Wednesday, 17 June 2015

This Week In 1990: June 17, 1990

Nancy Sinatra. Natalie Cole. Miley Cyrus. Daughters of musicians themselves becoming hit artists has been going on for decades, but in 1990, a female trio whose parents were members of seminal 1960s groups banded together to form an unstoppable pop force - at least initially here in Australia. 

Chynna, Carnie and Wendy marched in to the top 50 this week in 1990

The novelty of their combined musical lineage together with one of the year's catchiest singles made them instant stars in their own right - and their debut single shot straight into the ARIA singles chart as the highest new entry this week in 1990.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending June 17, 1990

Also unstoppable this week in 1990: Heart's "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You", which spent a second week at number 1.

Off The Chart
Number 97 "My Boy Lollipop" by Serena
Peak: number 83
Britain gave the world Samantha Fox, Italy brought us Sabrina and Australia's contribution to the pin-up model-turned-singer brigade was Serena Sandel, whose abominable cover of the 1956 song by Barbie Gaye thankfully found few takers.

Number 86 "This And That" by Michael Penn
Peak: number 86
It has that same jaunty guitar pop sound as debut single "No Myth", but this follow-up just wasn't quite as catchy - and consequently wasn't as big a hit. 

New Entries
Number 50 "Show No Mercy" by Mark Williams
Peak: number 8
After a string of hits - including two chart-toppers - in his home of New Zealand during the second half of the '70s, Mark Williams had come to Australia hoping to launch a similarly successful recording career here. But, neither his debut local release, Life After Dark, nor his time as the singer for Boy Rocking yielded any chart appearances. Despite being an in-demand session singer, the main thing Mark had to show for his decade here was being one of the performers of the original Home And Away theme tune. In 1990, his fortunes changed. After working with famed songwriters/producers Vanda and Young, Mark's top 10 hit, "Show No Mercy", became the year's fifth biggest single by an Australian-based artist.

Number 48 "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" by The Chimes
Peak: number 26
Having missed the top 50 in the UK and Australia with their excellent first two singles, "1-2-3" and "Heaven", Scotland's The Chimes came up with a sure-fire way to get some attention - remaking a modern rock classic from one of the world's biggest bands. Of course, the soul/dance trio's take on "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" wasn't as revolutionary as it would've been if U2 hadn't already given the song from The Joshua Tree a gospel makeover on Rattle & Hum, but The Chimes' beat-driven cover was still enough of a musical departure to earn the disdain of the Irish band's devoted following - which made me love it even more. Unfortunately, despite their previous two singles as well as upcoming tracks "True Love" and "Love Comes To Mind" all being great songs, The Chimes never saw the inside of the ARIA top 50 again.

Number 46 Live! (EP) by Roxus
Peak: number 33
Containing live versions of their previous two top 100 singles, "Stand Back" (number 44) and "Body Heat" (number 60), this four-song EP saw the Australian hard rock band achieve their highest chart position to date. Two previously unreleased tunes were included on Live! - "That Girl" and "Morning Light" (below), with the latter serving as the EP's lead track (despite being third in the running order) and receiving play on music video shows. Of the four songs, only "Stand Back" would end up appearing on Roxus' debut album, Nightstreet, which wouldn't see the light of day until August 1991.

Number 37 "Spin That Wheel" by Hi Tek 3 featuring Ya Kid K
Peak: number 5
She'd already performed on two Australian top 10 singles with Technotronic - without receiving an official featuring credit for either - but finally, Ya Kid K got her dues on this one-off single with Hi Tek 3. A collaboration between the Belgian trio and Technotronic's main man, Jo Bogaert, "Spin That Wheel" got an extra push when it was used in the original film adaptation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which is why there are two videos for the track - one linked to in the song title above and one below - and why it's sometimes referred to as "Spin That Wheel (Turtles Get Real)". Even though Ya Kid K would appear on several more Technotronic singles in the coming years, she never returned to the ARIA top 50 - she was again unbilled for the dance act's inevitable "Megamix" single - meaning she has the unfortunate honour of technically being a one-hit wonder, as were Hi Tek 3.

Number 26 "Hold On" by Wilson Phillips
Peak: number 2
In the US, the groups their parents were members of managed a combined total of four number 1 singles in the 1960s, while the trio featuring Carnie and Wendy Wilson (the daughters of Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys and Marilyn Rovell of little-known '60s girl group The Honeys), and Chynna Phillips (the daughter of John and Michelle Phillips from The Mamas & The Papas) clocked up three chart-toppers Stateside in less than a year. 
In Australia, the going wasn't quite as good for the second-generation music stars. Debut single "Hold On" almost reached number 1 - it was denied the top spot by Roxette - but neither their other two American chart-toppers ("Release Me" and "You're In Love") nor US top 5 hit "Impulsive" managed to dent the ARIA top 50. But then, none of those other songs were anywhere near as good as "Hold On", a slice of perfectly harmonised pop that hooks you in within seconds and still sounds great all these years later.
Of course, Wilson Phillips' sweet voices were matched by their pure and innocent image. No half-naked gyrating or suggestive lyrics here. Instead, Carnie, Wendy and Chynna, who were all in their early 20s at the time, were the kind of gals who liked spending time in the brisk mountain air (while wearing sensible outdoor clothing) and strolls (OK, marches) along the boardwalk. 
Although ripe for parody, the wholesomeness of the trio goes a long way to explaining that staggering US success - and why it was so relatively short-lived. As music became increasingly sexualised in the '90s, there was little room for a group that didn't have half as much fun as their parents did three decades earlier. But, as demonstrated by Bridesmaidsas daggy as Wilson Phillips and "Hold On" might have been, there's never been any use trying to pretend you don't know every word.

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

Next week: Stop, Hammer time! Yep, the rapper with the baggiest pants (that's trousers, for you UK readers) invades the chart. Plus, one of the biggest dance acts of the early '90s arrives and Australia's second favourite hair metal band returns.

Back to: Jun 10, 1990 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jun 24, 1990


  1. I didn't hear the Serena track until the late 00's. I knew of it though via a small ad for it appearing on some printed dance chart I used to pick up in Brashs. The ultra-low budget, looks-like-it-was-filmed-on-home-camera video is the sort of thing only Australia could produce.

    If I remember correctly, 'Show No Mercy' became an unofficial AFL (or VFL as it probably still was then) anthem, which killed any ounce of like I felt for the song.

    So typical that The Chimes couldn't score a hit here (or in the UK also, really) until they put out a cover version ballad.

    I'm surprised to see the Roxus Live EP appearing in the Victorian state top 10 chart. I don't remember it being that big here. A bit strange they wouldn't include 'Morning Light' on the eventual album release.

    I never understood why 'Spin That Wheel' was released as Hi Tek 3, when Jo Bogaert, who was behind Technotronic, was also behind Hi Tek 3.

    'Hold On' is nice gloomy Sunday drive radio music, and yes, stronger than the subsequent singles from their debut; though I liked 'You Won't See Me Cry' and 'Give It Up' from the 2nd album.

  2. Most female artists had to rely on weekend music shows on TV. Kylie was not played unless it was The Top 8 on Triple M. Triple M was playing classic rock with some Top 40 songs added if it was rock & there was a lot of Top 40 rock songs in those days. Fox Fm was very similar but more of a mixture they would probably play Belinda Carlisle, Wilson Phillips, Kate Ceberano, Heart & Madonna but wouldn’t play Kylie just yet or Janet Jackson that would happen later in 1990 though. If it was too Teeny Bop they wouldn’t touch a song during the day but at night when the kids are listening the likes of Kylie, Tina Arena, NKOTB would get on the radio but only between 7-10pm.
    It was strange how new acts couldn’t break through for a second hit here like Wilson Phillips perhaps it was because new Australian music got priority & FM radio was still only Triple M & Fox Fm. I think in Melbourne Triple M was still EON-FM in 1990. 3KZ was still an AM station & 3XY stopped playing Top 40 & went easy listening because the FM stations had stolen there listeners.