Wednesday, 23 April 2014

This Week In 1989: April 23, 1989

Originally posted as 25 Years Ago This Week in 2014. Updated in 2019.

When I was counting down my favourite songs from 1999, I recalled a chart battle in the UK between two Spice Girls with solo singles out the same week. A decade before that, a much less hyped stoush took place between two former members of an Australian pop/rock band.

Models: two vocalists, one future TV presenter, a Limahl lookalike and another guy

For one of the vocalists from the group, a top 50 solo hit ended up being just out of reach, while the other managed to crack the top 20 - for the second time in his career. That's what I call a decisive victory.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending April 23, 1989

Speaking of chart battles, "Like A Prayer" and "She Drives Me Crazy" swapped places at number 1 again this week in 1989 - with the Fine Young Cannibals track spending its third and final week on top of the singles chart.

Off The Chart
Number 96 "The Harder I Try" by Brother Beyond
Peak: number 78
Producers Stock Aitken Waterman were so hot at this point that when they put up their services at a charity auction, EMI paid 20 thousand pounds for the Hit Factory to live up to their name. Unfortunately this UK top 3 hit for the previously struggling pop group didn't connect in Australia.

Number 95 "Come Out To Play" by UB40
Peak: number 95
"Where Did I Go Wrong" had given the reggae band their biggest hit in years (and best performing original track of all time), but this follow-up barely made a dent on the chart.

Number 86 "Love House" by Samantha Fox
Peak: number 86
It had been released back in January as the lead single from I Wanna Have Some Fun, and the acid-tinged "Love House" finally cracked the top 100 one week ahead of second single "I Only Wanna Be With You".

"...Thankyou, Goodnight" by Sean Kelly
Peak: number 55
Here's the first of our two ex-members of Australian band Models. One of the group's two lead singers, Sean Kelly only released this one solo single before super-group Absent Friends took off (and included it on that band's album). Sharing its title with the last tour conducted by Models (and with a book written by the wife of his former band-mate), "...Thankyou Goodnight" is a fairly understated affair, which may explain its disappointing chart position.

New Entries
Number 50 "Straight Up" by Paula Abdul
Peak: number 27
Although this was her first major hit (she'd released two previous singles with limited success), former Laker Girl and in-demand choreographer Paula Abdul's influence on pop music had been felt for some time - at least visually. Responsible for the choreography in many of Janet Jackson's music videos from the Control album, Paula was signed as a recording artist in her own right, despite the fact that her voice was even weaker than Janet's. Where Paula shone was in her music videos, and the David Fincher-directed "Straight Up" clip allowed her to showcase her sought-after moves. She also had some of the best songwriters and producers in the business in her corner, and this single became the first of six US number 1s. She'd have to wait a bit longer to top the Australian chart, however.

Number 47 "Hurricane" by James Freud
Peak: number 20
Our second ex-Model had much more success with his first solo offering following the demise of the group that'd hit the Australian number 1 spot with 1985's "Out Of Mind, Out Of Sight". But. "Hurricane" wasn't James's first chart hit under his own name - he'd previously reached number 12 in 1980 with "Modern Girl". That song was actually credited to James Freud And The Radio Stars, a name similar to another previous band both James and Sean Kelly had been members of: Teenage Radio Stars. In fact, the pair had been in a number of bands together dating right back to their high school days. Although "Hurricane" cracked the top 20, the accompanying album, Step Into The Heat, was a monumental flop - spending five weeks on the chart and only reaching number 26 despite reportedly being Mushroom Record's most expensive album to date.

Number 41 "Wind Beneath My Wings" by Bette Midler
Peak: number 1
Interestingly, "Wind Beneath My Wings" wasn't chosen as the lead single from the soundtrack to Beaches, the hit 1989 tearjerker starring Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey. Instead, Bette's cover of "Under The Boardwalk" was released in the US first (and would end up being a chart hit in Australia later in 1989), but it was "Wind Beneath My Wings" that proved to be the standout track from the film and its soundtrack.
The song itself had narrowly missed the Australian top 50 when released by Colleen Hewett back in 1983 - one of many versions of the songs recorded before Bette got her hands on it and turned it into a chart-topping, multi-Grammy Award-winning record. For Bette, who'd mostly concentrated on movies like Down And Out In Beverly Hills and Ruthless People for the previous few years, it was her first chart hit since 1984's "Beast Of Burden" (which reached number 12 in Australia) and the first number 1 single of her career - either here or in the US.

Number 39 "Young Years" by Dragon
Peak: number 18
The last time we'd seen Dragon in the top 50 was with their timely cover of Kool & The Gang's "Celebration" back on the first chart for 1988, but they returned with this first single proper from the Bondi Road album. "Young Years" actually followed flop single "River", which missed the top 50 and wasn't even included on Bondi Road. Like many of Dragon's singles from the mid to late '80s, "Young Years" was better than its chart position suggests. Like "Cry", "Dreams Of Ordinary Men" and "Speak No Evil", it was a top 20 hit that should have been bigger - and would end up being the band's final ARIA top 50 appearance.

Number 38 "Fire Woman" by The Cult
Peak: number 24
Although they'd made their breakthrough in the UK with 1985's "She Sells Sanctuary", it took Australia a few more years to catch on to goth rockers The Cult - and even I didn't mind this lead single from Sonic Temple (although I've always thought it could have benefitted from a dance remix). At the time, I remember the song being quite alternative, although listening to it again now, it's a pretty straightforward rock track - and the chorus, which is what sucked me in at the time, is every bit as rousing.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1989:

Next week: two songs that first found success in the '60s and the arrival of the crown prince of new jack swing.

Back to: Apr 16, 1989 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Apr 30, 1989


  1. Interesting to see 'Nathan Jones' back as a breaker, 6 weeks after its first appearance. I guess their local tour helped with that.

    I'd never heard (or heard of) the Sean Kelly track until now. Strange that the video is unlisted on youtube... perhaps the uploader has done that to prevent a copyright strike? Though as far as I know, that method doesn't prevent automatic copyright detection.

    After one week, the platinum triangles are finally all-red!

    I remember thinking 'Straight Up' was probably going to be a huge hit. I was surprised to see it eventually 'stall' at #27 after its 20-place climb next week.

  2. I found your blog by accident the other night and have thoroughly enjoyed it. I was a loyal follower of Casey Kasem and the AT40 from late '82 until I left for university in 1987. Every week I would sit by the radio and write down every song that played (I wasn't fortunate enough to live near a big city that would have carried Billboard magazine.) When I left for Uni, I managed to find a record shop that had a copy of Billboard on display every week and I made it a point to check it out every week.

    It's very interesting to see how songs and artists have fared in Australia vs US. I'm actually in Canada, but the same songs would have been popular in both countries, with the exception of what we call Can Con (Canadian Content) songs - radio stations have to play a certain percentage of music by Canadian artists. Also interesting is how back then some songs took months to become popular in different countries - not so much of an issue now with the internet, I guess.

    I really like the Dragon song. I have never heard of the band until just now. I notice that the guitarist is 'playing' his electric out in an open field...

    1. Thanks for reading. Songs would take forever to reach Australia back then!

      I love Dragon - a lot of their 80s hits (and a few from the late 70s like Rain and April Sun In Cuba) are worth checking out. Their best of is pretty good.

      There was another example of an electric guitar out in the open a few weeks back in the Jason Donovan clip. I guess they didn't even try to pretend.

    2. That's exactly why I mentioned the electric guitar.

    3. Aah, wasn't sure if you'd sampled the delights of Mr Donovan. Also, my bracket placement above makes it seem like Dragon's Rain came out in the 70s, but it was one of their 80s tracks. Are You Old Enough was their other big 70s hit.

  3. Dragon are my fave Aus/NZ band, the other being Mi-Sex. Ian, Dragon were a huge band here in the late 70's and then the lead singer Marc Hunter left the band in '79 and pursued a solo career (which didn't work all that well) then the original line up made a comeback in '83 with 'Rain' (2 video versions worth checking out on YouTube) it was a huge hit on the Oz charts (I think it got to No.2) and then the band maintained their second win of success throughout the 80's. 'Young Years' was pretty much their last hit. Marc Hunter died of Throat Cancer in July 1998. The band is still together and performing, with the woeful Mark Williams as lead singer - another kiwi with a long history in pop music.

  4. COMMENT FROM MICHAEL (Something went wrong when I tried to publish it):

    I had no idea that 'Under The Boardwalk' was the first single off the 'Beaches' Soundtrack. That was a great cover too. I do love Bette in her 80's comedies, esp. 'Ruthless People'. The title track sung by Mick Jagger and I love the video for 'Beast Of Burden' where Bette rocks it out with Mick on stage and before the video she says she sings the song better than anyone and Mick looks at her and she sighs and goes 'well almost'. Very funny and of course the pie in both their faces in the end.