Wednesday, 27 January 2016

This Week In 1991: January 27, 1991

Every so often, TV characters will become so popular that someone will think it's a great idea for them to release a single. On this blog alone, we've seen hit records by Kylie Mole, Neil from The Young Ones and ALF.

Back in 1991, Bart was the breakout star of The Simpsons

This week in 1991, the most popular TV character of the year debuted on the ARIA top 50 with a spin-off single. For me, it was every bit as awful as those other TV-related songs. Naturally, it went to number 1.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending January 27, 1991

At number 1 this week in 1991 was "Ice Ice Baby". The Vanilla Ice single spent its third and final week on top as two future chart-toppers moved in for the kill.

Off The Chart
Number 99 "Being Boring" by Pet Shop Boys
Peak: number 82
They were asking for it with this song title - and the subtleties of "Being Boring" were even lost on a massive PSB fan like me at the time. Although a chart failure, it's gone on to be one of the duo's most beloved tracks.

Number 98 "Feels Good" by Tony! Toni! Toné!
Peak: number 89
In the US, this song was the breakthrough hit for the new jack swing trio featuring brothers Dwayne Wiggins and Raphael Saadiq, and cousin Timothy Riley. In Australia, it'd be two more years before their time came.

Number 95 "After The Rain" by Nelson
Peak: number 75
More hair metal-lite from the twins with the longest hair in the business - but unlike their previous single, the title track of their debut album didn't catch on in Australia. In the US, "After The Rain" reached number 6.

Number 84 "What Time Is Love?" by The KLF
Peak: number 73
The second of three versions of "What Time Is Love?" released by The KLF, this remix of the 1988 original made the UK top 5 but failed to ignite much interest locally - despite a re-release following their later chart smashes.

Number 80 "Movies" by Hothouse Flowers
Peak: number 66
The latest single from Hothouse Flowers' Home album ended up being overshadowed by the return of "I Can See Clearly Now", which re-entered the top 100 the following week on its way to becoming the band's biggest Australian hit.

"Close To Me (remix)" by The Cure
Peak: number 55
New track "Never Enough" had kicked off the promotion for The Cure's remix album, Mixed Up, but the band delved back into the past for the follow-up. A number 7 hit in early 1986, "Close To Me" was one of the band's most popular songs and pretty flawless in its original form. This minimalist version came with a completely new video, which continued the story of the band's experience in (and out of) the original clip's closet.

New Entries
Number 49 "Woman's Gotta Have It" by Wendy Matthews
Peak: number 34
It'd worked a treat for Absent Friends - giving the Australian supergroup their first and only major hit in "I Don't Want To Be With Nobody But You". But, would covering an old soul track from the 1970s be just as good a move for former Absent Friends singer Wendy Matthews? Originally released by Bobby Womack in 1972, "Woman's Gotta Have It" was chosen as the second single from Wendy's Émigré album - but perhaps it was too laidback a tune to grab the attention of the public in the way that ballad "Token Angels" had and her next, more upbeat single would.

Number 48 "Giving You The Benefit" by Pebbles
Peak: number 48
A brief in-and-out appearance on the top 50 for this US top 5 hit from the singer born Perri McKissack. "Giving You The Benefit" was yet another production by Pebbles' then-husband, LA Reid, and his partner in song, Babyface, that didn't cross over in Australia - and the lead single from her second album, Always. Once she'd finished promotion for the album, Pebbles turned her attention to the launch of an all-girl trio she'd signed to her fledgling management company, Pebbitone. You might have heard of the group: TLC.

Number 47 "Hell (You Put Me Through)" by Stephen Cummings
Peak: number 33
It'd been seven years since former The Sports singer Stephen Cummings had ventured inside the ARIA top 40 - despite releasing a steady stream of singles and albums in the intervening years. And, although "Hell (You Put Me Through)", which harked back to the sound of debut album Senso, broke his hit single drought, it was nowhere near as far-reaching as the "I Feel Better Now" jingle he co-wrote the previous year for Medibank Private.

Number 46 "Where Are You Baby?" by Betty Boo
Peak: number 19
Just as "Doin' The Do" was sliding down the chart, Betty Boo's second solo single charged into the top 50. The same mix of cutesy and feisty, "Where Are You Baby?" wasn't as huge as its predecessor, but it solidified the British rapper as one of the most exciting new artists of the time. Then it all went wrong. During a promotional tour in mid-1991, Betty was caught out lip-syncing when she dropped her microphone during a short set in a Melbourne nightclub. Even though dance acts like Betty were hardly selling records on the basis of their live performance skills, such obvious miming was a massive no-no in a post-Milli Vanilli world. The scandal destroyed any hope that the performer born Alison Clarkson would ever have another big hit in Australia.

Number 45 "Do The Bartman" by The Simpsons
Peak: number 1
Remember when The Simpsons was new and exciting? In 1991, it was a cartoon series like nothing we'd ever seen before. Irreverent, topical and with characters that were far from good role models for children - it's little surprise that the animated show quickly developed an audience of fans that spanned several generations. The most popular of those badly behaving characters - at least initially - was 10-year-old Bart, whose catchphrases were just waiting to be put to music.
In the end, however, it wasn't "Ay Caramba!" or "Eat My Shorts" that became Bart's spin-off single but a DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince-style rap called "Do The Bartman", which came with an accompanying dance. The Bartman may never have taken off as a dance craze, but the single raced to number 1 in Australia and the UK, and likely would have done the same in the US if it had have been released as a commercial single there.
Although he's not credited on the track, big Simpsons fan Michael Jackson actually co-wrote "Do The Bartman" and provided background vocals, but the terms of his record contract with Sony Music prevented his official involvement. 

Number 36 "All This Time" by Sting
Peak: number 26
He last appeared on the Australian top 50 in 1987 with "We'll Be Together", the lead single from the ...Nothing Like The Sun album, and in 1991, Sting returned to the chart with the first release from The Soul Cages. Once again, it would be the only single from the album to make the top 50. Despite its cheery sound, "All This Time" - and, in fact, the entire album - was written about the death of Sting's father.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1991:

Next week: the world's biggest boy band received a much-needed musical makeover. Plus, a dance/rap hybrid becomes the latest one-hit wonder on the ARIA chart.

Back to: Jan 20, 1991 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Feb 3, 1991

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

This Week In 1986: January 26, 1986

We'd had Band Aid, USA For Africa and, er, Incredible Penguins - and in 1986, the charity singles kept coming. On the ARIA chart from this week alone, two separate fundraising records by collectives of well-known performers reached the top 50.

With friends like these, chart domination was assured

One song was a touchy-feely cover of a Bacharach and Bayer Sager ballad, while the other was an angry protest record - and both went on to reach the Australian top 5. One of the singles went all the way to number 1.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending January 26, 1986

There was a new number 1 in Australia this week in 1986. "We Built This City" by Starship dislodged Midnight Oil to spend its first of four weeks on top.

Off The Chart
Number 100 "Go Home" by Stevie Wonder
Peak: number 92
He also appeared on one of this week's top 50 entries, but this second single from In Square Circle didn't match the success of predecessor "Part-Time Lover". In the US, "Go Home" remains Stevie's final top 10 hit.

Number 99 "Get Some Humour" by Jenny Morris
Peak: number 82
Three years after her first couple of singles, INXS backing singer Jenny Morris tried her hand at a solo career again. Good thing she didn't give up, success would come later in 1986.

Once again, I have nothing to talk about in this section since four of the breakers went on to make the top 50. And, I previously mentioned the fifth single, "Brothers In Arms" by Dire Straits, here.

New Entries
Number 44 "The Sun Always Shines On TV" by a-ha
Peak: number 19
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, here's the proof that a-ha were not one-hit wonders in Australia - a tag they're frequently saddled with. Sure, chart-topper "Take On Me" was not only a big hit but became a cultural phenomenon thanks to its cutting-edge music video. But, a top 20 placing for its follow-up should not be so easily dismissed. Especially when the song in question is as good as "The Sun Always Shines On TV".

After the pure pop delight that is "Take On Me", the atmospheric synths and moody vocals of "The Sun Always Shines On TV" was quite a change of pace from the Norwegian trio, although, as it would turn out, this style of song would prove to be more in line with the band's subsequent output. In the UK, "The Sun..." actually better the number 2 peak of "Take On Me" to give a-ha their only British chart-topper, while in their homeland, it was the second of five consecutive number 1s.

Number 43 "Don't Break My Heart" by UB40
Peak: number 37
Here's another band returning after an Australian number 1. For their next trick, UB40 followed up "I Got You Babe" with a song based around that single's B-side. Instrumental track "Theme From Labour Of Love" was the flip side to the reggae band's Sonny & Cher cover - and with added vocals it became "Don't Break My Heart". The sombre single didn't do anywhere near as well as "I Got You Babe" on the ARIA chart - although it did reach number 3 in the UK - and UB40 wouldn't be back in our top 50 until they recruited Chrissie Hynde for another collaboration in a couple of years.

Number 37 "One Vision" by Queen
Peak: number 35
Also peaking in the UK top 10 but in the 30s in Australia was this brand new single by Queen, which would wind up on their upcoming studio album, A Kind Of Magic. It was, at least, a return to the ARIA top 50 for the first time since 1984's "I Want To Break Free". For me, "One Vision" makes all the right noises of being another classic Queen anthem - crunching guitar riff, inspirational lyrics and a rousing vocal by Freddie Mercury - but it doesn't ever get to a big pay-off in the chorus.

Number 23 "Sun City" by Artists United Against Apartheid
Peak: number 4
Our first charity single is a song I haven't heard in close to 30 years - and that's probably because "Sun City" dealt with a state of affairs that no longer exists and did so in a very specific manner. In 1986, South Africa was still governed by a political party that enforced the policy of racial segregation known as apartheid - and part of the process of keeping races separate was the creation of independent states within South Africa where specific ethnic groups then had to reside. 
In one of these "bantustans" was the holiday resort of Sun City, which became involved in the international boycott against South Africa. Big-name musical acts had been invited to play at Sun City since its establishment in 1979, and despite the likes of Frank Sinatra, Cher and Queen accepting gigs there, many artists had started to say no. 
Masterminded by E Street Band member (and future star of The Sopranos) Steven Van Zandt and producer Arthur Baker, Artists United Against Apartheid was a protest group who made their intentions very clear through the single "Sun City". Featuring vocal contributions from, among others, Run-DMC, Pat Benatar, Bono, Bruce Springsteen and even our own Peter Garrett, the track's chorus declared: "I ain't gonna play Sun City".
As well as raising money for anti-apartheid efforts, "Sun City" helped make apartheid a hot-button issue in the way that Band Aid and USA For Africa had raised the level of awareness of starvation in Ethiopia. Only a moderate hit in the US, the single reached the top 5 in Australia, suggesting that this country's appetite for charitable records was undiminished.

Number 22 "Miami Vice Theme" by Jan Hammer
Peak: number 14
Last week, we saw the Glenn Frey single "You Belong To The City", which was written expressly for TV series Miami Vice - and here we find the crime show's theme tune. The synth-heavy instrumental was performed by its Czech composer, Jan Hammer, who even got to act out scenes from a pretend episode in the music video. By this stage, Miami Vice was so massive around the world that this Grammy Award-winning theme reached number 1 in the US. The accompanying soundtrack album, which debuted on this week's ARIA albums top 50, also hit the top in America - for a record-setting 11 weeks. Meanwhile, another Miami Vice-related single by Jan Hammer, "Crockett's Theme", climbed as high as number 2 in the UK. Australia was a little more conservative in its fandom.

Number 18 "That's What Friends Are For" by Dionne Warwick & Friends
Peak: number 1
The week's second new charity record couldn't have been more different to "Sun City" if it tried - and, incidentally, Elton John was one of the performers who had agreed to perform at the South African resort a few years earlier. But, while his decision making might have been questionable on that issue, he was at the forefront of artists supporting research into HIV/AIDS, which was the cause supported by this record.
Along with Stevie Wonder and Gladys Knight, Elton was recruited by Dionne Warwick to perform this cover version of "That's What Friends Are For", a tune penned by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager, and originally recorded by Rod Stewart. A full-on slush-fest that could only have been released in the '80s, the worthy single was a number 1 in Australia and the US (where it also topped the year-end chart), and a dual Grammy Award winner. 

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1986:

Next week: a flood of new entries, including solo singles by members of two hugely influential bands, a new local synthpop hit and one of the biggest European songs of 1985 finally swings its way down under.

Back to: Jan 19, 1986 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Feb 2, 1986

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

This Week In 1991: January 20, 1991

You'd think dance acts would have wised up after what happened to Milli Vanilli. Or Black Box. Or Technotronic. But no, this week in 1991, a new club smash debuted on the ARIA singles chart and brought with it yet another vocalist cover-up.

Not sure if the cover model ever received a proper credit for their work either

This time, though, the dance track emerged from the US, and the resulting legal action helped changed the way singers were credited. But, unlike Milli Vanilli's spectacular fall from grace, the artists behind the record only got bigger as the year progressed.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending January 20, 1991

An artist whose own fall from grace wasn't that far away held down the number 1 spot this week in 1991. "Ice Ice Baby" spent a second on top for Vanilla Ice.

Off The Chart
Number 97 "Say A Prayer" by Breathe
Peak: number 97
The British trio had enjoyed UK and US success with first album All That Jazz, but only America was still interested in follow-up Piece Of Mind. This best-performing single was remixed significantly from the album version.

"Knockin' Boots" by Candyman
Peak: number 58
It was one thing for the more serious, issue-driven music of Public Enemy and N.W.A. to struggle to find a mainstream audience in Australia. But, if any rap song was going to be a hit here in early 1991, you'd have thought it would've been cheeky ditty "Knockin' Boots". Incorporating the well-known melodic hook from "Ooh Boy" by Rose Royce and the bassline from "Tonight's The Night" by Betty Wright - and given the blessing of double hit-maker Tone Lōc (who can be heard on the song's intro) - the track was a top 10 hit in the States for Candell Manson (aka Candyman). 

"Wash Your Face In My Sink" by Dream Warriors
Peak: number 57
Here's another hip-hop track that you would've thought was poppy enough to appeal to the finicky Australian public. But, the Canadian duo comprised of Frank "Capital Q" Allert and Louis "King Lou" Robinson were slightly ahead of the curve, with a jazz rap song not breaking through on the ARIA chart until mid-year when De La Soul succeeded with a single that had a big fat gimmicky hook. "Wash Your Face In My Sink" was Dream Warriors' debut single and featured a sample from "Hang On Sloopy" by Count Basie.

New Entries
Number 47 "Power Of Love" by Deee-Lite
Peak: number 47
With "Groove Is In The Heart" still in the top 20 after 15 weeks on the chart, it was pretty clear that Deee-Lite's number 1 debut was going to be hard to match. And, as history has shown, the dance trio never did come anywhere near equalling that success, despite follow-ups like "Power Of Love" and "Good Beat" also being excellent tracks. For me, this brief appearance by "Power Of Love" in the ARIA top 50 is enough to disqualify Deee-Lite as a one-hit wonder, but technicalities aside, that's the tag they've ended up being saddled with. Interestingly (or not, you decide), "Power Of Love" also peaked at number 47 in the US, while the single at least had success on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart, on which it became Deee-Lite's second consecutive number 1.

Number 44 "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)" by C&C Music Factory featuring Freedom Williams
Peak: number 3
Correct me I'm wrong, but besides Deee-Lite, pretty much the only other big dance act to emerge from America - as opposed to the UK or continental Europe - in the early '90s was C&C Music Factory. And, dance tracks didn't get much bigger than "Gonna Make You Sweat...". From its introductory synth riff to Freedom Williams' rapid-fire rap to the huge wailing vocals courtesy of an uncredited Martha Wash, it was edgy enough to work in clubs but catchy enough to become a top 5 chart smash. In the US, it topped the Billboard Hot 100.
Formed by David Cole and Robert Clivillés (who would become the year's hottest producers, going on to work with Michael Jackson and Mariah Carey), C&C Music Factory did share one thing in common with their European peers - they were embroiled in a legal dispute after it emerged that Zelma Davis, who appears in the video for "Gonna Make You Sweat...", did not perform on the record. I've written previously about Martha Wash's legal battles, so I won't go into all that again, but her court actions against C&C Music Factory (and Black Box) did change the way guest vocalists had to be credited on songs - which is why we now often have cast-of-thousands credits. 

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1991:

Next week: one of the year's biggest TV shows spawns a chart-topping single, plus a male artist returns with his first new music in four years and it all goes horribly wrong for a promising pop star.

Back to: Jan 13, 1991 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jan 27, 1991

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

This Week In 1986: January 19, 1986

Since its launch in July 1983, a pile of ARIA charts had been available at record stores each and every week for customers to pick up a copy and take it home with them. Then, at the start of 1986, some killjoy decided to do away with the handy printouts and produce poster-size copies of the top 50 singles and albums instead.

Grace Jones returned to music with a tasty treat

These large-format charts were displayed in-store and now sell for huge amounts on eBay. Of course, several months later, the smaller-sized sheets were reinstated and remained available for the next 12 years. I wonder if there was some sort of outcry from chart collectors or whether stores got fed up with people crowding around the single copy of the chart on display.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending January 19, 1986

The first number 1 on the new-look chart was the same chart-topper as for the week previously. Species Deceases by Midnight Oil was the most popular record in the country for a sixth and final week.

Off The Chart
Number 99 "King Of Kings" by Models
Peak: number 96
Likely released due to its seasonal appropriateness rather than any chance it'd be a big hit, this fifth single from Out Of Mind Out Sight became the first to miss the top 50.

Number 92 "Turn Up The Beat" by Tina
Peak: number 92
And here I was thinking "I Need Your Body" was Tina Arena's debut single. Not so, although this jaunty little number was a bit of a career false start for the then-18-year-old ex-Young Talent Time cast member.

As part of the new chart layout, the breakers section was added for the first time - and would remain a chart fixture until mid-August 1992. In general, the songs listed were the next five singles outside the top 50 that were moving up the chart. Although, as we've seen on my 1987-92 posts, that wasn't always the case. As it turns out, all five of this week's breakers would end up reaching the top 50, and so we'll get to them when they do so.

New Entries
Number 50 "You Belong To The City" by Glenn Frey
Peak: number 20
Could this song be any more mid-'80s? 1) It's a solo single by a member of the Eagles, 2) it features a whopping great sax solo and 3) it's taken from the TV series Miami Vice, which can be seen playing on every TV screen in the music video. By this stage, the crime show had become known for its use of pop music in its weekly episodes and, naturally, a spin-off soundtrack album was the obvious next step. 
"You Belong To The City" was one of two songs by Glenn Frey on the first soundtrack album - and in this case was especially written for the show. The other, "Smuggler's Blues", had initially appeared on his last album, Allnighter, before Miami Vice named an episode after it and recruited Glenn to guest star in it. The soundtrack album made its ARIA top 50 debut the following week, while for Glenn this marked his second straight soundtrack hit in Australia, following "The Heat Is On" into the top 20.

Number 49 "See The Day" by Dee C Lee
Peak: number 5
Solo success had been some time coming for the singer born Diane Sealy, who'd made a name for herself as Dee C Lee performing backing vocals in both Wham! and The Style Council. Three previous singles had flopped for Dee before dramatic ballad "See The Day" became a top 5 hit in both Australia and the UK. It would prove to be Dee's only hit, but she carried on performing with soon-to-be-husband Paul Weller in The Style Council until the band broke up at the end of the decade. "See The Day" would return to the UK top 10 thanks to a wholly unnecessary cover version by Girls Aloud in 2005.

Number 46 "Kabuki" by Geisha
Peak: number 42
Their first two singles, "Fool's Way" and "Rainy Day", had missed the top 50, but third time was the charm for Geisha with the Eastern-influenced "Kabuki" giving the band their first chart hit. Like V-Capri in Perth, Geisha were disproportionately - but understandably - popular in their hometown of Melbourne, where "Kabuki" progressed much further on the state chart. The band would give "Rainy Day" another shot later in 1986, before moving on to their second album - and landing their first decent-sized hit as a result.

Number 44 "Tonight She Comes" by The Cars
Peak: number 16
After five studio albums dating back to 1978, The Cars had earnt themselves a greatest hits collection - even if the new wave band had only managed four decent-sized hits in Australia. This poppy brand new track became their fifth. Following the release of Greatest Hits, the band splintered off for various solo projects - with Rik Ocasek achieving a top 10 hit later in 1986. A sixth studio album from The Cars would emerge in 1987, but the band didn't make any further top 50 appearances on the ARIA singles chart.

Number 43 "King For A Day" by Thompson Twins
Peak: number 20
Here's another band coming to the end of their chart success in Australia. After five top 30 entries extending back to early 1983 and breakthrough single "Lies", this third release from Here's To Future Days made it a sixth and final hit for the British trio. Three became two when Joe Leeway quite the band later in the year, but Tom Bailey and Alannah Currie carried on regardless, releasing three more albums before finally calling it a day in 1993.

Number 39 "Slave To The Rhythm" by Grace Jones
Peak: number 20
Our third new single of the week to peak at number 20 is also the biggest hit of Grace Jones's career. "Slave To The Rhythm" came a decade after her debut single and three years after her only other Australian top 40 hit, "Nipple To The Bottle" (number 33 in early 1983). Since that last chart appearance, Grace had memorable roles in films Conan The Destroyer and A View To A Kill, but returned to music with a bang.
Co-written and produced by Trevor Horn, "Slave To The Rhythm" was originally intended for Frankie Goes To Hollywood but instead passed on to Grace and an entire album built around the one song. The eight tracks on Slave To The Rhythm are remixes and variations of "Slave..." - and, confusingly, the single version is actually closest to the album track called "Ladies And Gentlemen: Miss Grace Jones" as opposed to the album's title track.
Easily her best known song, "Slave To The Rhythm" was remixed in 1994 for compilation album Zance (A Decade Of Dance From ZTT) and was performed in 2012 by a hula-hooping Grace as part of the Diamond Jubilee Concert.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1986:

Next week: Another song linked to Miami Vice leaps into the top 50, as do two big charity records and the follow-up to a number 1 single from 1985.

Back to: Jan 12, 1986 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jan 26, 1986

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

This Week In 1991: January 13, 1991

In yesterday's trip back to the first ARIA singles chart of 1986, we saw a new entry by a band on the cusp of breaking up. Before long, the singer would embark on a hugely successful solo career. By 1991, he'd had about as much of the spotlight as he could take.

Freedom is not even having to appear in your own music videos

This week in 1991, the latest release by the singer in question reached the top 50 and was accompanied by a music video in which he didn't even appear. He was famous and popular enough to get away with it, but it would be the point of no return as far as his career was concerned... in more ways than one.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending January 13, 1991

Meanwhile, an artist who was seemingly lapping up his new-found fame finally knocked those pesky Righteous Brothers off the number 1 spot. "Ice Ice Baby" by Vanilla Ice rolled up to the top for the first week in a three-week stay.

Off The Chart
Number 100 "One And Only Man" by Steve Winwood
Peak: number 100
No surprise this lead single from Refugees Of The Heart was a much bigger hit in the US, where it reached the top 20. Steve co-wrote this with former Traffic band-mate Jim Capaldi.

Number 99 "Cross Of Love" by Stray Cats
Peak: number 94
The rockabilly band's latest attempt to recapture their early '80s glory came with a much harder sound than on previous hits "Runaway Boys" (number 15 in 1981) and "(She's) Sexy And 17" (number 21 in 1983).

Number 96 "Good Morning Britain" by Aztec Camera with Mick Jones
Peak: number 65
This song - taken, coincidentally, from the album Stray - actually sounds more like Stray Cats. Joining Aztec Camera for the single was Mick Jones from The Clash and Big Audio Dynamite.

Number 88 "I Don't Have The Heart" by James Ingram
Peak: number 78
He'd reached the ARIA top 40 twice with two duets (alongside Patti Austin and Linda Ronstadt) and the US number 1 spot with this big ballad, but Australia was largely unmoved.

"Anything Is Possible" by Debbie Gibson
Peak: number 60 
There comes a time in every former teen star's career when they decide to mature their sound and image. That point came for Debbie Gibson with her third album, Anything Is Possible. Released when she was 20 years old, the 16-track (12 on vinyl) epic saw her co-write songs for the first time in her recording career - with legendary Motown songwriter and producer Lamont Dozier no less. "Anything Is Possible" was one of the fruits of that collaboration and its brooding sound was a far cry from "Shake Your Love" or "Electric Youth" - although Debbie couldn't resist including a big of formation dancing in the video. 
Unfortunately for Debbie, the transformation didn't pay off, with the single doing worse than all but one of her previous singles in the US, while in the UK, not even a PWL remix could help the song rise above number 51. In Australia, the track also under-performed when compared to the first hit from each of her previous two albums (although a number 60 position was on par with a lot of her other releases) - and this would be the last time we'd see Debbie inside the top 100.

"Can't Do Nuttin' For Ya Man" by Public Enemy
Peak: number 59
Last week, we saw hip-hop group N.W.A. achieve their first top 50 hit, but once again fellow rappers Public Enemy fell just short - for the fifth time in under a year. With their debut single still on the top 100 after making a belated appearance in late 1990, the group charted with this latest release from Fear Of A Black Planet. After more intense tracks "Fight The Power" and "Welcome To The Terrordome", "Can't Do Nuttin' For Ya Man" showed the lighter side to Public Enemy - and if any track was going to break through to a more mainstream audience, it would've been this. But at this point, Australian preferred rap to come from the likes of MC Hammer, Young MC and this week's chart-topper, Vanilla Ice. 

"Let's Try It Again" by New Kids On The Block
Peak: number 51
So this is what happens when you let Danny Wood sing lead? To be fair, the reason "Let's Try It Again" failed isn't entirely the fault of the boy band's fourth main singer, who'd never featured on a fully fledged single before. The main problem is it's a terrible song - dated and cheesy, with cheap-sounding production. Even in 1991. Also working against NKOTB at this point in their career was a) the fact that music trends were moving away from pure pop and b) the group's unrelenting release schedule had caused them to wear out their welcome. As we'll see in coming months, problem a) was addressed, while problem b) was ignored as the five-piece pressed on in the hopes that they could weather the storm.

New Entries
Number 49 "Anything Is Possible" by Icehouse
Peak: number 49
Just when it looked like Icehouse was back on track, this follow-up to "Miss Divine" returned the band to the bottom end of the chart - a region they were becoming all too familiar with thanks to under-performing singles "Jimmy Dean" and "Big Fun". Truth be told, like those other flops, "Anything Is Possible" was incredibly ordinary and it seemed that the band that'd had a pretty much flawless run of singles during the '80s had lost the magic as soon as we hit the '90s. Seems like this particular song title was cursed, with Icehouse's "Anything Is Possible" proving to be the band's final ever top 50 appearance.

Number 44 "Little Darling" by Jimmy Barnes
Peak: number 39
Here's another Australian act struggling with their latest single, but in Jimmy Barnes's case, it was his first single of the 1990s not to ascend to his customary chart heights. After two singles co-written with some of the world's best songwriters, "Little Darling" was entirely Jimmy's handiwork - and even a non-fan like me found it somewhat pedestrian. Good news for Jimmy was that he had another sure-fire hit from Two Fires up his sleeve and he'd be back in the top 10 before long.

Number 43 "I've Been Thinking About You" by Londonbeat
Peak: number 1
Just when you thought we'd never get to a decent-sized hit this week - here's a future chart-topping single by a British band with an American singer that had its first hits in the Netherlands. Londonbeat's biggest single up until this point had been "9 AM (The Comfort Zone)", which I seem to remember being given odds to take out the 1988 UK Christmas number 1. It didn't come close to achieving that, but this lead single from the band's second album, In The Blood, almost reached the top in Britain. 
"I've Been Thinking About You" actually dated back to Londonbeat's first album, Speak, but the cheery dance/pop track was left on the shelf until album number two - when it became a worldwide smash. Following its UK number 2 success, the song went all the way in the US and Australia, where it ruled the chart for four weeks. Two videos exist for the song - the original clip is below, while there's a link to an alternate music video made for the US market in the song title above.

Number 38 "Freedom!" by George Michael
Peak: number 18
After releasing a simple lyric video for "Praying For Time", the lead single from Listen Without Prejudice Vol 1, George Michael once again opted not to appear in the music video for the album's next single. Instead, "Freedom!" (aka "Freedom! '90", to avoid confusion with Wham!'s 1984 single "Freedom") was accompanied by a clip featuring five of the world's most successful models, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, Tatjana Patitz and Christy Turlington, miming the song's lyrics. 
Written about George's desire to "play the game" a different way, "Freedom!" made it clear he was turning his back on his pop star image of old. To really hammer the point home, the jukebox, guitar and leather jacket from the "Faith" video exploded in flames in the David Fincher-directed clip. Obviously, even though George wasn't actually onscreen, the music video was noteworthy - and expensive - enough to go on high rotation. 
As a result, the single was another top 10 hit for him in the US. In Australia and the UK (where it reached a disappointing number 28), "Freedom!" wasn't as big as you might have expected a second single from a George Michael album to be. As we'll see in coming months, George's insistence to shy away from publicity would go on to have implications beyond low chart positions with his relationship with his record company souring due to his stance.

Number 22 "Fantasy" by Black Box
Peak: number 3
After the relative failure of the Italian dance group's previous effort, "Everybody Everybody", in the UK and Australia, it made sense for them to change tack. Slowing the tempo down, Black Box released their cover of "Fantasy", originally a smooth funk single which reached number 25 for Earth, Wind & Fire in 1978. Putting aside the thumping piano house for a second went down a storm, with the single restoring Black Box to the top 5 in both countries - and giving model Katrin Quinol the chance to flounce around in a flowing white dress while lip syncing instead of having to keep up with sampled lyrics and high-energy dance moves. Vocals on the track were, once again, actually provided by Martha Wash.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1991:

Next week: one of the best dance tracks of the entire decade debuts - and once again came with some Martha Wash-related controversy. Plus, another dance act sneak into the top 50 to break their one-hit wonder curse (not that anyone remembers!).

Back to: Jan 6, 1991 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jan 20, 1991

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

This Week In 1986: January 12, 1986

Welcome to 1986! At least, welcome to my recap of what was happening on the ARIA singles chart that year. If you're just joining us, each week I'll take a look back at all the new songs to appear on the top 50 - and provide a brief snapshot of the top 100 entries that never made it onto the printed chart available in all good record stores (and probably a few bad ones).

Wham! did it right with one of the best songs released in 1985

The first chart bearing a date in 1986 also covered the last week of 1985 and was the end of an era for the ARIA top 50. Having more or less maintained the same format since its launch in July 1983, the printout was about to undergo a massive change - but more on that next week.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - three weeks ending January 12, 1986 

Holding down the number 1 position 30 years ago this week was Midnight Oil's Species Deceases EP, which, thanks to the extended period covered by this chart, added three weeks to take its tally to five weeks on top.

Off The Chart
Number 93 "One Night Love Affair" by Bryan Adams
Peak: number 85
He'd already landed three big hits from Reckless, so going for a fourth was probably pushing it. This tale of a one-night stand was, however, yet another successful single for Bryan in North America.

Number 86 "Small Town" by John Cougar Mellencamp
Peak: number 80
Here's another single that did much better in North America than on the ARIA chart - and that's despite the song about JCM's Indiana upbringing being only the second release from Scarecrow.

Number 76 "Dancing On A String" by Time Bandits
Peak: number 76
Just as "Listen To The Man With The Golden Voice" failed to match the success of "I Am Only Shooting Love", so too did this follow-up to "Endless Road" falter for the Dutch synthpop band. Dodgy video alert!

New Entries
Number 47 "My Hometown / Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town" by Bruce Springsteen
Peak: number 47
Thanks to this double A-side single, we have two songs this week about singers' hometowns and two festive tunes - with The Boss including one of each on this release. The seventh and final song lifted from Born In The USA, "My Hometown" was no doubt boosted up the ARIA chart by the presence of Bruce's 1975 live rendition of the Christmas classic, which had previously only been available on a 1982 kids' compilation. By reaching number 47, the single became the seventh top 50 hit from the album in Australia. In the US, it was even better news, with "My Hometown" making it seven out of seven top 10 hits from Born In The USA

Number 11 "I'm Your Man" by Wham!
Peak: number 3
After a blockbuster 1984, during which both Wham! and singer George Michael registered separate number 1 singles in Australia, it had been a quiet 1985 for the pop duo. Well, they did become the first Western pop group to tour China that year, but there was a notable absence of new releases, with only "Everything She Wants" hitting the chart earlier in 1985 - and that had originally been the B-side of 1984 festive single "Last Christmas". Then, in the dying weeks of the year, a brand new single emerged.
Thankfully, "I'm Your Man" was worth the wait. An energetic song that recaptured the pure joy of earlier hits like "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" and "Freedom", it quickly became my favourite song by George and partner-in-pop Andrew Ridgeley. Seems I wasn't the only one who loved it. In Australia, the track spent five weeks at number 3, the same position it reached in the US - while in Britain, it became their third chart-topper and was joined in the UK top 10 over the holidays by a re-release of "Last Christmas/Everything She Wants". Clearly, absence just served to make pop fans' hearts fonder and Wham! was still one of the biggest music acts in the world. Those hearts were about to be broken...

Number 10 "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" by Incredible Penguins
Peak: number 10
It might seem odd for a Christmas song to be appearing in mid-January, but of course this ARIA chart was in record stores for the three-week period from December 23, 1985 to January 12, 1986 - and would've reflected sales from before that. Even so, had the charity cover of the John Lennon tune been released slightly earlier, it might've enjoyed a longer chart life than its run of 90-10-26-45-79-81 and, in turn, raised more money for its cause. Yes, it technically spent three weeks at number 10, but you get what I mean.
Anyway, as for the specific charity - fittingly, the record was released to raise money to go towards research into the reasons for the declining numbers of little penguins in Australia. That's actually the official name - I'm not just describing how big they are - of the type of penguin also known as fairy penguins. The cause was chosen by single mastermind Molly Meldrum, who also produced the track and recruited singers such as John Farnham, Angry Anderson, Scott Carne, Colin Hay, Brians Canham and Mannix, and even Bob Geldof to feature on it, backed by covers band Incredible Penguins.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1986:

Next week: the ARIA chart goes through its first major transformation. Plus, six new entries from Grace Jones, Thompson Twins, The Cars and more.

If you want something to read before then, the link at the bottom takes you back to the last chart of 1985 (and that post has links to every other week in 1985). And if you are interested in what I was listening to in 1986, my personal top 100 for the year is here. Oh, and I'll be heading back to 1991 tomorrow as part of my 25 Years Ago... posts.

Back to: Dec 22, 1985 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jan 19, 1986