This Week In 1988: January 10, 1988
Originally posted as 25 Years Ago This Week in 2013. Updated in 2018.
Three weeks is a long time to wait when you're a chart fanatic, so this week in 1988, I was thrilled to get my hands on the first new Australian top 50 since the one dated December 20, 1987 - and the first chart for 1988, my favourite year in music.
And it was a good first chart for 1988, with some big new hits debuting, including the song that would go on to be Australia's year-end chart-topper - a soundtrack hit that, like the film it was taken from, was inescapable that summer.
Rick Astley had spent all December at number 1, and wasn't about to give up the top spot without a fight - despite a pair of famous Georges (Michael and Harrison) closing in fast.
Off The Chart
Number 82 "Who's That Mix" by This Year's Blonde
Peak: number 67
Thankfully, the people of Australia had the good sense not to send this badly covered, shoddily mixed medley of Madonna hits into the top 50. Dreadful.
Peak: number 58
Schmaltzy and saccharine, this new track from Paul's first solo greatest hits compilation, All The Best!, thankfully didn't make the top 50 in Australia. It was much more successful in the UK before Christmas, hitting the top 10 - his last solo track to do so. See if you can get through the hokey video without turning it off. I couldn't.
Peak: number 1
Dirty Dancing was on its way to becoming the big film release of the summer, and the theme song was a soundtrack smash the likes of which they just don't make anymore. A duet with a big sing-along chorus by two artists who hadn't had a chart hit in some time (Bill hadn't struck gold since the glory days of his group, The Righteous Brothers; Jennifer's last biggie was another movie song, 1982's "Up Where We Belong" with Joe Cocker). Plonk the song over the film's climax and it's little wonder "(I've Had) The Time Of My Life" sped towards number 1, going on to stay on top for six weeks and winding up as Australia's highest-selling single for the year. It was only the beginning of the Dirty Dancing chart action to come in 1988...
Number 41 "Celebration" by Dragon
Peak: number 11
If Dragon had have been really clever, they would have released this Kool & The Gang cover a couple of months earlier, caught the end of the school year, and had a much better run-up to the Christmas holidays and New Year's Eve. Sure, the song's entry here indicates sales were on the rise during the festive season, but since "Celebration" would reach its chart high in the coming weeks, the bulk of purchases occured when most of the big parties had long past. There was still one major, er, celebration to come, though, for which the track was just perfect: Australia's bicentennial on January 26.
Number 38 "Walk The Dinosaur" by Was (Not Was)
Peak: number 9
Remember when Jimmy Barnes' children were in a group called The Tin Lids and covered this track? No doubt they (or their handlers), like a lot of people, wrongly perceived the song to be a frivolous novelty track. The lyrics are actually about a nuclear war bringing about the end of the world. Not your typical kids' group fare. But, it's easy to see why the song was written off as a joke. From the "boom-boom-acka-lacka-lacka-boom" lyrics to the backing dancers in Flintstones-style outfits in the brightly coloured video, it's all fun and games on the surface. The chart success of the track was nothing to be sniffed at, though - the song became a top 10 hit in Australia as well as in the UK and the States (although it took until 1989 for it to crack the US).
Number 32 "Pump Up The Volume" by M/A/R/R/S
Peak: number 6
1987 had been a great year for club tracks crossing over into the mainstream in Australia - and in the first week of 1988, it looked like that would continue with the arrival of this UK tune as the highest new entry. A former British chart-topper (despite Pete Waterman's legal complaint following his discovery that a sample from SAW's "Roadblock" was used in the track), the sample-heavy "Pump Up The Volume" would go on to peak inside the Australian top 10. It would be the only single released by M/A/R/R/S, a collaboration between two acts, Colourbox and A.R. Kane, which got its name from the first initials of the members involved. I was never a huge fan of the song, and although I've grown to appreciate it over time, the lack of a more melodic hook prevents it from being a favourite of mine.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1988:
Next week: four new entries from four groups, three of them Australian acts. Until then...