Wednesday, 7 January 2015

This Week In 1990: January 7, 1990

Happy New Year, chart fans. This week in 1990, it was not only a new year but also the dawn of a new decade on the ARIA chart. Of course, music didn't change dramatically overnight - or even in the three weeks it had been since the last chart. But big developments were just around the corner - I'm thinking grunge, techno and MC Hammer.

John Waite transformed himself from a mid-'80s pop star into...
...the lead singer of '90s soft rock band Bad English 

Fittingly, the highest new entry this week in 1990 came from a man who'd looked very different on his last top 50 outing but whose transformation hadn't happened overnight, either. Indeed, it'd been more than five years since he'd last had a hit single.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - three weeks ending January 7, 1990

The first chart for the year came with a brand new number 1, "Love Shack" by The B-52's, which benefitted from ARIA's summer shutdown by registering three weeks at the top in one go. Not that the song needed any help staying at number 1 - it'd be there for a good while longer.

Off The Chart
Number 99 "1-2-3" by The Chimes
Peak: number 73
The first of two excellent singles by the UK soul group fronted by Pauline Henry that peaked outside the top 50 before an adventurous remake gave them a hit later in the year.

"Living In Sin" by Bon Jovi
Peak: number 64
Was it really such a big deal for unmarried couples to have sex or live together in 1990 - or 1988, when parent album New Jersey was first released? I guess it was or it might've seemed a bit quaint for Bon Jovi to get so dramatic about it. And "Living In Sin" was fairly angsty - even the video was uncharacteristically OTT. 
Despite starting off sounding like a rock "Father Figure", this fifth single from New Jersey was, for me, the hair metal band's worst single since their breakthrough with "You Give Love A Bad Name" - and it justifiably became their first to miss the top 50 since then. They lapped it up in the States, however, where "Living In Sin" became the fifth straight top 10 hit from the album.

"Body Heat" by Roxus
Peak: number 60
Next up, it's Australia's answer to Bon Jovi, who were still waiting for their big breakthrough hit, having briefly visited the top 50 late in 1989. Listening to "Body Heat" now, I'm kind of surprised it wasn't more successful. Yes, it's a little dated and mid-'80s sounding, but it's actually pretty catchy. 

"Street Of Love" by Jenny Morris
Peak: number 51
It only makes sense for someone with a chart career as yoyo-ing as Jenny Morris to go from landing the biggest hit of her career (1989's number 5 "She Has To Be Loved") to missing the top 50 with the follow-up. The only song on Shiver not composed by Jenny or the album's producer, Andrew Farriss, "Street Of Love" was written by Paul Kelly. He also released the track - as "Beggar On The Street Of Love" - in 1990. A live version was the B-side to his single "Most Wanted Man In The World".

New Entries
Number 48 "Woman In Chains" by Tears For Fears
Peak: number 39
After the Beatle-ish "Sowing The Seeds Of Love", Tears For Fears shifted gear again for the follow-up, this duet with lounge singer Oleta Adams. The story of Curt and Roland from TFF discovering Oleta while she performed in a hotel bar in Missouri during their American tour is well known, but what I didn't realise is that she's not the only guest artist on this track - Phil Collins plays drums on "Woman In Chains" as well. The song was probably too subtle to be a massive hit, and duly became the band's least successful top 50 appearance in Australia up until that point.

Number 37 "Cover Girl" by New Kids On The Block
Peak: number 22
Before Christmas, we saw NKOTB's festive single, "This One's For The Children", enter the chart and this week in 1990, it reached its peak position of number 40. Three spots higher, the boy band charted again with this latest release from Hangin' Tough. "Cover Girl" would do much better than "This One's...", but still fall some way short of the lofty chart heights scaled by New Kids' 1989 trio of hits. Had the bubble burst already? 
Not quite, as we'd discover later in the year. But, even NKOTB fans (of whom there was only a finite number in Australia judging by this track's performance compared to its number 2 placing in the US) had to admit the release of "Cover Girl" was a halfhearted effort. The song didn't even get a proper music video, with live footage taken from the same concert that was seen in the clip for "Hangin' Tough" used instead.

Number 31 "When I See You Smile" by Bad English
Peak: number 4

In 1984, John Waite, the former vocalist for The Babys (biggest hit: 1978's number 1 "Isn't It Time"), reached number 5 in Australia and number 1 in the US with "Missing You", the lead single from his second solo album, No Brakes. Nothing he released after that essential '80s track performed anywhere near as well and after a few years of slogging away on his own, John got back in the band business.
He teamed up with some ex-Babys bandmates and a few other musos to form Bad English. To ensure they looked the part, the five-piece sported the obligatory teased up big hair but with this breakthrough hit, which was written by power ballad queen Diane Warren, they sounded less Bon Jovi and more 1927. "When I See You Smile" was another chart-topper in the States and did pretty well in Australia, too, ending up as the year's 21st biggest seller locally.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1990:

Next week: A belated entry from a sequel Christmas single plus a classic '80s ballad duet finally makes the ARIA top 50. And, I'll add an exciting (for some) new section to my recaps.

Plus, I'll go further back into music history as I take a look at what was happening on the singles chart in 1985.

Back to: Dec 17, 1989 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jan 14, 1990


  1. I picked this chart up back then, but I don't remember the gap between #38 and #39. How odd!

    I also didn't understand why it was 'for the 3 weeks ending...', yet they only added one week to each single's TI (times in?) tally. I guess this then was really the last chart for the 80s, but they only published it in January, with the extra weeks added the following week (reflecting sales over the Xmas/New Year's period).

    Looking back, it's funny how so many 80s acts were over as soon as the 90s clocked over. I don't recall as notable a change occurring in 2000 and 2010.

    I didn't make the connection for some time afterwards that the singer in Bad English was John Waite.

    I remember thinking the 'Living In Sin' video was quite racy, but now it looks fairly tame. Having not heard in ages, I wasn't aware that it sounds like 'Father Figure' at the start, but it sure does.

    I love how the Roxus clip has 'MTV World Exclusive' on it - yes, because other countries were clamouring for the right to air it first.

    I was surprised 'Street of Love' wasn't a bigger hit for Jenny Morris, though I suppose people were buying the album instead by now.

    I liked 'Woman In Chains', but it doesn't sound that single-like. It also has quite a long intro before the vocals kick in. It's not the kind of song you could easily make a radio edit of without cutting huge slabs of it out, either. I've always found it odd how Oleta didn't get a 'featuring' credit on the single sleeve. I see the UK 3" CD has another interesting package design.

    I always thought the 'Cover Girl' video looked like they got a 2-for-1 deal with the producer of the 'Hangin' Tough' video, though I guess it was just 'live' footage really. And yet another NKOTB song with an 'oh oh oh' chorus hook.

    One other thing I meant to ask you about: I think when Jive Bunny (or the Compilations section of the album chart) debuted last year, there was a comment (possibly mine) about how weird it was that the Jive Bunny album debuted in the regular top 50 chart, then dropped out but was placed in the Compilations chart... before re-entering the regular top 50 albums chart at #1 (possibly the only re-entry at #1 ever?) this week. I think you said you knew why this happened. I'd love to know if so.

    1. Re Jive Bunny - yes, over the last three albums charts, The Album by Jive Bunny & The Mastermixers went from a #22 debut on the regular top 50 to a #2 debut on the compilations top 5 and then, this week, a re-entry at #1 on the regular top 50.

      I did promise to look into it (and forgot) but I just spoke to ARIA and it was, as I suspected, a test case for the compilations chart. Was it a various artists album because it consisted of medleys of songs by a bunch of different acts? Or was it an album by one artist (Jive Bunny) consisting of those medleys. Clearly, it's the latter - but there was some confusion at first as to where it should fit. And since the compilations chart was in its infancy, there were no rules for such a situation.

    2. Thanks for following that up. Interesting! I wonder why they switched charts during its second week though... it would have made more sense if they'd plonked it in the compilation chart from the outset, if that's what they were thinking.

      They made the right decision in the end, though, because the songs aren't strictly a medley of old hits by the original artists, there's some recorded-with-soundalikes stuff in there too, apparently.

      I don't follow the current chart, but when I've taken a look I see that Various Artists compilations like the Triple J Like a Version stuff is included in the mainstream albums chart, which I find confusing. Though I guess those albums aren't compilations of tracks that have already been hits/released elsewhere.

    3. I think they kept changing their mind until they settled on a final decision.

      The basic rule of the chart is that compilations of existing songs go on the compilations chart, but albums consisting of songs specifically recorded for the project - even if by different artists - go on the regular chart.

      I agree it's a bit confusing, and prefer the UK model where all various artists (including soundtracks) releases are on the separate chart.

  2. Wooohooo welcome to the 90's, personally my fave.
    I'll be following even closer this year but i'll be recapping the whole TOP 100 each week instead (yes I have no life :p).

    Anyway this weeks highlights for me was the introduction of 'Living In Sin' even thougth it debuted late November '89 during Jovi's tour of Australia.
    It's always been a weird one out of their catalouge in which it failed on so many charts around the world, personally it was a fave of mine.

    Looking back at NKOTB they really do age really badly for me, especially 'Cover Girl'. It's just so lack luster and predictable but slightly better than what 'Hangin' Tough' has become, what a boring song!

    I remember 'When I See You Smile' was still big on Sydney FM radio in the mid to late 90's, I was still hearing it daily on the rock stations.
    Loved John Waite's solo stuff from the 80's and I too failed to make the connection till years later.

  3. By the way, I think the Single of the Week and Album of the Week bits were round the wrong way on this chart. But since it was Belinda Carlisle's "La Luna" on the other side of the chart and we'll see that in weeks to come, I didn't bother mentioning it in the main post.

  4. I remember seeing the video for 'When I See You Smile' on the rage Top 50 in the wee early hours of Saturday morning. It probably would have been this week because it was a new entry to the chart. For some reason I fell asleep with the TV mute button on and woke up to this video on silent and straight away, I look confused but interested, as I thought it was a new video by Melissa Etheridge. LoL. Then I realised it was a bloke and well, I have hated the song ever since.

    I thought 'Street Of Love' would have been another big hit for Jenny Morris, but was not meant to be. Does make you wonder how some singles would have fared on the charts if people hadn't been buying the album. Some songs just get lost over the summer break.

    1. Ha ha, he does look a bit like Melissa in that video.

  5. I'm surprised you didn't mention that the "few other musos" in Bad English were former members of Journey.

    1. Yeah, I was going to, but it all got a bit complicated since only one of the Journey guys was also in The Babys, and then another guy from Bad English ended up in Journey in the 00s, so I decided to just focus on John Waite's career.

  6. I hated that the charts froze as Kylie’s ‘Never To Late’ was headed for the top ten, I’ll never know if it there :-(

  7. Getting the compilations off the Album chart and onto their own separate chart was a good move.

    Although I liked and purchased various artists pop compilation albums in the 1985-1991 era because they saved you money and afforded a wider variety of songs than buying them all separately as 7" or cassette singles, they were qualitatively different from an artist album or even a single-artist greatest hits package.

  8. Woman In Chains is a magnificent song - one of my favourite ones of 1989. Obviously about female emancipation, and who doesn't love the tremendous voice of Oleta Adams who shares lead with Roland on this one. I had the whole Seeds Of Love album on cassette and I still love it!