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  • Gavin Scott

This Week In 1990: January 14, 1990

One of the most exciting things about the Australian charts from 1990 onwards is that information about positions 51 to 100 is readily available. Well, exciting for chart geeks like me, that is. For some reason, when ARIA took the compilation of the charts in-house in mid-1988, they didn't reveal any positions outside the top 50 until the start of 1990 - although I've been able to find those out for the purposes of this blog.

Even Bros, Kylie and Jason couldn't help Band Aid II's chart fortunes in Australia

With all of the top 100 info at my fingertips from now on, I thought I'd add a section to my weekly post where I list the new entries that didn't make it as far as the top 50 - and didn't wind up as a Single Of The Week or a Breaker. I won't go into them too much, since they're mostly long-forgotten flops, but there will be the odd overlooked classic in there (maybe not this week, though).

EDIT: I've since been able to add this section for all my 1988 and 1989 posts.

A song that could never be called overlooked is "Love Shack" by The B-52's, which held onto the number 1 spot and had established itself as the song of the summer by this stage. We'll see the song that ended up deposing it from the top make its debut this week.

Off The Chart

Number 99 "Rock And A Hard Place" by The Rolling Stones

Peak: number 99

Lead single "Mixed Emotions" had been a top 30 hit in 1989, but this second release from Steel Wheels made the most fleeting of visits to the top 100.

Number 98 "Sister" by Bros

Peak: number 98

In the UK, this ballad was their eighth and final top 10 hit but the Australian public passed on Bros' latest, written about the death of Matt and Luke's 18-year-old stepsister, Carolyn, in a 1988 car accident.

Number 97 "Enemy The Sun" by Bad Boy Johnny & The Prophets Of Doom

Peak: number 78

Performed by future top 30 act Troy Newman (who took over the role from Russell Crowe), this was taken from the soundtrack to the stage musical written by Return To Eden villain Daniel Abineri.


"Oh Father" by Madonna

Peak: number 59

It had all been going so well! After three smash singles, which all made the year-end top 50 for 1989, the Like A Prayer campaign hit a snag when fourth single "Oh Father" bombed in spectacular style. By peaking at number 59, "Oh Father" became the lowest charting single of Madonna's career up until this point in Australia (side note: international singles "Everybody""The Look Of Love" and "Spotlight" were not released locally). 

It was a similar story in the US, where the ballad became her first single since "Holiday" not to make the top 10, peaking at number 20. In the UK, "Dear Jessie" was released instead at this point (and reached number 5), but the curse of "Oh Father" continued six years later when Madonna's British label issued the song to promote Something To Remember and it also became one of her only singles not to reach the top 10 there, getting no further than number 16. I, for one, quite like the song but no doubt most fans in Australia already had the album.

New Entries

Number 48 "Kickstart My Heart" by Mötley Crüe

Peak: number 34

"Dr. Feelgood" had given them their biggest chart hit in Australia in 1989, but Mötley Crüe didn't do quite as well with this frenetic follow-up - and it was the same story in the US where the number 27 peak of "Kickstart My Heart" paled in comparison to the top 10 hits either side of it. Written by bassist Nikki Sixx about his near-death experience following - what else - a drug overdose in 1987, the track is probably my favourite song by the decadent band, although that's not saying much.

Number 45 "Come Back To Me" by Indecent Obsession

Peak: number 40

After two upbeat pop hits, it was time for the obligatory big ballad - complete with kiddy choir and key change - for Indecent Obsession. If this were the UK, the school hymn-like "Come Back To Me" would've been released slightly earlier and been in the running for the Christmas number 1 spot - it certainly sounds like a third-rate "Stay Another Day" by East 17. In Australia, the song only just slipped into the top 40 and was pretty much the death knell for the band's career locally, even though they'd bravely soldier on for a few more years.

Number 42 "La Luna" by Belinda Carlisle Peak: number 21

It was an improvement on the performance of the second singles from her previous two albums, but "La Luna" still fell some way short of living up to the top 10 success of "Leave A Light On" (just as "I Feel The Magic" and "I Get Weak" disappointed after "Mad About You" and "Heaven Is A Place On Earth" respectively). The Latin-flavoured "La Luna" wasn't actually lifted from Runaway Horses in the States - instead "Summer Rain" was chosen as single number two there. And, even though "Summer Rain" would eventually be released here, I can't help but think the Americans got it right with their pick and "La Luna" should probably have been left to later. 

Number 39 "Don't Know Much" by Linda Ronstadt / Aaron Neville Peak: number 2

A quintessentially '80s ballad, "Don't Know Much" had indeed been around for the entire decade, first recorded by co-writer Barry Mann for his self-titled album in 1980. Covered over the years by artists like Bill Medley (who released it as a single in 1981) and Bette Midler (whose 1983 version was re-titled "All I Need To Know"), it had never been a big hit. Turned into a duet by Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville, and given a more rousing feel, the song finally connected - and how, reaching number 2 in the Australia, the US and the UK. Easily the best version recorded of "Don't Know Much" thanks to Linda and Aaron's effortless vocals, the duet became an instant wedding dance and love song dedication favourite.

Number 38 "Janie's Got A Gun" by Aerosmith Peak: number 1

They were known more for good-time tracks like "Walk This Way" and "Love In An Elevator", but it was this significantly more serious song about an abused child growing up to take revenge on the father who molested her that gave Aerosmith their first substantial hit in Australia. It even spent a week at number 1. Not sure what that says about us, although it's probably fair to say "Janie's Got A Gun" was always going to get a lot of attention regardless of who performed it, thanks to that subject matter and the dark music video directed by David Fincher.

Number 30 "Do They Know It's Christmas" by Band Aid II

Peak: number 30

On my first 1985 recap, we saw the original version of "Do They Know It's Christmas" debut on the Australian chart - and exactly five years later, a new version produced by Stock Aitken Waterman arrived. Featuring most of the Hit Factory's stable of artists (Kylie, Jason, Bananarama, Sonia, Big Fun) as well as big pop acts of the day like Wet Wet Wet, Bros and Lisa Stansfield, it once again raised money for famine in Africa. All but written out of Band Aid history in the wake of the "more credible" versions released in 2004 and 2014, the charity song was as popular as it's ever been in 1989, taking out the UK Christmas number 1 spot and staying there for three weeks. In Australia, this belated entry position was as good as it got - and it remains the only version of the song not to make the top 10 locally.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1990:

Next week: the arrival of two new female vocalists who'd take the world by storm in 1990 - one of whom you can see in the YouTube screenshot just above. Plus, a song taken from the film debut of another Band Aid II contributor. Before that, I'll pop back to 1985 on Tuesday to see what was happening on the ARIA singles chart 30 years ago.

Back to: Jan 7, 1990 <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jan 21, 1990

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