Wednesday, 25 July 2018

This Week In 1993: July 25, 1993

This week in 1993 on the ARIA singles chart, two instances of a common problem for musicians occured: the less successful follow-up to a smash hit debut single. 

Jeremy Jordan and Snow had two of the biggest hits of the year... and these forgotten follow-ups

In both cases, the earlier hits were still inside the top 10, while both new singles would end up stalling at the top 30 and go on to be all but forgotten about by the general public.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending July 25, 1993

A song that wasn't going to be forgotten about was still at number 1 this week in 1993. UB40 spent a third week on top with "(I Can't Help) Falling In Love With You".

Off The Chart
Number 97 "Do You Love Me Like You Say?" by Terence Trent D'Arby
Peak: number 69
Kicking off the Symphony Or Damn campaign in Australia with "She Kissed Me" had been a good move, with this UK lead single peaking 60 places lower on the ARIA chart.

Number 88 "Whatzupwitu" by Eddie Murphy
Peak: number 88
Seven years after he scored with "Party All The Time", not even the presence of Michael Jackson (in whose "Remember The Time" clip he'd appeared) on guest vocals could help Eddie Murphy land another hit with this new jack swing-lite track.

Number 87 "Jimmy Olsen's Blues" by Spin Doctors
Peak: number 86
As "Two Princes" dropped out of the top 10, the US band arrived with this follow-up, which features album title Pocket Full Of Kryptonite in its lyrics and is about the Superman photographer trying to lure Lois Lane away from the Man Of Steel.

Number 79 "Will You Be There" by Michael Jackson
Peak: number 58
And here's Jacko again with the eighth single from Dangerous - and the first to miss the top 50, although this "Man In The Mirror"-esque ballad would reach number 42 in the wake of Mchael's death in 2009.

New Entries
Number 49 "Wannagirl" by Jeremy Jordan
Peak: number 22
While "The Right Kind Of Love" moved back up inside the top 10 in its 16th week on the top 50, teen heartthrob Jeremy Jordan unleashed his follow-up, a fairly forgettable slice of watered down new jack swing that had originally been a B-side for "I'll Be There" guest vocalist Trey Lorenz. In fact, so forgettable is "Wannagirl" that, despite almost reaching the top 20, the song has been pretty much written out of pop history, with the buff blond widely considered a one-hit wonder. (Of course, he's not.) In the music video for "Wannagirl", Jeremy once again flaunted that chiselled physique, swapping the basketball court for the boxing ring as an excuse to get his shirt off - not that his fans were complaining.

Number 47 "The Honeymoon Is Over" by The Cruel Sea
Peak: number 41
I'm a bit shocked to recall this title track from The Cruel Sea's breakthrough album and the follow-up to breakthrough single "Black Stick" didn't actually reach the top 40. "The Honeymoon Is Over" seemed to be everywhere at the time and felt like a much bigger hit. Of course, the fact that the album was only in its seventh week on the chart and had recently been in the top 5 might have had something to do with this single's lack of chart success. Nevertheless, the song's classic status was cemented when it won the ARIA Awards for Song and Single Of The Year the following March.

Number 44 "Girl I've Been Hurt" by Snow
Peak: number 26
Here's our second male artist following up a still-massive hit - "Informer" slid down to number 4 this week - with a song that many people have entirely forgotten reached the top 30. And fair enough, since it's likely that without the prior success of Snow's chart-topping track, "Girl I've Been Hurt" would not have done anywhere near as well. A fairly monotonous reggae-inflected ballad, it would be the last we'd see of the Canadian performer on the top 50. If you watch the video below to refresh your memory of "Girl I've Been Hurt", spare a thought for the poor female dancers forced to cavort around in bikinis and unfastened winter coats in freezing conditions.

Number 28 "Shock To The System / Heroin" by Billy Idol
Peak: number 28
He'd been registering hits on the ARIA chart for more than a decade, including six top 10 singles, but despite crashing into the top 30 this week in 1993, Billy Idol got no further with this double A-side release from Cyberpunk. Something of a concept album inspired by Billy's interest in computers, the nascent internet and electronics, Cyberpunk was a natural progression from the synthrock we'd come to expect from him, but neither original track "Shock To The System" (which came with an LA riots-inspired music video) or cover version "Heroin" (originally performed by The Velvet Underground) were up to his usual standard.

Number 21 "Big Gun" by AC/DC
Peak: number 19
In July 1991, Guns n' Roses' "You Could Be Mine" had provided the soundtrack for Terminator 2: Judgment Day. For Arnold Schwarzenegger's latest blockbuster, Last Action Hero, it was AC/DC's turn to bring the rock to the big screen. And that's pretty much all I have to say about this song, which even the band themselves seem to have more or less forgotten about.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1993:

Next week: an '80s classic is given a boy band makeover, one of the year's best dance tracks and another hit taken from the Beverly Hills, 90210 soundtrack

Back to: Jul 18, 1993 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Aug 1, 1993

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

This Week In 1993: July 18, 1993

In between all the reggae, grunge, Eurodance and rock remakes that defined 1993, moments of pure pop were few and far between. Thank goodness, then, for the return of my favourite group (although they're techically a duo) of all time.

So ask yourself now what were Pet Shop Boys thinking with this look?

Back after a two-year absence, the synthpop pair released the first in a string of singles that dominated my year-end top 100. And they enjoyed some of their best chart action in years in Australia.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending July 18, 1993

Enjoying another week at number 1 this week in 1993 was UB40, as "(I Can't Help) Falling In Love With You" stayed on top for a second week.

Off The Chart
Number 87 "Here I Go / Hard Drugs" by The Screaming Jets
Peak: number 63
The yo-yoing fortunes of The Screaming Jets continued with this double header from second album Tear Of Thought placing them back in the 60s.

Number 86 "Elated" by Euphoria
Peak: number 66
They started their career with three consecutive top 10 hits (including two number 1s), but local dance act Euphoria hit a brick wall with this brand new single - the first featuring vocals by Holly Garnett's replacement, Jodie (later Jodhi) Meares.

Number 79 "Persuasion" by Tim Finn
Peak: number 62
He ended his brief tenure in Crowded House to return to his solo career, but this lead single from Before & After failed to take Tim Finn back into the top 50, despite being quite a pleasant track.  

Single Of The Week
"My Country" by Midnight Oil
Peak: number 52
Two years earlier, "One Country" from Blue Sky Mining had peaked just outside the top 50, and the similarly named "My Country" from Earth And Sun And Moon reached one spot lower. It was a change of fortunes for Midnight Oil, who'd made a habit of reaching the top 50 with more than one single per album previously. According to Peter Garrett, it's "a song about how the flag is often used to cover a multitude of sins and crimes - and how people hide behind the patriotism."

New Entries
Number 49 "Burnt Sienna" by Margaret Urlich
Peak: number 33
The previous two poppy singles from her second album, Chameleon Dreams, had missed the mark, and so Margaret Urlich changed tack for her next release, going with bluesy (or is it jazzy?) ballad "Burnt Sienna" - a song about as far removed from the likes of "Number One (Remember When We Danced All Night)" and "Escaping" as you could get without changing genre altogether. And, I'm reliably informed, it was also a very personal song for Margaret, written about her sister's suicide. The strategy of trying something new (and possibly some price discounting) worked, with "Burnt Sienna" taking her back into the top 40.

Number 46 "Can You Forgive Her?" by Pet Shop Boys
Peak: number 17
Last seen on the ARIA top 50 with their reinvention of U2's "Where The Streets Have No Name" - their three subsequent singles missed the top 100 completely - Pet Shop Boys made a welcome return after taking 1992 off. They did so with the first taste of fifth album Very, which I'd give a hammering over the next year, so much so that other staff members at the department store where I worked on weekends tried to have the music department banned from playing it. They weren't successful.
"Can You Forgive Her?" was a great return, and with its synth blasts and big beats, was a major departure from previous album Behaviour and more in line with some of their earlier releases. As lyrically articulate as ever, the song told the story of a guy whose girlfriend was getting annoyed because he seemed to be in love with a childhood friend, and the implication that the friend was also male was mirrored by an increased openness by the duo about their sexuality in the '90s - a fact no one could have been mistaken about given they had in store for us next...

Number 45 "Voice Of Freedom" by Freedom Williams
Peak: number 41
He'd been one of the voices of C+C Music Factory - and properly credited, too! - but rapper Freedom Williams didn't achieve the same level of success with his first venture into solo territory. Based around a sample of George Michael's "Freedom 90", "Voice Of Freedom" sounded like the kind of thing Marky Mark & The Funky Bunch would've released a couple of years earlier.

Number 40 "I'm So Into You" by SWV
Peak: number 40
While fellow new jill swing trio Jade had missed the top 50 earlier in the year, Sisters With Voices managed to land a minor hit with this former US top 10 smash. Comprised of Cheryl "Coko" Clemons, future Survivor contestant Tamara "Taj" George and Leanne "Lelee" Lyons, SWV would fare much better with a remix of the song that had preceded "I'm So Into You": debut single "Right Here".

Number 39 "Is It...?" by Melissa
Peak: number 39
It wasn't a great week for Australian pop acts associated with E Street. Like Euphoria, Melissa Tkautz's music career had been given a major boost by the recently defunct primetime soap in which she had also starred. Next to be seen on the shortlived series Paradise Beach, Melissa released this brand new song, presumably intended as the lead single from a second album. But when "Is It...?" stalled right here at number 39, so too did her singing career. Unlike "Elated", which I quite liked, I can see why "Is It...?" didn't do any better - as well as the downturn in pop in 1993, it just wasn't as good a song as the likes of "Read My Lips" or "Sexy (Is The Word)".

Number 36 "Sweat (A La La La La Long)" by Inner Circle
Peak: number 2
It really was like waiting for buses with reggae hits - you wait for one to come along for ages (if that's your thing) and then a bunch of them arrive at once. Following Snow, UB40 and Shaggy into the ARIA singles chart was this long-awaited (for them) breakthrough hit by Jamaica's Inner Circle, who'd been making music since the late '60s. One of those songs I knew would wear out its welcome very quickly, "Sweat..." spent a la la la la long time on the top 50 - half a year exactly, by which time I was well and truly sick of it. Despite being a massive worldwide hit, no attention was given at the time to the questionable nature of these lyrics: "Girl I'm gonna make you sweat/Sweat 'til you can't sweat no more/And if you cry out/I'm gonna push it, push it some more."

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1993:

Next week: two long-forgotten follow-ups to a couple of the year's biggest singles by male performers widely considered to be one-hit wonders. Plus, the latest comeback by one of the biggest male artists of the '80s.

Back to: Jul 11, 1993 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jul 25, 1993

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

This Week In 1993: July 11, 1993

Some songs are bigger than a chart position - going on to sum up a moment in time or become a statement about life. "Everybody Hurts" by R.E.M. is one of those songs.

Michael Stipe in the memorable video for "Everybody Hurts"

Although a substantial hit following its debut on the ARIA singles top 50 this week in 1993, its sentiment and message have seen its legacy go beyond sales success into something more meaningful.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending July 11, 1993

The biggest sales success of this week in 1993 was UB40's cover "(I Can't Help) Falling In Love With You", which started a seven-week run at number 1.

Off The Chart
Number 91 Caressing Swine by Died Pretty
Peak: number 74
1993 was going to be a pivotal year for this Sydney indie band, who'd just signed a major label deal with Columbia Records. The title track of this four-track EP was the first, er, taste of the upcoming Taste album.

Number 90 "Spill The Rhyme" by A Lighter Shade Of Brown
Peak: number 90
Sampling the same song that Freaked Out Flower Children took into the top 50 in 1992, this was the first chart appearance by the hip-hop duo who would score a much bigger hit the following year.

Number 84 "Pressure US" by Sunscreem
Peak: number 64
The original mix of this song was an underserving flop when it came out ahead of breakthrough single "Love U More". At least this remix gained some attention in Australia.

Number 80 "Distant Thunder" by Richard Clapton
Peak: number 80
The title track of the Australian music legend's first studio album in six years also provided him with his first top 100 appearance since 1987's "Glory Road".

Number 72 "It's On" by Naughty By Nature
Peak: number 51
Sampling jazz record "French Spice" by Donald Byrd, this follow-up to "Hip Hop Hooray" came oh so close to giving the hip-hop group a second top 50 hit from the one album - a feat they've never achieved.

Single Of The Week
"Buddy X" by Neneh Cherry
Peak: number 102
Australia had never taken to Neneh Cherry as much as the UK or the US, with her debut single, "Buffalo Stance", reaching number 3 in both countries. That classic hadn't even made the ARIA top 20, while none of the ensuing string of excellent singles from Raw Like Sushi cracked the top 50. But Australia wasn't alone in under-appreciating the singer/rapper's second album, Homebrew, which, despite being a really good collection of songs, met with relatively disappointing sales around the world. Second single "Buddy X", which really should've been much bigger didn't even make the top 100 - either in 1993 or in remixed form in 1999.

New Entries
Number 50 "Single Perfect Raindrop" by Things Of Stone & Wood
Peak: number 50
They'd started off the year with a top 10 single, and this week in 1993, Things Of Stone & Wood crept into the top 50 with the final single from debut album The Yearning. Looking and kind of sounding like one of those medieval bands of minstrels, it was fitting that the video for "Single Perfect Raindrop" was filmed in the hipster heartland of Glebe in Sydney's inner city.

Number 43 "Everybody Hurts" by R.E.M.
Peak: number 6
The three singles released thus far from Automatic For The People hadn't exactly set the ARIA chart alight, with none reaching higher than number 34. But that all changed with "Everybody Hurts", a song that became the biggest hit of R.E.M.'s career. Dealing with a topic that most people could empathise with if not identify with personally, the ballad spoke about the feeling of despair that drives some to suicide and offered a plea to those feeling like they've had enough to "hold on". 
Not exactly cheery stuff, but certainly an important message to communicate. "Everybody Hurts" is one of those songs that has transcended its original performers and, as Michael Stipe once said, "This song instantly belonged to everyone except us." Seventeen years later, an all-star ensemble (and some former UK X Factor contestants) assembled for a charity cover version to benefit those afflicted by the 2010 Haiti earthquake, and numerous other performances and recordings have been made, notably a duet by Pink and Kelly Clarkson at the 2017 American Music Awards.

Number 37 "Have I Told You Lately" by Rod Stewart
Peak: number 12
From a song that went on to be covered numerous times, we come now to Rod Stewart's second remake of Van Morrison's "Have I Told You Lately". Originally released by Van in 1989, the song was recorded by Rod for his 1991 album, Vagabond Heart. Two years later, he included it in his MTV Unplugged set list and the live version was lifted as a single from the Unplugged...And Seated album. Rod's biggest hit here since "Rhythm Of My Heart", and a top 5 smash in the UK and the US, it was just another of his '90s singles I avoided as best I could.

Number 31 "Don't Tell Me What To Do" by Baby Animals
Peak: number 24
The highest two new entries this week came from Australian acts that had a lot to live up to - a chart-topping album each. In the case of Baby Animals, they finally got around to releasing the lead single from second album Shaved And Dangerous, having kept themselves in the top 50 (just) with 1992's standalone single, "Impossible To Fly". Although it had a pretty catchy chorus, "Don't Tell Me What To Do" was not as big as you might've expected from the band whose self-titled debut had spent almost a year on the albums top 50, but that could be because people just went out and bought Shaved... instead. Unlike Baby Animals, which took months to get to number 1, the follow-up went straight in at its number 2 peak. "Don't Tell...", meanwhile, would be Baby Animals' final top 50 single.

Number 18 "Never Miss Your Water" by Diesel
Peak: number 12
Like Baby Animals, Diesel was coming off a number 1 album that had been one of the top 5 biggest sellers of 1992. And he delivered yet again with The Lobbyist following Hepfidelity to the top of the albums chart and its lead single, "Never Miss Your Water", giving him a ninth top 20 hit (including his tally with The Injectors). I'd actually pretty much forgotten all about this song until now, but I have to say that it's my second favourite of Diesel's songs after "Man Alive". Of course, the fact that I could have forgotten about my second favourite song gives you an indication of what I think of much of the rest of his output...

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1993:

Next week: the return of one of my favourite acts of all time, another reggae smash and a couple of minor hits from artists that'd burst onto the scene with hugely succesful songs.

Back to: Jul 4, 1993 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jul 18, 1993

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

This Week In 1993: July 4, 1993

By 1993, sampling was well-established as part of music - and was generally being done much more legally than at first. 

Great samples helped PM Dawn and Us3 into the top 50 

This week that year, two singles based heavily on samples made their debut on the ARIA top 50 and also worked well as new songs in their own right.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending July 4, 1993

A track with a couple of samples in it was still at number 1 this week in 1993. "Informer" by Snow spent its fifth and final week on top.

Off The Chart
Number 96 "Space Time Disco" by Def FX
Peak: number 70
Not even their most commercial offering yet could prevent Def FX being unlucky on the chart yet again. The band would eventually benefit from continuing to plug away and land a top 50 hit... but not until 1994.

Number 92 "Break It Down Again" by Tears For Fears
Peak: number 82
With Curt Smith off doing his (far superior) solo thing, Roland Orzabal was left to fly the Tears For Fears flag on his own with this lead single from the Elemental album.

Number 89 "Animal Nitrate" by Suede
Peak: number 89
In the UK, this punningly titled track gave Suede their first top 10 hit, but Australia was less keen, with the band failing to land a second hit and not returning to the top 100 for another six years.

Number 81 "Down With The King" by Run-DMC
Peak: number 81
Returning with their first studio album in three years, hip-hop trio Run-DMC were back on form musically and in terms of their US chart success, but this style of hip-hop was probably not mainstream enough for Australian palates at this point.

Single Of The Week
"Pets" by Porno For Pyros
Peak: number 68
Jane's Addiction had never crossed over in Australia, with "Been Caught Stealing" stalling at number 56 just ahead of the grunge explosion at the end of 1991. From the ashes of that band came Porno For Pyros, which included singer Perry Farrell and drummer Stephen Perkins in its line-up. The subdued, psychedelic "Pets" was the closest the band ever came to scoring a hit locally.  

New Entries
Number 50 "Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)" by Us3
Peak: number 32
Our first sample-ridden hit comes from jazz fusion group Us3, who spliced together hooks from Blue Note Records' back catalogue with present day hip-hop. On their breakthrough hit "Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)" they incorporated elements from Herbie Hancock's 1964 track "Cantaloupe Island". A flop first time around in their homeland of the UK, the song reached the US top 10 before catching on around the world. The type of tune that continues to pop up in films and ads, and on TV shows, it was the perfect blend of old and new genres.

Number 42 "Looking Through Patient Eyes" by P.M. Dawn
Peak: number 20
Not since their breakthrough hit, "Set Adrift On Memory Bliss", had P.M. Dawn visited the ARIA top 20 and they did so for a second time following the same template as that top 10 smash. Taking an easily recognisable hook from an '80s classic - in this case George Michael's "Father Figure" - and using it as the foundation of a new song, the duo released what I consider to be their best song in "Looking Through Patient Eyes". It came out just ahead of their second album, on which the Cordes brothers once again indulged their love for a lengthy title: The Bliss Album...? (Vibrations Of Love And Anger And The Ponderance Of Live And Existence). Deep.

Number 27 "Gloria" by Van Morrison / John Lee Hooker
Peak: number 22
It didn't feature a sample, but the week's highest new entry did revisit the past, with Van Morrison updating a song he'd first recorded with his former band, Them, in 1964. A collaboration with blues legend John Lee Hooker, this new version of "Gloria" matched the exact peak the original version reached in Australia in 1966.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1993:

Next week: new chart hits by top 50 regulars R.E.M., Rod Stewart, Diesel and Baby Animals.

Back to: Jun 27, 1993 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jul 11, 1993

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

The first Australian singles chart of the 1980s - part 2

JUMP TO: 50-26 II 25-1

Originally posted in 2018. Updated in 2020.

We're halfway through our look back at the first Australian singles chart of the 1980s - if you missed numbers 50-26, click on the link above. 

In 1980, ARIA didn't yet exist and there was certainly no nationally available top 50 printout music fans could pick up from record stores. So I made one:

Australian Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending January 13, 1980

Let's carry on counting down numbers 25 to 1, which I have to say were a pretty good start to music's best decade...

Number 25 "Heartache Tonight" by Eagles
Peak: number 13
While their previous two albums had both reached number 1 in Australia, Eagles' singles had a much more modest reception locally, especially compared to their tally of five chart-topping singles in the US, including this lead single from The Long Run. Later sampled by Haim in "The Wire", "Heartache Tonight" did give Eagles their best-ever singles chart performance in Australia - surprisingly, "Hotel California" had only reached number 60.

Number 24 "I Was Made For Lovin' You" by KISS
Peak: number 2
Similarly, face-painted rockers KISS had been more of an albums act up until 1979, when they almost went all the way to number 1 with this rock/disco hybrid, created to prove a point about how easy disco songs were to write. One of the songwriters involved was Desmond Child, who we'd be hearing a lot more from as the '80s progressed, and it was one of the first instances of it being OK that a rock group who traditionally wrote their own songs had enlisted the help of an external songwriter. More from KISS soon...

Number 23 "Shape I'm In" by Jo Jo Zep &The Falcons
Peak: number 22
Still moving up on the first chart of the '80s was this follow-up to Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons' breakthrough hit, "Hit And Run". Another reggae-tinged rock track - very on trend given the success of The Police at this point - "Shape I'm In" was the third of five top 50 hits the band had before splitting in 1983, following which Jo Camilleri moved on to form The Black Sorrows.

Number 22 "Stay With Me Till Dawn" by Judie Tzuke
Peak: number 8
Also moving in the right direction was this exquisite tune by 23-year-old Elton John signing Judie Tzuke, who has never managed another hit again despite a recording career that continues to this day. A track that sounds as good now as it did in 1979, "Stay With Me Till Dawn" has lived on thanks to remake and samples, notably a version by 90s dance act Lucid and being incorporated into Mylo's "Need You Tonite".

Number 21 "Please Don't Go" by K.C. & The Sunshine Band
Peak: number 1
Another song that would receive a new lease of life in the '90s thanks to the smash cover version by KWS was this biggest hit by disco favourites K.C. & The Sunshine Band, who surprisingly had only managed one top 10 hit up until this point. "Please Don't Go" would rectify that, reaching number 1 in February.

Number 20 "Choir Girl" by Cold Chisel
Peak: number 14
In Part 1, we saw the debut singles by The Radiators and Australian Crawl, and while "Choir Girl" wasn't the first song released by Cold Chisel, the lead single from the then-still-upcoming East album was their first major hit. That's right, like "Hotel California", "Khe Sahn" had originally missed the top 40, peaking at number 41 in 1978. 

Number 19 "Sad Eyes" by Robert John
Peak: number 9
He'd been recording since the late '50s and had previously reached the Australian chart in 1972 with a version of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight", but this, it has to be said, rather bland former US chart-topper gave Robert John Pedrick Jr his greatest success locally.

Number 18 "Born To Be Alive" by Patrick Hernandez
Peak: number 1
Next up, a former Australian chart-topper that was anything but bland: disco classic "Born To Be Alive", which not only did well here but topped charts and sold millions right around the world. And then... nothing, with Patrick Hernandez becoming the very definition of a one-hit wonder.

Number 17 "Driver's Seat" by Sniff 'N' The Tears
Peak: number 13
Speaking of one-hit wonders, here's the only hit for British band Sniff 'N' The Tears, who have a pretty complicated history thanks to the multiple incarnations of the group that have existed over the years. The one constant is frontman Paul Roberts, who wrote this song, which still holds up really well today.

Number 16 "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" by The Charlie Daniels Band
Peak: number 14
One of the best things about the 1980s was that as the decade progressed, country music got less and less of a look-in on the chart. But as the decade dawned, country hits weren't that uncommon a sight on the Australian top 50, especially if, like this bluegrass track, they'd previously crossed over onto the Billboard Hot 100. I got through a minute-and-a-half of this before I had to turn it off. You?

Number 15 "We Belong To The Night" by Ellen Foley
Peak: number 15
As Meat Loaf's long-time backing singer, she'd provided the female vocals on his "Paradise By The Dashboard Light", and on this debut single, singer/actress Ellen Foley sounds just as overblown and dramatic. But "We Belong To The Night" is actualy quite good in a "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" kind of way, without being a Jim Steinman composition.

Number 14 "Boy Oh Boy" by Racey
Peak: number 12
1979 had been great for Racey, who'd scored back-to-back number 1s with "Lay Your Love On Me" and "Some Girls". Obviously, such success is impossible to sustain, although did anyone predict just how quickly the British pop band would fall from favour, with "Boy Oh Boy" ending up as their last big hit. Then again, it was pretty repetitive for a song that's under three minutes.

Number 13 "Goose Bumps" by Christie Allen
Peak: number 3
One of my earliest musical memories thanks to its appearance on K-tel compilation tape Hot Nights City Lights, which my family owned, "Goose Bumps" remains one of my favourite songs of all time. The third single by the late Christie Allen, it was the first of her two top 5 hits in Australia.

Number 12 "Cars" by Gary Numan
Peak: number 9
If you wanted to know how music would develop in the '80s, you needed to look no further than this debut solo single by Gary Numan. Synthpop classic "Cars" followed where "Are 'Friends' Electric?", his recent hit as frontman for Tubeway Army, had led, its clinical electronic sound a sign of things to come on the chart.

Number 11 "I Don't Like Mondays" by The Boomtown Rats
Peak: number 1
The more things change, the more they stay the same. In 1979, incredulity at an American school shooting prompted Bob Geldof to write this two-week chart-topper. In 2018, "I Don't Like Mondays" stands out as easily the Irish band's biggest hit in Australia - and we're all incredulous at how common school shootings have become in the US.

Number 10 "Message In A Bottle" by The Police
Peak: number 5
It wasn't just Australian bands like Cold Chisel and Australian Crawl that were becoming massive as the '70s turned into the '80s. So too were The Police, who landed their first major hit in this country with the lead single from second album Reggatta De Blanc. In the years to come, the trio would dominate the singles and albums chart with a string of huge releases.

Number 9 "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)" by ABBA
Peak: number 8
A group that knew a thing or two about a string of huge releases were up to their 14th top 10 hit and showing no sign of running out of steam at this point. A brand new track included on Greatest Hits Vol. 2, "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)" managed to sound like classic ABBA while also feeling completely fresh at the same time. Of course, anyone with half an interest in pop music will know the synth hook from the song became the basis of Madonna's "Hung Up" 25 years later - only the second time ABBA allowed their music to be sampled.

Number 8 "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)" by Donna Summer / Barbra Streisand
Peak: number 8
More big-name disco now, and unlike today, when everyone has guested on everyone else's song and has countless collaborations in their discography, this single was an event. The combination of two of the biggest female artists in the world, "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)" was also a bit of a wasted opportunity - although the duelling divas recording the duet together, they didn't film a music video nor ever perform the song together live.

Number 7 "Tusk" by Fleetwood Mac
Peak: number 3
Like The Police, Fleetwood Mac had not breached the top 10 previously, not even with any of the singles from the mega-successful Rumours album ("Dreams" was the biggest hit, peaking at number 19). That finally changed with this Lindsey Buckingham-penned lead single from the double album of the same name - and, as it would turn out, "Tusk" would end up being the band's only top 10 single in Australia.

Number 6 "Babe" by Styx
Peak: number 3
Without wanting to sound like I'm repeating myself, this power ballad from American band Styx finally gave them a top 10 single locally and also ended up as their only top 10 hit. Written by singer Dennis DeYoung for his wife, it was not originally intended to be an official Styx recording, but wound up on their ninth studio album, Cornerstone, when its hit potential was realised.

Number 5 "Dream Police" by Cheap Trick
Peak: number 5
Joining the gang in gaining their first top 10 hit at the turn of the decade were Cheap Trick with this dramatic title track from their fourth album. "Dream Police" had actually been around since the band's debut album and had evolved to the point where they felt it fit for release.

Number 4 "Sure Know Something" by KISS
Peak: number 4
Continuing to ride the wave of their popularity in Australia, KISS followed "I Was Made For Lovin' You" with another disco-influenced single from Dynasty and once again found themselves in the national top 5. They'd return there later in the year with "Shandi" and complete a triumphant tour of the country in November.

Number 3 "Computer Games" by Mi-Sex
Peak: number 1
The top 3 of the first chart of the '80s was comprised entirely of number 1 hits, starting with this one-week chart-topper from New Zealand-spawned, Australian-based synthpop band Mi-Sex. On a par with anything coming from Europe, the electronic track was instantly memorable and incredibly timely, with video games like Atari increasingly finding their way into homes right around the country.

Number 2 "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" by Michael Jackson
Peak: number 1
On his was to spending three weeks at number 1 later in January, Michael Jackson was obviously no stranger to chart success, having already ruled the Australian top 50 with 1972's "Ben", and enjoyed a number of smaller hits with his brothers. Then came "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough", which not only kicked off a whole new phase in his career, but signalled the start of the era of music megastars, who thrived by utilising the medium of music video and releasing event albums packed with singles. 
Off The Wall was one of those big LPs, Michael's first release through his solo deal with Epic Records. Co-produced by Michael with Quincy Jones, it was Michael's musical coming of age, a slick mix of pop, R&B, funk and disco that was packed with hooks. The first of five singles from the album, "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" was a joyous burst of energy, defying you not to get up and dance. It also showcased the vocal style for which Michael would become famous (and which would spawn countless imitators): all falsetto and vocal ad libs. Even as a five-year-old, I could recognise that this song was something special - and I wasn't alone.

Number 1 "Video Killed The Radio Star" by The Buggles
Peak: number 1
Before it was famously the first song aired on American MTV in 1981, "Video Killed The Radio Star" helped usher in the new decade in Australia as it remained at the top of the local singles chart for seven weeks across December and January. But did you know it was a remake? Co-written by The Buggles members Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes with Bruce Woolley, it was actually recorded first by the latter with his band, The Camera Club. 
It was the version by Trevor and Geoff (released as The Buggles' debut single), however, that took off, becoming the final number 1 of the '70s and the first number 1 of the '80s. A comment on how technology was changing the music industry, "Video Killed The Radio Star" would be The Buggles' only hit in Australia and after the release of their second album, the duo would call time on the project, but as one-hit wonders go, they don't get more awesome. A fitting way to start music's best decade.

Listen to this week's chart on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1980 (updated weekly):

Next week: A big hit from an Australian double threat and top 50 misses from the likes of Leo Sayer and XTC.

                                                                     GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jan 20, 1980

Monday, 2 July 2018

The first Australian singles chart of the 1980s - part 1

JUMP TO: 50-26 II 25-1

Originally posted in 2018. Updated in 2020.

When I started this blog six years ago, I took a look back at the first ARIA chart I collected from July 1987. Since then, I've recapped every ARIA top 50 from mid-1983 (when they began) to the end of 1994. Of course, even though there weren't national chart printouts available at record stores before then, there was a weekly list compiled of the biggest singles in the country each week: the Kent Music Report, which David Kent had put together since 1974.

We'll see more kids' characters than female singers in this half of the top 50

To mark the sixth anniversary of me starting this trip down memory lane, I thought it would be fun to go back to the very first week of music's best decade and see what was on the Kent Music Report top 50 at the start of 1980. I'll count down numbers 50 to 26 in this post and complete the trip to number 1 in Part 2.

2020 UPDATE: I'll be continuing to look back at the singles chart from 1980 throughout this year and have added the Off The Chart section to my original post.

Off The Chart
Number 100 "This Is It" by Kenny Loggins
Peak: number 85
It just missed the US top 10, but this lead single from Kenny Loggins' third album, Keep The Fire, flopped locally. The Grammy-winning track was co-written by Michael McDonald, who provides backing vocals.

Number 99 "Arabian Nights" by Dalton Brothers
Peak: number 85
Previously known as The Daltons, this Australian band worked Middle Eastern influences into this track, which from what I can determine was their final release.

Number 97 "Midnight Wind" by John Stewart
Peak: number 97
Earlier single "Gold" had reached the top 5, but this next single from the Lindsey Buckingham co-produced Bombs Away Dream Babies didn't have the same success, despite the presence of Stevie Nicks on backing vocals once again.

Number 50 "Midnight Blue / Diary Of Horace Wimp" by Electric Light Orchestra
Peak: number 48
Australia seems to have been the only country where these two tracks from Discovery were issued as a double A-side, but it didn't do ELO much good, with the pairing not progressing much further. 

Number 49 "Love Will Find A Way" by The Reels
Peak: number 39
The week's first new entry was the debut release by Sydney-based band The Reels, with the bouncy and unique "Love Will Find A Way" finding its way into the top 40 thanks to a little help from Countdown. It'd be a few more years before the band enjoyed a really big single, with the first of two hit cover versions they'd release during their career.

Number 48 "Don't Bring Me Down" by Electric Light Orchestra
Peak: number 6
The follow-up to this top 10 smash might have been struggling to gain traction a couple of places lower, but it did have a lot to live up to. A highlight of ELO's career, "Don't Bring Me Down" spent its 19th and final week in the top 50. It also happens to have been one of my favourite songs from 1979... when I was four.

Number 47 "Blame It On The Boogie" by The Jacksons
Peak: number 4
Here's one of my favourite songs from 1978, which was belatedly making its way up the Australian chart as the '80s began. I'm guessing it was spurred on by the success of a tune we'll right at the other end of the top 50.

Number 46 "Rise" by Herb Alpert
Peak: number 19
He had two Australian chart-toppers in the 1960s, but trumpet player/musician/record label founder Herb Alpert hadn't been inside the top 50 in over 10 years... until he returned to favour with this US number 1 instrumental. The Grammy Award-winning song will be familiar to hip-hop fans, being used in Notorious B.I.G. track "Hypnotize" a couple of decades later.

Number 45 "Out Of The Blue" by The Angels
Peak: number 29
This 12" release of the No Exit track had given The Angels a third top 30 hit in November 1979, and as the '80s began, the band were recovering from a New Year's Eve concert on the Sydney Opera House steps that had turned riotous, with singer Doc Neeson and bass player Chris Bailey hit by flying bottles and requiring stitches. Bigger things for The Angels were just around the corner, with a new record deal signed in the next couple of months. 

Number 44 "Cruel To Be Kind" by Nick Lowe
Peak: number 12
Another song that had reached its highest position in November was this debut hit for British singer/songwriter Nick Lowe. "Cruel To Be Kind" seemed to have a thing for the number 12 spot, peaking at the same position in the UK, the US, Canada and New Zealand. Nick would return to the Australian top 50 in six years' time with "I Knew The Bride (When She Used To Rock 'n' Roll)"

Number 43 "C'mon Aussie C'mon (The New Era)" by The Mojo Singers
Peak: number 10
Plenty of songs have had a helping hand up the chart after being used in TV commercials, but here's a TV jingle that was subsequently turned into a song. Written to promote the Nine Network's World Series Cricket, "C'mon Aussie C'mon" had topped the chart for two weeks in February 1979. Refreshed in time for the 1979/80 season, a new version of the song, once again recorded by advertising agency Mojo, returned the sporting anthem to the top 10. 

Number 42 "Still" by Commodores
Peak: number 38
The last time Lionel Richie and friends had reached the Australian top 50, they'd gone all the way to number 1 here with US chart-topping soul ballad "Three Times A Lady". Although this track from the Midnight Magic album also reached number 1 on the Billboard chart, its reception locally was considerably more muted, having peaked just inside the top 40 in mid-December.

Number 41 "We Don't Talk Anymore" by Cliff Richard
Peak: number 3
It'd been three years between hits for Cliff Richard, whose last top 50 appearance had been with number 3 single "Devil Woman" in 1976. As well as hitting that same peak with "We Don't Talk Anymore", the Peter Pan of Pop returned to the top of the UK chart for the first time in 11 years and would be a much more regular hitmaker in the years to follow.

Number 40 "Whatever You Want" by Status Quo
Peak: number 22
Also returning to the Australian chart after a lengthy gap was British rock band Status Quo, with this title track of their 12th studio album. "Whatever You Want", which years later would feature in a truly awful ad campaign for Coles supermarkets, would be the Quo's final top 50 appearance locally despite the fact that the band are still together today.

Number 39 "Confrontation" by The Aliens
Peak: number 36
From some well-established international acts returning the chart we turn now to an Australian band making its first top 50 appearance. Combining throwback rock sounds with new wave stylings, Melbourne's The Aliens were still climbing with their debut single, which was produced by Charles Fisher, who'd go on to produce some of the most successful local albums of all time by Moving Pictures, 1927 and Savage Garden.

Number 38 "Rainbow Connection" by Kermit
Peak: number 14
I was a huge Muppets fan at this time in my life, and I recall seeing The Muppet Movie and loving this song performed by Kermit the Frog in the film's opening minutes. On its way to a top 15 peak in the wake of the movie's mid-December Australian release, the Oscar-nominated song became the Jim Henson franchise's signature song - and I defy anyone to watch the clip now and not a) tear up and b) disappear down a YouTube wormhole of Muppets-related videos.

Number 37 "Let's Go" by The Cars
Peak: number 6
Next up, it's new wave pioneers The Cars with the first of their three Australian top 10 hits, which had reached its peak in October. Although written by Ric Ocasek, lead vocals on "Let's Go" were handled by the band's other singer, Benjamin Orr.

Number 36 "Better Love Next Time" by Dr Hook
Peak: number 24
Although a couple of their biggest hits were still to come in the early '80s, Dr Hook will always represent the '70s to me, and that blend of country and soft rock that proliferated throughout the decade. The lead single from the band's ninth album, Sometimes You Win, "Better Love Next Time" also appeared on their 1980 compilation Greatest Hits, which was one of the only contemporary albums my parents bought during my childhood.

Number 35 "She's In Love With You" by Suzi Quatro
Peak: number 30
Another artist who personifies the '70s is original rock chick and Happy Days guest star Suzi Quatro, who'd racked up three number 1 hits in 1973-74. Although she also had one more top 10 hit up her sleeve, her best days were behind her, and even this song written by hitmakers Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn could only climb a few more places.

Number 34 "Comin' Home" by The Radiators
Peak: number 33
While my parents liked the soothing tones of Dr Hook, my eldest sister thought The Rads ruled. "Comin' Home" was their debut single, and I have to admit I'm surprised to see it feature on this chart since I would've sworn it came out later. After this solid start, things went down (sorry!) with the pub band's next single, "Gimme Head", which missed the top 100 entirely.

Number 33 "Maybe" by Thom Pace
Peak: number 23
I have a vague recollection of seeing The Life And Times Of Grizzly Adams on TV... and then swiftly changing channels, but I don't really recall this limp theme song, which reached its highest point in November. And I'm sure in about five minutes' time I'll have forgotten how the dreary ballad goes... with any luck.

Number 32 "Sunburn" by Graham Gouldman
Peak: number 26
Pop tune or advertising jingle - you be the judge. The theme song for the Farrah Fawcett movie of the same name was a solo project from the 10cc and Wax member, but one that is nowhere near as good as the best songs by those bands.

Number 31 "Escape (The PiƱa Colada Song)" by Rupert Holmes
Peak: number 3
He had four albums to his name already, but it wasn't until Rupert Holmes released this track from fifth album Partners In Crime - and agreed to give the song its subtitle - that his career took off. The song about a man who answers a personals ad from his "own lovely lady" topped the US chart and made the Australian top 3, but after its runaway success at the dawn of the decade, it soon became written off as cheesy. Proving all things are cyclical, "Escape" has enjoyed quite a resurgence this century thanks to its almost constant use in films and TV shows, recently in the first Guardians Of The Galaxy movie.

Number 30 "A Little Boy's Christmas Prayer" by Keith McGowan
Peak: number 30
To quote this spoken word festive release, "I just don't know where to begin." What even is this? And, more importantly, who was buying it? With a twangy version of "Silent Night" in the background, radio DJ Keith McGowan delivered this sob story of a tale about a boy who'd lost his parents on Christmas Day the year before. I don't want to sound hard-hearted, but this is the worst idea for a seasonal record ever.

Number 29 "Girls Talk" by Dave Edmunds
Peak: number 9
This song written by Elvis Costello (and later released as a B-side by him) brought Dave Edmunds back to the Australian top 10 for the first time in seven years, having previously visited there on two other occasions. A last hurrah for the Welsh singer, "Girls Talk" was his final hit locally.

Number 28 "Ti Amo" by Umberto Tozzi
Peak: number 25
"Blame It On The Boogie" wasn't the oldest song on the first countdown of the '80s. This ballad by Italian singer Umberto Tozzi had been released in 1977 and eventually found favour down under. "Ti Amo" was one of two Umberto songs later covered - and turned into monster hits - by Laura Branigan. The other: "Gloria".

Number 27 "Beautiful People" by Australian Crawl
Peak: number 22
Like The Radiators, Australian Crawl were a brand new band charting with their debut single at this point in time. A modest success, "Beautiful People" has since become one of the band's best known songs and kicked off a string of hits culminating with the chart-topping Semantics EP.

Number 26 "The Smurf Song" by Father Abraham
Peak: number 22
Proof that even in 1980, music could be horrendous, this novelty single dated back to 1977, when The Smurfs were still just characters in a comic strip and not yet Saturday morning TV entertainment for kids (including me) around the world. Recorded by Dutch musician Pierre Kartner, "The Smurf Song" had reached number 2 in the UK in mid-1978 and slowly finagled its way into the Australian chart as the decade ended.

Listen to this week's chart on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1980 (updated weekly):

In Part 2: the worst is behind us! There's nothing as bad as "The Smurf Song" or "A Little Boy's Christmas Prayer" in the first top 25 of the '80s. Instead, get set for classic after classic from the likes of KISS, ABBA, The Police and Cheap Trick, plus some long-forgotten obscurities.