruit, Sheryl has sustained a successful acting career, with roles in TV shows like Moesha and Designing Women.

Number 60 "Hide-a-way" by Nu Soul featuring Kelli Rich
I know nothing about this group or the featured singer - but, like quite a few songs on this list, it's a damn fine vocal house track that was not the big hit it should have been. Like so many dance tracks from the mid-'90s, it came to my attention thanks to the Dance Zone series of compilations.

Number 59 "Keep On Jumpin'" by Lisa Marie Experience
Here's a club track that was a top 10 hit - at least in the UK. One of two versions of the disco classic released in 1996 - the other was by Todd Terry featuring Martha Wash & Jocelyn Brown - this peaked one place higher on the UK chart. Despite the big names on that version, I preferred the LME take on the song, which had originally been recorded in 1978 by Musique.

Number 58 "I Got The Vibration (A Positive Vibration)" by Black Box
It had been a tough few years for the Italo house group that'd been unstoppable at the start of the decade, and it only got slightly better for Black Box in 1996 with this song, which sampled Diana Ross' "Love Hangover" and narrowly missed the UK top 20. "I Got The Vibration..." would be their final chart appearance of any note.

Number 57 "Wishes" by Human Nature
Proof positive that sometimes it's not worth trying to be something you're not came with the Australian top 10 success of Human Nature's third single. A radio-friendly ballad with four-part harmonies, "Wishes" followed previous singles "Got It Goin' On" and "Tellin' Everybody", which saw the Aussie quartet imitating overseas boy bands like Backstreet Boys and Take That. Once Sony Music Australia realised Human Nature could sell records by being true to their barbershop roots, they were onto a winner.

Number 56 "Don't Let Go (Love)" by En Vogue
Although the four-piece vocal group scored their biggest hit with this track, taken from the soundtrack to the film Set It Off, it was the last hurrah for the original line-up with Dawn Robinson quitting for a solo career the following year. The three remaining members carried on, landing a couple more hits from the EV3 album, but the group would never be the same again - no matter how many different line-ups and reunions have been attempted in the years since.

Number 55 "Deliver Me" by The Beloved
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 54 "Le Voie; Le Soleil" by Subliminal Cuts
Here I was thinking this piano house track was another song I knew next to nothing about, when it turns out Subliminal Cuts was one of many aliases for Dutch producer Patrick Prins, who popped up in my 1994 countdown as The Urban Sound Of Amsterdam, and also released records as Movin' Melodies, Ethics and Artemesia.

Number 53 "Everybody (Move Your Body)" by Diva
Norwegian blonde bombshells Helene Sommer and Elene Nyborg almost had a hit with their 1995 cover version of a-ha's "The Sun Always Shines On TV", and released this original track the following year to as much disinterest.

Number 52 "Stay With Me Tonight" by The Human League
Taking advantage of their renewed success with 1995's "Tell Me When", The Human League released a new greatest hits compilation, which featured this original track as well as a fairly awful remix of 1981's "Don't You Want Me". "Stay With Me Tonight" sneaked into the bottom position of the UK top 40 and the group wouldn't be heard of for another five years.

Number 51 "Goodbye Heartbreak" by Lighthouse Family
UK R&B duo Lighthouse Family took a while to get up and running, with their first two singles, "Lifted" (number 69 on this list) and "Ocean Drive" (number 99), flopping in 1995. But, in 1996, they were one of the UK's biggest-selling acts with both those songs doing much better on re-release and this third single following suit. The album, Ocean Drive, went multi-platinum and easy-listening radio had a new go-to group.

In Part 3, more Motiv8 remixes than you poke a stick at. But, before that, my regular ARIA chart recap from 25 years ago.

1979 II 1980 II 1981 II 1982 II 1983 II 1984 II 1985 II 1986 II 1987 II 1988 II 1989
1990 II 1991 II 1992 II 1993 II 1994 II 1995 II 1996 II 1997 II 1998 II 1999
2000 II 2001 II 2002 II 2003 II 2004 II 2005 II 2006 II 2007 II 2008 II 2009
2010 II 2011 II 2012 II 2013 II 2014 II 2015 II 2016 II 2017 II 2018 II 2019


  1. It's worth noting that Strike had an Australia lead singer, Victoria Newton.

    1. Indeed, as I did when U Sure Do made my top 10 for 1995: