Saturday, 9 March 2013

The Best Of 1992 - part 1

JUMP TO: 100-76 II 75-51 II 50-26 II 25-1

1992 was a momentous year for many reasons - not least of which was that it was my final year of high school. Naturally, the songs on this particular top 100 bring back a lot of memories associated with studying for final exams and then enjoying a long summer between Year 12 and university.

En Vogue freed their minds... and greater success followed in 1992

One song that doesn't make my list is the tune that played while my year walked into our final assembly. My pick would have been "This Used To Be My Playground", which was released that year. Instead, we got the Guns 'n' Roses version of "Knockin' On Heaven's Door", which had also come out as a single in 1992.

While I wasn't into anything by the Gunners (and cursed every time "November Rain" came on Rage and I had to wait for nearly 10 minute till it was over), here is the first batch of songs I did like in 1992...

Number 100 "I Will Never Leave You" by Euphoria
Mentioned in Part 4 

Number 99 "It's My Life" by Dr Alban
Everyone's favourite dentist-turned-performer, Dr Alban had a big European hit with "It's My Life" in 1992, but it wouldn't make the Australian top 50 until after his 1994 single "Sing Hallelujah" reached our top 10 - and even then, "It's My Life" only crept to number 43. 

Number 98 "Gold" by East 17
Mentioned in Part 3 

Number 97 "Beauty And The Beast" by Celine Dion / Peabo Bryson
The 1980s hadn't been a great decade for animated Disney movies, but that all changed with the release of The Little Mermaid at the tail end (sorry) of 1989. In 1991, Beauty And The Beast continued the Disney renaissance and even came with a pop version of its theme song. Performed by then-newcomer Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson, who hadn't had a big hit in years, the slushy duet was a global smash and paved the way for many more big ballads from animated films. And yes, I liked the song.

Number 96 "Winter" by Tori Amos
Mentioned in Part 2

Number 95 "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)" by En Vogue
If 1990 had been a good year for vocal quartet En Vogue, then 1992 was a great one, with the singles from Funky Divas solidifying their standing as the world's biggest girl group of the time. Australia was proving to be a bit slow on the uptake, although "My Lovin'..." and "Free Your Mind" (number 115 on this list) did become their first two top 40 hits locally.

Number 94 "Goodnight Girl" by Wet Wet Wet
Over the previous few years, the former teen mag pin-ups had abandoned their poppy style for a more serious sound and image (cue: long hair and bad shirts) - and their fans had also deserted them, with the first two singles from 1991's High On The Happy Side bombing in the UK. Luckily, they still had this ballad up their collective sleeve and it completely turned their fortunes around, going to number 1 in the UK for four weeks. Who knows: without this song, the Wets' cover of "Love Is All Around" may never have come to pass...

Number 93 "Love Is Holy" by Kim Wilde
Mentioned in Part 3

Number 92 "Good For Me" by Amy Grant
Proving her 1991 crossover from the Christian music scene with "Baby Baby" was no fluke, Amy continued to release singles from her Heart In Motion album, including this US top 10 hit. Her success encouraged other Christian pop artists like Michael W Smith and Kathy Troccoli (who just missed my top 100 with her Diane Warren-penned single, "Everything Changes") to try their luck in the big bad mainstream market.

Number 91 "Would I Lie To You?" by Charles & Eddie
A big single around the world in 1992 (number 3 in Australia, number 1 in the UK, number 13 in the US), "Would I Lie To You?" would be the only significant hit from Charles Pettigrew and Eddie Chacon's debut album, Duophonic. They released one more album, the badly titled Chocolate Milk, in 1995 without success. Sadly, Charles passed away in 2001, while Eddie returned to songwriting and later formed a new music duo with his wife.

Number 90 "Step It Up" by Stereo MCs
1992 was the year this British dance group went from cool underground act to bona fide chart stars in the US and UK. "Connected" was their bigger hit (it also sneaked into the Australian top 50), but I preferred this follow-up single. We'll see another of the singles from Connected in my 1993 list, but then that was it for over a decade, with Stereo MCs not releasing another studio album until 2001's disappointing Deep Down And Dirty.

Number 89 "Bettadaze" by Boom Crash Opera
With Richard Pleasance gone for good, the rest of BCO carried on without him and released this first single from their upcoming Fabulous Beast album in 1992. By only reaching number 43, it didn't augur well for that album - but I was still a fan.

Number 88 "Love Is Everywhere" by Cicero
Having spent the last few years ressurecting the careers of Dusty Springfield and Liza Minnelli, Pet Shop Boys launched their own record label, Spaghetti Records, in 1991 and snapped up David Cicero as their first signing. Co-produced by PSB, "Love Is Everywhere" was Cicero's second single and his sole UK top 40 hit. Since he lived in Scotland, someone thought it would be a good idea to put bagpipes on the track. Thankfully, it worked.

Number 87 "Do For You" by Euphoria
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 86 "Temple Of Dreams" by Messiah
Rave and techno music was massive in the UK in the early '90s, and while a lot of acts like Altern8 and Quadrophonia were too tuneless for my liking, I was quite partial to the work of Messiah. Featuring dialogue snippets from The Running Man, "Temple Of Dreams" was my favourite track from the duo, who also covered Donna Summer's "I Feel Love" in 1992.

Number 85 "(Love Moves In) Mysterious Ways" by Julia Fordham
This was a song I was introduced to courtesy of DJ Graham Dene and radio show UK Chart Attack (which aired after American Top 40 concluded on a Sunday night). Former backing singer Julia had been releasing albums since 1988, but this single would finally give her a top 20 hit in the UK. It appeared on the soundtrack to a Demi Moore film called The Butcher's Wife, which would otherwise be long-forgotten if it weren't for the fact that the performance earnt Demi a Razzie nomination.

Number 84 "The Way I Feel About You" by Karyn White
All good things must come to an end, and this single would be the last major US hit from Karyn. She did release two more tracks from Ritual Of Love in 1992, but neither "Walkin' The Dog" nor "Do Unto Me" was a great single choice - and there were better songs she could have chosen.

Number 83 "What About Your Friends" by TLC
Mentioned in Part 2

Number 82 "Do You Feel Like I Feel" by Belinda Carlisle
This second single from Live Your Life Be Free holds a rather dubious record - it was Belinda's final top 100 hit in the US. And, as with Karyn White's Ritual Of Love, two further tracks, "Half The World" and "Little Black Book", were released from the album - but only the British record-buying public seemed interested in those. Her home country might have abandoned her (although in America's defence, this was also about the time Belinda left to live in France), but Belinda hadn't quite finished on the UK and Australian charts.

Number 81 "Without You" by Girlfriend
Aah, Girlfriend - keeping makers of silly hats in business all year. Australia's own pre-Spice Girls five-piece girl group, Girlfriend had stormed to the top of the ARIA chart with debut single "Take It From Me" in June. It wasn't until this third single was released that I became interested. Bizarrely, my most vivid memory of this drippy ballad is writing out the lyrics in French (or my best attempt at a translation) in an Ancient History class. Don't ask me why.

Number 80 "Joy" by Soul II Soul
It had been a year and a half since they'd last released a record, during which time music had changed dramatically, but "Joy" took Soul II Soul back into the UK top 5. The bad news: it would be the last hit of such a magnitude they'd have - although they'd keep releasing quality tunes for most of the rest of the decade.

Number 79 "If You Don't Love Me" by Prefab Sprout
They'd been around for the entire '80s but I'd never really taken much notice of Prefab Sprout until this single, taken from their best of album, A Life Of Surprises. "If You Don't Love Me" was subsequently covered by Kylie Minogue as a bonus track for "Confide In Me" and she has since performed her ballad take on the song in concert - but I prefer this original version, which is much more uptempo and sounds not unlike something you would've found on a Pet Shop Boys release from the time.

Number 78 "Boy In The Moon" by Margaret Urlich
Having successfully conquered the Australian charts in 1990 with Safety By Numbers, New Zealand-born Margaret returned with her second album, Chameleon Dreams, in 1992. "Boy In The Moon" became her second-highest charting single (behind "Escaping") and the album reached the same peak of number 5 as her debut LP, but overall, sales were about a third as high. Margaret released her last studio album in 1995, and sales dwindled even further, at which point she dropped out of the music scene altogether.

Number 77 "Love Makes The World Go Round" by Don-E
Here's another song I first heard on UK Chart Attack and I always remember it being compared to Alison Limerick's "Make It On My Own" (which is still to come on this list). It's true: the melodies of both songs are kind of similar. A top 20 hit in the UK, "Love Makes The World Go Round" was the biggest release for Donald McLean, who wasn't heard from again until 1998, when he teamed up with our very own Deni Hines for the duet, "Delicious".

Number 76 "Be My Baby" by Vanessa Paradis
Better known these days as the former not-officially-Mrs Johnny Depp, Vanessa was a bit of singing sensation in Europe in the late '80s/early '90s. At the age of 14, she scored a massive French-language hit with "Joe Le Taxi" - even making number 3 in the UK. Then, after years of continued success in France, she returned to the UK top 10 with this retro-sounding song, co-written and produced by her then-boyfriend, Lenny Kravitz. The accompanying album is her only full English album to date but she's regularly released music to mixed fortunes in France ever since.

Coming up in Part 2: Lots of solo female artists and the arrival of two of the biggest groups of the '90s.

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