This Week In 1992: January 12, 1992
Welcome to the first ARIA chart for 1992! Back then, most musical collaborations were pretty much what you would expect. A pair of balladeers belting out a movie theme, a rapper giving a pop song a bit of an edge, or emerging pop stars like Betty Boo and Cathy Dennis getting their first break with club acts like Beatmasters and D-Mob.
This week in 1992, however, a single debuted featuring the most unlikely combination of performers since Run-DMC and Aerosmith joined forces in 1986. Somehow, the combination of a dance duo and a country singer worked - and the song became a massive hit.
The biggest hit in Australia this week in 1992 was still "Black Or White" by Michael Jackson, which spent its seventh week at number 1.
Off The Chart
Peak: number 100
Taken from Simply Mad About The Mouse, a collection of modern reinterpretations of classic Disney songs, this was a radical reworking of the Three Little Pigs tune. Odd, but better than this other inclusion.
Number 88 Surge by Def FX
Peak: number 88
It'd take them a few years to crack the top 50, but Def FX started to gain some attention with their unique brand of rock/electronica/just about everything else.
Peak: number 68
This was the point where Australia jumped off the Amy Grant train. Having turned her previous two upbeat singles into top 20 successes, we weren't so enamoured with this big dramatic ballad, which had been a number 7 hit in the US. I say "we", but I actually liked "That's What Love Is For", although, Mariah Carey aside, this type of songs had a habit of under-achieving in Australia at this point in time.
Peak: number 68
None of the previous singles from Into The Light had worked in Australia, so it was little surprise this final release didn't return Gloria Estefan to the top 50, especially since the album had already visited the top 10 on two separate occasions (in February and November of 1991). Perhaps if "Live For Loving You" had been released earlier in the album's life it might've done better - then again, Australia hadn't embraced the just-as-perky "Get On Your Feet" either, so maybe not. Watch out for Gloria's husband, son and dog in the colourful music video below.
Peak: number 63
Finally! After being subjected to "Downtown Train", "It Takes Two", "Rhythm Of My Heart" and "The Motown Song", there was some relief as this latest release from Vagabond Heart flopped in Australia. Once again, "Broken Arrow" was a cover version of a little known song - this time, a track from Robbie Robertson's self-titled, debut solo album from 1987.
Peak: number 47
Returning to the top 50 is an Irish singer who first appeared on the chart in January 1989 with breakthrough hit "Orinoco Flow". Enya's third album, Shepherd Moons, had reached the top 10 in December 1991 and her version of 19th century Christian hymn "How Can I Keep From Singing?" succeeded where the album's lead single, "Caribbean Blue", had failed. Although, it's likely much of the success of this single is down to the timely inclusion of Enya's Gaelic version of "Silent Night" on the double A-side. Her recording of the Christmas favourite would return to a similar position on the chart in a year's time.
Number 46 "Finally" by CeCe Peniston
Peak: number 8
I've always thought Cecilia "CeCe" Peniston was much older when her debut single became a global smash, but she was only 22. Perhaps it was something to do with the lyrics of "Finally", which made it seem like she'd been waiting to find Mr Right for a much longer period of time. A top 10 hit in Australia, the US and, eventually, the UK (where it had initially peaked at number 29 in late 1991), "Finally" is one of those songs that has never really gone away.
It received a new lease of life after its use in The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert in 1994 and has been remixed at regular intervals in the past 25 years. The version of the song most people are familiar with isn't the one in the music video, it's the Choice Mix by David Morales and Phil Kelsey, which made use of the bassline from "Someday" by Ce Ce Rogers (a track also covered by M-People).
Number 40 "Justified & Ancient" by The KLF
Peak: number 3
There really was no one else in music quite like The KLF, who'd already hit the top 5 on three occasions (if you include their single as The Timelords, "Doctorin' The Tardis"). For their next trick, they completely revamped a song of theirs that'd existed in one form or another since 1987. Featuring on the new version of "Justified & Ancient", subtitled "Stand By The JAMs", was country legend Tammy Wynette, who'd last been in the top 50 in 1968 with her biggest hit, "Stand By Your Man".
Pretty much the last person anyone would've expected The KLF to work with, Tammy's twangy vocals made the pop/dance track sound just as unique as the duo's stadium house hits, "3 A.M. Eternal" and "Last Train To Trancentral", had in 1991. It was also kind of amusing to hear her sing about Mu Mu Land and ice-cream vans, with the lyrics to "Justified & Ancient" as self-referential and nonsensical as we'd come to expect. The big question now is: just what do The KLF have in store for their comeback later in 2017?
Number 37 "Martika's Kitchen" by Martika
Peak: number 29
Here's another song with lyrics that were kind of silly - the follow-up to Martika's chart-topper, "Love... Thy Will Be Done". Once again written and produced by Prince, "Martika's Kitchen" is basically an extended metaphor about - what else? - sex, with Martika inviting her lover to "get some" in her "kitchen". I've never been as big a fan of this song as Martika's other singles, but it was an obvious choice for release, especially given how massive Prince once again was at this point. Perhaps I wasn't the only one not as impressed, since "Martika's Kitchen" barely made the top 30 - a major comedown after her number 1 success.
Peak: number 28
Speaking of comedowns, Marky Mark And The Funky Bunch were another act failing to live up to a previous success - although not in America, where "Wildside" matched "Good Vibrations" in reaching the top 10. In Australia, there was less interest in Mark Wahlberg's more socially aware side. Sampling Lou Reed's "Walk On The Wild Side", "Wildside" painted a pretty bleak picture of drugs, death and crime, with Mark rapping about two invented stories (Annie and Ron) and two real-life cases (Charles and Tiffany).
Possibly working against the song's chart chances was the fact that Jamie J Morgan's relatively recent twist on "Walk On The Wildside" had also been a top 30 hit in mid-1990. Whatever the reason, this would be Mark's final top 50 appearance in Australia. He and The Funky Bunch did release a second album later in the year, but by 1993, he started to turn his attention to acting, which as we all know, turned out to be a good move.
Peak: number 3
If The KLF and Tammy Wynette were at the unexpected end of the collaborations spectrum, then this pairing would've been at the other end. Not only had George Michael and Elton John recorded together before (on "Wrap Her Up" and "Nikita"), they'd also performed "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me" together previously - at Live Aid. Of course, on that occasion, George had sung Elton's 1974 single and Elton had accompanied him on piano.
George was obviously a fan of the song since he included it in his 1991 Cover To Cover tour and brought Elton onstage as a surprise guest at his last gig at Wembley Arena on March 23. That duet was recorded and paired with a music video that was shot during the US leg of the tour in October. The result: a UK and US number 1, while in Australia it was a number 3 smash, 10 places higher than Elton's original version.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1992:
Next week: a song that topped the chart in 1976 returns under unfortunate circumstances, plus two new rap hits - one that sampled the Jackson 5 and one that accompanied the movie version of a classic TV series.