Wednesday, 29 October 2014

This Week In 1989: October 29, 1989

Pop music has always been a fairly fickle business - and that was as evident as ever this week in 1989 on the ARIA singles top 50. Four of the performers debuting on the chart had enjoyed massive hits just months earlier but struggled with their latest releases.

Billy Joel bucked the trend to land his biggest hit in years

In all four cases, the downturn in chart fortunes was probably warranted - the singles in question weren't up to standard and the artists weren't massive enough in their own right (although one had previously been) to overcome that. While those acts struggled, a male solo artist proved to be as popular as ever with his first chart appearance in two years.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending October 29, 1989

At number 1 for a second week this week in 1989, Jive Bunny & The Mastermixers continued to rule the roost with "Swing The Mood", while Cher bided her time at number 2 with "If I Could Turn Back Time"

New Entries
Number 49 "That's What I Like About You" by Collette
Peak: number 31
Yes, here she is again - the incorrectly dubbed one-hit wonder Collette with her third top 40 hit. "That's What I Like About You" followed in the watered down house footsteps of her previous two singles, "Ring My Bell" and "All I Wanna Do Is Dance", and - surprise, surprise - she was once again sporting more lycra than can be healthy in the accompanying music video. 
I know I go on about Collette's lyrca a lot - let's face it, it's better than me discussing her voice - but it was clearly an important part of her appeal. Once she stopped wearing the workout wear, she stopped landing top 50 hits. Her next single, 1990's "Who Do You Think You Are?" (which I actually thought was her best effort), stalled at number 56.

Number 44 "Angelia" by Richard Marx
Peak: number 32
Here Richard Marx's record company was, thinking they had a sure-fire hit with another ballad hot on the heels of chart-topper "Right Here Waiting" - and "Angelia" went and flopped, relatively speaking. Well, that was the case in Australia, where the song (which featured one of the more obscure girls' names in pop history as its title) got no further than number 32. In the States, the third single from Repeat Offender gave Richard his seventh straight (and final) top 5 smash.

Number 36 "I Got You" by Paul Norton
Peak: number 31

Next, another song failing to live up to the success of a preceding single - in this case, Paul's number 3 debut "Stuck On You". I can see why "I Got You" was such a chart disappointment - the chorus is nowhere near as strong as "Stuck On You", feeling like a bit of anticlimax after the lengthy build-up of the verse and bridge.

Number 33 "Dr. Feelgood" by Mötley Crüe
Peak: number 26
It's kind of amazing that Mötley Crüever had any kind of success, what with all the boozing and in-fighting, which was so bad that the producer of their fifth album, Dr Feelgood, worked with each member in the studio separately. Despite - or perhaps because of - all the behind-the-scenes shenanigans, Mötley Crüenjoyed their most profitable period in 1989/1990, with the album's lead single and title track becoming their biggest ever Australian and US hit. "Dr Feelgood" was one of four top 30 singles from the album in America, while in Australia only three reached the top 50, as we'll see in months to come.

Number 25 "Chocolate Box" by Bros
Peak: number 23
After six straight top 20 singles, Bros's streak came to an end with this second single from The Time - and fair enough, since "Chocolate Box" wasn't a patch on their previous efforts. While a position of number 23 wasn't a disaster, the fact The Time peaked 30 places lower than debut album Push on the albums chart said it all - the former teen sensations were on their way out.

Number 20 "We Didn't Start The Fire" by Billy Joel
Peak: number 2
When some people turn 40, they try to forget just how old they are, but Billy Joel used the fact as inspiration for this lead single from the Storm Front album. "We Didn't Start The Fire" recounts in list form 118 (or 119, depending if "heavy metal suicide" is one or two things) separate events and high profile figures since 1949 - the year Billy was born. 
The novelty of the lyrics meant it was, inevitably, a massive hit and, just as inevitably, a song I hated. I'm not opposed to list songs - I like "Hello" by The Beloved and the spoken bit in Madonna's "Vogue" - but "We Didn't Start The Fire" is like an angry history lesson. 
Billy's biggest Australian single since 1983's number 1 "Uptown Girl", it would also be the last time we'd see him anywhere near the top of the chart until 1993, when he made up for lost time by hitting number 1 again with "The River Of Dreams/No Man's Land".

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

Next week: one of the best dance tracks of the '80s sneaks into the very end of the decade, plus a cover version that had real-life implications and the return of the singer currently wowing UK audiences with her latest comeback.

Back to: Oct 22, 1989 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Nov 5, 1989


  1. It seemed Collette was stuck on the 'repeat one line and variations thereof' with her choruses... "you can ring my bell, ring my bell"; "all I wanna do is dance, dance, yeah dance"; and now "that's what I like about, that's what I like about you". Not nearly as inventive as the opening lines of this one - "you and I, we're always on the run, we've got so many things that have to be done." I was surprised to see this one fall out of the top 50 from its peak at #31 a few weeks later. I actually bought the 'Who Do You Think You Are' cassingle, and agree that it was her best track.

    I too thought the 'Angelia' name for a pop song was a strange choice. And the song was somewhat bland. I preferred the next single, 'Too Late To Say Goodbye', but that barely dented the top 100 here.

    Paul Norton's 'I Got You' was just awful IMO. The lyrics seem rather undercooked. It strangely has aired a few times recently though on the Summer Bay diner in the repeats of 'Home and Away' on 7TWO (now up to mid '93). I remember Paul joking in an interview with either Smash Hits or Hit Songwords that his album (which was stupidly not released for 18 months after 'Stuck On You') should have 10 songs ending in 'You', after the first 2 singles.

    Can't say I cared for 'Dr Feelgood', but I liked 'Kickstart My Heart'... well, as far as hair metal goes.

    I thought 'Chocolate Box' was one of Bros's best singles, and a vast improvement on 'Too Much'. I liked the more 'relaxed' sound of it, but clearly their appeal to teenage girls, who'd probably moved on to NKOTB or slightly more 'credible' music in my sister's case, was running out by now.

    I can respect Billy Joel's musical 'chops', but like Elton John, I've never been a fan of his music. I took piano lessons in my teens and loathed that these 2 IMO rather bland pianists were thought of as being the cream of the crop with the instrument by the masses. I didn't like this one at all at the time, and could barely listen to it. It grew on me though about 10 years later, and now I don't mind it. 'List' songs seemed to be in at the time, with Transvision Vamp's 'Born To Be Sold' being another one, released here few months later (and missing the top 100).

    Given that Tone Loc's the second breaker this week and it peaked at #52, I'm guessing Kate Ceberano was #51.

  2. I think I only remember seeing the video for 'That's What I Like About You' on MTV hosted by Richard Wilkins. I didn't mind it, but yeah, it does frustrate me when people call her a one hit wonder.

    Bros' singles back in '89 came and went for me. I saw the videos once and then that was it. I still think their best single is 'I Owe You Nothing'. I typed in the song title in YouTube just a couple of months ago and Matt Goss has aged very well and I watched him sing the song from just a few years ago in an intimate concert and he still does the song justice.

    For me 'I Got You' was a poor man's version of 'Stuck On You'. It was trying to sound like it, but never quite got there. Nathan, you could also be thinking of the Paul Norton interview when they used to run a program on the radio where the artist came into the studio and did talk back with a popular DJ (could have been Barry Bissell) and they talked about their career, played some of their tracks and listeners got to ring up and ask them a question. I remember the Paul Norton one and it was around the time 'Southern Sky' was released as a single which would have been around the time his album was released that had 'I Got You' on it. I also remember the one they did with Margaret Urlich in late 1990 on the back of her highly successful album 'Safety In Numbers' which by now was triple platinum.

    I liked 'We Didn't Start The Fire' and the follow up 'I Go To Extremes'. Funny that it would be a 10 year gap with No.1's with 'Uptown Girl' and 'The River Of Dreams'.

    1. Now that you mention it, I remember a radio show airing on Fox FM in Melbourne in the early to mid 90s, I think hosted by Barry Bissel, where they featured an album and the artist came in to to talk. I don't think I was aware of it - if it is the same show you're thinking of - until '94-ish though, when Marcella Detroit appeared on it. I don't remember what it was called, though.