This Week In 1994: December 11, 1994
If you are going to try and go head to head with the year's biggest music releases at the busiest release time of the year, you'd better be able to stand out from the crowd.
This week in 1994, two acts that would end up being one-hit wonders did just that - debuting on the ARIA singles chart on their way to the top 5 and peaking higher than two former chart-toppers coming off recent number 1 hits.
The number 1 single this week in 1994 was "All I Wanna Do" by Sheryl Crow, which dislodged silverchair after "Tomorrow" had spent six weeks on top.
Off The Chart
Number 93 "Texas Cowboys" by The Grid
Peak: number 74
It hadn't charted first time around as the lead single from Evolver, but in the wake of The Grid's success with "Swamp Thing" and near miss with"Rollercoaster", this track at least made the top 100.
Number 85 "True Faith 94" by New Order
Peak: number 69 (orig peak: number 8)
To promote their new best of album, New Order released a slightly updated version of one of their biggest hits, which also came with a more noticeably different Perfecto mix.
Peak: number 56
Had Chantoozies not had a hit with this in 1991, Luther Vandross may have done better with his version of the Stephen Stills track, which was released as the follow-up to his and Mariah Carey's cover of "Endless Love".
Peak: number 2
Compared to the year before, 1994 hadn't seen anywhere near as many reggae hits on the ARIA top 50, but as the year came to a close, the genre was making a last dash for chart glory, with this sample-ridden track following recent hits "Compliments On Your Kiss" and "Baby Come Back" up the listings. The breakthrough single by Jamaican artist Ini Kamoze, who'd been releasing music for over a decade, "Here Comes The Hotstepper" seemed designed to get lodged in your brain, with its many musical and lyrical hooks, including the "na na na na na" from "The Land Of A Thousand Dances". A top 10 fixture for three months in early 1995, the song, taken from the soundtrack to Prêt-à-Porter, would end up being Ini's only hit.
Number 31 "Better Get A Lawyer" by The Cruel Sea
Peak: number 29
Their breakthrough third album, The Honeymoon Is Over, had been a critical and commercial success, so The Cruel Sea should have been quietly confident coming into their follow-up. And indeed, the lead single from Three Legged Dog, which would be released in April 1995, became their second biggest hit after "Black Stick". That still only meant a top 30 placing, but it would help the album eventually debut at number 1.
Number 22 "On Bended Knee" by Boyz II Men
Peak: number 7
In the US, this follow-up to chart-topper "I'll Make Love To You" replaced its predecessor at number 1 - the first time that had happened since The Beatles' heyday in the mid-'60s. In Australia, Boyz II Men had to make do with just another top 10 hit for their latest big ballad, this time written and produced by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis.
Peak: number 11
Next up, another artist who had recently been at number 1 and although Kylie Minogue just missed the top 10 with her follow-up to "Confide In Me", it did become her best-charting ballad since "Especially For You". A live favourite ever since, "Put Yourself In My Place" was written and produced by Jimmy Harry, who was starting out in his career in 1994 but has since worked with Pink, Kelly Clarkson, Madonna and Britney Spears, and came with an ARIA Award-winning music video that was inspired by the film Barbarella.
Peak: number 4
Confirming the fact that if a song is controversial enough it is guaranteed to be a massive hit, this track railing against men with tiny penises surprised no one by flying straight into the top 10. A collaboration between hip house outfit 20 Fingers and rapper/singer Sandra Gillette, "Short Dick Man" was envisioned as an antidote to the misogyny that was rife in music, particularly rap, although some of that intent was undercut when an edited version, entitled "Short Short Man", was favoured by some TV and radio stations (and is featured in the music video below). You can enjoy "Short Dick Man" in all its glory here. Also not surprisingly, neither 20 Fingers nor Gillette entered the top 50 again.
Number 5 "If I Only Knew" by Tom Jones
Peak: number 5
A man with more career comebacks than John Farnham, Tom Jones had last reached the top 10 with his remake of Prince's "Kiss" in early 1989. Almost six years later, he blasted into the top 5 with the lead single from The Lead And How To Swing It, the first album under his new deal with Interscope Records. Produced by Trevor Horn and remixed for single release by Bobby D'Ambrosio, "If I Only Knew" combined the feel of Tom's big band legacy - horns, backing singers - with more modern elements from dance and hip-hop. Despite its high-flying debut, the song didn't progress any further, dropping gradually down the chart in the weeks to come.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1994:
Next week: a boy band Christmas classic (that's not even about Christmas) and an album's sixth single becomes its second most successful (up until that point).