This Week In 1989: December 10, 1989
Originally posted as 25 Years Ago This Week in 2014. Updated in 2019.
What would the Australian pop music scene have been without Neighbours? For one thing, it would have consisted of several less stars - and this week in 1989, a fourth actor from the Channel Ten soap joined Ally Fowler, Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan as a top 50 artist. Nope, not Stefan Dennis - Australia remained immune to his musical charms.
Coincidentally, Kylie also charted with a new song this week in 1989 - but it wasn't all good news. After seven consecutive top 20 debuts, her latest Stock Aitken Waterman-produced pop tune was a relative disappointment.
Meanwhile, in a completely static top 4, Cher continued to reign supreme with "If I Could Turn Back Time" - her sixth week at number 1. Could she finish off the year as chart champ? Find out next week (or look it up online, it's up to you).
Off The Chart
Number 97 "Mr Rain" by Ian Moss
Peak: number 78
This fourth and final single from Matchbook didn't become another hit from the chart-topping album, which was on its 17th straight week in the top 20.
Peak: number 94
I remember my English penfriend sent me the casette single of this lead release from TTD's second album, Neither Fish Nor Flesh, and being bitterly disappointed it wasn't anywhere near as good as anything from his brilliant debut. It charted accordingly.
Number 77 The Amsterdam EP by Simple Minds
Peak: number 77
As well as their version of Prince's "Sign O' The Times" (which you can hear following the link above), this EP included Street Fighting Years track "Let It All Come Down" and a version of "Jerusalem".
Single Of The Week
Peak: number 67
Before we get to the top 50, a couple of big US hits that didn't translate locally for whatever reason. Co-written by Tommy Faragher and Lotti Golden - who'd go on to be responsible for '90s releases by Eternal and Jeremy Jordan, as well as the best song recorded by Bardot ("These Days") - "With Every Beat Of My Heart" was the lead single from Taylor Dayne's second album, Can't Fight Fate. In the US, the single was her fifth straight top 10 hit, reaching number 5, but it became another one of her singles to miss the ARIA top 50. However, better times for Taylor in Australia were just around the corner.
Peak: number 56
Here's another US smash - Janet Jackson's second single and the (sort of) title track from her Rhythm Nation 1814 album. "Rhythm Nation" reached number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 but didn't follow "Miss You Much" into the ARIA top 50. My suspicion is that the song was too stark and edgy for Australian audiences, who were just wrapping their heads around R&B and clearly favoured the more pop end of that spectrum rather than this socially conscious musical manifesto.
Matters weren't helped by the moody black and white video, with its industrial and militaristic overtones, but it was Australia's loss since "Rhythm Nation" is a powerful piece of music and the slickly choreographed dance routine in the clip continues to be influential today. Like Taylor Dayne, Janet Jackson had better things waiting for her in 1990 and 1991 as she churned out an endless supply of singles from RN1814.
Number 49 "It's Alright" by Gyan
Peak: number 49
Her first single, "Wait", had been a number 14 hit back in October and was still in the top 30 this week in 1989, but promising new Australian singer/songwriter Gyan Evans faltered with this follow-up. Unlike "Wait", "It's Alright" was written solely by Gyan, and although not as obvious a hit as its predecessor, it was a pleasant enough pop song that likely just got overlooked in the holiday period. The fact that "Wait" was still doing so well probably didn't do it any favours.
Number 48 "Steamy Windows" by Tina Turner
Peak: number 34
Gyan wasn't the only one having trouble following up a prior hit - and again, the relative failure of "Steamy Windows" might have had something to do with the fact that "The Best" was still such a massive hit, sitting at number 11 this week in 1989. Chosen as the second single from Foreign Affair over "I Don't Wanna Lose You" (which was released in Europe and would be the third single locally), "Steamy Windows" should have appealed more to Australian fans and radio programmers with its gritty rock feel (courtesy of producer Dan "I Can Dream About You" Hartman). I wasn't overly disappointed that it didn't.
Number 46 "Don't Ask Me Why" by Eurythmics Peak: number 35
Yet another act bombing out with their latest single was British duo Eurythmics, with this second cut from their We Too Are One album failing to perform as well as number 14 hit "Revival". For me, "Don't Ask Me Why", with its lush synth-based sound, was much more what I wanted to hear from Annie and Dave than the garishness of "Revival" - but it seems Australia didn't agree with me. And so, Eurythmics top 50 career came to a disappointing end in Australia - after 15 top 20 hits (including 1985's chart-topper "Would I Lie To You?"), "Don't Ask Me Why" concluded things on a rather low-key note.
Number 36 "Rock The Rock" by Craig McLachlan & Check 1-2 Peak: number 36
Here he is, the man known to millions of Australians as Henry Ramsay with his debut release as a recording artist. And Craig was a real muso, not like Neighbours cast-mate (and onscreen brother-in-law) Jason Donovan, who pretended to play electric guitar while walking along a mountaintop in the "Too Many Broken Hearts" video.
Craig strummed his guitar in an appropriate setting - onstage in front of his very own band: Check 1-2 (formerly The Y Fronts), which, as far as I can work out, consisted of Mark Bain and Dave Williams at this point. How rock'n'roll is that? To ensure the harsh Australian media really got the message, he included the word "rock" in the title of his debut single. Twice. And to keep his teenage girl fanbase onside, he worse a pair of ripped jeans that left little to the imagination.
The only thing not going for Craig was that "Rock The Rock" was a lousy song (with a riff that pretty much ripped off INXS's "Need You Tonight"), and as a result it didn't rise higher than this debut position. But like Taylor and Janet, Craig and his mates would see better days in 1990.
Number 25 "Never Too Late" by Kylie Minogue Peak: number 14
Craig's onscreen sister was an old hand at this pop star thing by now and registered her eighth appearance on the top 50 with "Never Too Late", the third single from the Enjoy Yourself album. As I mentioned, the debut and peak of the song were Kylie's worst chart performances to date - something no amount of music video costume changes could disguise. And while plenty of other artists would be thrilled at a number 14 placing, it was a sign of the times for Kylie, who'd actually wanted to release the album's title track as a single. Instead, she was forced convinced to go with "Never Too Late", which at one point had been earmarked as the follow-up to "Hand On Your Heart".
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1989:
Next week: the final chart for 1989 featuring debuts from two songs that'd go on to be among 1990's highest selling singles. Plus, we'll also take a look at the overall top 50 for 1989.