Wednesday, 21 May 2014

This Week In 1989: May 21, 1989

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

So far this year, we've looked back on some of 1989's biggest hits as they made their debut on the ARIA singles chart. In fact, just last week, two songs that ended up among the year's top 10 highest sellers entered the top 50. It was a different story this week that year.

The chart joy ride was almost over for Cyndi Lauper 25 years ago

Although one of this week's new arrivals hit the top 10 (and another would do the same in an alternate version a few years later), none of the songs featured in the ARIA year-end top 50. Not only were the singles not particularly massive, but none of them were even the biggest hits by the artists in question. Still, there's more than a couple of overlooked gems in there.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending May 21, 1989

There was nothing overlooked about the song that stormed back to number 1 this week in 1989. For a fifth and final week, "Like A Prayer" ruled the roost, pushing "The Living Years" aside in the process and thankfully limiting that single's run at the top to a solitary week.

Off The Chart
Number 91 "Circle" by Edie Brickell & New Bohemians
Peak: number 80
"What I Am" had reached the top 20, but this understated follow-up from Shooting Rubberbands At The Stars didn't give the folky band a second hit.

"Hey Music Lover" by S'Xpress
Peak: number 53
After being one of the exceptions to the rule and making inroads into the Australian chart with their house hit "Theme From S'Express", the dance act with the slightly amended name couldn't break into the top 50 with their third single, which took elements from Sly & The Family Stone's "Dance To The Medley". The track was among my favourites for 1989 but will always be overshadowed by "Theme..." and "Superfly Guy".

New Entries
Number 50 "House Of Cards" by James Reyne
Peak: number 17
He'd had mixed fortunes with the singles from his self-titled debut solo album, but three of those releases ("Fall Of Rome", "Hammerhead" and "Motor's Too Fast") were bigger hits than this lead single from second album Hard Reyne. Although the video was familiar, I couldn't really recall the song until I listened to it again - and then wished I hadn't. Must have been one of those songs I fast-forwarded through after taping the rage top 50 countdown. Still, a top 20 hit is not to be sneezed at, even if it would be his last for a while.

Number 47 "One" by Metallica
Peak: number 38

Speaking of rage... This song wasn't on the chart for very long - at least, not yet - but I distinctly remember it seeming like it took forever to fast-forward through the seven-minute video every week that it was on the top 50. The first hit for Metallica, "One" was also the first song for which the already massively popular heavy metal band made a music video. A live version of the track would make a much bigger impact on the Australian chart in 1994, reaching number 5, although even that release would be surpassed by other singles by the band.

Number 45 "The Crack-Up" by The Black Sorrows
Peak: number 40

Just when they'd finally landed a bit hit single with "Chained To The Wheel", The Black Sorrows went back to middling chart appearances with this latest release from Hold On To Me. "The Crack-Up" was the fourth of five singles from the album, with final release "Fire Down Below" not getting anywhere near the top 50, but the band would return for some more mid-table chart appearances with tracks from 1990's Harley And Rose.

Number 39 "Let Me Be" by Daryl Braithwaite
Peak: number 26
Seems Daryl was developing a bit of a pattern with his single releases - great sing-along pop/rock track, boring ballad, great sing-along pop/rock track... which meant it was time for another boring ballad from Edge. In this case, a cover of a flop single by Cats Under Pressure. As the fourth single from an already successful album (and one that was about to spend three weeks at number 1 on the albums chart), I'm surprised "Let Me Be" got as high as it did - no doubt it received a helping hand from commercial radio. That wasn't the case with Edge's fifth single, "Sugar Train", which missed the top 50 - and it would be a year and a half before Daryl returned to the chart.

Number 35 "I Drove All Night" by Cyndi Lauper
Peak: number 11
Her first two albums had been packed with hit singles, so a third album by Cyndi Lauper should have been a big deal - but despite this lead single from A Night To Remember almost cracking the top 10 here (like it did in the US and UK), "I Drove All Night" would become known as much for its high-profile alternate versions (Roy Orbison, Celine Dion) as for being the last substantial chart appearance of Cyndi's career.

Number 26 "Help!" by Bananarama
Peak: number 25
A cover of The Beatles' hit from 1965, "Help!" was 1989's official Comic Relief record in the UK - which explains the presence of Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders and Kathy Burke (aka Lananeeneenoonoo) in the music video and on one version of the song (I, naturally, preferred the version with just Bananarama on it). Bananarama wasn't the only Stock Aitken Waterman act French & Saunders lampooned around the time, with sketches devoted to Sonia and Kylie Minogue's "I Should Be So Lucky".

Number 18 "Good Thing" by Fine Young Cannibals
Peak: number 7
Here's the highest of the week's entries - and this follow-up to number 1 smash "She Drives Me Crazy" would also go on to be the biggest hit of all the week's new songs. But, even though it made the top 10 in Australia (and was a second consecutive US number 1 for the trio), I'd still suggest that it comes a distant third or fourth in the list of most remembered FYC songs (after "She Drives Me Crazy", "Suspicious Minds" and perhaps "Johnny Come Home"). Like the band's cover of "Ever Fallen In Love", which also appears on The Raw & The Cooked, "Good Thing" dates back to 1987, first performed by the group in the movie Tin Men.

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

Next week: two of the world's biggest bands vie for supremacy with rival rock ballads, and the return of one of music's biggest mullets.

Back to: May 14, 1989 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: May 28, 1989


  1. Thanks for the S'Xpress peak, that was one I wanted to ask ARIA about, and one that (just) cracked the AMR top 50. I recently learned that they changed their name again for their 1991-2 singles, to S'Express (the original 'Theme...' had a dash) and S*Express. I wonder what was up with the changes? I think I thought at the time that they were made to drop the 'e' from Express for 'Hey Music Lover' to avoid any 'sex' (as in Sexpress, which is what I originally thought the group name must have stood for) connotations.

    'House of Cards' introduced me to the word 'leftfield', and the experession 'even money', through the lyrics. Song lyrics can be educational.

    I remember watching this top 50 well on Rage, live as it aired. It was quite scary as a 10 year old seeing Metallica's 'One' video for the first time, alone in the dark on a cold not-quite-winter's morning. But such an interesting video. I watched the film the movie segments are taken from on youtube a couple of years ago to fully understand it. BTW it was 1994 that the live version was a hit ;)

    I hadn't seen the French & Saunders 'I Should Be So Lucky' sketch before. Good stuff.

  2. Aww. I'm a fan of "Let Me Be". :P

    It's a shame that Cyndi's "You Don't Know" (1997) and "Into the Nightlife" (2008) weren't hits in the '90s and 2000s respectively.

    I feel that "Good Thing" is second to "She Drives Me Crazy" though. :P

    1. I like 'Let Me Be' too.

      I'm surprised FYC's 'I'm Not Satisfied' wasn't a hit, as it was played on FM radio in Melbourne several months before being released as the 5th single from the album (though I don't remember if it received a local release; it may not have). By then, I suppose people who liked the track already owned the album.

  3. 'I Drove All Night' was a great track and video. I love the intro to the song that Cyndi sings in the video as the car travels down the highway, which isn't on the actual recording. Shame the album wasn't a big success, as she would have kept up with her 'rival' Madonna with her 'Like A Prayer' album.

    'Sugar Train' would have to be my fave single release from 'Edge'. I recall it only being released as a 12"? - which probably accounted for the poor chart performance.

    'House Of Cards' is a good song, but the follow up 'One More River' was much better. Still, he was releasing a great follow up album to his debut and this is coming from a fan that has all Australian Crawl albums and his solo material, well up til 1997.

    1. I think you're right about Sugar Train. Although why someone like Daryl Braithwaite would think he'd sell 12" records is a mystery to me.

      Seems I'm alone in my disdain for House Of Cards and Let Me Be...

  4. Cyndi's "I Drove All Night" has become a classic - when the opening bars were played during her recent tour with Blondie, the audience (very much a mixture of Blondie/Cyndi Lauper fans) went ballistic (I was a bit surprised - it's always been a fan favourite, but I didn't think a mixed crowd would give it such a warm welcome).

  5. I missed this last year, but it occurred to me when I re-read the blurb on "Let Me Be" that it was actually a cover version. "Cats something..." was coming to mind as the group and I was getting a James Reyne vibe. A quick check of my chart book revealed that the original was released by Cats Under Pressure in early 1985 and peaked at #76. The lead singer was a post-"Sweet & Sour" and pre-Chantoozies David Reyne (who also co-wrote the song). Their Countdown performance is available at:

    1. I covered the original in my 1985 posts and didn't make the connection (not being a fan of either version)!

    2. Thanks Gavin! It didn't occur to me (again!) until about 5 minutes ago that you would have covered the original back in 1985 and I was just about to go searching through your archives to track it down (you've saved me the trouble!).

      I've told you before, but it bears repeating - serious kudos to you for your AMAZING blog! We're of a very similar vintage (I've got around 2-3 years on you) and have similar interests in terms of pop - it's a pure delight to read your blog and revel in the fantastic memories it evokes. Thank you!!!