Wednesday, 29 November 2017

This Week In 1992: November 29, 1992

By 1992, it was nothing new for a soap star to try their hand at a music career. We'd had Kylie, Jason, Craig, Melissa... and this week that year, another cast member from E Street joined the gang.

Toni Pearen became the latest soapie actress to visit the top 10

She didn't reach the chart highs of her fellow double threats, but she did manage a couple of top 10 singles, starting with her debut release - a song you never really hear much of anymore. 

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending November 29, 1992

Meanwhile, at number 1 this week in 1992 were Boyz II Men, whose mega-ballad "End Of The Road" spent a second week on top. 

Off The Chart
Number 100 "Baby I Need Your Loving" by Movida
Peak: number 99
This Eurodance-style remake of the Four Tops classic (a US number 11 in 1964) actually originated out of Australia, but is yet to find its way online.

Number 99 "This Is It" by Ruth Campbell
Peak: number 99
Another commercial dance cover now - and this remake of the Melba Moore disco tune was a favourite of mine in 1992, despite dating back to 1990. Why the renewed interest? Keep reading...

Number 97 "Tears" by Jenny Morris
Peak: number 92
Another reworking, although Jenny Morris had been the singer of the previous version of "Tears" the debut single of her former band The Crocodiles. This update appeared on her best of album.

Number 93 "You Gotta Believe" by Marky Mark & The Funky Bunch
Peak: number 55
Hands up if you'd forgotten Mark Wahlberg (and friends) released a second album? I had, although I don't think I've ever listened to this poorly received lead single and title track before. 

Single Of The Week
"Can't Wait Any Longer" by Southern Sons
Peak: number 111
If lead single "Lead Me To Water" had been a disappointment then this follow-up was a disaster as it became the first Southern Sons single to miss the top 100 completely. I actually think "Can't Wait Any Longer" is a better song than its predecessor - at least, the chorus is, but it's kind of boring until it gets there. Sitting on their Nothing But The Truth album, however, was a ballad that would save the band (for the time being) when it was released as single number three in 1993.

New Entries
Number 46 "Scars" by 1927
Peak: number 46
While Southern Sons were doing a 1927 (i.e. going from major success on their first album to struggling second time around), the latter returned with their self-titled third album in 1992 and didn't find the Australian public any more receptive than when they'd last visited the ARIA chart in 1990. Yes, 1927's lead single, "Scars", did return them to the top 50, but only just and they too would see their next single, "It Ain't Love", miss the top 100 altogether.

Number 42 "The Last Song" by Elton John
Peak: number 32
Also returning to the top 50 was a man who'd visited it many times before, but not with previous single "Runaway Train". Written in the wake of the death of Freddie Mercury from an AIDS-related illness, "The Last Song" is a poignant ballad about a father getting to grips with the fact that his estranged son is dying from the deadly disease.

Number 40 "December 1963 (Oh What A Night) (remix)" by The Four Seasons featuring Frankie Valli
Peak: number 3
If there was one song that provided the soundtrack to school formals and summer parties across 1992-93, it was this track, which had originally reached number 2 in Australia in 1976. One of many songs to have received the Ben Liebrand remix treatment in 1988 (when it was released in Europe), the dance version of "December 1963 (Oh What A Night)" finally became a hit locally four years later. Although The Four Seasons member Frankie Valli receives a featuring credit on this single, much of the lead vocal is performed by drummer Gerri Polci and it was co-written by keyboard player Bob Gaudio, who originally set it in 1933 when Prohibition ended. The date was changed before it was recorded. It's not stated explicitly, but the song is about a guy having sex for the first time.

Number 38 "You Don't Treat Me No Good" by Sonia Dada
Peak: number 1
Another song that was massive the summer of '92-'93, finally reaching number 1 in the season's final week, was this debut single by American soul and R&B band Sonia Dada. Not successful at home, they were embraced wholeheartedly in Australia, with two top 3 singles and a number 2 self-titled album. "You Don't Treat Me No Good" was another song that benefitted from a dance remix, which opened it up to a much wider audience and helped it become the third highest-selling single of 1993.

Number 37 "Sweet Love" by Company Of Strangers
Peak: number 21
A change of pace now for Australian supergroup Company Of Strangers, who followed up the rousing sing-along "Motor City (I Get Lost)" with rock ballad "Sweet Love", which brought them even closer to the top 20. The song featured a solo lead vocal by James Reyne, with Daryl Braithwaite relegated to the background. In between scenes of the band performing, the music video also features different depictions of love, including, surprisingly for 1992, what seems to be a same-sex couple.

Number 36 "In Your Room" by Toni Pearen
Peak: number 10
Anyone who'd been watching Network Ten about a year earlier would've discovered E Street cast member Toni Pearen could sing - and a whole lot better than Melissa, if we're being honest. I always thought it was a wasted opportunity for Toni not to release the version of "This Is It" she performed on a Network Ten promo, but instead she waited until the end of 1992 as she was leaving the soap that had made her famous to launch her music career with top 10 hit "In Your Room". A cheery pop ditty co-written by Oliver Lieber (some of Paula Abdul's early singles) and Ellen Shipley (Belinda Carlisle's big hits), it steered clear of the sexy leanings of her chart-topping cast-mate and suited the 20-year-old's girl-next-door image perfectly. I was never sure about those coloured spanx, though.

Number 35 "People Everyday" by Arrested Development
Peak: number 6
They'd put themselves on the map with "Tennessee" and Arrested Development went one better by making the top 10 with second single "People Everyday". Based on the similarly named "Everyday People" by Sly & The Family Stone, the track featured verses written by Speech about his discovery of more diverse African-American culture than he'd grown up with in middle America. "People Everyday" remains the hip-hop band's biggest hit in Australia.

Number 33 "Faith" by The Dukes
Peak: number 29
While Wendy Matthews had embarked on a quite successful solo career - "The Day You Went Away" moved up to number 3 this week - some of the other Absent Friends, including her other half, Sean Kelly, formed The Dukes. After striking out with debut single "Gonna Get High", they found themselves in the right section of the chart with follow-up "Faith". A much more commercial offering, the brass-tinged "Faith" would be as good as it got in terms of chart success for the fledgling band, who had parted ways by 1994.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1992:

Next week: one of the greatest power ballads of all time debuts on its way to monopolise the number 1 spot, while a parody version of another long-running chart-topper also arrives.

Back to: Nov 22, 1992 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Dec 6, 1992

Saturday, 25 November 2017

This Week In 1984: November 25, 1984

There are big chart weeks and then there was the ARIA singles top 50 from this week in 1984. Among the 10 new entries - the most for the year - were a chart-topper, a number 2, a number 3 and a number 5, plus a bunch of other songs that really should've been that big.

She made it through the wilderness but could Madonna navigate Venice's maze-like canals?

Easily the song that had the most impact was the lead single from a female artist's second album. As well as getting to number 1, the track would turn her from successful pop singer into a superstar.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending November 25, 1984

As a bonus, her future number 1 single would be the one to knock "I Just Called To Say I Love You" off the top spot. Although not for a few weeks, with Stevie Wonder spending his sixth (of eight) week atop the chart this week in 1984.

Off The Chart
Number 84 "Your Love Is King" by Sade
Peak: number 64
One of two singles debuting on the top 100 this week from the sophisti-pop band named after singer Sade Adu. We'll see the other one do significantly better next week.

Number 73 "It's Magic" by John Justin
Peak: number 63
It'd take three years and a remake for John Justin to breach the top 50, something he couldn't do with this debut single, which featured the musical talents of Kate Ceberano (backing vocals), James Freud (bass) and Phil Calvert (drums).

New Entries
Number 50 "Shooting From The Heart" by Cliff Richard
Peak: number 47
The only one of the 10 new entries not to make the top 30 was the latest from Cliff Richard. "Shooting From The Heart" was taken from The Rock Collection, an album cobbled together from previously released (but not widely available) material and some new tracks, including this tune written by prolific songwriter Roger Greenaway. The song maintained a string of under-achieving singles dating back two years for Cliff, who, if nothing else, still had enough of a fanbase to register minor hits in Australia.

Number 47 "Together In Electric Dreams" by Giorgio Moroder with Philip Oakey
Peak: number 5
The Human League's singles had also been under-performing lately, with the second and third tracks lifted from Hysteria not making a showing in the ARIA top 100. While it would be a couple of years before the British synthpop band returned to the chart, frontman Philip Oakey enjoyed a top 5 hit with this soundtrack single. Taken from computer rom-com (so modern!) Electric Dreams, which I've still never seen all the way through, "Together In Electric Dreams" saw Phil team up with synth pioneer Giorgio Moroder, who was recruited to do for Electric Dreams what he'd done for Flashdance a year earlier by the film's director, Steve Barron. Since Steve had previously directed the music video for The Human League's "Don't You Want Me", he suggested Phil for the track. These days, the song (which was my number 1 for 1984) is included in The Human League's repertoire, being performed by the band live and appearing on their greatest hits albums.

Number 43 "I'm Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down" by Paul Young
Peak: number 25
One thing you might not have known about Paul Young's three top 20 hits from debut album No Parlez - unless you've read my recaps about them - is that they were all cover versions of little known songs. Paul continued that practice by remaking this tune, originally recorded in 1972 by Ann Peebles, which would appear on his upcoming second album, The Secret Of Association. For me, it was an odd choice of single, which moved away from the smooth soul of tracks like "Love Of The Common People" and "Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My Home)" into harsher, funkier territory - and perhaps that's why it didn't perform better.

Number 42 "If This Is It" by Huey Lewis And The News
Peak: number 20
Up until a week earlier, Huey Lewis And The News's third album, Sports, had yet to show its face on the ARIA top 100 despite its first two singles, "Heart And Soul" and "I Want A New Drug", both making the top 30. Things hit a snag when third single "The Heart Of Rock & Roll" missed the singles top 100, but the band got things back on track with "If This Is It", which, quite frankly, should've been a single much sooner. The doo-wop-style tune not only became the most successful single from Sports in Australia, but finally prompted the album to start selling. Fun (demonic) fact: "If This Is It" became Huey Lewis And The News's third consecutive single to peak at number 6 in the US.

Number 40 "Out Of Touch" by Daryl Hall & John Oates
Peak: number 11
You could count on the fingers of one hand the number of big hits Hall & Oates had registered in Australia (i.e. five) before this lead single from 12th album Big Bam Boom. And the fifth of those top 20 singles had been two years earlier when "Maneater" reached number 4 - their highest ever placing locally. It was quite a different story in the US, where Daryl and John had previously racked up the same number of chart-topping singles (i.e. five), not to mention another eight top 10 hits, making them the most successful musical duo of all time. That status was helped by "Out Of Touch" becoming yet another American number 1 hit. The song, which gave them their final ARIA top 50 appearance, had a more synth-based sound and a dancier feel than anything the pair had done before - and it's my favourite of theirs, although the version used in the music video isn't the proper single edit.

Number 38 "Too Late For Goodbyes" by Julian Lennon
Peak: number 13
For second generation hitmakers, being the child of a music star must be a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, people will automatically be interested in hearing what your songs sound like; on the other, they're always going to compare you to your parent. That would have been especially the case for Julian Lennon, the elder son of one of the most successful and influential musicians of all time, and one whose death just under four years earlier had shaken the world. Julian proved up to the challenge with his debut album, Valotte, which was kicked off (everywhere except America) by the awesomely poppy "Too Late For Goodbyes". Enough people were interested in hearing - and purchasing - the song, and any comparisons to his late father mostly revolved around how eerily similar his voice sounded.

Number 35 "Big On Love" by Models
Peak: number 24
Models had been having difficulty following breakthrough single "I Hear Motion" with another hit as none of the other tracks lifted from The Pleasure Of Your Company did anywhere near as well. Things fell into place with "Big On Love", which would end up on Out Of Mind, Out Of Sight when it was released nine months later. Their most commercial offering to date, it was produced by Reggie Lucas, who'd been responsible for the initial stages of Madonna's debut album. 

Number 34 "Like A Virgin" by Madonna
Peak: number 1
Speaking of... Madonna was just about done with that debut album (although "Lucky Star" was still in the top 40 this week) and ready to unleash the follow-up on an unsuspecting public. I say "unsuspecting" because who could have predicted just how massive she'd become over the next year? Of course, as soon as the title track and lead single from Like A Virgin - together with its glamorous Venice-set music video - made its debut, it was instantly apparent this was a career-making moment. 
The song had actually had its premiere during the very first MTV Video Music Awards in mid-September - an iconic performance in which Madonna, dressed in a wedding gown, writhed around on the floor. By the time the single was released a month-and-a-half later, it sped up the chart, giving Madonna her first (of many) number 1 hits in both Australia and the US.
Written by Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg (see also: "True Colors", "Alone", "Eternal Flame"), a demo version of "Like A Virgin" found its way to Madonna, who recognised the potential of the song. Producer Nile Rodgers, who was hired for Like A Virgin, wasn't so sure, but eventually came around to the track. Side note: the songwriters didn't actually meet Madonna for many years, and when they did, they were apparently snubbed by the Queen Of Pop.
Thanks to its title alone, "Like A Virgin" was always going to get a lot of attention - positive and negative. But it was also a great pop song - and I say that as someone who actually doesn't like it very much. Not only was it well-produced, catchy and everything else a big hit should be, it established Madonna's stance as an artist who would push the boundaries, embrace her sexuality and be a strong female voice for the ever-growing legion of fans who aspired to be just like her.   

Number 19 "Caribbean Queen (No More Love On The Run)" by Billy Ocean
Peak: number 2
Billy Ocean's first number 1 single was 16 months away but he came close with this song, which brought him back to the top 50 for the first time since his 1976 breakthrough hit, "Love Really Hurts Without You", peaked one place lower at number 3. The lead single from the Suddenly album, "Caribbean Queen (No More Love On The Run)" kicked off a huge few years for Billy, who notched up six top 15 singles in the next three-and-a-half years. The Grammy-winning tune was even switched up for its release in different parts of the world, with alternate versions "European Queen..." and "African Queen..." issued in relevant territories.

Number 13 "The Wild Boys" by Duran Duran
Peak: number 3
Nile Rodgers was as busy in the mid-'80s as he has been the last few years, responsible not only for producing "Like A Virgin" but also this brand new song by Duran Duran. The only studio track included on the band's concert album, Arena, "The Wild Boys" was inspired by the novel of the same name by William S Burroughs, which the music video's director, Russell Mulcahy, wanted to turn into a film. Russell got to spend a stack of cash on the Mad Max-looking, water-dunking windmill-featuring music video for the song in the hope that a film studio would green-light the project. They didn't. Still, "The Wild Boys" did give Duran Duran another massive hit. In fact, its number 3 peak makes it their highest-charting single in Australia. In the US, the single spent four weeks at number 2, stuck behind "Out Of Touch" and "Like A Virgin".

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1984:

Next week: Prince helps another female singer out with a hit single, plus Sade's other single does manage to break into the top 50.

Back to: Nov 18, 1984 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Dec 2, 1984

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

This Week In 1992: November 22, 1992

So far in the 1990s, there hadn't been that many rap hits by white artists. And what successful singles there had been came from acts like Vanilla Ice, Marky Mark & The Funky Bunch and, er, Bart Simpson. Not exactly that credible.

That changed this week in 1992, with the debut of a hip-hop classic by a trio of white guys from Los Angeles. It was their only hit on the ARIA singles chart, but it's a song the group responsible have no doubt been able to live on ever since.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending November 22, 1992

Meanwhile, the song that has provided Billy Ray Cyrus with a nice retirement fund finally let go of the number 1 spot this week. Boyz II Men moved into the top spot with "End Of The Road" for the first of four weeks.

Off The Chart
Number 97 "I Feel Love" by Messiah featuring Precious Wilson
Peak: number 66
The Donna Summer disco classic as it'd never been heard before - or since - thanks to UK rave act Messiah and former Eruption backing vocalist Precious Wilson.

New Entries
Number 50 "Jump Around" by House Of Pain
Peak: number 15
Stepping into the gap left by Beastie Boys, who hadn't been seen on the top 50 since 1987, LA's House Of Pain hit the ground running with their sample-heavy debut single, "Jump Around", instantly bringing some cred back to the concept of white rappers. Sharing its exhortation to "jump, jump, jump, jump" with last week's arrival from The Movement, "Jump Around" is one of those songs that hasn't really gone away in the decades since thanks to continued use in TV shows and films, and at sports events. Nothing House Of Pain released subsequently would be anywhere near as successful and the trio split in 1996, with Everlast going on to a solo career and DJ Lethal joining Limp Bizkit, although they have reunited with third member Danny Boy on occasion.

Number 47 "Layla (acoustic)" / "Tears In Heaven (acoustic)" by Eric Clapton
Peak: number 7
As we saw a few months back with Mariah Carey's remake of "I'll Be There", 1992 was the year MTV Unplugged really took off. And Eric Clapton's album from his performance did exactly the same, spending eight non-consecutive weeks at number 1 and a year inside the top 50. Worldwide, the multi-Grammy Award-winner is apparently the highest-selling live album of all time. Singles-wise, Eric released his Unplugged version of "Layla", a song he'd originally put out with his band Derek And The Dominos in 1971, and it became the biggest hit of his solo career in Australia. On the flip side was a version of his minor hit from earlier in the year, "Tears In Heaven", which would end up receiving double A-side status on the chart later in the single's run.

Number 46 "Taste It" by INXS
Peak: number 36
INXS had released their own live album in 1991, but continued to struggle with the singles from their latest studio album, Welcome To Wherever You Are. Third single "Taste It" was my favourite from the album and came with a video that was somewhat controversial at the time due to some racy scenes involving Michael Hutchence getting busy with a scantily clad blonde, but not even that was enough to push it further up the chart than number 36.

Number 42 "Yesterdays" by Guns n' Roses
Peak: number 14
For those keeping track, "Yesterdays" was the sixth single from the combined Use Your Illusion albums - this one was lifted from the second volume - and the sixth single to make the ARIA top 15. Not bad for a pair of albums that were already a year old by this point. And Guns n' Roses weren't done yet.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1992:

Next week: the debut of a future number 1 single by an American act that was only massive in this part of the world. Plus, another soap star turns pop star and the song that provided the soundtrack for proms everywhere in 1992 (and 1976).

Back to: Nov 15, 1992 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Nov 29, 1992

Saturday, 18 November 2017

This Week In 1984: November 18, 1984

Australians have always loved to laugh, never more so than in the mid-'80s when stand-up comedians were regulars on the ARIA singles and albums charts. This week in 1984, possibly my favourite comedy record from that entire decade debuted.

The comedy record that even non-comedy record fans could enjoy 

Yes, I know, I've banged on and on about how much I hate novelty records previously, and it's not like I went out and bought this single, but there's an exception to every rule. And this top 10 hit (and not, despite claims online, a national number 1 record) is it.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending November 4, 1984

A song that did reach number 1 on the ARIA top 50 was still there this week in 1984. "I Just Called To Say I Love You" by Stevie Wonder spent its fifth week on top.

Off The Chart
Number 98 "The Real End" by Rickie Lee Jones
Peak: number 90
Taken from her third album, The Magazine, "The Real End" was Rickie Lee Jones's return to the Australian top 100 following her one and only hit, 1979's number 15 "Chuck E's In Love".

Number 95 "Touch By Touch" by Diana Ross
Peak: number 89
Not released as a single in the US - the title track was issued there as the follow-up to "All Of You" instead - this tropical-tinged track did much better in Europe than Australia.  

Number 93 "Sunset Now" by Heaven 17
Peak: number 93
"Temptation" aside, Heaven 17 were finding it hard to come up with another top 50 single, a problem that persisted with this bouncy lead release from third album How Men Are.  

New Entries
Number 50 "Guardian Angel" by Masquerade
Peak: number 27
The clue was in the name. Masquerade was actually a pseudonym for German singer/songwriter Drafi Deutscher, who collaborated with Christopher Evans-Ironside on this synth ballad, which had been released in Europe about a year earlier. In a Milli Vanilli-esque move, however, the two men in the clip below - a TV performance which became the song's de facto music video - weren't Drafi and Chris, but two randoms chosen to lip sync along to the song. As well as taking its time becoming a hit in Australia, "Guardian Angel", was a slow burn on the ARIA chart, not reaching its peak until its 13th week inside the top 50 and spending just over half a year on the top 100.

Number 46 "Shake This City" by Non Stop Dancers
Peak: number 44
It's funny how you can know a song for decades without actually knowing anything about the act behind it. That's the case for me with this pre-rock'n'roll era-style tune by Australian band Non Stop Dancers. For one, I didn't know the band's frontman, Larry Van Kriedt, had briefly been a member of AC/DC (and also The Eighty Eights, who I've never heard of before). I also wasn't aware Non Stop Dancers were based in Newcastle and that "Shake This City" was a much bigger hit on the NSW chart than elsewhere in the country. That fact does explain why it looms larger in my mind than a number 44 single normally would. And I didn't know there was a follow-up single, "Mobbing Me", and album from Non Stop Dancers, neither of which charted.

Number 45 "Dancing In Berlin" by Berlin
Peak: number 39
Here's another song that always seemed to me like a bigger hit than it was. Berlin's second top 40 single, "Dancing In Berlin", didn't do anywhere near as well as "No More Words", but for me it was the better song, ending up among my favourites for the year as a whole. Another slice of perfect synthpop, the song deserved a much warmer reception. We wouldn't see Berlin back on the top 50 for almost two years - and when we did, it would be with a very different type of song.

Number 43 "Purple Rain" by Prince & The Revolution
Peak: number 41
Next up, a very different type of song for the man who was coming off four consecutive top 10 hits, including chart-topper "When Doves Cry". Mega-ballad "Purple Rain" was the title track of Prince's hit 1984 album and a major moment when it was performed in the movie of the same name. But despite being one of his best known songs, it didn't even make the top 40 locally. The usual reasons apply here - it was the third single from Purple Rain, a number 1 album that hadn't left the top 20 since July. But the song's lack of success could also be due to the fact that it was nothing like his party-starting hits. That fact worked in its favour decades later when "Purple Rain" shot to number 3 in the wake of Prince's death in 2016, just as the similarly downbeat "Man In The Mirror" had become a far bigger chart hit posthumously than it was originally for Michael Jackson.

Number 31 "I'm Tuff" by George Smilovici
Peak: number 10
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, comedy records aren't among my favourite things. Don't get me wrong - I do have a sense of humour and love a good stand-up routine. But once you've heard a joke, I don't understand why you'd want to listen to it again and again. That all said, as comedy records go, "I'm Tuff" is one of the better ones. Why? Because it's laugh-out-loud funny - a three-and-a-half minute routine of rapid-fire one-liners about how tough (sorry, tuff) comedian George Smilovici is. 
Listening to it again now for the first time since the mid-'80s, I'm pretty amused, although I do recall more punchlines than I would've thought. Like "Australiana", "I'm Tuff" was recorded as performed and features an appreciative audience who whoop, holler and scream out, "How tuff?" at all the right junctures. Unlike Austen Tayshus (whose second hit was just a few places above this week), George didn't return to the top 100 with any of his subsequent releases, which included singles titled "Popularity", "Beyond Tuff" and "Spewin'".

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1984:

Next week: a massive 10 new entries, including a number 1 (that would dethrone Stevie Wonder), a number 2 and a number 3, my personal favourite song for 1984, the best song by the best-selling duo of all time and the chart debut for the son of a music legend.

Back to: Nov 11, 1984 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Nov 25, 1984

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

This Week In 1992: November 15, 1992

Some charts weeks are pretty predictable - the songs you expect to be hits go on to do just that, while you can see the flops coming a mile away. This week in 1992 was not one of those weeks.

Two one-hit wonders succeeding where established Aussie rock bands failed

Among the new entries on the ARIA top 50 were three established Australian rock bands who all struck out with brand new songs and three newcomers who would enjoy huge success over the summer months.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending November 15, 1992

A song still enjoying huge success remained at number 1 this week in 1992. "Achy Breaky Heart" by Billy Ray Cyrus spent its seventh - and, thankfully, final - week on top.

Off The Chart
Number 98 "Money Love" by Neneh Cherry
Peak: number 85
Neneh Cherry's output had been massively underappreciated in Australia, so it wasn't surprising that continued with this lead single from second album Homebrew. More unexpected: it also missed the UK top 20.

Number 97 "It's My Life" by Dr Alban
Peak: number 97
This European mega-hit from the dentist-turned-performer would eventually reach the ARIA top 50, but not until 1994 when it was re-released in the wake of "Sing Hallelujah".

Number 88 "Acid Rain" by Tumbleweed
Peak: number 88
Australian rock back Tumbleweed ventured into the top 100 for the first time with this track from their self-titled debut album. The top 50 awaited them in 1993.

Single Of The Week
Trumpets by Club Hoy
Peak: number 88
A bit of promotion for the Australian folk band may have been the reason they sneaked into the top 100 for the first time with Trumpets. But promotion for the four-track EP was also apparently the cause of their split, with members divided over the choice of "You Promised - You Said" as the lead single. As a result, Trumpets would be Club Hoy's final release.

New Entries
Number 50 "Bettadaze" by Boom Crash Opera
Peak: number 43
It'd been an odd few years for one of my top 5 Australian bands of all time. Since their last studio album, 1989's These Here Are Crazy Times, they'd released a remix album and an average EP, and during the recording of third album Fabulous Beast, bid a permanent farewell to founding member Richard Pleasance, who'd previously limited his role due to suffering tinnitus. Despite the upheaval, Boom Crash Opera were back to their best with the fittingly titled "Bettadaze", which preceded the new album by about six months. All the hallmarks of a classic BCO sing-along were present, but somehow it failed to connect with the Australian record-buying public and peaked just one spot above 1991's Dreams On Fire EP.

Number 48 "Impossible To Fly" by Baby Animals
Peak: number 48
Next up, a band whose last couple of years had been enormously successful, with three top 30 hits and a number 1 album to show for themselves. But like Boom Crash Opera, Baby Animals found themselves on the wrong side of the top 40 with this brand new single - a stop-gap measure between albums. It's likely "Impossible To Fly" under-performed due to its cruisey, bluesy style not being what you'd expect from a Baby Animals single.   

Number 45 "Highway To Hell (live)" by AC/DC
Peak: number 29
It's noteworthy that while three Australian bands flopped with brand new music, AC/DC reached the top 30 with a live version of a 13-year-old song. This new version of "Highway To Hell" (originally a number 24 hit) was taken from their concert release, Live, the double album version of which would debut at number 1 the following week.

Number 43 "Holiday" by Ratcat
Peak: number 41
Proving the failure of previous single "Candyman" was no one-off, the latest jangly guitar single from Ratcat became their first to miss the top 40 since the indie band's breakthrough with Tingles at the start of 1991. A much better single than its predecessor, "Holiday" must have been too little too late to salvage Ratcat's career, with accompanying album Insideout, the follow-up to chart-topper Blind Love, failing to make the albums top 50 at all. Then, none of the band's subsequent releases before their split later in the decade would grace the top 100. Geez, when the Australian public turn, they turn hard.

Number 41 "Jump!" by The Movement
Peak: number 7
Our Australian rock bands out of the way, we move now to the first of three one-hit wonders whose singles did incredibly well. American techno three-piece The Movement was comprised of frontman AJ Mora, producer/DJ Richard Gonzalez and DJ Hazze, and "Jump!" largely consisted of the title word repeated over and over. Depending on the version, upwards of 90 times. One word that was missing from the clean version was "motherfucker", which was replaced with "everybody" to avoid controversy. 

Number 40 "Ebeneezer Goode" by The Shamen
Peak: number 14
Here's a track that was buoyed on by the wave of controversy that had surrounded it in the UK, where it topped the chart for four weeks despite (or because of) being banned for a time by the BBC. Dance act The Shamen also shot up the ARIA listings (although not quite as high) with rave classic "Ebeneezer Goode", which featured lyrics that more or less endorsed ecstasy use (in moderation, mind you). The message was no so subtly disguised as a story about a geezer, a real crowd-pleaser who went by the name of Ebeneezer Goode, but we were pretty much all in on the joke. Smack bang in the middle of a string of five top 10 hits for The Shamen in the UK, "Ebeneezer Goode" was the group's only Australian top 50 appearance, although the song's success did give previous single "L.S.I. (Love Sex Intelligence)" a kick in the pants, although not quite enough of one to result in it becoming a second hit for them here.

Number 29 "Tequila" by A.L.T. & The Lost Civilization
Peak: number 8
From drugs to alcohol, and an update of the song first released in 1958 by The Champs, which got to number 4 in Australia. Surprisingly, for a tune covered as frequently as "Tequila", this remake by rapper Alvin Lowell Trivette (see what he did there?) became only the second version to chart in Australia. Released at the perfect time of year, it was a Latin-flavoured summer hit that ended up remaining on the top 100 for half a year - a trick that would be repeated a couple of years later by Arrow's just as objectionable revamp of "Hot Hot Hot". Unfortunately for A.L.T. and his Lost Civilization, it was his first and only showing on the ARIA chart.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1992:

Next week: a previous minor hit returns the chart in acoustic version, plus yet another single from a year-old double album and the arrival of a hip-hop classic.

Back to: Nov 8, 1992 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Nov 22, 1992

Saturday, 11 November 2017

This Week In 1984: November 11, 1984

Up until the last month of 1989, every Madonna single released in the '80s except one had reached the top 20 (and most had gone top 10) in Australia. And if the name of the song that spoiled that hit streak wasn't jumping out at you below, you probably wouldn't automatically pick it as the unlucky track.

Not so lucky, as it would turn out

This week in 1984, the single that would ruin the Queen of Pop's track record debuted on the ARIA top 50 and fall 20 places short of her next least successful single of the decade (1986's "Open Your Heart"). And yet "Lucky Star" is one of her most famous songs.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending November 11, 1984

One of Stevie Wonder's most famous songs was having a grand old time on the chart this week in 1984. "I Just Called To Say I Love You" stayed at number 1 for a fourth week.

Off The Chart
Number 99 "Penny Lover" by Lionel Richie
Peak: number 73
It was one single - and ballad - too many for Lionel Richie with this fifth release from Can't Slow Down falling short of the charts highs climbed by the other four. The album still had another year on the top 100 left in it, though.

Number 98 "High Energy" by Evelyn Thomas
Peak: number 98
Disco may have been dead, but the similarly club-oriented Hi-NRG was thriving, although this European hit of the (almost) same name didn't cross over in Australia.

Number 92 "War Baby" by Tom Robinson
Peak: number 73
He'd reached number 13 in 1978 with "2-4-6-8 Motorway" with his former group, Tom Robinson Band, but this was the British singer's only solo appearance on the Australian chart.

New Entries
Number 48 "I Am Only Shooting Love" by Time Bandits
Peak: number 9
A year after it became their third top 10 hit at home in the Netherlands, synthpop band Time Bandits found success in Australia with this slightly retitled single (it was called "I'm Only..." originally). I'm assuming Countdown played a part in the belated local success of this single, which would be followed in almost a year's time by a second top 10 smash. Before that, however, one of the group's earlier Dutch hits, "Listen To The Man With The Golden Voice", didn't fare so well here but is worth a listen, as is their biggest hit at home, 1982's "I'm Specialized In You".

Number 46 "Between The Eyes" by The Angels
Peak: number 44
Earlier in the year, I was pleased to reach the last song in The Angels' impressively long string of top 50 singles, 1992's "Tear Me Apart". I've never been a fan of the Australian rock band and so having to recap 18 different songs by them over the past five years hasn't come easily. But I wasn't quite done. Thanks to the roundabout way I've approached covering the charts from years gone past, I hadn't yet touched this lead single from Two Minute Warning. Peaking a place lower than their last chart single, 1983's "Live Lady Live" (itself the third single from Watch The Red), it wasn't the most auspicious of starts for Two Minute Warning. And as we've already seen in my 1985 posts, none of the other singles from the LP ("Look The Other Way", "Sticky Little Bitch" and "Underground") reached the top 50. The album itself was The Angels' third to peak at number 5, however, so it wasn't all bad news for them.

Number 37 "Phantom Shuffle" by Austen Tayshus
Peak: number 16
Speaking of things I'm not a fan of, here's the second release from the man responsible for 1983's biggest single. But even though "Australiana" wasn't for me, I could completely understand why it was so massive. "Phantom Shuffle", on the other hand, I didn't get at all at the time and still don't. A departure from the stand-up routine format of his first single, the part-spoken, part-rapped, part-sung parody of the comic strip character seemed like an odd choice of subject matter. Was The Phantom that popular in 1984? And given Paul Hogan had been satirising the character on his own show, wasn't it territory that had already been covered? Perhaps I'm forgetting something about this track all these years later, but its chart position and short chart life suggest not many people got the joke.

Number 36 "Lucky Star" by Madonna
Peak: number 36
It's a legitimate classic, but for the first six years of Madonna's chart career in Australia, "Lucky Star" was her lowest-charting single - and the only one to peak below number 16. So what went wrong? I'd say it's a combination of factors, none of which have to do with the strength of the song itself, which is among her best ever singles (according to me). 
For one thing, her self-titled debut album had been on the top 50 since April and spent a lot of that time in the top 20. For another, it should probably have been released a month or two earlier to continue the momentum from "Holiday", "Burning Up" and "Borderline". Instead, "Lucky Star" didn't crack the top 50 until its fifth week on the chart - weeks after "Borderline" had left the top 50.
Possibly most importantly is that "Lucky Star", which spent three weeks locked at this peak position before falling back down, was quickly overshadowed by her next release, which would shoot straight into the top 40 on its way to give Madonna her first number 1 hit. It would take until 1989's "Oh Father" for one of her singles to perform worse on the chart.
In the UK, it was a similar story, with "Lucky Star" her only song not to reach the top 10 all the way until 1994's "Take A Bow", although it must be noted that "Borderline" only reached its number 2 peak there on re-release in 1986, having bombed out at number 56 first time around. There was better news in the US, where "Lucky Star" became Madonna's first top 5 hit and the biggest hit from her debut album.

Number 21 "Freedom" by Wham!
Peak: number 3
Our final new entry for the week comes from another massive pop act that had their string of hits broken by one under-performing track. Up until this point, everything Wham! had released had made the top 10 except for 1983's "Club Tropicana" - a streak they continued up until their final single also flopped. The follow-up to both "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" (in terms of Wham! singles) and "Careless Whisper" (in terms of songs performed by George Michael), "Freedom" had a lot to live up to. Although it didn't top the chart like those two singles, it did spend nine weeks in the top 10 (three at number 3) and, unlike those number 1 hits, had to compete with the duo's second album, Make It Big, also being in stores. Another perfectly formed pop nugget, "Freedom" didn't even have a music video during its chart life here - the one below was put together for the song's mid-1985 American release from footage of George and Andrew Ridgeley making their historical visit to China.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1984:

Next week: a song by a pint-sized superstar that wasn't massive at the time but was his highest-charting hit immediately following his death over three decades later. Plus, a novelty single by a one-hit wonder stand-up comedian.

Back to: Nov 4, 1984 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Nov 18, 1984