This Week In 1994: June 12, 1994
Australia sure did love an overblown ballad in the 1990s. The best-selling singles of 1990, 1991 and 1993 had all been big ballads, while 1992's "I Will Always Love You" arrived too late that year to take out the year-end title but had outsold everything else in the decade up until this point.
1994 remained true to the pattern, with the arrival this week of the song that would end up as the annual chart champ - and it was another big ballad. It was also a soundtrack hit that spent six weeks at number 1 in Australia.
There was a new number 1 in Australia this week in 1994. Crash Test Dummies jumped up to the top with "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm" for the first of three weeks.
Off The Chart
Number 97 "Lost In America" by Alice Cooper
Peak: number 65
1989's Trash had turned Alice Cooper into a chart regular and 1991's Hey Stoopid had offered up one top 50 hit, but this lead single from The Last Temptation suggested those days were over.
Number 93 "Jammie's Got A Girl" by You Am I
Peak: number 93
The follow-up to You Am I's first top 100 single, "Berlin Chair", "Jammie's Got A Girl" got its name from singer Tim Rogers' brother, Jammie, who had previously been a member of the band.
Number 87 "Round Here" by Counting Crows
Peak: number 58
"Mr Jones" was still inside the top 30, but this more emotional second single from August And Everything After would miss the top 50. "Round Here" had its origins during singer Adam Duritz's time as a member of The Himalayans.
Peak: number 74
Peak: number 52
By now, it seemed, most people who wanted this song had it on Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell, although the single version almost halved the album version's 10-minute running time.
Number 59 "Prayer For The Dying" by Seal
Peak: number 56
His self-titled debut had been one of my favourite albums of 1991 and yielded top 10 hit "Crazy", but this lead single from his self-titled second album (known as Seal II to avoid confusion), despite being one of my favourites for 1994, didn't enjoy the same reception.
Peak: number 26
We're going to get to the song that would be Australia's number 1 song for 1994, but here's my top single for the year. Kind of. Italo dance track "Light My Fire" had been bouncing around the top 100 since March thanks to its original release in January - a maxi CD single through local independent label MDS (Mushroom Distribution Services) that retailed for about $10. It's the version I bought and contains the Noisy Clouds Mixwhich is far and away the best version of the song.
In the UK, where the original release of "Light My Fire" had missed the top 40, a remix by Cappella known as the R.A.F. Zone Mix turned the song into a hit. Having a music video featuring singer Carl Fanini probably helped. I actually don't like this version of the song much at all, and although it was included on a second CD single(that sold for $5) released here in May, it was relegated to Track 3, with the Noisy Clouds Mix as Track 1. Whichever single and whichever version of "Light My Fire" people liked, the song bounded back onto the chart and finally broke into the top 50 this week.
Club House was one of many Italo dance projects masterminded by producer Gianfranco Bortolotti (see also: 49ers, Cappella), and the name dated back to 1983 when a mash-up of "Do It Again" and "Billie Jean" was released as the group's first single. In Australia, a soundalike cover of the medley by Slingshot made the top 100.
Number 43 "Laid" by James
Peak: number 40
Next up, the first of two entries by British indie bands, and in the case of James it was a return to the top 50 with the title track of their fifth album. Their second and final hit in Australia (following "Sound" in early 1992), "Laid" didn't reach as high as you would expect given the longevity the track has enjoyed in the decades since. It was the same story for the track in the UK, where James had four top 20 hits to their name by this point - "Laid" peaked at number 25 there, although if you'd asked me before today, I would've assumed it'd done much better. "Laid" is also one of those songs people probably associate with a lyric that's not the title - in this case the song's opening line: "This bed is on fire..." - although "laid" is sung (or is that yodelled?) at the very end of the 2:37 track.
Number 40 "Girls And Boys" by Blur
Peak: number 19
Making their first appearance on not only the top 50 but the top 100 was one of the biggest British bands of the decade, who would transcend their indie roots to become one of the frontrunners of the Britpop movement. Blur had shown promise back in 1991 with UK top 10 hit "There's No Other Way" - a song that even made my year-end top 100 - but they'd followed that with a string of songs that peaked in the 20s and 30s back home. Then came the Parklife album, which was kicked off by this Brits abroad, fun in the sun classic, returning them to the UK top 10 and crossing over in Australia, thanks to its chant-along "girls who are boys who like boys to be girls..." chorus. The song's cause was also helped, especially in my book, by a fantastic Pet Shop Boys remix, which was the perfect blend of synths and indie rock. The seal broken, we'd be hearing a lot more from Blur locally in the years to come.
Number 23 "Love Is All Around" by Wet Wet Wet
Peak: number 1
Here it is, the song that would end 1994 as Australia's highest-selling single for the year. Recorded for the soundtrack to Four Weddings And A Funeral, Wet Wet Wet's version of The Troggs' 1967 hit (which had peaked at the dizzying heights of number 44 in Australia) was inescapable in 1994.
One of three songs the band were given to choose from to remake - the others: "I Will Survive" and "Can't Smile Without You" - "Love Is All Around" was even more massive in the UK, where it racked up 15 weeks on top and was deleted at the request of the band, since the public's goodwill was starting to fade due to the track's ubiquity. Whether or not it could have remained on top for a record-equalling 16th week will never be known (although probably not, given the high-flying debut of Whigfield's "Saturday Night" that week). Anyway, I digress.
Wet Wet Wet's first hit in Australia since "Goodnight Girl" in 1992, it would also be their last substantial hit in this country. A stand-alone single, it was tacked on to the band's 1993 best of, End Of Part One: Their Greatest Hits, and, as a result, that compilation charted for the first time here, peaking at number 2 in October.
Number 7 "Around The World" by East 17
Peak: number 4
Last week, we saw the song that finally gave the UK's top pop act, Take That, their first major hit on the ARIA chart. But as far as Australians were concerned, there was no bigger British boy band than East 17, whose seven-week number 1, "It's Alright", dropped out of the top 40 this week. Following up that massive chart-topper wasn't going to be easy, but the Walthamstow lads charged straight into the top 10 with a brand new song. The first taste of second album Steam, "Around The World" was more in the vein of "Deep" than the frenetic blast that was "It's Alright", and it duly became East 17's fourth top 5 hit locally.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1994:
Next week: a dance single that celebrated a huge moment for Australia, plus a song that was an instant top 10 hit locally but took three releases to get there in the UK.