Wednesday, 17 September 2014

This Week In 1989: September 17, 1989

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

Over the years, rap and R&B artists have caused a lot of controversy, often as a result of music videos featuring scantily clad females (not to mention lyrics portraying them as little more than sex objects). But, this week in 1989, it was a pop act - and a female superstar, no less - who caused a stir with one of the most outrageous outfits ever seen in a music video.

Cher, looking overdressed for her, in 1989

In fact, it was a big week for controversy-courting women who knew how to use their sex appeal. The three highest new entries on the ARIA singles chart came from female artists who were no stranger to assuming the role of sex symbol in the interest of self-promotion (or empowerment, depending on which side of the argument you sit).

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending September 17, 1989

There was nothing racy about the single at the top of the ARIA chart this week in 1989. Richard Marx held strong at number 1 with slushy ballad "Right Here Waiting" - and it would take another month for one of this week's new entries to knock him off his perch.

Off The Chart
Number 97 "Grandpa's Party" by Monie Love
Peak: number 93
This Dancin' Danny D-produced UK top 20 single is one of three songs to peak in the 90s for Monie Love in Australia, where her only hit was Adeva collab "Ring My Bell".

Number 96 "Bem, Bem, Maria" by Gipsy Kings
Peak: number 71
While "Bamboléo" fell from its top 20 peak this week, the follow-up didn't prove as popular, although the French band did spend a second week at number 2 on the albums chart with their self-titled LP. 

Number 89 "It's Another Saturday Night" by The Cockroaches
Peak: number 83
This fourth single from Fingertips would end up being The Cockroaches' final top 100 placement, although the band would release one more album, Positive, around the time some of them got their wiggle on.

Number 86 "What You Don't Know" by Exposé
Peak: number 65
This Latin freestyle trio were big business in the US (and favourites of mine), with eight top 10 hits. This title track from their second album was their only visit to the top 100 locally.

Single Of The Week
"Look Who's Dancing" by Ziggy Marley & The Melody Makers
Peak: number 69
The last time Bob Marley's children paid a visit to the ARIA top 100 (in 1988 with "Tomorrow People"), I remarked that the reggae legend hadn't actually fared that well on the Australian singles chart. Looks like Ziggy and his siblings were fated to repeat that performance with this lead single from the One Bright Day album becoming their final appearance in the top 100. Hit singles might have eluded them, but Grammy Awards didn't, with One Bright Day earning the band their second straight Best Reggae Album trophy.

"Kisses On The Wind" by Neneh Cherry
Peak: number 63
Another brilliant single, another disappointing chart position as Australia continued to be immune to the charms of Neneh Cherry. "Kisses On The Wind" is my favourite of her singles (and among my top 20 for 1989) - and it also became her second US top 10 hit, following "Buffalo Stance". Next up, Neneh released different singles in different markets, with the UK getting "Inna City Mama", and the US and Australia going with "Heart" instead.

New Entries
Number 50 "Jackie Brown" by John Cougar Mellencamp
Peak: number 47
After enjoying his highest-charting single in some time with "Pop Singer" earlier in 1989, JCM barely scraped into the top 50 with this follow-up, the second single from Big Daddy. Like "Pop Singer", "Jackie Brown" was an issue-based song, with its lyrics touching on the problem of poverty. It was also the last time John appeared on the top 50 as John Cougar Mellencamp - dropping the Cougar stage name for his next album, Whenever We Wanted

Number 48 "In My Youth" by Noiseworks
Peak: number 44
Another song that barely registered on the top 50 was this fourth single from Noiseworks' Touch album - and it was actually quite surprising that a) "In My Youth" didn't do better and b) it was made a single so late, given it was a much more commercial song that either "Voice Of Reason" or "Simple Man". With its sing-along chorus and reminiscing lyrics, it sounded like a much bigger hit. As it was, it became Noiseworks' third single in a row to rank in the 40s.

Number 44 "You'll Never Stop Me Loving You" by Sonia
Peak: number 29

No, this isn't one of the women I was talking about at the start of this post. Sonia may have been accused of a lot of things in her time, but wearing too little or being a sex symbol is not one of them. Most often described as perky (among other less flattering terms), Sonia Evans pestered producer Pete Waterman until he listened to her sing and, shortly after, recorded this UK number 1 hit with the Hit Factory team of Stock Aitken Waterman. It would be Sonia's only top 50 appearance in Australia, but she racked up a number of top 20 hits in the UK and even represented her country in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1993.

Number 30 "The Only One" by Transvision Vamp
Peak: number 30
Debuting where it would peak, this follow-up to "Baby I Don't Care" was a dramatic comedown for the band fronted by our first of this week's femme fatales: blonde bombshell Wendy James. It's telling that a large headshot of Marilyn Monroe featured both in the music video and on the single cover for "The Only One" - Wendy clearly took inspiration from the iconic movie sex siren.

Number 28 "If I Could Turn Back Time" by Cher
Peak: number 1
When you get to your 19th album, you need to do something a little bit special to maintain people's interest - and Cher's decision to straddle a canon and dance around a navy vessel in little more than a fishnet bodysuit certainly got everyone's attention. 
But beyond the provocative barely-there outfit and the bizarre decision to invite her 12-year-old son, Elijah, to be front and centre as sailors whooped at his still-sexy 43-year-old mum, "If I Could Turn Back Time" was a really good song.
Penned by hitmaker Diane Warren, who recently revealed that Cher never liked the song, the rousing pop tune (which features an awesome '80s key change at the end) became the actress/singer's biggest Australian hit - topping the chart for seven weeks in total over a period of 10 weeks (her run was rudely interrupted by a song we'll see debut in early October).

Number 17 "Cherish" by Madonna
Peak: number 4

Just when you thought you could rely on Madonna for a controversial music video or a song that played up her provocative image, she went and released something as inoffensive as "Cherish". The natural successor to "True Blue", the third single from Like A Prayer saw Madonna taking a break from the shock tactics and releasing a song that was pure joy. Accompanied by a playful, black-and-white music video directed by photographer Herb Ritts, "Cherish" allowed the Queen of Pop to once again defy expectations - and return to the Australian top 5.

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

Next week: Two of my favourite songs released by Australian-based artists in 1989, plus the return of one of the decade's most successful duos. Before then, I'll conclude my look back at my top 100 for 2008.

Back to: Sep 10, 1989 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Sep 24, 1989


  1. Some chart positions outside the top 50 this week that I noted down from Countdown Revolution:

    #56 GET OUT OF THE HOUSE Boom Crash Opera
    #62 A NEW FLAME Simply Red
    #73 REVIVAL Eurythmics

    I recently heard/saw the Ziggy Marley video for 'Look Who's Dancing' from a VHS compilation, not having heard or seen the song/video since its release.

    I didn't realise for years later that the UK top 75 chart published in Number One magazine wasn't the 'real' chart. Quite a few singles charted higher on it (the 'Network' chart from memory) than the official chart, and 'Kisses On the Wind' was one of those (#11 vs #20). In retrospect it was quite shocking that 'Kisses...' peaked so low in the UK after 2 top 5 hits, and the single becoming a US #8 hit. The video looks kind of cheap in retrospect, which maybe hindered its chart success. I recently learned that the colour version (via a comment on my upload, which of course doesn't appear in youtube's search results) of the video you've linked was made specifically for the US market after MTV refused to play the original black and white version. I bought the cassingle at the time, my first Neneh purchase, and later found/bought the (non-remixes) 5" CD single during a trip to Hong Kong in early '94, much to my surprise. American top 40 played a different mix of the song, which I finally tracked down last year on a US promo CD. I think 'Heart' definitely made a better 4th single choice than 'Inna City Mama', though I would have released it before 'Kisses...'.

    I haven't heard 'Jackie Brown' since seeing it in the rage top 50. I couldn't remember the chorus lyrics, and had confused them with UB40's 'Homely Girl' ("you're a beautiful woman, oh Jackie Brown"), even though I knew it couldn't be that.

    I was surprised Noiseworks were still bothering with singles from 'Touch', given the previous 2 had stalled in the 40's... like this one.

    I bought all 5 of Sonia's 'Everybody Knows' singles on cassette, probably one of a handful of people who did so in Australia. I am surprised they were all released here, including the Big Fun duet (which I didn't buy), given that they all flopped after this one. I gave them away though to a UK PWL collector a few years back. It's always bothered me slightly though that they omitted the 'from' from 'You'll Never Stop Me Loving You's title. Both Countdown Revolution and rage included 'from' in the title when airing the video. I don't think I noticed until after buying the single that there was no 'from' in the title. Its chart position as a Breaker last week must have been low for it to receive a bullet for debuting in the top 50 at #44.

    'The Only One' was a bit weaker than the previous Transvision Vamp singles, I thought, but it was still fairly decent and deserved a higher chart peak. 'Landslide of Love' was my favourite single from the 'Velveteen' album, but of course that didn't even make the top 50.

    Despite the controversy, rage aired the Cher video while it was in the top 50. I didn't know Cher didn't like the song, though knew she hated 'Just Like Jesse James'.

    'Cherish' was the first Madonna song that grew on me, after initially not liking it. I really liked 'Oh Father', and was really surprised when that didn't make the top 50.

    1. Yeah, it took me a while to figure out Number One ran a different chart.

      I'm glad you drew the line at buying You've Got A Friend. I couldn't stand End Of The World, either - but the Everybody Knows album was quite good.

  2. Can't believe Cher doesn't like 'Just Like Jesse James'! That's my fave single of hers. Was there an official video made for it? I never saw one when it was charting or on YouTube. I remember The Comedy Company or was it Fast Forward or both? They did a take on 'If I Could Turn Back Time'. It was pretty funny. I remember one of the lines going 'All Of Those Plastic Surgeons, they really lost control. If I have one more operation, I'll be a Barbie Doll'. LoL.

    I was a big fan of the song 'Jackie Brown' and wasn't very happy that it only scraped into the Top 50. I bought 'Big Daddy' on cassette, but 'The Lonesome Jubilee' record is still my fave.

    'You're The Only One' was a strange follow up to the smash 'Baby I Don't Care'. 'Landslide Of Love' is a great track. Perhaps this second album was too rushed after their first? Radio still flogs 'Baby I Don't Care' and 'I Want Your Love'.

    'Cherish' was a good Summer song. It would have to be my top single from the album. I think over the years 'Like A Prayer' and 'Express Yourself' I have just become sick of. The follow up singles 'Oh Father' & 'Dear Jessie' really got lost and went un-noticed and then the final single became the B side to 'Vogue'. Was she flogging this album to death? Although, she did release 5 singles from 'True Blue', but the last 2 singles charted so much better. Just a bit off the track here - didn't the album 'Like A Prayer' come scented in patchouli oil? I'm not sure, as I bought this on cassette about 4 years after its release.

    I got to know 'In My Youth' very well as it was often flogged as the background music in E-Street or the start of the episode as the credits were displayed. As mentioned it was sounded like a commercial hit and should have been the second single.

    1. Transvision Vamp's second album was out less than a year after their first, and the singles from both albums were released one after the other here, with a max. space between them of only a couple of months. I remember Wendy James saying in Smash Hits that they were taking a break after the second album, as the public gets sick of you after having a new single out every 3 months for 2 years.

      Fast Forward parodied 'If I Could Turn Back Time', which is on youtube. The 'barbie doll' lines you mentioned aren't in it, but they sound vaguely familiar, so maybe The Comedy Club (or Mark Mitchell's spin-off show which I forget the name of... I remember they/he parodied 'Vogue') also did a parody.

      There's a video on youtube, 'Cher - Just like Jesse James - Rare original video', but I never saw that on TV. It's just made of footage from her other videos, and some Western-type scenes. It has a VH1 watermark, though my guess is it was put together by the UK record company, as pretty much every UK single had to have a video back then, and it doesn't run for the full length of the song. I've got/seen UK videos for Madonna's 'Rescue Me', 'One More Chance', and 'Fever' (before she made a video for it), and Whitney Houston's 'All the Man That I Need' (before a video was filmed for it) which were put together for the UK market, comprised of footage from earlier videos, that also don't run for the full length of the song.

      I remember discussing 'Just Like Jesse James' with a friend at school, about there being no video, and he claimed to have seen one on Video Hits (which I didn't watch on Sundays when it was the top 20/30) that 'featured different shots of Jesse James'. I think I watched it the following week in hope of seeing it, but it wasn't aired, so I didn't believe him. Maybe he was telling the truth and they just didn't air it again!

  3. I don't mind the official videos that show bits and pieces of their previous videos. I liked the one they did for Madonna's 'Music' and Eurythmics 'Love Is A Stranger'.

  4. I loved most of SAW's output around this time and "You'll Never Stop..." was no exception (although their boy band efforts didn't grab me much). It seemed that by this stage, though, only Kylie and Jason were able to score bit hits in Australia for the PWL stable (Bananarama never bothered the Top 10 again after 1988). I also loved Donna Summer's "This Time..." (what an underrated late 80s gem!).