Wednesday, 7 September 2016

This Week In 1986: September 7, 1986

Your band's broken up? No problem... if you were the lead singer, that is. There's always the option of pursuing a solo career - and if your band was successful, people will already know who you are.

Australians were mad about Belinda Carlisle in 1986

But, just because your band had hit records, doesn't mean you will on your own. This week in 1986, the singer of one of the most successful all-female bands of all time embarked on her solo career - and things got off to a pretty good start.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending September 7, 1986

Another female singer who'd once been part of a band (with much less success) was on top of the ARIA singles chart this week in 1986. Ex-Breakfast Club drummer Madonna spent a fifth week at number 1 with "Papa Don't Preach".

Off The Chart
Number 100 "All That Stuff" by Matt Moffitt
Peak: number 84
"Miss You Tonight" was nowhere near as big a hit as it should've been, but this mediocre follow-up placed about right for the Matt Finish singer.

Number 99 "The Captain Of Her Heart" by Double
Peak: number 64
This sophisti-pop gem was a UK top 10 hit and became the first single by a Swiss act to reach the US top 40, but Australia was less impressed. An alternate video was made for the US market.

Number 98 "Born To Rock 'N' Roll" by Cliff Richard
Peak: number 88
After his recent visit to the number 1 spot, it was back to the chart flops for the Peter Pan of Pop. Like "She's So Beautiful", "Born To Rock 'N' Roll" was taken from the soundtrack to Time.

Number 85 "Speak With Frankness" by Stephen Cummings
Peak: number 83
The lead single and title track from This Wonderful Life had missed the top 100, but this second release returned the former singer of The Sports to a chart region he frequented in the '80s.

Number 82 "Hold Me" by Charlie Sexton
Peak: number 64
Like Matt Moffitt, Charlie Sexton's earlier singles, "Beat's So Lonely" and "Impressed", were much better than this third release from Pictures For Pleasure, which charted accordingly.

Number 81 "No Reins On Me" by Little River Band
Peak: number 73
If the surprising flop "Playing To WIn" wasn't going to be a hit, then this almost title track from No Reins had no hope. It didn't really matter to John Farnham, who by now was readying himself for his return to solo-dom.

New Entries
Number 49 "Mad About You" by Belinda Carlisle
Peak: number 9
As lead singer of The Go-Go's, Belinda Carlisle had visited the Australian top 50 on three occasions - "Our Lips Are Sealed" (number 2), "We Got The Beat" (number 29) and "Vacation" (number 43). Following the girl band's demise in May 1985, it felt like it was only a matter of time until Belinda commenced her solo career. It would take just over a year. But could she enjoy a similar level of success? 
If the performance of debut single "Mad About You" was anything to judge by, it would seem that she could. Co-written by one of her former band-mates, Paula Jean Brown, and featuring another two, Charlotte Caffey and Jane Wiedlin, on backing vocals, "Mad About You" became the first of Belinda's four ARIA top 10 hits. The breezy pop tune's music video featured her new husband, politician and producer Morgan Mason, as well as Duran Duran's Andy Taylor, who played guitar in the track. 

Number 48 "I Could Make You Love Me" by Wa Wa Nee
Peak: number 5
From Belinda Carlisle, we move to the band who supported her live when I saw her perform... in 2011. Back in September 1986, Wa Wa Nee's debut single, "Stimulation", was still enjoying its extended run in the top 10 when this follow-up arrived on the top 50. Another slice of catchy synthpop, "I Could Make You Love Me" flew up the chart and in two weeks' time, sat alongside "Stimulation" in the top 10. The biggest new local pop act of the year seemed unstoppable.

Number 40 "Princes Of The Universe" by Queen
Peak: number 32
Their last single had played over the closing credits of Highlander and this next release from Queen's A Kind Of Magic album was heard at the start of the fantasy film. Australia was one of the only countries where "Princes Of The Universe" was a hit - the single not even released in the UK. It would, however, be the last song from A Kind Of Magic to chart locally, with four subsequent singles either missing the ARIA top 100 or not released here. It'd be another three years before we'd see Queen back in the Australian top 50.

Number 37 "Take My Breath Away" by Berlin
Peak: number 2
First came "Danger Zone", which we saw make its ARIA chart debut two weeks ago, and this week in 1986, Top Gun's love theme joined the Kenny Loggins hit in the top 50. In another two weeks, "Take My Breath Away" would be inside the top 10 and on its way to spending four non-consecutive weeks in the runners-up spot (behind "Venus"). For synthpop band Berlin, the dramatic ballad, which had originally been offered to The Motels, was a complete change of pace. It would also prove to be one of the factors in Berlin's breakup the following year, since some band members weren't happy about performing a song they didn't write, even if it gave them far and away their greatest chart success. 
Berlin did have some connection to "Take My Breath Away" before it landed in their lap - the love song was co-written and produced by Giorgio Moroder, who they'd worked with previously on "No More Words". The Oscar winner for Best Original Song, "Take My Breath Away" was heard in Top Gun during a love scene between stars Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis - a scene that wasn't in the original cut of the film but was added after feedback from test audiences (and a hasty reshoot).

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1986:

Next week: the follow-up to one of 1986's biggest hits disappoints, plus the single that put Simon Cowell in the pop music game.

Back to: Aug 31, 1986 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Sep 14, 1986


  1. Really liked Mad about you. Catchy, fun pop song. I was a fan of Belinda Carlisle's music as a kid & still enjoy her songs of the radio.

    Haven't heard that Wa Wa Nee song till last year. Once I did I couldn't get enough of it. Downloaded the extended version, I love that fiery rock solo toward the end. Stimulation is my fav song by them but this funk/rock song isn't too far behind.

    I actually heard Jessica Simpsons version of "Take my breath away" first ironically then the original a couple of years later (I'm from the mid 90s so explains why). I'd definitely pick Berlin's version over JSs anyday but I get sick of it when SmoothFM over play it. Still it's a nice ballad.

  2. Never heard the Double song before. It's nice, but I'm not a fan of that awful 80's sax.

    I do wonder how artists like Stephen Cummings kept their recording contract for so many years with flop after flop. Unless the record co. were receiving some of the revenue from his jingle-writing/singing.

    It's surprising that 'Mad About You' wasn't a hit in the UK, and that it only reached #9 here. Seems like it was a bigger hit than that. I'm not normally a huge fan of guitar solo middle 8's, but this one works quite well.

    Not the best quality (or even the full song) on the Wa Wa Nee video. I think I've got a better version of it.

    The singles from Queen's 1986 album completely passed me by, and while I can appreciate their musical talent, I don't think I was missing anything.

    Nice enough song, but it's such a shame 'Take My Breath Away' was Berlin's one big hit, and the only one they're really known/remembered for by the masses. Never heard the Motels version before. A song by a band where it's really just the producers/s featuring the singer always seems to spell trouble.