Saturday, 31 May 2014

The Best Of 2004 - part 1

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

It's hard to believe it's already been 10 years since 2004 - a year that brought the world Mean Girls, Facebook and an Australian princess. And, it was a year I had Australian Idol to thank for still having a magazine to run. As a result of the reality juggernaut, which had exploded at the tail end of 2003, Smash Hits suddenly had multiple new cover stars to help us shift copies.

Go the 'fro: Guy Sebastian sold and sold in 2004

It was also a year in which I got to visit the offices of the original British version of Smash Hits and see how putting together a magazine was really done. Except, Smash Hits UK had become less a music title and more an all-purpose teen girl mag, with a fashion section and actors rubbing shoulders with singers between the covers. Still, I learnt a lot and came back to Australia with new ideas and a renewed passion for peddling pop. Speaking of pop music, here are some of the tunes that caught my attention in 2004...

Number 100 "Boogie" by Brand New Heavies
A lot can happen in seven years - unless you're Brand New Heavies, in which case 2004's Allabouthefunk was the group's first wide-release studio album since 1997. Even with new vocalist Nicole Russo (whose solo album, Through My Eyes, had sunk without a trace the previous year) on board, Brand New Heavies' sound was unmistakable. That may explain why "Boogie" did nothing on the charts - music had moved on but BNH hadn't.

Number 99 "Roses" by OutKast
Among their many other achievements, "Hey Ya!" and "The Way You Move" had topped the US chart for a combined total of 10 weeks, so this third single from Speakerboxxx/The Love Below had a lot to live up to. Taken from Andre 3000's side of the double album, but featuring Big Boi, "Roses" felt almost like the two OutKast members wanted to be in a group together - while the West Side Story-themed music video played up the divide. The song was another global smash and although it didn't top any major charts, it was the duo's last substantial hit.

Number 98 "Talk About Our Love" by Brandy featuring Kanye West
Like her "The Boy Is Mine" duet partner, Monica, Brandy Norwood watched her sales and chart positions decrease in 2004, but that was despite still releasing decent pop/R&B records like this lead single from the Afrodisiac album. Co-written and produced by Kanye West, "Talk About Our Love" also featured a performance by the hottest new rapper on the scene (his other big 2004 tracks, "Through The Wire" and "Slow Jamz", just miss my top 100 for the year). With her music career flagging, Brandy parted ways with her record label and turned her attentions back to TV, becoming one of the original judges on America's Got Talent in 2006.

Number 97 "I Won't Change You" by Sophie Ellis-Bextor
Sophie's second and final single from Shoot From The Hip would be her last release for four years, during which time she started a family. Actually, she'd already made a start on that, shooting the clip for "I Won't Change You" while she was pregnant.

Number 96 "Little Voice" by Hilary Duff
Mentioned in Part 2

Number 95 "All I Need Is You" by Guy Sebastian
I may have had Guy Sebastian and Australian Idol to thank for giving Smash Hits magazine a circulation shot in the arm, but I was yet to be blown away by any of the music the inaugural victor released. "All I Need Is You" was Guy's follow-up to the obligatory big ballad winner's single - and was actually co-written by the singer himself. It's a good song, as were the first two singles from second album Beautiful Life, which Guy had moved on to before the year was out - but I was still waiting for a blockbuster "Climb Ev'ry Mountain"-style moment. Incidentally, his version of the song from The Sound Of Music that'd been such a highlight during Idol was included as a B-side to "All I Need Is You".

Number 94 "Burn" by Usher
Mentioned in Part 3

Number 93 "Laura" by Scissor Sisters
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 92 "Let's Get It Started" by The Black Eyed Peas
There was no stopping The Black Eyed Peas in 2004, with this reworking of album track "Let's Get Retarded" becoming their fourth massive hit in a row from Elephunk. Like previous singles "Hey Mama" and "Shut Up", it's also a song I like a lot less now than I did at the time, with its catchiness working against it and making it seem almost nursery rhyme-ish. Of course, even more puerile songs were to come from BEP....

Number 91 "Single" by Natasha Bedingfield
Mentioned in Part 2

Number 90 "Stacy's Mom" by Fountains Of Wayne
A 2003 single in the US, but a song I came to like thanks to its appearance on the UK version of Now! That's What I Call Music 57 in 2004, "Stacy's Mom" is one of those '80s throwbacks we'd be hearing a lot of in the remainder of the '00s - and regular readers will know how I feel about the '80s. In this case, Fountains Of Wayne wore their love for The Cars on their sleeve, with the song sharing stylistic similarities with that band's track "Just What I Needed".

Number 89 "Free" by Estelle
Mentioned below

Number 88 "Obvious" by Westlife
This by-the-numbers Westlife ballad might not be at all remarkable were it not for the fact that it was the final single the group released with Bryan (soon to be Brian) McFadden still part of the line-up. Both the group and Brian continued to record - but while we'll see more of Westlife's efforts on my year-end countdowns, Brian's yet to release anything that's really excited me.

Number 87 "What You're Made Of" by Lucie Silvas
I've always liked this ballad from Lucie Silvas without ever bothering to find out much about the British singer/songwriter. Turns out she has quite an interesting story. Originally signed by EMI, she was dropped when her debut single flopped and turned her hand to songwriting for the likes of Rachel Stevens, Liberty X and Gareth Gates. Her second artist deal with Mercury Records produced this UK top 10 single, but when the hits dried up, she was dropped once again and returned to writing, this time for The Saturdays, Katharine McPhee and the soundtrack to Broadway-based TV series Smash (in which Katharine starred).

Number 86 "Walk Into The Sun" by Dirty Vegas
They'd had some eventual success with their debut single, "Days Go By", but it wasn't until British dance trio Dirty Vegas released their second album, One, that they hit my radar. "Walk Into The Sun" was the only single released from the album, which was among my favourites for the year.

Number 85 "You Used To" by Richard X featuring Javine
This would have been the fourth single from the producer/remixer/mash-up king's album Richard X Presents His X-Factor Vol. 1, but the release ended up being shelved despite the fact that "Freak Like Me", "Being Nobody" and "Finest Dreams" had all been big UK hits. Still, I justify its inclusion here due to the fact that a single edit was released promotionally and the track was included on a various artists compilation around the time the single was meant to come out. Plus, I make the rules around here, so here it is.

Number 84 "Everytime (Hi Bias remix)" by Britney Spears
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 83 "Trick Me" by Kelis
Mentioned in Part 2

Number 82 "Caught In A Moment" by Sugababes
It wasn't quite a predictable pattern, but you pretty much knew that when Sugababes released a new single it would be one of two things: a cool pop/dance track or a stylish ballad. This fourth and final release from the girl group's Three album fell into the latter category - not one of their best ballads, but a pretty song all the same. It followed the Mogwai-sampling "In The Middle" (number 16 on this list), which features on my top 10 Sugababes singles list.

Number 81 "Red Blooded Woman" by Kylie Minogue
Mentioned in Part 3

Number 80 "Baby I Love U" by Jennifer Lopez featuring R. Kelly
Just when I thought there'd be nothing on J.Lo's This Is Me... Then to interest me, this fourth single, which added R. Kelly as duet partner to the album version, saved the day. The song also featured an interpolation of John Barry's theme to the film Midnight Cowboy, and while it was a big UK hit, it didn't do much in Australia or the US.

Number 79 "Rock Your Body Rock" by Ferry Corsten
In the late '90s, he'd been behind big trance tracks like "Out Of The Blue" (as System F), "Gouryella" (as half of Gouryella), "Carte Blanche" (as half of Veracocha) and the hit remix of William Orbit's version of "Barber's Adagio For String" (as himself). Four years on and this track by the multi-aliased Dutch DJ/producer added some electroclash into the mix and gave him his biggest UK hit.

Number 78 "1980" by Estelle
Before she crossed the Atlantic, British singer/rapper Estelle Swaray received a lot of attention back home with her debut album, The 18th Day. Songs like this debut single, which scored big points with me for name-checking Mel & Kim, and "Free" (number 89 on this list) weren't particularly huge hits, but did generate a fair bit of buzz.

Number 77 "Unwritten" by Natasha Bedingfield
Mentioned in Part 2

Number 76 "On The Way Down" by Ryan Cabrera
As likely to be remembered for his ridiculously massive hair and string of celebrity girlfriends (including Ashlee Simpson, who features in this song's clip) as his music, Ryan Cabrera had everything going his way in 2004. But, despite landing a couple more US hits from the Take It All Away album (which was produced by Goo Goo Dolls' John Rzeznik), Ryan's career would quickly live up to the name of this, his biggest single.

In Part 2: a post-Britney, pre-Miley Disney star, the return of America's top girl group, another Australian Idol finalist (no, not Shannon) and a hip-hop/nu metal hybrid.

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Wednesday, 28 May 2014

This Week In 1989: May 28, 1989

Regular readers of my weekly trip back to the ARIA charts from 1989 will know I'm not the world's biggest fan of rock music. And, while I can write for paragraphs about the impact (or lack thereof) of "I'd Rather Jack", I struggle to have very much to say about the harder end of the music spectrum.

Bon Jovi's power ballads might have worked in the US, but Australia wasn't as keen

With that in mind, the new entries on the singles top 50 this week in 1989 were without exception by rock artists of one type or another. So the challenge is set for me to not just post some YouTube clips, give up and return next week. Can I find something interesting to relate about hair metal ballads, Aussie pub music and MOR mullet rock? You be the judge...

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending May 28, 1989

A song I did actually like leapt to the top of the ARIA chart this week - "Eternal Flame" by The Bangles dislodged Madonna and looked like it was set to take up a lengthy residence at number 1. However, the switcheroo at the top spot was far from over.

"I Want You" by Wa Wa Nee
Peak: number 52
It's quite fitting that before we head into our rock-fest, we come across an Australian synthpop/funk group who struggled for credibility in an industry obsessed with pub bands and guitar rock. At this stage of their career, Wa Wa Nee were also struggling on the charts, with this third single from second album Blush unable to even make it into the top 50. The writing had been on the wall when the album's first two singles failed to become sizable hits - but the disappointing performance of "I Want You" was really the nail in the coffin for Wa Wa Nee, who disbanded shortly after. But, like so many other '80s acts, it was only a matter of time until Wa Wa Nee was resurrected - and Paul Gray has been performing reasonably regularly in recent years.

New Entries
Number 50 "Change His Ways" by Robert Palmer
Peak: number 38
Describing Robert Palmer as a rock artist is to sell him a bit short, but for the purposes of this week's post, he fits the mould well enough. After all, his two biggest singles, "Addicted To Love" and "Simply Irresistible", not only had the same video but were at the rockier end of his repertoire. But, that's not the whole story - Robert also released tracks with synthpop, soul and funk stylings over the years, and even had the audacity to release this single, which sounds like a riff on The Tokens'/Tight Fit's "The Lion Sleeps Tonight". The cute animated clip (which contained a nod to his more famous music videos) almost allowed him to get away with it.

Number 47 "Simple Man" by Noiseworks
Peak: number 47
OK, onto our first rock song proper, and it's yet another under-performing release by one of my favourite Australian bands of the '80s. The third release from the Touch album, "Simple Man" became the fifth (of six) singles by the group to peak between numbers 60 and 40, which must have been endlessly frustrating for them.
I do like "Simple Man", but I can't help but think "In My Youth" would have been a better choice at this point since "Simple Man" was reasonably similar in feel to the band's previous flop single, "Voice Of Reason". By the time "In My Youth" was released... well, we'll see what happened there in a couple of months.
Side point: could the lack of success of both "Voice Of Reason" and "Simple Man" be at all linked to the fact that singer Jon Stevens lopped off his luscious locks following "Touch"? He may have gone on to play Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar, but perhaps he had more in common with another Biblical figure: Samson.

Number 46 "Pop Singer" by John Cougar Mellencamp
Peak: number 8
Here's an artist whose rock star hair was still intact - and can it be any coincidence that John Cougar Mellencamp (and his flowing mane) enjoyed his highest-charting single since 1982's "Jack And Diane" with this first taste of his 10th album, Big Daddy? Probably. As American as apple pie, JCM is the epitome of good ol' fashioned rock'n'roll - and although it's not my genre of choice, I'd actually enjoyed quite a lot of his songs up until this point. "Pop Singer" didn't do it for me, though - the melody was a bit monotonous - but at least it was a mercifully short track.

Number 44 "Satisfied" by Richard Marx
Peak: number 20
Calling his second album Repeat Offender was asking for it, really, although soft rock hitmaker Richard Marx was still flavour of the month at this stage - especially in the US, where "Satisfied" became his fifth straight top 3 hit. Sure, he'd end up seeming a bit daggy by the time his chart career wound down in the mid-'90s, but for now, the singer/songwriter who verged between rousing radio-friendly rock tracks (like "Satisfied") and sickly ballads (like previous single "Hold On To The Nights"), was a multi-platinum success story, with even bigger things to come in Australia.

Number 40 "I'll Be There For You" by Bon Jovi
Peak: number 23
Speaking of sickly songs, here is one of Bon Jovi's best known power ballads - but for me, it was nowhere near as good as "Never Say Goodbye" or "Wanted Dead Or Alive". In fact, it was the first of a string of rock ballads by the group (including "Bed Of Roses" and "Always") that I found pretty much unlistenable. It wasn't just Bon Jovi recording this kind of song, either - with the likes of Warrant ("Heaven"), Poison ("Every Rose Has Its Thorn") and Bad English ("When I See You Smile") all releasing these ultra-commercial, over-emotive tunes. Naturally, the Americans loved that kind of stuff and sent all those tracks towards the very top of the chart. In Australia, "I'll Be There For You" became another single by Bon Jovi to miss the top 20 - somewhere they wouldn't return as a band until 1992.

Number 34 "Patience" by Guns 'n' Roses
Peak: number 16
Although I don't really like this whistle-heavy ballad by Guns 'n' Roses, either - I give it credit for having more edge than the likes of "I'll Be There For You". "Patience" was the only single released from G N' R Lies, a follow-up to Appetite For Destruction that contained a mix of four previously recorded tracks and four new acoustic songs, including a version of "You're Crazy" from Appetite... Although the album was a bit cobbled together, the band was so hot that both it and "Patience" sold solidly, and they would have served as a good stop-gap measure until their next studio album proper if that gap hadn't ended up extending for nearly two-and-a-half more years. 

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1989 (updated weekly):

Next week: pop fights back with new singles from the biggest pop star in the world, the biggest pop star in Australia and the biggest new boy band on the block. Before then, I may or may not have made a start on my countdown of my favourite songs from 2004 - but it's coming soon.

Back to: May 21, 1989 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jun 4, 1989

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

This Week In 1989: May 21, 1989

So far this year, we've looked back on some of 1989's biggest hits as they made their debut on the ARIA singles chart. In fact, just last week, two songs that ended up among the year's top 10 highest sellers entered the top 50. It was a different story this week that year.

The chart joy ride was almost over for Cyndi Lauper 25 years ago

Although one of this week's new arrivals hit the top 10 (and another would do the same in an alternate version a few years later), none of the songs featured in the ARIA year-end top 50. Not only were the singles not particularly massive, but none of them were even the biggest hits by the artists in question. Still, there's more than a couple of overlooked gems in there.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending May 21, 1989

There was nothing overlooked about the song that stormed back to number 1 this week in 1989. For a fifth and final week, "Like A Prayer" ruled the roost, pushing "The Living Years" aside in the process and thankfully limiting that single's run at the top to a solitary week.

"Hey Music Lover" by S'Xpress
Peak: number 53
After being one of the exceptions to the rule and making inroads into the Australian chart with their house hit "Theme From S'Express", the dance act with the slightly amended name couldn't break into the top 50 with their third single, which took elements from Sly & The Family Stone's "Dance To The Medley". The track was among my favourites for 1989 but will always be overshadowed by "Theme..." and "Superfly Guy".

New Entries
Number 50 "House Of Cards" by James Reyne
Peak: number 17
He'd had mixed fortunes with the singles from his self-titled debut solo album, but three of those releases ("Fall Of Rome", "Hammerhead" and "Motor's Too Fast") were bigger hits than this lead single from second album Hard Reyne. Although the video was familiar, I couldn't really recall the song until I listened to it again - and then wished I hadn't. Must have been one of those songs I fast-forwarded through after taping the rage top 50 countdown. Still, a top 20 hit is not to be sneezed at, even if it would be his last for a while.

Number 47 "One" by Metallica
Peak: number 38

Speaking of rage... This song wasn't on the chart for very long - at least, not yet - but I distinctly remember it seeming like it took forever to fast-forward through the seven-minute video every week that it was on the top 50. The first hit for Metallica, "One" was also the first song for which the already massively popular heavy metal band made a music video. A live version of the track would make a much bigger impact on the Australian chart in 1994, reaching number 5, although even that release would be surpassed by other singles by the band.

Number 45 "The Crack-Up" by The Black Sorrows
Peak: number 40

Just when they'd finally landed a bit hit single with "Chained To The Wheel", The Black Sorrows went back to middling chart appearances with this latest release from Hold On To Me. "The Crack-Up" was the fourth of five singles from the album, with final release "Fire Down Below" not getting anywhere near the top 50, but the band would return for some more mid-table chart appearances with tracks from 1990's Harley And Rose.

Number 39 "Let Me Be" by Daryl Braithwaite
Peak: number 26
Seems Daryl was developing a bit of a pattern with his single releases - great sing-along pop/rock track, boring ballad, great sing-along pop/rock track... which meant it was time for another boring ballad from Edge. In this case, a cover of a flop single by Cats Under Pressure. As the fourth single from an already successful album (and one that was about to spend three weeks at number 1 on the albums chart), I'm surprised "Let Me Be" got as high as it did - no doubt it received a helping hand from commercial radio. That wasn't the case with Edge's fifth single, "Sugar Train", which missed the top 50 - and it would be a year and a half before Daryl returned to the chart.

Number 35 "I Drove All Night" by Cyndi Lauper
Peak: number 11
Her first two albums had been packed with hit singles, so a third album by Cyndi Lauper should have been a big deal - but despite this lead single from A Night To Remember almost cracking the top 10 here (like it did in the US and UK), "I Drove All Night" would become known as much for its high-profile alternate versions (Roy Orbison, Celine Dion) as for being the last substantial chart appearance of Cyndi's career.

Number 26 "Help!" by Bananarama
Peak: number 25
A cover of The Beatles' hit from 1965, "Help!" was 1989's official Comic Relief record in the UK - which explains the presence of Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders and Kathy Burke (aka Lananeeneenoonoo) in the music video and on one version of the song (I, naturally, preferred the version with just Bananarama on it). Bananarama wasn't the only Stock Aitken Waterman act French & Saunders lampooned around the time, with sketches devoted to Sonia and Kylie Minogue's "I Should Be So Lucky".

Number 18 "Good Thing" by Fine Young Cannibals
Peak: number 7
Here's the highest of the week's entries - and this follow-up to number 1 smash "She Drives Me Crazy" would also go on to be the biggest hit of all the week's new songs. But, even though it made the top 10 in Australia (and was a second consecutive US number 1 for the trio), I'd still suggest that it comes a distant third or fourth in the list of most remembered FYC songs (after "She Drives Me Crazy", "Suspicious Minds" and perhaps "Johnny Come Home"). Like the band's cover of "Ever Fallen In Love", which also appears on The Raw & The Cooked, "Good Thing" dates back to 1987, first performed by the group in the movie Tin Men.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1989 (updated weekly):

Next week: two of the world's biggest bands vie for supremacy with rival rock ballads, and the return of one of music's biggest mullets.

Back to: May 14, 1989 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: May 28, 1989

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

This Week In 1989: May 14, 1989

Originally posted as 25 Years Ago This Week in 2014. Updated in 2019.

In the pre-internet dark ages, it was not unusual for Australia to be quite behind the times when it came to songs hitting our singles chart. But since there was no quick and easy way to access international charts, and no YouTube to listen to songs in the US or UK top 10 anyway, music fans were often none the wiser about the delay. By way of contrast, these days, thanks to Australia's instant release system, it's more usual for songs to hit the ARIA top 10 before they're even released in the US or UK. (EDIT: in 2019, the whole world tends to get new music at the same time on New Music Friday.)

Roxette's Marie and Per certainly had a look in 1989

Sometimes back in the '80s, however, there were additional reasons why a particular song was delayed in becoming a hit in Australia or why an act's music took its time to reach our shores. This week in 1989, there were a few examples of situations where other factors than just the normal lag were at play.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending May 14, 1989

Also taking its time was the number 1 single this week in 1989, with Mike + The Mechanics' "The Living Years" ascending to the top spot in its 11th week on the top 50, and in the process knocking off "Like A Prayer". But, it would be a fool who thought Madonna would give up number 1 without a fight.

Off The Chart
Number 99 "New Day For You" by Basia
Peak: number 69
Polish sophisti-pop singer Basia was one of those well-promoted acts that never seemed to take off in Australia or the UK. She did make the US top 40 - although not with this track.

Number 97 "Strange Kind Of Love" by Love And Money
Peak: number 76
More smooth sophisti-pop now from the band who'd briefly visited the top 50 a month earlier with previous single "Halleluiah Man". This follow-up gave the Scottish band their biggest UK hit (although it only peaked there at number 45).

Number 77 "Hold Me In Your Arms" by Rick Astley
Peak: number 77
Rick Astley was certainly out of favour in Australia at this point, with this third release from the album of the same name his worst performing single by some margin locally. He'd be back in the top 20 in a couple of years' time.

"Can't Stay Away From You" by Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine
Peak: number 60
Miami Sound Machine (with and without Gloria Estefan as named vocalist) had never been as big in Australia as they were in the US. Only 1984's "Dr Beat" and 1988's "Anything For You" had done that well locally, both just missing the top 10. "Can't Stay Away From You" was one of many top 10 hits the band enjoyed Stateside - but it had been released way back in November 1987, peaking at number 6 in the US in March 1988.
So why the delay in it charting in Australia? Well, the song had actually been released here in early 1988 and managed to creep to number 98 in May that year, but here it was again a year later making further progress up the top 100. Presumably, since upbeat track "1-2-3" had failed to follow "Anything For You" into the ARIA top 50, Epic Records thought re-releasing another ballad would do the trick. They were kind of on the right track, but it would take another year for Gloria, who'd then gone solo, to return to the Australian top 20 - yes, with a ballad.

"What You Get Is What You See" by Tina Turner
Peak: number 57 (original peak: number 15)
Here's a second song that had originally been released in 1987 - but in this case, "What You Get Is What You See" had been successful in Australia first time around. One of eight singles from the Break Every Rule album (although not all tracks were released in every territory), it was re-released locally in 1989 off the back of its use in a rugby league advertisement (which you can watch below) that was clearly aimed at making the sport more appealing to women. It was the first TV commercial in what would end up being a long association between Tina and the NRL. The song's reappearance in the top 60 was likely down to sales in only a certain percentage of the country, and so was probably a bigger hit in those NRL-friendly states than it would appear from its peak of number 57.

New Entries
Number 47 "This Is Your Land" by Simple Minds
Peak: number 38
This was getting a bit boring now. Previously one of the more interesting bands of the '80s, Simple Minds were still in serious mode for this second release from their Street Fighting Years album, which was released this month 25 years ago. Listen out for input from Lou Reed, who doesn't put in an appearance in the clip below, about midway through the song.

Number 45 "The Look" by Roxette
Peak: number 1
Australia wasn't too far behind the US in embracing Swedish duo Roxette, who had debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 back in February 1989 with the song famously brought to the attention of American radio stations by a foreign exchange student. But, the international community in general were latecomers to the Roxette phenomenon - Look Sharp! was actually the band's second album.
As for "The Look", it had been passed over as a single in Sweden for two other tracks, "Dressed For Success" and "Listen To Your Heart", while a third, "Chances", had been released in other parts of Europe. When the time finally came to give "The Look" a Swedish release, the rest of the world was ready to pounce and the song topped the chart in Australia and the US, among more than 20 other countries.

Number 40 "Leave Me Alone" by Michael Jackson
Peak: number 37
Here's yet another song that dated back to 1987, but in this case, it was one that had only appeared on the CD version of Bad, so its release as a single almost two years after the album came out makes sense. Why not give non-CD owning fans (which included myself at that point in time) a chance to buy the track? Despite that fact and a Grammy Award-winning music video that poked fun at all the stories of Michael's increasingly bizarre behaviour (his pet chimp, Bubbles, his purchase of The Elephant Man's bones, his obsession with Elizabeth Taylor), Australian record buyers were mostly unmoved. The song did, however, hit number 2 in the UK, the second highest position of any single from Bad there. Meanwhile, in the States, "Leave Me Alone" was not released as a single at all.

Number 37 "Iko Iko" by The Belle Stars
Peak: number 7
We go back even further now - in fact, it was almost seven years since this cover of The Dixie Cups' 1965 single had just scraped into the UK top 40 (while a rival version by Natasha hit the top 10 there at the same time). 
The revival of The Belle Stars' version of "Iko Iko" was yet another chart hit of the '80s that owed its success to its use in a Tom Cruise film - in this case, Rainman. By that stage, however, the band had long since broken up, although lead vocalist Jennie Matthias promoted the track and appeared in a new music video for the release.
The song itself, which originated in New Orleans and is filled with locally relevant lyrical content, has been the subject of a number of legal disputes over the decades concerning songwriting credits, and has been covered even more frequently.

Number 25 "Bedroom Eyes" by Kate Ceberano
Peak: number 2
So far in the '80s, Kate Ceberano had been the lead singer of mid-'80s pop/funk band I'm Talking, performed as a backing vocalist for Models, released a live jazz album and, together with Wendy Matthews, recorded the soundtrack to TV series Stingers. One thing remained for her to achieve - and with "Bedroom Eyes", Kate landed her first solo hit single. And, what a hit it would turn out to be, spending six non-consecutive weeks stuck at number 2 (behind Bette Midler, The Bangles and Roxette) and going on to become the highest-selling single by an Australian artist in 1989.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1989:

Next week: a massively popular heavy metal band land their first top 50 hit, a mid-'80s superstar returns and five more songs debut on the singles chart.

Back to: May 7, 1989 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: May 21, 1989

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

The Best Of 2003 - part 4

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

There was a bit of a changing of the guard in pop in 2003, with the boy bands, girl groups and other pop combos of the late '90s and early '00s dying off (another example of which we'll see shortly). In their place came the solo acts who'd formerly been members of boy bands or girls groups (two of whom we'll see shortly) and reality show winners (two of whom we'll also see shortly).

Kelly Clarkson established how to have success after Idol

At the end of 2003, a collection of Idol champions from around the globe came together to compete in World Idol. At the time, being an Idol victor meant you were in very select company. As the franchise grew, and The X Factor and The Voice were also launched, we ended up with more reality show winners than we knew what to do with. In 2003, that hadn't yet become a problem.

Number 25 "Are You Ready For Love 2003" by Elton John
First, however, a solo artist whose career began earlier than most people competing and voting in reality show competitions were even born - and this song dated back almost that far. Originally released in eight-and-a-half minute form back in 1979 on The Thom Bell Sessions EP, "Are You Ready For Love" had played second fiddle to another track from the EP, "Mama Can't Buy You Love", which was a US top 10 hit at the time. Remixed by X-Press 2 member Ashley Beedle in 2003, the new version of "Are You Ready..." gave Elton only the third solo number 1 of his career in the UK.

Number 24 "Lost Without You" by Delta Goodrem
After almost ruining her career before it had even got off the ground, Sony Music Australia realised it was better to stop trying to turn local singer/songwriter into Australia's version of Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera and to let her sing her own songs. That decision, together with more than a little help from Delta's role on Neighbours, made her the most successful new local artist in years.
"Lost Without You" was the second single from Delta's Innocent Eyes album and was my favourite of the five singles - all of them Australian chart-toppers - lifted from the million-selling CD. In fact, all but lead single "Born To Try" make this chart - with Lost Without You" followed by "Innocent Eyes" (number 136 on this list), "Not Me, Not I" (number 36) and "Predictable / Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" (number 76).
It would have been the perfect year for the then 18-year-old, but Delta's diagnosis with Hodgkin's lymphoma halfway through 2003 was a shock no one saw coming. As tragic as the illness was for such a young artist, it did prevent the inevitable tall poppy backlash starting against Delta as it had at a similar point in Kylie Minogue's early career and Delta remained Australia's sweetheart through her recovery and follow-up albums.

Number 23 "No Good Advice" by Girls Aloud
Mentioned in Part 3 and previously featured here

Number 22 "Stuck" by Stacie Orrico
Mentioned below

Number 21 "Fool No More" by S Club 8
With S Club 7 now known as S Club, S Club Juniors also underwent a slight rebranding to become S Club 8 - and their musical style received a minor makeover to become less cutesy and slightly more sophisticated. The shift worked, with the five-girl, three-boy collective maintaining their UK top 10 strike-rate with both this song and follow-up "Sundown" (number 61 on this list), the title track of their second album.

Number 20 "Don't Wanna Lose This Groove" by Dannii Minogue
Mentioned below

Number 19 "Twist Of Fate" by Siobhan Donaghy
Sugababes had survived her departure and were in the throes of becoming one of the UK's top girl groups, so it was nice to see Siobhan Donaghy also emerge from the split and return to the music scene with her first solo album in 2003. Not a cover of the Olivia Newton-John song of the same name (although I'd be curious to hear that), "Twist Of Fate" was Siobhan's second single - a much better track than its predecessor, "Overrated", which only just dented the UK top 20 and wound up as my number 107 for the year. Had the release order been reversed, I wonder if "Twist Of Fate" would have managed to chart higher than its UK peak of number 52.

Number 18 "The Wreckoning" by Boomkat
Brother/sister duo Boomkat were one of the freshest sounding acts to emerge in 2003, with both singles from debut album Boomkatalog.One, "The Wreckoning" and "What U Do 2 Me" (number 89 on this list), sounding different from anything else on the charts. Despite that, the group never quite broke through in a big way (although "The Wreckoning" did manage to crack the Australian top 20) - and even though they have continued to release music every so often, singer/actress Taryn Manning is now better known for her role in Orange Is The New Black and having once appeared in the Britney Spears movie, Crossroads.

Number 17 "It's My Life" by No Doubt
They'd always worn their '80s influences on their sleeve, and so when it came time to record a new track for their greatest hits album, No Doubt chose to remake this Talk Talk track over INXS's "Don't Change", which they also considered. The original version of "It's My Life" featured prominently in my top 100 for 1984, but nearly 20 years later, I liked this update almost as much.

Number 16 "How Soon Is Now" by t.A.T.u.
Previously featured here

Number 15 "Miss Independent" by Kelly Clarkson
American Idol wouldn't screen in Australia until the third season and so this track probably got more publicity locally thanks to Christina Aguilera being one of the song's co-writers than because of Kelly's victory on the singing show. After charting well in the States with the obligatory winner's single, "Before Your Love / A Moment Like This", Kelly proved she had some attitude to go with the big ballad-worthy vocal chops. In one of my favourite Smash Hits Challenges (a regular feature we had in the mag) of all time, I made Kelly prove just how independent she was by cleaning up her hotel room and ironing.

Number 14 "Say Goodbye / Love Ain't Gonna Wait For You" by S Club
As I noted in my top 100 for 2002, things had started to go downhill for S Club and so the remaining six decided to call it a day before their collective hand was forced. An appropriately titled farewell ballad was chosen and it was backed with a slightly remixed version of one of the stronger tracks from their final studio album, Seeing Double. I'd never been a massive fan of S Club 7 ballads like "Never Had A Dream Dome True" and "Have You Ever", but I did like "Say Goodbye" - and not just because it established exactly why Tina and Hannah were never usually allowed to sing lead.

Number 13 "(There's Gotta Be) More To Life" by Stacie Orrico
The Amy Grant of the new millennium, Stacie crossed over from the Christian music market with her second, self-titled album, and singles like this and "Stuck" (number 22 on this list). Ever since, she's divided her time between irregular music releases and other projects like humanitarian work.

Number 12 "I Like Love (I Love Love)" by Solitaire
I always assumed this was the latest in a long line of French disco tracks to grab my attention, but turns out Solitaire was a British duo, who built their Australian top 30 hit around Norma Jean Wright's "I Like Love".

Number 11 "Leave Right Now" by Will Young
While Gareth Gates spent 2003 recording his dodgy cover version of "Spirit In The Sky" and an album packed mostly with generic Scandinavian pop, the singer who beat him to the title of Pop Idol in the UK proved why he'd been the better choice with this lead single from his Friday's Child album. The thoughtful ballad, which was written by one-time Brother Beyond member Eg White, was a sign that Will's career wasn't going to be so predictable.

Number 10 "Scandalous" by Mis-teeq
Mentioned in Part 2 and previously featured here

Number 9 "Crazy In Love" by Beyoncé Knowles featuring Jay-Z
Her Destiny's Child band-mate Kelly Rowland might have got off to an early lead with her solo career, but Beyoncé followed up the lacklustre "Work It Out" with this lead single from her debut solo studio album, Dangerously In Love, and blasted all thoughts of a competition between the two out of the water. Featuring future husband Jay-Z and sampling the horns from The Chi-Lites' "Are You My Woman (Tell Me So)", "Crazy In Love" was almost enough to single-handedly justify Beyoncé dropping her surname and joining the ranks of Madonna, Cher and Prince as music superstars. Time - and several more massive hits to come - would prove she could lay claim to membership of such an illustrious group.

Number 8 "All The Things She Said" by t.A.T.u.
Previously featured here

Number 7 "Bring Me To Life" by Evanescence
The Russian faux-lesbians may have stolen the title of 2003's most talked about new act, but goth-lite rockers Evanescence were certainly right up there in terms of instant and widespread success. The track that had everyone listening was "Bring Me To Life", written by singer Amy Lee and guitarist Ben Moody, who quit the band just as they cracked the big time due to "creative differences". Evanescence would land a few more hits over the coming years, but none which quite recaptured this excitement.

Number 6 "Rock Your Body" by Justin Timberlake
It's telling that while Michael Jackson rejected this track for inclusion on his unfortunately titled Invincible album, a young singer who derived much of his skill set from the King of Pop turned it into his third massive solo hit in a row at a time when Jacko would have killed for a song to perform even half as well. "Rock Your Body" was the song that convinced me JT had what it took to be a solo superstar. Sure, I'd warmed to "Like I Love You", while "Cry Me A River" (number 33 on this list), with its Britney-baiting video and Timbaland production, was a very slick affair, but this track was cool without seeming to try hard at all. I've always been surprised that Vanessa Marquez, who supplied the female vocals on "Rock Your Body" never parlayed the guest spot into a significant career boost.

Number 5 "I Begin To Wonder" by Dannii Minogue
Released in 2002 by Jean Claude Ades under the pseudonym J.C.A., "I Begin To Wonder" was reworked for Dannii Minogue's comeback album, Neon Nights, and became her highest-charting UK hit and one of her more successful singles in Australia. She stayed on a roll with follow-up "Don't Wanna Lose This Feeling" (number 20 on this list), which, in an alternate version, was seamlessly mashed up with Madonna's "Into The Groove" to become "Don't Wanna Lose This Groove". The two singles followed earlier hits "Put The Needle On It" and "Who Do You Love Now?", which were both included on Neon Nights, with the entire period becoming the most consistently successful of Dannii's career.

Number 4 "Move Your Feet" by Junior Senior
I always thought Danish duo Junior Senior were so named because one member was really old and the other was quite young, but it turns out they're less than two years apart in age. Jesper and Jeppe took the world by storm with this infectious track and then slowly faded back into obscurity.

Number 3 "Teardrop Hitting The Ground" by Kelli Ali
In 1996, back when she went by the name of Kelli Dayton, she was Sneaker Pimps' lead singer, performing on tracks like "Spin Spin Sugar" and "6 Underground". Having parted company with the trip-hop act shortly after, Kelli eventually got around to releasing her underrated debut album, Tigermouth, in 2003. None of the three singles, which also included "Inferno High Love" (number 41 on this list) and "Kids" (which just missed my top 100 for 2002), managed to hit the UK chart and the album sank without a trace. In fact, I think I had to hit the local record company up for a promotional or import copy since it didn't get an official release here at the time.

Number 2 "Closer To Perfection" by A*Teens
Over the years, I've been very strict about what songs qualify for my year-end charts and what don't. Until 2008, only songs that had been released as singles counted - but sometimes the definition of what constituted a single was stretched as far as I could take it to include Japan-only releases, withdrawn singles, promotional singles or radio-only singles. Here is the exception to the rule, but for some time I genuinely believed this track from A*Teens' New Arrival album had been released as a single. By the time I found out, it was kind of too late to go back and so here it remains - a shiny pop gem that should've been a single for the Swedish four-piece, who would go their separate ways the following year.

Number 1 "Hole In The Head" by Sugababes
Previously featured here

My top 200 for 2003 in full:

1        HOLE IN THE HEAD Sugababes
4        MOVE YOUR FEET Junior Senior
5        I BEGIN TO WONDER Dannii Minogue
6        ROCK YOUR BODY Justin Timberlake
7        BRING ME TO LIFE Evanescence
9        CRAZY IN LOVE Beyonce Knowles featuring Jay-Z
10      SCANDALOUS Mis-teeq
11      LEAVE RIGHT NOW Will Young
12      I LIKE LOVE (I LOVE LOVE) Solitaire
13      (THERE’S GOTTA BE) MORE TO LIFE Stacie Orrico
15      MISS INDEPENDENT Kelly Clarkson
16      HOW SOON IS NOW t.A.T.u.
17      IT’S MY LIFE No Doubt
18      THE WRECKONING Boomkat
19      TWIST OF FATE Siobhan Donaghy
21      FOOL NO MORE S Club 8
22      STUCK Stacie Orrico
23      NO GOOD ADVICE Girls Aloud
24      LOST WITHOUT YOU Delta Goodrem
25      ARE YOU READY FOR LOVE 2003 Elton John
26      ALL IN MY HEAD Kosheen
27      FIGHTER Christina Aguilera
28      WE USED TO BE FRIENDS The Dandy Warhols
29      SUPERSTAR Jamelia
30      FINEST DREAMS Richard X featuring Kelis
31      TOO LOST IN YOU Sugababes
32      LOVE STORY [VS FINALLY] Layo & Bushwacka!
33      CRY ME A RIVER Justin Timberlake
34      LONELINESS Tomcraft
35      MISS PERFECT Abs featuring Nodesha
36      NOT ME, NOT I Delta Goodrem
37      MIXED UP WORLD Sophie Ellis-Bextor
38      ONE FINE DAY Jakatta featuring Beth Hirsch
39      GIVE ME A REASON Triple 8
40      AM I ON YOUR MIND? Oxygen featuring Andrea Britton
41      INFERNO HIGH LOVE Kelli Ali
42      MIRACLES Pet Shop Boys
43      THE WAY (PUT YOUR HAND IN MY HAND) Divine Inspiration
45      MAYBE Emma Bunton
46      JUMP Girls Aloud
47      EASY Groove Armada
48      BABY LIKES IT Isaac James
49      WHERE IS THE LOVE The Black Eyed Peas featuring Justin Timberlake
50      IGNITION (REMIX) R.Kelly
51      CAN’T HOLD US DOWN Christina Aguilera featuring Lil’ Kim
52      BREATHE Michelle Branch
53      ON THE HORIZON Melanie C
54      HOLLYWOOD Madonna
55      OK / ROCK REMIX Big Brovaz
56      NUMB Linkin Park
57      MAKE LUV Room 5 featuring Oliver Cheatham
58      STOP SIGN Abs
59      HEY YA! Outkast
60      AUTOMATIC Sarah Whatmore
63      OOH WEE Mark Ronson featuring Ghostface Killah, Nate Dogg and Trife
64      BIG SUR The Thrills
65      COMPLETE Jaimeson
66      STYLE Mis-teeq
67      REAL THINGS Javine
68      HOW DID YOU KNOW Kurtis Mantronik presents Chamonix
69      MY TIME Dutch featuring Crystal Waters
70      HOLD ON ME Phixx
72      ARE YOU HAPPY NOW? Michelle Branch
73      SLEEPING SATELLITE Aurora featuring Naimee Coleman
74      SUNSHINE Gareth Gates
75      OBSESSION (I LOVE YOU) Amiel
77      MELT / YEH, YEH, YEH Melanie C
79      FALLEN Mya
80      U MAKE ME WANNA Blue
81      SPEECHLESS D-Side
82      LOVE DOESN’T HAVE TO HURT Atomic Kitten
83      DEEPEST BLUE Deepest Blue
84      BREATHE Blu Cantrell featuring Sean Paul
85      THE WHIRLED YOU LIVE Etherfox
86      MY LOVE IS ALWAYS Saffron Hill featuring Ben Onono
87      SURRENDER (YOUR LOVE) Javine
88      COME ON OVER Kym Marsh
89      WHAT U DO 2 ME Boomkat
90      MANDY Westlife
92      HARDER TO BREATHE Maroon 5
93      INVISIBLE D-Side
94      BEING NOBODY Richard X vs Liberty X
95      FALLING Candice Alley
96      DAMAGED Plummet
97      STAND BACK Linus Loves featuring Sam Obernik
99      DESTINATION DT8 featuring Roxanne Wilde
100    SUNLIGHT DJ Sammy
101    DON’T BELIEVE ANYMORE The Whitlams
102    SWEET DREAMS (MY LA EX) Rachel Stevens
103    STATE OF MIND Holly Valance
104    CRY LITTLE SISTER (I NEED U NOW) The Lost Brothers featuring G Tom Mac
105    SUNRISE Simply Red
106    OUT OF THE CITY 2 Heads
107    OVERRATED Siobhan Donaghy
108    CLOCKS Coldplay
110    I WANT YOU Thalia featuring Fat Joe
111    HIDDEN AGENDA Craig David
112    NO LETTING GO Wayne Wonder
115    THE VOICE WITHIN Christina Aguilera
116    GET READY Shawn Desman
117    FREE ME Emma Bunton
118    WHITE FLAG Dido
120    INTO YOU Fabolous featuring Tamia
122    TIMES LIKE THESE Foo Fighters
123    SHOW ME A SIGN Kontakt
124    BROKEN BONES Love Inc
125    TIME OF OUR LIVES/CONNECTED Paul van Dyk featuring Vega4
126    LOVE ME RIGHT (OH SHEILA) Angel City featuring Lara McAllen
127    DAVID GusGus
128    CAN’T NOBODY Kelly Rowland
130    SHAPE Sugababes
131    GOING UNDER Evanescence
132    SOMEWHERE I BELONG Linkin Park
133    LOVESONG Amiel
134    WITHOUT YOUR LOVE Tom Novy featuring Lima
135    DO YOUR THING Basement Jaxx
136    INNOCENT EYES Delta Goodrem
137    TONIGHT Amiel
138    SEVENTEEN Ladytron
140    WASTING MY TIME Kosheen
141    RE-OFFENDER Travis
142    I CAN’T READ YOU Daniel Bedingfield
143    DANCE (WITH U) Lemar
144    TURN ME ON Kevin Lyttle
145    STAB Mandy Kane
146    SHUT UP Black Eyed Peas
147    CLUBBED TO DEATH Rob Dougan
148    NOT GONNA GET US t.A.T.u.
149    GIRLS AND BOYS Good Charlotte
150    FEEL GOOD TIME Pink
151    HERE IT COMES AGAIN Melanie C
152    ANGELS BROUGHT ME HERE Guy Sebastian
153    I CAN’T BREAK DOWN Sinead Quinn
154    LOW Kelly Clarkson
155    DIRTY STICKY FLOORS David Gahan
156    RISE & FALL Craig David featuring Sting
157    SUCH GREAT HEIGHTS Postal Service
158    I’M IN HEAVEN Jason Nevins presents UKNY featuring Holly James
159    LOVE LIFE Alcazar
160    NOTHING BUT SONG Siobhan Donaghy
161    MISFIT Amy Studt
162    YOU MIGHT BE WRONG Nicole Russo
163    WHAT CHU WANT J-Wess
164    GUILTY Blue
166    LIFE FOR RENT Dido
167    SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL Robbie Williams
168    DON’T WORRY Appleton
169    LATELY Lisa Scott-Lee
170    IF YOU COME TO ME Atomic Kitten
171    DO ME WRONG Mel Blatt
174    SIGNED SEALED DELIVERED I’M YOURS Blue featuring Angie Stone and Stevie Wonder
175    LIFE GOT COLD Girls Aloud
177    SOFT LIKE ME Saint Etienne
178    WORK IT Nelly featuring Justin Timberlake
179    WHAT’S YOUR NAME Morcheeba
181    LADIES NIGHT Atomic Kitten
182    SHAPE OF YOU (RESHAPED) Beverley Knight featuring Hollywood
183    STRICT MACHINE Goldfrapp
184    PANDORA’S KISS Louise
185    SHOOK Shawn Desman
186    CAN’T GET IT BACK Mis-teeq
187    JUMPIN’ Liberty X
189    SENORITA Justin Timberlake
190    03 BONNIE & CLYDE Jay-Z featuring Beyonce Knowles
191    SUPERSTAR Ruben Studdard
192    SPANISH Craig David
193    AIN’T WHAT YOU DO Big Brovaz
194    TOO FAR GONE Lisa Scott-Lee
196    HEY WHATEVER Westlife
197    BABY BOY Beyonce Knowles featuring Sean Paul
199    CRY Kym Marsh
200    BABY BOY Big Brovaz

That's it for another year's recap - and I'll tackle 2004 towards the end of this month. Tomorrow, as always, we'll look back to 1989 to find out what was happening on the ARIA chart this week 25 years ago.

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