Wednesday, 30 October 2013

This Week In 1988: October 30, 1988

Originally posted as 25 Years Ago This Week in 2013. Updated in 2018.

I've mentioned before that 1988 is my favourite year for music, but it also featured some of my most hated songs of all time. Top of my list of the worst the year had to offer - there's not actually a list - was the highest new entry on the ARIA chart this week that year.

Bobby McFerrin couldn't have made me more unhappy if he tried

For me, the song in question felt like another in the long line of novelty releases that had plagued 1988, but it had a much greater impact than even runaway hits like "Stutter Rap" and "Doctorin' The Tardis", and would top the singles chart for seven excruciating weeks.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending October 30, 1988

Speaking of the top of the chart, U2 spent their second week at number 1 with "Desire", although they'd only manage one more week before that pesky new hit knocked them from the summit.

Off The Chart
Number 78 "Jump" by Rockmelons
Peak: number 78
Hot on the heels of "Thief", Rockmelons released another track from Tales Of The City with about the same success. Vocals on "Jump" were handled by Wendy Matthews.

"One Moment In Time" by Whitney Houston
Peak: number 53
No one did a big ballad quite like Whitney, and it doesn't get much bigger than this stirring anthem, which the singer recorded for the Seoul Olympics and Paralympics. Featuring inspirational lyrics, a slow build, a dramatic bridge and the all-important key change, it's pretty much a show-stopper - evidenced by her powerhouse performance of the song at the 1989 Grammys (which used to be on YouTube but has been taken off). A standing ovation was never more deserved. Unfortunately the US and UK hit didn't really take off in Australia - but Whitney's recent ballads ("Where Do Broken Hearts Go", "Didn't We Almost Have It All") had struggled on our chart, so that wasn't a complete surprise.

"Batman Theme" by Neal Hefti
Peak: number 51
Here's an interesting one - the original theme tune to the 1960s TV series starring Adam West and Burt Ward. From memory, the show still screened in Australia in the '80s, although, since the track had also charted in the UK earlier in 1988, I don't know if that had anything to do with the record's re-release here. Prince's "Batdance" was still some way away so that can't have prompted the reissue. Any ideas? Leave a comment below.

New Entries
Number 45 "You & Me" by The Cockroaches
Peak: number 44
Yep, the future Wiggles were still plugging away, trying to recapture the chart high of 1987's "She's The One" with yet another feel-good, '60s-influenced pop ditty. The second single from the Fingertips album, it would be their last top 50 appearance in Australia - although the group continued to release under-performing singles right up until 1991's "Here Comes That Feeling". Just think: if more people had bought The Cockroaches' records, generations of kids might have had a very different childhood.

Number 42 "Turn Around And Count 2 Ten" by Dead Or Alive
Peak: number 30
This was the point where Pete Burns and Steve Coy (the rest of the band had left by now) gave new meaning to the phrase "big in Japan". The first single from the upcoming Nude album, "Turn Around And Count 2 Ten" spent 17 weeks at number 1 in Japan - and Dead Or Alive became the most popular music act in that country. Elsewhere in the world, they weren't so lucky, with this track failing to match the chart highs of previous singles. Can it have been a coincidence that this was DOA's first single not to be produced by Stock Aitken Waterman in over four years? Perhaps, although as a SAW fan, that didn't make much difference to me - I thought it was as good as most of their Hit Factory releases.

Number 40 "Because I Love You" by Masters Apprentices
Peak: number 30
Originally a number 15 hit way back in 1971 for the legendary Aussie rockers, this new version of "Because I Love You" had been completely re-recorded by the band, who'd reformed the previous year on Hey Hey It's Saturday. Featuring quite a different feel to the original version, this new take on the classic track was also featured in a jeans commercial at the time, while the band's most famous line-up (which featured John Farnham's manager, Glenn Wheatley) hit the road again.

Number 31 "She Wants To Dance With Me" by Rick Astley
Peak: number 15
Two days shy of a year since he made his debut on the ARIA chart with "Never Gonna Give You Up", former tea boy Rick was back with this first taste of his second album, Hold Me In Your Arms. And, it was his first single on which he had a songwriting credit - a sign of things to come for the Stock Aitken Waterman protégé. In fact, as with the Dead Or Alive single, SAW were nowhere to be seen on this track, with the PWL B-team of Phil Harding and Ian Curnow handling production duties.

Number 30 "I Quit" by Bros
Peak: number 14
It wasn't as big a hit as their previous singles - but it was the fourth release from the Goss brothers and Craig Logan, so a top 20 peak is nothing to sneeze at. And, just for something different, the boys issued an onstage performance video as if to prove that they were, in fact, a real band. Well, as real a band as you can be with only a singer, a drummer and a bass player in the official line-up.

Number 10 "Don't Worry, Be Happy" by Bobby McFerrin
Peak: number 1
Here it is: the song which, together with "Kokomo" (thanks, Cocktail), would make the summer of '88/'89 almost unbearable. Everything about "Don't Worry, Be Happy" irked me - from its breezy a cappella sound to the "madcap" music video featuring Robin Williams and professional clown Bill Irwin. The song, naturally, was massive - and soon took on a life of its own, being used for everything from singing fishes to political campaigns. In fact, George Bush's appropriation of the song for his 1988 election campaign caused Bobby to stop performing the song in protest. "Don't Worry, Be Happy" went on to win Grammys for both Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year, but it would be Bobby's only chart hit - making him the very definition of a one-hit wonder.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1988:

Next week: a TV actor and a TV character make their chart debuts, while one of my favourite songs from the entire decade cracks the chart.

Back to: Oct 23, 1988 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Nov 6, 1988


  1. 'Don't Worry, Be Happy' was so big that one of the hits compilations from a few weeks later was titled '1989 Be Happy'. I remember seeing t-shirts with the slogan 'Don't Worry, Be Happy' for sale at the Queen Vic market in Melbourne around the same time, or perhaps some time into 1989, by which point it was rather tragic.

    1. It's always a sign of how big a song is when it gets a t-shirt! Relax, Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go... I'm sure there are more.

  2. The Batman thing could've had something to do with this, also released in the UK earlier in 1988:
    You know what the UK charts have always been like - any remix, remake or re-release of something almost inevitably results in the re-release or re-charting of the original :)

    1. You're not wrong there! With most of the re-releases of the late 80s (Jackie Wilson, Nina Simone, Louis Armstrong etc) - I either remember why they came out again or it's well documented on the internet. This one - not so much.

  3. When this was #1 (keeping Phil Collins' "Groovy Kind of Love" at #2), it was always nice to go from the sad, melancholy sound of "Groovy" to the upbeat vibe of "Don't Worry" (on the Rage Top 50 countdown, for example). They were paired up for weeks, if I remember correctly.

    1. Yep, they were #1 and #2 for six weeks from the week ending Nov 13. Phil had spent one week at #2 already by then.

  4. Although it not as immediate as their earlier singles, 'I Quit' is probably my favourite Bros track. In a language class at high school 6 years later, someone from my class and I spontaneously burst into the chorus once when I said "I've had enough" about something - which still makes me laugh.

    'Turn Around...' is one of DoA's best singles IMO.

    As far as I remember, 'Batman' wasn't re-aired on TV in 1988, but was in 1989, after the release of the movie. So it's interesting that the theme song was re-issued and charted in 1988.