Saturday, 29 April 2017

This Week In 1984: April 29, 1984

Given the number 1 single of 1983 had been a comedy release, it's hardly surprising that novelty records were big business the following year. This week in 1984 alone, the three new entries on the ARIA singles chart were all comic tracks to one extent or another.

Michael Jackson and Adolf Hitler provided inspiration for two massive comedy hits

Two of the songs were musical parodies by actual comedians, while the third was a light-hearted song by an Australian folk band poking fun at a part of local culture. One of the singles even went all the way to number 1.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending April 29, 1984

At number 1 this week in 1984 was a novelty of a different kind - foreign language hit "99 Luftballons/99 Red Balloons" by Nena stayed on top for a fourth week.

Off The Chart
Number 97 "Communication" by Marc Hunter
Peak: number 78
Kind of an odd time to be releasing a solo single with Dragon's Body And The Beat album weeks away from release. This would end up as the title track of Marc's next solo LP, released in 1985.

Number 96 "Almost Over You" by Sheena Easton
Peak: number 68
This was pretty much the last gasp of Sheena Easton's sweet and innocent era. Before long, she'd ditch the big weepie ballads to raunch her way back up the chart.

Number 87 "War Games" by John Paul Young
Peak: number 87
"Soldier Of Fortune" had put him back in the top 20, but this similarly synth-y follow-up couldn't get past number 87 - it spent four weeks there. This would be JPY's last new song to reach the top 100, but he'd be back in 1992 with the revival of "Love Is In The Air".

New Entries
Number 44 "I've Been To Bali Too" by Redgum
Peak: number 16
The last time we'd seen Redgum on the top 50 it'd been with the sombre wartime lament "I Was Only 19". Exactly a year after that chart-topper entered the top 10, the folk band returned to the chart with this more upbeat ode to Aussies abroad. Name-checking places like Kuta and Legian, where droves of Australians still travel every week, "I've Been To Bali Too" was a tongue-in-cheek look at why the Indonesian island is such a popular holiday destination.

Number 42 "To Be Or Not To Be (The Hitler Rap)" by Mel Brooks
Peak: number 3
I have vivid memories of watching Mel Brooks films in the '80s - Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs, History Of The World, Pt I - but I don't actually recall seeing war comedy To Be Or Not To Be. I do, however, remember the accompanying single of the same name, which was otherwise known as "The Hitler Rap", in which Mel pranced around dressed as the Führer, telling the story of the Nazi party - well, kinda sorta. 
I don't think I realised just how big a hit "To Be Or Not To Be" was, but it was Mel's only successful tie-in single in Australia, with previous efforts like "High Anxiety" and "It's Good To Be The King" not tickling enough funny bones to chart. Musically, the song sounded like a cross between "Wham Rap! (Enjoy What You Do?)" and "Puttin' On The Ritz", and was another example of an act making use of rap outperforming actual hip-hop artists on the top 50.

Number 9 "Eat It" by "Weird Al" Yankovic
Peak: number 1
He'd already parodied massive hits like "My Sharona" (as "My Balogna"), "Another One Bites The Dust" (as "Another One Rides The Bus"), "I Love Rock 'N' Roll" (as "I Love Rocky Road") and "Mickey" (as "Ricky"), but it was his take on a song by the King Of Pop that provided "Weird Al" Yankovic with his breakthrough in Australia. A send-up of "Beat It", "Eat It" had Michael Jackson's seal of approval and came with a video that recreated the original clip scene for scene. In fact, I'd suggest it was the video as much as - if not more than - the comic lyrics that resulted in "Eat It" going all the way to number 1 in Australia. Since "Eat It", which won the Grammy Award for Best Comedy Recording, "Weird Al" has continued to take the piss out of music biggest hits for decades, including having another stab at Michael Jackson four years later.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1984:

Next week: back to some proper music, with three excellent homegrown synthpop tracks and the follow-up to one of the most talked about singles of the year.

Back to: Apr 22, 1984 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: May 6, 1984

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

This Week In 1992: April 26, 1992

Australia was all about girl groups in April 1992. Two weeks earlier, retro-styled trio Teen Queens had debuted on the ARIA top 50 and they were joined this week by a much more modern five-piece.

Grinners are winners: Girlfriend shot to number 1 in 1992

In fact, the girl group making its debut was about four years ahead of its time. Before Spice Girls took their brand of girl power around the world, Australia's Girlfriend followed a very similar prepackaged path to the top of the Australian chart.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending April 26, 1992

Before Girlfriend got there, this week in 1992, "Under The Bridge" by Red Hot Chili Peppers remained at number 1 for a second week.

Off The Chart
Number 100 "A Deeper Love" by Clivillés & Cole
Peak: number 85
A single version of the song that had appeared as a bonus track on "Pride (In The Name Of Love)", "A Deeper Love" would be reworked two years later by Aretha Franklin, with C+C once again on production duties.

New Entries
Number 47 "Sometimes" by Midnight Oil
Peak: number 33
To bridge the gap between 1990's Blue Sky Mining and Earth And Sun And Moon in a year's time, Midnight Oil released their first live album, Scream In Blue. The tracks were taken from various concerts performed between 1982 and 1990, and a 1989 rendition of Diesel And Dust album track "Sometimes" was chosen as the project's lead single. While the single wasn't that big a deal on the chart, the album peaked at number 3. 

Number 42 "That Word (L.O.V.E.)" by Rockmelons featuring Deni Hines
Peak: number 4
By reaching number 5, their cover of "Ain't No Sunshine" had provided them with the biggest hit of their career up until that point, and Rockmelons went literally one better with follow-up "That Word (L.O.V.E.)". Once again with guest vocalist Deni Hines on board, the reggae-drenched track was so catchy and feel-good, you would've had to have been a real misery not to enjoy it. 

Number 41 "Take It From Me" by Girlfriend
Peak: number 1
Melanie. Jacqui. Siobhánn. Robyn. Lorinda. Four years before Spice Girls, Australia's own all-singing, all-dancing five-piece girl group burst onto the scene. A female alternative to the rapidly fading memory of New Kids On The Block, Girlfriend had been a work in progress for some time - singing lessons, choreography courtesy of Kelley Abbey, public performances, styling, even Japanese lessons so they could be big in Japan...
This wasn't some hastily thrown together pop combo, this was serious business. In fact, the antecedents of the group dated back even further - three of the members had known each other since they were toddlers. A fourth, Lorinda Noble, came from the same Sydney dance school, while final member Robyn Loau had been working at theme park Australia's Wonderland when she was spotted and slotted into the line-up. Teamed with perky pop tunes and a squeaky clean image, Girlfriend were ready to take on the world.
And the effort paid off - well, in ARIA chart terms, anyway. The group's debut single, which was co-written by current top 10 star Rick Price, was a huge success, spending two weeks at number 1. Snapped up by a largely uncatered for pre-teen girl market, "Take It From Me" was an antidote to the misery of grunge, and the hyper-sexuality of other pop stars like Madonna, Kylie Minogue and Melissa. With their smiley faces, girl-next-door outfits and, yes, those flower hats, Girlfriend were the pop act every mum wanted their little girl to like. And it seemed like every little girl did just that.

Number 33 "Sound" by James
Peak: number 28
The career of British indie band James had just taken off in the UK with the re-release of "Sit Down" peaking at number 2 in 1991, followed by this lead single from Seven also reaching the UK top 10. Locally, "Sound" became James's first chart appearance - and the track, which was considerably shortened for single release from its six-minute album version, would also end up as their biggest hit here.

Number 29 "Nothing Else Matters" by Metallica
Peak: number 8
Like the two singles from Metallica before it, rock ballad "Nothing Else Matters" had no trouble reaching the ARIA top 10 - and in fact, peaked slightly higher than either "Enter Sandman" or "The Unforgiven". Both that achievement and the fact Metallica had already been in the top 50 albums chart for eight months suggests to me that "Nothing Else Matters" crossed over to people who weren't already fans of the metal band. That's hardly surprising given it's essentially a love song - written by James Hetfield about being on the road and "missing my chick".

Number 28 "Money Don't Matter 2 Night" by Prince & The New Power Generation
Peak: number 18
Diamonds And Pearls had also enjoyed a lengthy stay on the albums chart - six months, mostly spent inside the top 10 - but Prince & The NPG had no trouble racking up a fourth top 20 hit from the album with this deceptively laidback track. Despite its cruisy feel, "Money Don't Matter 2 Night" was Prince's first issue-driven hit since "Sign O' The Times", dealing with various effects money has on society, such as poverty, gambling and governmental greed.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1992:

Next week: three Australian (with a little bit of New Zealand) debuts, with some hip-hop, some indie and some good old fashioned pop/rock in the mix.

Back to: Apr 19, 1992 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: May 3, 1992

This Week In 1987: April 26, 1987

If there was one thing that was in plentiful supply in the '80s, it was movie soundtrack hits. By my calculations, there were 19 chart-topping singles associated with films during the decade (not including songs like "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" that would go on to be used in movies down the track).

Dave Dobbyn's slice of perfect pop was one of three soundtrack hits in the year-end top 5

Even a New Zealand movie based on a comic strip spawned a number 1 hit in Australia. Although chances are, like many of the chart-toppers, the song would've been massive without the film tie-in.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending April 26, 1987

A song that reached number 1 without a movie association - or radio play or a music video - was still on top this week in 1987. "Boom Boom (Let's Go Back To My Room)" by Paul Lekakis was the most popular song in Australia for a second week.

Off The Chart
Number 96 "I Just Can't Wait" by Mandy
Peak: number 91
Not even the Stock Aitken Waterman Midas touch could turn this debut single by the then-16-year-old future Mrs Bill Wyman into a hit - either in Australia or the UK, where it peaked at exactly the same position.

New Entries
Number 49 "Heartache" by Pepsi & Shirlie
Peak: number 49
Speaking of SAW, they had a hand in this debut single by former Wham! backing singers Pepsi DeMacque and Shirley Holliman - although exactly what part the Hit Factory played in the record has long been debated. Regardless of who produced, mixed or was otherwise responsible for it, "Heartache" was a brilliant pop song from a pair of singers who'd contributed to their fair share of classics over the previous few years. 
In the UK, the song was denied the number 1 spot for two weeks by none other than their old boss, George Michael (together with Aretha Franklin), while in Australia, "Heartache" criminally progressed no further than the exact opposite end of the top 50. Their next two singles, "Goodbye Stranger" and "Can't Give Me Love" missed the top 100 completely, and we'd next see the duo just outside the top 50 with their cover of "All Right Now".

Number 47 "Big Love" by Fleetwood Mac
Peak: number 16
It'd been almost five years since the world had heard any new music from Fleetwood Mac, but in 1987, the best known lineup of the band returned following various solo endeavours with what would end up being the second biggest album of their career, Tango In The Night. "Big Love" had started out intended for Lindsey Buckingham's next solo record, but ended up on Tango... instead - and became its lead single and the band's 10th top 20 hit in Australia. 
Contrary to popular belief, all the vocals heard on the song are provided by Lindsey, with the female-sounding gasping noise achieved by altering his voice via some studio trickery. Given the romantic history between the various band members, the recording of Tango... was as fraught as you'd expect, resulting in Lindsey quitting Fleetwood Mac shortly after the album's release and ahead of the world tour to support it. "Big Love" wasn't performed live by the band until he came back into the fold a decade later.

Number 44 "At This Moment" by Billy Vera & The Beaters
Peak: number 11
Movie hits were one thing, but successful songs from TV shows weren't quite as common in the '80s. This 1981 single had Family Ties to thank for its belated chart action. Originally released on Billy Vera & The Beaters' self-titled live album, the song was only a minor success in the US, but once it started being played as the theme song for Alex Keaton (Michael J Fox) and Ellen Reed (Tracy Pollan, aka the future Mrs Fox) in the hit sitcom, interest in the track prompted a reissue and an appearance at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in January 1987. A few months later, Australia sent the soulful ballad to just outside the top 10. Billy continued his association with TV series, performing the theme songs to Golden Girls spin-off Empty Nest and The King Of Queens

Number 29 "Slice Of Heaven" by Dave Dobbyn with Herbs
Peak: number 1
Here's another one of those film hits now. Taken from the animated family film Footrot Flats: The Dog's Tale (which I saw at the movies when it was released in 1987), "Slice Of Heaven" was the Australian breakthrough for New Zealand singer Dave Dobbyn, who'd previously been a member of Th' Dudes and DD Smash. And what a breakthrough it was - a four-week number 1 hit that ended the year as 1987's fourth biggest single. 
A huge part of the appeal of "Slice Of Heaven" came from its incorporation of two elements: 1) the Japanese flute that opens the track and 2) the backing vocals of Pacific Islands vocal group Herbs - both of which gave the cute pop song that extra bit of oomph. Although Dave never returned to the ARIA top 50 - coming closest with the follow-up single - "Slice Of Heaven" has lived on thanks to its use in New Zealand tourism ads and being a regular inclusion on retro playlists on music TV.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1987:

Next week: the best version of one of the most-covered songs of all time and a remake of a song that wasn't even a year old. Plus, the Queen Of Pop goes Latin.

Back to: Apr 19, 1987 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: May 3, 1987

Saturday, 22 April 2017

The Longest-running Number 1s In Australian Chart History

Back in 2017, I wrote this post when Ed Sheeran was challenging for the record of the longest-running number 1 in Australian chart history - a record he ended up breaking with "Shape Of You", which enjoyed 15 non-consecutive weeks (13 weeks, a week off, and then two more) at the top. Purists rightly stated that ABBA's "Fernando" still had the record for the longest unbroken run at number 1, since "Fernando" amassed its 14 weeks in one stretch.

Since then, I've updated this post three times as more songs have been added to the list of songs with 10 or more weeks at number 1 - something that seems relatively easy for tracks to manage in the streaming era.

Tones And I smashed chart records set by ABBA and Ed Sheeran

Now, in November 2019, it's time to completely rewrite the chart record books - and this post - as "Dance Monkey" by Tones And I has spent 16 straight weeks (and counting) at number 1. There can be no debate that the song is now the longest-running number 1 in Australian chart history, whether you look at consecutive weeks or overall tally - either way a new record has been set.

Here's a handy guide to the songs that've spent the most weeks at number 1 in Australia since the rock'n'roll era began in the late 1950s.

"Dance Monkey" by Tones And I
Date reached number 1: August 11, 2019

"Shape Of You" by Ed Sheeran
Date reached number 1: January 16, 2017

"Fernando" by ABBA
Date reached number 1: April 5, 1976

"Hey Jude / Revolution" by The Beatles
Date reached number 1: October 5, 1968

"Gangsta's Paradise" by Coolio featuring L.V.
Date reached number 1: October 22, 1995

"Despacito (remix)" by Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee featuring Justin Bieber
Date reached number 1: May 22, 2017

"Old Town Road (remix)" by Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus
Date reached number 1: April 28, 2019

"Lose Yourself" by Eminem
Date reached number 1: December 9, 2002

"Happy" by Pharrell Williams
Date reached number 1: January 6, 2014

"Mull Of Kintyre / Girls' School" by Wings
Date reached number 1: December 12, 1977

"(Everything I Do) I Do It For You" by Bryan Adams
Date reached number 1: July 28, 1991
*Click the song title above for the un-embeddable music video

"Wannabe" by Spice Girls
Date reached number 1: November 3, 1996

"God's Plan" by Drake
Date reached number 1: February 5, 2018


"Blinding Lights" by The Weeknd
Date reached number 1: February 2, 2020

"Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" by The Platters
Date reached number 1: February 14, 1959

"Eagle Rock / Bom Bom" by Daddy Cool
Date reached number 1: June 28, 1971

"Mamma Mia" by ABBA
Date reached number 1: November 3, 1975

"I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston
Date reached number 1: December 20, 1992

"I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker (With Flowers In My Hair)" by Sandi Thom
Date reached number 1: September 4, 2006

"Party Rock Anthem" by LMFAO featuring Lauren Bennett & GoonRock
Date reached number 1: April 18, 2011

And here's the obligatory Spotify playlist:

You're welcome.

This Week In 1984: April 22, 1984

If a picture is worth a thousand words, surely one image will introduce this week's big new entry better than I could. A photo like this...

Or this...

Definitely this...

This week in 1984, a song that needs no introduction to anyone old enough to remember the year debuted on the ARIA chart on its way to number 1.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending April 22, 1984

Holding on to the number 1 spot this week in 1984 was Nena's "99 Luftballons/99 Red Balloons", which remained on top for a third week.

Off The Chart
Number 99 "My Ever Changing Moods" by The Style Council
Peak: number 70
Revamped from the understated piano and vocal album version for its single release, this might have been criminally overlooked in Australia but remains Paul Weller's career-best effort in the US.

Number 94 "The Dream (Hold On To Your Dream)" by Irene Cara
Peak: number 84
After non-movie single "Why Me?", Irene Cara was back in soundtrack mode with this latest Giorgio Moroder collab, taken from comedy film D.C. Cab, starring Mr T and Gary Busey.

Number 92 "Don't Count The Rainy Days" by Michael Martin Murphey
Peak: number 92
Here's one of those random country tracks that slipped into the top 100 without most people realising. This was MMM's final Australian chart appearance - his biggest hit having been "Wildfire" (number 22 in 1975).

Number 86 "(Feels Like) Heaven" by Fiction Factory
Peak: number 51
So close yet so far! This debut single by the Scottish new wave band really should've done better locally. The UK number 6 hit was covered almost two decades later by Dario G.

New Entries
Number 50 "Working With Fire And Steel" by China Crisis
Peak: number 47
We saw follow-up single "Wishful Thinking" enter the top 100 last week and finally the (kind of) title track of China Crisis's second album edged into the top 50 after climbing the chart since mid-March. "Working With Fire And Steel" would get stuck on the bottom rung for two more weeks before finally mustering enough momentum to reach its final peak - not a massive hit, but a song that seems to have a fond place in many synthpop fans' hearts. I'm pretty sure there's an anti-Thatcher message in the lyrics.

Number 48 "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)" by Michael Jackson
Peak: number 40
While "Thriller" had brought proceedings to an end for the album of the same name in most parts of the world, Australia went back and mopped up the single we'd skipped over. Thriller's sixth single, "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)", became the final release here and brought the album's tally of Australian top 40 hits up to six, with only "Human Nature" having missed out. 
Co-written by Quincy Jones and James Ingram using the title from a different song Michael Jackson had co-written, the much-sampled funk track had been a top 10 hit in the US, but probably did as well as it was going to at this stage in Australia - especially without a music video. It's still staggering how tight-fisted Epic Records were, considering how much money Thriller would've made them, to not OK a clip for this song. How amazing would it have been, especially if guest vocalists Janet and La Toya Jackson put in an appearance?

Number 46 "It's A Miracle" by Culture Club
Peak: number 14
Speaking of music videos, I have vivid memories of this clip - the life-size board game, the geisha girl playing guitar, Jon Moss's crop top, the premature career flashbacks... At this point, though, Culture Club could pretty much do whatever they wanted and no one would mind since they were releasing one great single after another. And there was no more perfect way to follow dramatic ballad "Victims" than with the bouncy, Caribbean-influenced "It's A Miracle", which became the band's sixth consecutive top 20 hit.

Number 30 "Footloose" by Kenny Loggins
Peak: number 1
As it wrapped up three weeks on top of the US chart, Australia kicked off the Sunday shoes and got dancing to one of the year's biggest soundtrack hits. Taken from the movie of the same name, "Footloose" not only played over the climactic prom scene but would provide the soundtrack from countless weddings, 21st parties and retro club nights for decades to come. 
The song was co-written by Kenny Loggins with Footloose screenwriter Dean Pitchford, who co-wrote all nine of the tracks on the soundtrack album. Given Kenny's previous (overseas) success with "I'm Alright" from Caddyshack, his involvement with the theme song was crucial for film execs - but it almost didn't happen. Kenny had broken a rib during a show and taken time out to recuperate, leaving only a very small window for the collaboration to happen. Dean fought through his own illness rather than lose the opportunity.
"Footloose" was the first of six top 40 hits from the soundtrack album in the States. In Australia, only two songs from the movie achieved the same level of success - we'll see the second one in early June. Kenny's other US hit from the album, "I'm Free (Heaven Helps The Man)", missed the top 100 entirely. The video below is the one I remember with all the variously shoed feet dancing, while the official Vevo video features more scenes from the movie, especially Kevin Bacon's warehouse dance (which was actually performed to Moving Pictures' "Never" in the film).

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1984:

Next week: time for some comedy (oh, good), with all three singles entering the top 50 having a humorous bent - including the record that sneaked to number 1 ahead of "Footloose" and parodied another of this week's debuting artists.

Back to: Apr 15, 1984 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Apr 29, 1984

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

This Week In 1992: April 19, 1992

How things had changed by 1992. Dance music was so acceptable in the mainstream 25 years ago this week that a local club track had recently reached number 1, while a techno anthem was sitting pretty in the top 5.

Dance music was alive and well in Australia in 1992

Joining both those hits on the top 50 was another Dutch techno duo's debut single, and the latest fusion of dance beats and Indigenous music to grace the ARIA chart.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending April 19, 1992

At the top of the chart this week in 1992, rock reasserted itself as Red Hot Chili Peppers stepped up to number 1 with "Under The Bridge".

Off The Chart
Number 95 "We We" by Angélique Kidjo
Peak: number 95
The world music star made her only ARIA top 100 appearance with this track from her major label debut, Logozo, which remains her highest charting album in Australia.

Number 94 "Far Gone And Out" by The Jesus And Mary Chain
Peak: number 88
Previous single "Reverence" had been banned in the UK (and promptly hit the top 10 there), but this follow-up was a pretty straightforward indie track, which finally gave The Jesus And Mary Chain their first top 100 placing.

Number 89 "Are You Ready To Fly" by Rozalla
Peak: number 88
We saw "Faith (In The Power Of Love)" as a breaker last week - and it was swiftly followed into the top 100 by another under-performing track from club star Rozalla.

Number 86 "Kissing The Wind" by Nia Peeples
Peak: number 86
Not quite as good as "Street Of Dreams", the latest from the actress/singer was consequently not as big a chart hit in either Australia or the US.

"Ain't Gonna Get" by Baby Animals
Peak: number 65
Given their debut self-titled album had recently spent six weeks at number 1 and was still in the top 10 this week in 1992, there was little chance a fifth track from Baby Animals would set the singles chart alight. The song's concert music video was mirrored on the CD single, which contained live versions of the band's first three singles as bonus tracks.

"Ripple" by The Church
Peak: number 62
Their last studio album, Gold Afternoon Fix, had yielded their biggest hit on the ARIA chart in the form of 1990's "Metropolis", but The Church enjoyed limited commercial success with eighth album Priest=Aura and its lead single, "Ripple". Unconcerned with such things, the band consider the more experimental release to be their creative zenith.

New Entries
Number 49 "America: What Time Is Love?" by The KLF
Peak: number 40
After three top 5 hits (four, if you include "Doctorin' The Tardis"), The KLF were no more, having announced their retirement in a blaze of glory at the 1992 BRIT Awards in February. All that was left was for their other UK smash, "What Time Is Love?", to finally become a hit in Australia - and it did so (just) in the form of the reworked "America: What Time Is Love?" Even heavier than the original, the updated version of the stadium house track incorporated everything from "Aquarius" to "Ace Of Spades", and featured vocal contributions from Deep Purple's Glenn Hughes in addition to a new rap from Isaac Bello. I much preferred the original, which never advanced further than number 73 despite two attempts in 1991.

Number 43 "Help Yourself" by Julian Lennon
Peak: number 30
If it wasn't for the fact that he was coming of a number 1 single, I doubt this pleasant but kinda forgettable midtempo number by Julian Lennon would've got anywhere near the top 30. The title track of his latest album, "Help Yourself" would probably have benefitted from some beefed up production - as it was, it sounded a bit wishy-washy. At least the music video, in which Julian dressed up as various religious and spiritual characters, was fun.

Number 41 "Djäpana (Sunset Dreaming) (Gapirri Mix)" by Yothu Yindi
Peak: number 13
A month earlier, they won the ARIA Awards for Single Of The Year and Song of The Year - a distinction that no longer exists - for "Treaty (Filthy Lucre Mix)". This week, Yothu Yindi returned to the top 50 with another dance reworking of one of their songs. The original version of "Djäpana (Sunset Dreaming)" dated back to 1989's Homeland Movement album, from which it was released as a single with no success. Remixed by David Burnham, the song gave the Indigenous band another huge hit, which spent four non-consecutive weeks at its peak of number 13. The song was added to a repackaged Tribal Voice album - the original version would fall out of the chart next week and storm back into the top 20 at the end of May, with its new tracklisting seeing it go all the way to number 4.

Number 34 "James Brown Is Dead" by L.A. Style
Peak: number 7
Where 2 Unlimited led, fellow Dutch techno act L.A. Style followed with their debut single, "James Brown Is Dead". The brainchild of DJ/producer Wessel Van Diepen, who'd go on to launch Vengaboys, and rapper FX (real name: Frans Merkx), L.A. Style weren't just big in Australia and Europe, they also made inroads into the US. Although "James Brown Is Dead" only reached number 59 there, it sold enough copies to go gold and stayed on the top 100 for 20 weeks - apparently the first techno track to do well in that market. Of course, the Godfather Of Soul wasn't deceased - he'd live until Christmas Day, 2006 - and the song's unique title prompted all manner of answer tracks, like the not-that-inventive "James Brown Is Still Alive".

Number 19 "Skin To Skin" by Melissa
Peak: number 16
Shooting into the top 20 in its first week, "Skin To Skin" looked like it'd give soap star-turned-singer Melissa Tkautz her third top 5 smash. Once again co-written and co-produced by former Koo De Tah member Leon Berger, the song certainly sounded like another big hit. But then something unexpected happened - "Skin To Skin" went nowhere in its second week and then started dropping. At the end of May, no doubt after some emergency extra promotion, it ended up reaching its ultimate peak of number 16, but it quickly fell back again. Melissa's debut album, Fresh, still wasn't out yet, so it can't have been because people were buying that. Had she been a little hasty in leaving E Street to concentrate on her music career? 

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1992:

Next week: one Aussie girl group deserves another, with Teen Queens joined on the top 50 by a brand new flower hat-wearing five-piece. Plus, new hits from Prince, Metallica, Rockmelons and Midnight Oil.

Back to: Apr 12, 1992 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Apr 26, 1992

This Week In 1987: April 19, 1987

The return of the world's soon-to-be-biggest band? An ambitious double album by music's most inventive male artist? A landmark hip-hop track? In any other week, they'd be worth highlighting at the start of a post.

Only takes a moment to become stars - Mel (left) and Kim got fresh in 1987

But not when there's the debut of one of the best pop duos of the '80s to talk about instead. Responsible for my second favourite album of all time - yes, really - the pair of East London sisters burst onto the ARIA chart in 1987 with some club-influenced pop smashes. Their first track debuted this week that year and would be quickly joined on the top 50 by its chart-topping follow-up.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending April 19, 1987

At the top end of the chart this week in 1987, there was a major overhaul as Paul Lekakis's "Boom Boom (Let's Go Back To My Room)" ascended to number 1 and another four tracks pushed their way into the top 10.

Off The Chart
Number 100 "Can't Take Anymore" by The Angels
Peak: number 63
It's just typical. After all these years of having to write about their singles, the one song by The Angels I don't mind wasn't a hit. Since it was the fourth release from the already successful Howling, it's not that surprising.

Number 99 "A Trick Of The Night" by Bananarama
Peak: number 99
Given their experience in 1984-85, Bananarama should've known better than to release a moody ballad and expect it to do well. It's a shame because "A Trick Of The Night" is one of their best singles - and even came with a SAW remix.

Number 95 "Slow Train To Dawn" by The The
Peak: number 95
"Infected" had reached the top 30, but there was no such love for this follow-up, which features a pre-fame Neneh Cherry on backing vocals and in the music video.

Number 91 "Dreaming" by The Radiators
Peak: number 91
The Rads' fifth album, Nasty Habits In Nice Children, reached its peak of number 68 this week, while this subdued single from it would prove to be the band's final visit to the top 100.

"Walking Down Your Street" by The Bangles
Peak: number 56
As "Walk Like An Egyptian" fell out of the top 10, The Bangles gained some momentum with this similarly ambulatory-themed follow-up. Alas, the girl band was going to end up walking around in circles as "Walking Down Your Street" spent the next seven weeks dawdling between numbers 56 and 62. Like all the flop singles by The Bangles - and they had way too many in Australia - "Walking Down Your Street" deserved much better. Guess everyone was too busy buying Different Light, which would climb to its peak position of number 2 on the albums chart the following week. A fifth single from the album was released in Europe, but it doesn't look like "Following" came out locally.

"What's Going On" by Cyndi Lauper
Peak: number 52
The Bangles had provided guest vocals on her eighth consecutive top 20 hit, "Change Of Heart", but like them, Cyndi Lauper was facing difficulty with her latest single - another remake of a song originally performed by a man. A cover version of Marvin Gaye's landmark socially conscious anthem from 1971, "What's Going On" not only became Cyndi's first release to miss the ARIA top 20, but it peaked outside the top 50. It did, however, improve on the peak of Marvin's original, which had only reached number 69 locally despite being a massive number 2 hit in the US.

New Entries
Number 50 "Let's Go" by Wang Chung
Peak: number 14
They had one of the songs of the summer with "Everybody Have Fun Tonight" and the duo version of Wang Chung returned this week with another outrageously catchy pop song in the form of "Let's Go". With vocal duties once again shared by Jack Hues and Nick Feldman, the song became their second consecutive top 10 hit in the US, but just missed doing the same here. This would be the last time we'd see Wang Chung in the top 100.

Number 49 "Showing Out (Get Fresh At The Weekend)" by Mel & Kim
Peak: number 12
Australia really was slow off the mark sometimes in the '80s, never more so than with the debut single by sisters Mel and Kim Appleby. Released at the start of September 1986 in the UK, "Showing Out (Get Fresh At The Weekend)" had also taken its time to reach its peak there, finally getting to number 3 in late November. In Australia, the song had been bubbling under the top 100 for weeks since early 1987 before finally making its top 50 debut. Even then, it would only reach number 27 before starting to drop back down the chart. Spurred back on by the success of follow-up "Respectable", "Showing Out..." would rally and spend eight weeks inside the top 20, winding up as the year's biggest single not to reach the top 10.
As for the song itself, it was the latest hit from songwriting and production trio Stock Aitken Waterman. But where "Showing Out..." differed from "You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)" and "Venus" was that Mel & Kim were a brand new act rather than established performers coming to the Hit Factory. And unlike Princess or any number of other acts SAW had worked with up until this point, Mel & Kim became true stars. Thanks to a combination of their cheeky personalities, which were encapsulated in the lyrics and spirit of "Showing Out...", as well as their super stylish image (all those hats!) and dance moves, the sisters became instant role models to teenage girls everywhere who sang into their hairbrushes and made up routines with their friends.
Although another song, "System", had been intended as the duo's debut single, it was soon relegated to B-side status in favour of the edgier Chicago house-influenced "Showing Out..." - just one of many occasions when SAW proved they could take a club trend and turn it into pop gold. As mentioned, "Respectable" would play a big part in the success of "Showing Out..." in Australia and we'll see that debut in June. We'll pick up the Mel & Kim story then, but anyone interested in some extra credit can check out this recent interview with Mike Stock about the girls.

Number 44 "Sign O' The Times" by Prince
Peak: number 29
Few artists were as prolific as Prince in the '80s - or, in fact, ever - and to prove the point he released a double album of new material at the end of March 1987. Originally intended as a triple album, Sign O' The Times became his most acclaimed release yet, while its politically charged title track was lauded as one of the best songs of the year. With its minimal arrangement and lyrics touching upon some of the biggest social issues of the era, "Sign O' The Times" was a departure from the music fans had come to expect from Prince. Possibly as a result, it and the accompanying album were only modestly successful in Australia.

Number 40 "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)" by Beastie Boys
Peak: number 37
Next up, another (eventually) highly influential act with their breakthrough hit. Problem was: "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)" was intended as a parody of partying frat boys, but most people didn't get the joke, especially the hip-hop trio's growing audience, which was largely comprised of... partying frat boys, who were attracted by the song's fusion of rock and rap. The debaucherous, MTV-ready music video also did nothing to help Beastie Boys establish their hip-hop cred, and although the song raced into the US top 10 and Licence To Ill became the first rap number 1 on the Billboard chart, they quickly disowned it. It would be another 11 years before Beastie Boys returned to the ARIA top 50, by which time their status as inventive and inspirational artists was firmly established.

Number 34 "With Or Without You" by U2
Peak: number 9
1987 really was a changing of the guard in the world's biggest band stakes with first Bon Jovi and now U2 stepping into the void left by The Police and Dire Straits. Unlike Bon Jovi, the Irish four-piece already had some runs on the board thanks to 1984's top 5 hit, "Pride (In The Name Of Love)", and their star-making slot during Live Aid. But, to continue the metaphor, Bono and pals went supernova with the release of their fifth studio album, The Joshua Tree
The lyrics for lead single "With Or Without You" were written by Bono about the difficulty he faced balancing the touring life of a rock star with the family life of a married man - but the song was almost abandoned during the recording of the album when a satisfactory version proved elusive. When the final mix did come together, it proved to be a pivotal moment in the album's recording process. As with "One" (which I recently recapped in my 1992 posts) a few years later, finally nailing "With Or Without You" was a real breakthrough. When released, the song became the band's second ARIA top 10 hit and also topped the Billboard Hot 100. And the rest is chart-dominating history...  

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1987:

Next week: the return of one of the biggest bands of the '70s, plus a chart-topping song from an animated film and the debut single by a pair of backing singers from the biggest pop duo of the decade.

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