Wednesday, 19 November 2014

This Week In 1989: November 19, 1989

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

In the almost two-and-a-half years that I've been writing this blog, the thing that's surprised me the most has been just how many novelty songs hit the ARIA top 50 in the late '80s. Of course, novelty records can take several forms - the intentionally funny (Morris Minor & The Majors, Kylie Mole), the sci-fi tie-in (The Firm, The Timelords, ALF) and the lewd (Clarence Carter), for example.

There was nothing funny about Phil Collins' 1989 album

This week in 1989, two novelty songs entered the ARIA singles chart - one aiming for laughs from a well-known group of comedians, and the other incorporating sounds that made it both titillating and a guaranteed hit. Meanwhile, one of the most successful male artists of the '80s returned with the first taste of his un-funny new album.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending November 19, 1989

At number 1 this week in 1989, Cher kept another novelty record - "Swing The Mood" by Jive Bunny & The Mastermixers - at bay as she spent her third non-consecutive week on top with "If I Could Turn Back Time".

Off The Chart
Number 95 "Let It All Hang Out" by John Cougar Mellencamp
Peak: number 86
Perhaps if this cover of the 1967 song by The Hombres (originally titled "Let It Out (Let It All Hang Out)") hadn't been left until the final single from Big Daddy, it might have performed better.

Number 77 "Hysteria" by Def Leppard
Peak: number 77
The re-release of "Pour Some Sugar On Me" had paid off with a top 30 entry, but the title track of Def Leppard's two-year-old album only generated marginally more interest in late 1989 than it had in early 1988.

Number 75 "Come Back To Me" by Chantoozies
Peak: number 72
A new song written by band members Eve von Bibra and Brett Goldsmith, "Come Back To Me" signalled an era of much line-up upheaval and, except for a brief respite in 1991, a downwards chart trajectory.

Number 71 "Love's About To Change My Heart" by Donna Summer
Peak: number 71
Skipping over my favourite single for 1989, Australia followed America's lead and chose this track to come after "This Time I Know It's For Real". Slightly remixed from the album version, it was another solid gold Stock Aitken Waterman effort.

"Hide Your Heart" by KISS
Peak: number 60
A few weeks back, we saw the debut of Tina Turner's "The Best", a song originally recorded by Bonnie Tyler. And here's another track released by the Welsh singer before it went on to be made more famous by a different act. This time, however, the song was actually co-written by KISS member Paul Stanley, which explains why the band might've wanted to try their hand at it, including it on their Hot In The Shade album and releasing it as the lead single. 
Interestingly, a rival version was also recorded by former KISS member Ace Frehley for his Trouble Walkin' album, which came out around the same time. Even more curious was the fact that despite "Hide Your Heart" not being that great a song, two more covers were recorded in 1989 - one by Molly Hatchet (a band) and another by Robin Beck (a solo female artist who hit number 1 in the UK in 1988 with Coke ad theme "First Time").

"We Could Be Together" by Debbie Gibson
Peak: number 57
Poor Debbie Gibson - she really did seem destined to just miss the top 50 more often than she cracked it. Hot on the heels of number 58 single "No More Rhyme", this fourth release from Electric Youth also puttered out just short of the chart. And, like the album's title track, "We Could Be Together" was another song that seemed to go on and on, with a couple of bridges, an a cappella bit and a never-ending series of choruses - and that was with a minute cut off the album version.

New Entries
Number 49 "French Kiss" by Lil Louis
Peak: number 35
Let's face it, the only reason this otherwise repetitive dance track made such an impact on charts (including a number 2 peak in the UK) is because of the sexual moaning in the middle when the BPM drops. 
I was in Year 9 at the time and remember playing "French Kiss" to a group of class-mates who were instantly taken with the track - after all, no one gets more excited by moaning women than 14-year-old boys. Speaking of kids, call me a prude, but I'm not sure of the appropriateness of featuring youngsters in the music video of a song with an orgasmic breakdown.
Rude sex noises aside, "French Kiss" is in one other way literally a novelty record, since the slowing down and complete stopping of the beat was unprecedented. The track was the only hit for Lil Louis, aka Louis Sims, but it's lived on thanks to it being regularly sampled in the years since.

Number 48 "Another Day In Paradise" by Phil Collins
Peak: number 11
Now he'd finished with his acting work (for the time being), Phil Collins got on with his day job as a recording artist and released his latest studio album, ...But Seriously - his first in four years. "Another Day In Paradise" was the ultra-serious lead single from the album and Phil's 20th solo single of the '80s - and one of my least favourite. The song about homelessness was also the first of six singles that would end up being taken from the album, and easily the most successful - a number 1 in the US, a number 2 in the UK and the Grammy Award winner for Record Of The Year.

Number 43 "Don't Wanna Lose You" by Gloria Estefan
Peak: number 40

Here's another dreary ballad - and another US number 1 - from an artist whose music I otherwise liked in the '80s. The Diana Ross of the Latin music scene, Gloria completed her transition from Miami Sound Machine member to named vocalist to solo star with her 1989 album, Cuts Both Ways. Not a massive hit in Australia, "Don't Wanna Lose You" at least did better than its American follow-up, the far superior and much more energetic "Get On Your Feet", which belatedly reached number 98 in late 1990 after Gloria's Australian record company had exhausted all the album's big ballad singles.

Number 34 "Sometimes" by Max Q
Peak: number 31

Looks like the, er, novelty of the Max Q project wore off pretty quickly, with Michael Hutchence's side project from INXS stumbling when this second single fell some way short of the top 10 achievement of debut release "Way Of The World". A third single, "Monday Night By Satellite", from the band's self-titled album was released in 1990, but it didn't even reach the top 100 - and that was that.

Number 29 "Five In A Row" by The D-Generation
Peak: number 12

This week's second novelty record was the first of two parody singles by comedy team The D-Generation, who at that stage were a few years out of university, and making a name for themselves in TV specials and a breakfast show on Melbourne's Triple M. Taking easy shots at a handful of Australia's most prominent music stars (John Farnham, Jimmy Barnes, Little River Band, Kylie Minogue and James Reyne), the gags in "Five In A Row" are linked together by patter from a radio DJ character played by Rob Sitch. While the whole thing was reasonably amusing, I can't for the life of me think why you'd want to own the record and play it again and again, especially without the music video.

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

Next week: the song of the summer (and wedding receptions for decades to come) arrives, plus more Italo house and the return of one of the most iconic singers of the late '70s and early '80s.

Back to: Nov 12, 1989 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Nov 26, 1989


  1. From Countdown Revolution, Starlight's 'Numero Uno' was #89 this week. If the Debbie Gibson & Kiss tracks peaked this week, I guess Shakespear's Sister were #58 and Warrant were #59.

    I don't remember hearing the Kiss song before.

    I don't think I've heard the Debbie Gibson track since '89, but remember it (or the chorus anyway) pretty well. It seemed a bit too kitsch/boppy/like a primary school camp sing along (maybe the campfire footage in the video helped form that perception) to become a massive hit. She seemed to be the Queen of Breakers that don't quite break through, with this being the third in the span of under 18 months (and the previous single that would have normally qualified as one)... with one more to come a little while down the track.

    I was still too 'innocent' to know what the moaning in 'French Kiss' was when it was out. I thought it was funny rather than sexual, and that it sounded like a woman giving birth or just going crazy. Ha ha. I ended up buying the cassingle early in 1990, and rather embarrassingly now, remember playing it at a family friend's place at high volume with the windows and sliding doors open (when all the parents had gone out... though yes, there were some older teenage girls present 'babysitting' who would surely have known what it was about). The video's director uploaded a longer version of the video about 5 or more years ago to youtube, and said he had to edit it down because the record company would only pay for 2 and a half minutes' worth of footage. I think I saved it, but last time I checked it wasn't on youtube anymore.

    I remember a man talking at my high school's assembly about homelessness (I think in relation to the 'winter sleepout' held at the school gym to raise money for some local shelter) and quoting the first verse from this song to make us all think about it. Except this was probably 5 years later, by which point few people there probably remembered the song, and Phil was never cool with teens anyway.

    'Don't Wanna Lose You' was rather bland and one of her weakest ballad efforts IMO.

    I liked the Max Q track lots, but it felt like it needed a few more lyrics.

    As a creative story written at school that year, in grade 5, I wrote a hypothetical interview with Kylie, titled 'With a Dozen Songs Playing All Day Long In Elevators 'Round the World', inspired by this song. I was rather pleased with my efforts, and remember one of the questions: Q) Have you ever had your hand on your heart? A) Yeah, during surgery, which I thought was hilarious at the time. Sadly I've either since lost that story, or it's buried somewhere in a storage box under my parents' house.

    A few years back I got hold of the rage top 50 (well, from #42, with a couple of songs missing) from this week, and recently uploaded the title/artist snippets from each track (to minimise the chance of getting the video blocked) here:

  2. Andy - troubled 80s teen20 November 2014 at 02:54

    I hadn't thought of the French Kiss song since 1989 but remember liking it at the time - but then I wasn't overly discerning when it came to disco/house/HI NRG etc - I was just happy to have the chance to hear any of it, when all we heard on radio was rock and adult contemporary.

    It's strange what memory does - I am really surprised to read that Monday Night by Satellite didn't crack the top 100 for Max Q, the amount of airplay (radio and TV) it got at the time (in 1990) and shortly thereafter would have made me think it was top 50.

    On the topic of songs I thought would have been top 50, but weren't, the question of Malcolm McLaren has been occupying my mind over the last few weeks. I would have thought that if he had cracked the Australian charts with one of his singles from Waltz Darling (especially the title single), I would have read it here by now. It was one of my favourite albums from the 1980s, but the pop-opera blend is probably not to everybody's taste.

    1. "Waltz Darling" the single got to number 73 on the Australian Music Report mid-year (I have to request info from ARIA specifically for outside the top 50 for 1989), while the album peaked on the ARIA chart at number 60.

      As you say, it divided people - a friend of mine was a massive fan of the album at the time, but I never quite got into it.

    2. 'Waltz Darling/Deep In Vogue' (I forget whether it was a double A-side here; I remember seeing both on TV though, and hearing both on Triple M's Top 8 at 8) is one I want to find out the ARIA peak for, too. 'Deep In Vogue' was re-released as a standalone single in 1990 after Madonna's 'Vogue', as well, when it failed to make the top 100.

      Another one I thought might show up as a breaker, but didn't, was 1927's 'To Love Me'. I'm wondering whether Paula Abdul's 'Cold Hearted', Adeva's 'Warning!', and Alannah Myles' 'Love Is' will turn up as a Breakers, too (with the later 2 belatedly entering the top 50 in 1990), before the end of 1989.

  3. Gloria Estefan's album 'Cuts Both Ways' was a big seller in 1990. The single 'Cuts Both Way' is my favourite track of hers. I remember when 'Get On Your Feet' came out and thought it would be a big hit, but didn't do much here.

    I loved 'Five In A Row'. Wish I bought the single back then (might have to look on ebay). It only triggered my memory a few months ago when I heard my local fm station play it on Sunday night during the Oz mix. The Jimmy Barnes parody is done well by Santo. Back in the day I recorded it off rage simulcast on the radio during the Top 50, and still have it on audio cassette and I missed the last 30 seconds of it. The Kylie part is pretty bad though.

    Never seen or heard the Debbie Gibson and Kiss tracks until now.

    'French Kiss' I never got to know, because rage never played it when it was in the Top 50. For some reason, I thought it came out in 1988.

    The yanks loved Phil Collins in the 80's. He had a lot of No.1 hits with Genesis and as a solo artist. I definitely don't see it as a No.1 single, although the video probably helped it - all about American homelessness. I remember in early 1990 when I was in the car with my dad and it came on the radio and my dad laughed at the lyric 'She can't walk, but she's trying'. That's when I realised what a silly lyric. Still sticks in my mind when I hear it. Funnily enough, I bought 'Just Seriously' a few months back. All the other singles following it are great.

    1. Actually, rage did air the video for 'French Kiss' while it was in the top 50... but not for the first few weeks (from memory... or I could be wrong and they aired it initially, but then not later on). I know it wasn't aired for the full chart run though. I remember being surprised at how cheap the video looked, and that it only went for little over half of the song.