Thursday, 12 May 2016

This Week In 1991: May 12, 1991

When would it end? This week in 1991, the megamix craze that had resulted in a string of chart hits since the late '80s produced its biggest single yet. 

John Travolta was back in the chart for the first time in 13 years

And like the Jive Bunny records that I blame for resurrecting the medley genre, the future chart-topper delved way back into the past for its inspiration, combining three top 40 hits from 1978 - including a number 1 single.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending May 12, 1991

The number 1 single this week in 1991 was still the Tingles EP by Ratcat. Having spent so long getting to the top, it wasn't about to surrender without a fight - or, as we'll see in coming weeks, record company intervention.

Off The Chart
Number 95 "Mercy Mercy Me/I Want You" by Robert Palmer
Peak: number 89
His remake (with UB40) of "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" had reached the top 5 earlier in the year, but there was less interest in this medley of two Marvin Gaye tracks from the 1970s.

Number 92 "Sex Cymbal" by Sheila E
Peak: number 88
Not even references to her seven-year-old hit "The Glamorous Life" could turn this single, the title track from the singer/percussionist's fourth studio album, into a hit.

"Mea Culpa Part II" by Enigma
Peak: number 55
As you'd expect, the novelty of Gregorian chants set to dance beats sure wore off quickly - although it didn't help that "Mea Culpa Part II" was nowhere near as inspired as "Sadness Part I". Still, the second release from Enigma did help parent album MCMXC a.D. about face and head back into top 10 for a second stint in June, so at least it was good for something.

New Entries
Number 49 "Are You Ready" by AC/DC
Peak: number 18
By reaching number 18, this third single from The Razors Edge gave AC/DC three top 40 hits from the one album for the first time since way back in 1975/76 when a trio of tracks from T.N.T. ("High Voltage", "It's A Long Way To The Top" and the title track) charted inside the top 20. Interestingly, the official music video for "Are You Ready" was on YouTube when I started putting this post together, but in the time it's taken me to publish, it has been removed. Odd.

Number 46 "Just The Way It Is, Baby" by The Rembrandts
Peak: number 26
It's been completely overshadowed by a certain sitcom theme the band recorded later in the decade, but this was a solid debut single from American duo The Rembrandts. Not as big a hit in Australia as I seem to remember it being - although it did get plenty of airplay - "Just The Way It Is, Baby" tells a little story with its lyrics. It starts off with a spurned lover pining over his ex-girlfriend, only for her to tell him, "Just the way it is, baby". Then, when she comes crawling back, he's moved on and tells her, "Just the way it is, baby".

Number 45 "One More Try" by Timmy T
Peak: number 36
Anything Stevie B could do, it seemed fellow freestyle performer Timmy T could do, too. Well, almost. Having launched himself with the upbeat US top 40 hit "Time After Time", the singer born Timmy Torres unleashed his own drippy ballad, which matched "Because I Love You (The Postman Song)" by reaching number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Timmy couldn't, however, convince quite as many Australians to snap up the sickly "One More Time", with the song just scraping into the bottom of the top 40. 

Number 42 "Where Are You Now" by Roxus
Peak: number 13
Another act turning to a ballad to try and ignite some interest among the record-buying public was Aussie rock band Roxus, who'd charted between numbers 33 and 60 with their three previous releases. "Where Are You Now" changed all that with the lighters-aloft power ballad almost taking Juno Roxas and mates into the top 10. The success wouldn't last, however. As we'll see in coming months, Roxus returned to the lower reaches of the chart with subsequent singles from their upcoming Nightstreet album.

Number 37 "Deep, Deep Trouble" by The Simpsons
Peak: number 35
Now this was a bit of a surprise. After topping the chart just as their TV show was making its debut on Network Ten, The Simpsons bombed out with this follow-up to "Do The Bartman". And it's not like everyone was buying the album instead - The Simpsons Sing The Blues had hardly set the chart alight itself, having peaked at number 24 in March. So why the lack of love for "Deep, Deep Trouble"? Once again, it was focussed on the animated series' breakout star, Bart Simpson (who was initially more popular than Homer), with the 10-year-old (voiced by Nancy Cartwright) relating some of the times he'd gotten in trouble over a hip-hop-lite beat. Co-written and co-produced by DJ Jazzy Jeff, this was basically a Fresh Prince song without Will Smith - but since that rap duo's work had yet to be truly appreciated in Australia, perhaps it's not actually that surprising that "Deep, Deep Trouble" also didn't work here.

Number 36 "The Grease Megamix" by Olivia Newton-John & John Travolta
Peak: number 1
From one musical novelty, we move to another... the most successful megamix single on the ARIA chart since the reemergence of the format in the late '80s. Thanks to both Jive Bunny and the slew of dance acts who utilised the medley for their own nefarious purposes, we'd seen several megamix singles climb the top 50 in the previous two years. But this cobbled together compile of the three biggest hits from the Grease soundtrack topped them all, staying at number 1 for five weeks - two more weeks than "Swing The Mood" had managed in 1989.
Originally released in the UK in December, "The Grease Megamix" had been commissioned from PWL producers Ian Curnow and Phil Harding to help promote the release of the 1978 musical starring Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta on video. Given Australia's love for the film and its songs - the soundtrack spent nine weeks at number 1 in 1978 - it was only a matter of time before the medley was released locally. 
Comprising "You're The One That I Want" (also number 1 for nine weeks), "Greased Lightnin'" (number 40) and "Summer Nights" (number 6), the megamix was impressively done, especially considering it slowed right down for the start of the third song without sounding too clunky. Within no time, "The Grease Megamix" was a staple at hen's nights, 21st birthdays and wedding receptions, while the parent album also returned to the top the ARIA chart for another three weeks. 
This wouldn't be the last we'd hear of either "The Grease Megamix" or the soundtrack, with both returning to the charts in 1998 to coincide with the movie's 20th anniversary.

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

Next week: an act with another megamix on the chart debuts with a new single (that probably should've been included in their megamix), plus one of the targets of Pet Shop Boys' "How Can You Expect To Be Taken Seriously?" returns to the top 50.

Back to: May 5, 1991 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: May 19, 1991

1 comment:

  1. I wouldn't have picked at the time that 'I'll Be Your Baby Tonight' was Robert Palmer's last hit here.

    Don't think I've heard 'Sex Cymbal' since catching it on Power Cuts at the time. She looks quite different in it to the 'Glamorous Life' video.

    I liked 'Mea Culpa', but preferred the album version (Part I?), which is the audio used in the video you've embedded. The single version was quite different, and slower. It's uploaded on their Vevo channel:

    Strange that the AC/DC video disappeared. They were on Sony, and I've noticed that my Chimes (also on Sony) videos go through periods of being allowed/blocked on youtube. The singer sounds like Gonzo from the Muppets on this.

    I also prefer this Rembrandts track to 'I'll Be There For You'. It also received a lot of airplay in Melbourne.

    'One More Try' has that could-have-been-bought-in-K-Mart cheap bass synthesizer sound, combined with some NKOTB drum machine sounds. As sappy as it is, I don't mind it actually.

    'Deep, Deep Trouble' was better than 'Do the Bartman', but still not that good.

    A while before hearing the song, I saw 'Grease Megamix' listed in the UK top 10 in Smash Hits and being quite shocked. It is well-mixed together, but not being overly familiar with the originals at the time, I remember thinking it sounded like they'd just segued the tracks together without any mixing done to overlap them.