Wednesday, 3 December 2014

This Week In 1989: December 3, 1989

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

As the world headed towards the 1990s, Australia found itself at a different type of crossroads - between the music the country had traditionally championed (i.e. pub rock), and new trends and genres (dance and R&B). 

Technotronic found a place to stay on the ARIA top 50

That was especially evident this week in 1989, with the ARIA top 50 singles chart looking like it was a case of "out with the old, in with the new"...

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending December 3, 1989

...except at the very top of the countdown, where Cher continued to reign supreme at number 1 with "If I Could Turn Back Time", while fellow 40-something performer Billy Joel crept up to number 2 with his homage to all things historical, "We Didn't Start The Fire"

Meanwhile, Single Of The Week made a comeback this week, after weeks of competitions occupying that spot - but we'll talk about "Woman In Chains" when it hits the top 50.

Off The Chart
Number 92 "Word Gets Around" by The Hummingbirds
Peak: number 72
It wasn't quite as catchy as "Blush", but this second single from loveBUZZ deserved better, perhaps getting lost in the pre-Christmas rush of big releases.

Number 81 "Love On A Mountain Top" by Sinitta
Peak: number 81
Like "Right Back Where We Started From", this latest single from Sinitta's Wicked album was another cover version (of a track previously recorded by Robert Knight). It just wasn't as good as her top 10 smash.

Number 79 "Baby You're Wild" by Mental As Anything
Peak: number 79
Our third act in a row falling short with the follow-up to a top 20 hit, Mental As Anything at least made the top 100 with this third single from Cyclone Raymond. The album's fourth cut, "Overwhelmed", missed the chart completely.

"Empire" by Choirboys
Peak: number 65
In 1987, Choirboys released one of the biggest Aussie rock singles of the decade in "Run To Paradise", and went on to land a top 5 album, Big Bad Noise, which contained a couple more chart hits. Two years later, the pub band couldn't even crack the top 50 with the first single from what would be their next album, Midnight Sun. Obviously, "Empire" is no "Run To Paradise" (even I liked the latter), but for a brand new song by a band that'd been pretty successful to so spectacularly bomb indicates just how much musical tastes had changed in a relatively short space of time.

"Hard Times" by V.Spy V. Spy
Peak: number 59
Another band with roots in the pub circuit whose best (charting) days seemed to be behind them was V. Spy V. Spy, who were also launching a new album - in this case, fourth LP Trash The Planet. Seems the band's record company had faith that the album was worth investing in, with recording taking place in the UK with big-name producer Craig Leon, but the title of this lead single would turn out to be rather apt.

New Entries
Number 50 "Just Like Jesse James" by Cher
Peak: number 14
Not only did Cher hold down the top spot on the top 50 this week in 1989, but she also occupied the chart's bottom rung with the follow-up to "If I Could Turn Back Time". Like the reigning number 1 single, "Just Like Jesse James" was written by A-list songwriter Diane Warren, this time in collaboration with fellow in-demand tunesmith Desmond Child. The track that compared a guy to the 19th century American outlaw was also another single Cher wasn't that keen on. She didn't even make a video for the track, with clips from prior music videos cobbled together with footage of the Wild West. None of that, however, prevented it being another big hit.

Number 38 "Pump Up The Jam" by Technotronic featuring Felly
Peak: number 4
I didn't quite know what to make of this song when I first heard it - an unrelenting dance track with a pushy rap and a chorus that sounded like it was being sung out of tune. And the video! Featured "vocalist" Felly dancing around wearing a bum bag in front of an epileptic fit-inducing series of flashing lights and colourful patterns. In a twist straight out of the Milli Vanilli/Black Box playbook, model Felly Kilingi didn't actually perform on the track, chosen to front the group since real rapper Ya Kid K was obviously not deemed attractive enough. That would change soon enough, but not before "Pump Up The Jam" became a worldwide smash, even reaching as high as number 2 in the US.

Number 34 "On Our Own" by Bobby Brown
Peak: number 22

Last week, we saw Run DMC fail to make the top 50 with their take on Ray Parker Jr's theme from the original Ghostbusters and I mentioned there was a bigger hit from the sequel's soundtrack. Well, here it is - and it comes from the new jack swing star finally on a roll in Australia. As usual, it was co-written and produced by LaFace (LA Reid and Babyface), and like the original "Ghostbusters", it came with a celebrity-packed video, with the likes of Donald Trump and Christopher Reeve making cameo appearances. "On Our Own" didn't appear on Bobby's Don't Be Cruel album - from which he continued to release singles afterwards. Of course, these days, there'd be a deluxe edition rushed out to include the new hit as a bonus track. 

Number 21 "Bed Of Nails" by Alice Cooper
Peak: number 13

Here's a second new entry written by Desmond Child (who'd also composed "Poison" and the majority of the Trash album) and Diane Warren, this time with a songwriting credit for performer Alice Cooper as well. Despite its musical pedigree and American hard rock sound, "Bed Of Nails" wasn't released in the US - "House Of Fire" came out there as the follow-up to "Poison" instead.

Number 4 "That's What I Like" by Jive Bunny & The Mastermixers
Peak: number 4

Here we go again... "Swing The Mood" hadn't even been on the top 50 for two full months before this indentikit follow-up crashed into the chart. "That's What I Like" was only the fourth single in 1989 to debut in the top 5 (following "Especially For You", "Like A Prayer" and "Hand On Your Heart"), but despite such an impressive start, it didn't progress any further. 
Slightly more tolerable than "Swing The Mood" - thanks to its liberal use of the awesome theme tune from Hawaii Five-O - "That's What I Like" mashed together rock era classics by the usual suspects: Chuck Berry, Bill Haley & The Comets, Chubby Checker, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and so on. 
Thankfully, Australia tired of Jive Bunny after this release (which had been a second chart-topper for the cartoon rabbit in the UK) and the act was never seen on the top 50 again. In the UK, however, they had one more chart-topper ("Let's Party"), two more top 10 hits and released singles into 1992. Suckers.

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

Next week: Rival singles from two Neighbours stars debut, and a handful of new entries by artists who'd seen much better days.

Back to: Nov 26, 1989 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Dec 10, 1989


  1. I'd forgotten how Choirboys' 'Empire' went until it got to the chorus.

    I would have heard the V.Spy V.Spy (I never understood the name) at the time, but it's another I'd completely forgotten about. I liked the next single, 'Clear Skies', though. I'm surprised to see it has nearly 40k views on youtube.

    I remember seeing 'Just Like Jesse James' in the shops weeks before it hit the charts, almost wondering what it was, because I hadn't heard the song until it hit the top 50. I assumed the reason she didn't make a video was in protest to the controversy the previous video created. I eventually bought the cassingle.

    'Pump Up the Jam' is another track I first heard, of all places, on the now bogan-rock Melbourne FM station Triple M, on their top 8 at 8. "Get Djibouti on the floor tonight" has to be one of my favourite alternative lyrics. If I remember correctly, an interview I read (possibly in Number One magazine) with Ya Kid K suggested that Felly fronted the 'band' for this single because Ya Kid K was thought to be too young at 17/couldn't do all of the promotional work. At least that's the PR spin they put on it. I bought the cassingle, which curiously had TECHNOTRONICS on it instead... so for a while I wasn't sure if the group name was Technotronic or Technotronics.

    The Bobby Brown track was rather forgettable, I thought.

    Like 'Poison', I loved 'Bed of Nails'... possibly even more so. But it's another that I oddly did not hear until it entered the top 50 on rage.

    It really was strange seeing the Jive Bunny tracks back to back in the top 10 (and I think it happened again later on), with 2 virtually identical tracks. It was another cassingle I bought among the new entries this week. Although they didn't appear in the top 50 again, if I remember correctly, they show up as a Breaker next year.

  2. Thanks for all the effort you put into this blog, I love your comments and especially the Breakers.

    Interesting to see that with a few low-peaking breakers this week, there's still no sign of a few other non top 50 songs I was expecting/hoping to see. I guess it's too late for "Cold Hearted" by Paula Abdul now, but I'm holding out hope that "Oh Father" by Madonna, "Rhythm Nation" by Janet Jackson or "With Every Beat Of My Heart" by Taylor Dayne scraped in by the end of the year.

    1. Without spoiling it for you - you might be pleased with what turns up in the final two charts from 1989...

    2. I'm curious to know whether 'Oh Father' peaked higher in 1989 than its 1990 peak (which I nearly got into an editing war with someone on wikipedia over, as it differs from the more widely-accessible [at least at that time] AMR chart peak).

      BTW, the Jive Bunny 'That's What I Like' video you've embedded is completely re-recorded (the whole song) from the original version... I guess due to either copyright issues, or them not wanting to continue paying for sampling the original recordings. I think I posted here before that I lost my first youtube channel after getting 2 copyright strikes for Jive Bunny videos.

    3. Yes, I did read something about them having to release re-recorded versions in some countries. To be honest, though, I couldn't bring myself to listen to the song when embedding it! Talking about Jive Bunny is like a reliving nightmare I thought I'd never have to have again.

  3. It's one of the many things that I will never understand when it comes to peoples music listening tastes; even though there is music which I prefer to listen to and really like to listen to, I don't understand how people refuse to listen to some music, or even become quite upset over a form of music. All music is art, and in the majority of cases it doesn't insult you or do anything 'morally' wrong. The only exception to my rule is obviously in a lyrical sense. Some lyrics (the majority of these lyrics come from urban hip hop, but not all) I find insulting, degrading or even morally wrong, and therefore I refuse to listen to them. Otherwise the rest is just sound (some much, much, much better than other sound) and therefore can't hurt you. An example I will use is years ago I was the nominated driver for a group of people who ended up arguing about what station to listen to on the radio. Being late it night it was mostly music. It got to the stage where the argument became quite heated and one person became quite upset all due to some music they didn't like and would have normally refused to listen to. It could have been the alcohol, but I found it sad that it even come to that. Anyway, that's my little rant. It could just be me!!!

    On a different matter, the Choirboys had one song off Midnight Sun which I still love to listen to. 'Rendevous' is a great song. I have no idea if it even came close to entering the top 50, let alone the top 100.


    1. If this blog is still going in 2016, you'll see Rendezvous hit the top 40 (it was released in 1991).

      I refuse to listen to certain types of music all the time - but only because there's plenty of other music I'd rather listen to. That said, I will generally give anything at least one listen before refusing to come back to it - I've discovered a few songs that way from artists I would never expect to like anything by. Plus, I've had to review a heap of music over the years I'd never normally listen to myself - including today (Macy Gray's new album)!

    2. Looks like I'm getting a bit ahead of myself then. I'll look forward to 2016 for that one then. Goes to show how memories get warped with time. Finn

  4. Don't diss Jive Bunny!!

    I'm still a fan... and still get a buzz listening to the transistions/mixing pre-ProTools and other computer editing equipement...
    By the way, the YouTube video you posted is the overdubbed re-recorded version. It appears Jive Bunny didn't get total approval for all song samples.
    Thus, the abundance of Jive Bunny sound-a-likes and recordings (especially on iTunes) out there now....
    Beware of the fake Bunny!!

    Tony in Wollongong

    1. Wow, who knew there were so many Jive Bunny fans! Well, I guess we all knew since the two singles did so well on the chart. I'm not sure if the original version of TWIL is on YouTube, but if anyone tracks it down I'll happily swap it.

      Part of the problem with Jive Bunny for me was that it was all old rock'n'roll tracks that I wasn't into. For me, music (and this blog) begins at 1979.

    2. The Jive Bunny records became increasingly cheap-sounding (I'm talking mainly about the second album and later stuff that mostly wasn't even released here) as time went on, IMO.

      I've got a German VHS compilation with videos from the first 2 albums that I'm yet to watch/digitise, but I'm pretty sure that even this contained the re-recorded versions of the earlier hits, so copyright and/or licensing were clearly an issue for them even then.

      I doubt you'll find the 'original' versions of these tracks on youtube now (other than for a brief time before they're pulled), because Music Factory, the people behind the 'band' are quite adamant at taking them down, from what I've seen.

  5. Ha Ha Ha, Felly! Those blue lips!

    I didn't really get into 'Bed Of Nails', but love the track 'House Of Fire'. I only bought 'Trash' a couple of years back after seeing the videos from this album on rage - some Alice Cooper special.

    Never seen or heard 'Empire' or 'Hard Times' until now. One of my fave singles from 1986 is V.Spy V.Spy 'Don't Tear It Down'. I always remember in high school, quite a few people had this band written on their pencil cases. I didn't quite understand why and didn't understand the band name and why it was written that way.

    1. V Spy V Spy started out as Spy Vs Spy (named after a comic in Mad magazine), and the name alteration was a Liberty X-type deal where they added a letter to avoid legal problems.

  6. Wow, thanks for that info.