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  • Gavin Scott

This Week In 1989: April 16, 1989

Originally posted as 25 Years Ago This Week in 2014. Updated in 2019.

I wonder if ARIA actually received complaints about the top 50 chart being completely red every single week following Coca-Cola's sponsorship deal a few weeks earlier. I'm not sure what prompted it, but this week in 1989, a splash of colour was added back onto the chart with the ARIA logo changing each week thereafter (until the next redesign). Granted, the colours weren't as varied as they used to be, but at least it was something.

Tone Lōc's record won the "Wild Thing" chart battle in 1989

Why did it matter? Well, if nothing else, the colour variation made it easier to tell if the chart on the record store counter was a new one or still last week's. Nothing was more annoying (OK, that might be a slight over-exaggeration) than finding the previous week's chart still on display - and having to ask the oh-so-helpful sales assistants to dig out a new one.

There was good reason to keep on top of the charts at this point since the battle for number 1 had never been so intense (and I can't think of it ever being so since). After two weeks waiting in the runners-up position, Madonna's "Like A Prayer" stormed back to number 1 for a second week, swapping places with Fine Young Cannibals' "She Drives Me Crazy". It was only the start of an exciting few months at the top of the singles chart.

Off The Chart

Number 96 "Building Bridges" by The Seekers

Peak: number 68

Recorded with replacement singer Julie Anthony (who'd performed with the veteran group at the Brisbane Expo in 1988), this new song appeared among a bunch of re-recorded oldies on the Live On album.  

Number 89 "Mayor Of Simpleton" by XTC

Peak: number 89

The lead single from double album Oranges & Lemons, this became the British band's first and only US top 100 hit, but failed to deliver another top 50 hit for them here in Australia.

Number 87 "Round And Round" by New Order

Peak: number 67

Their first single to miss the top 50 since 1986's "State Of The Nation", this follow-up to top 20 hit "Fine Time" is one of my favourites from the band, who wanted to release "Vanishing Point" instead.

Number 72 "Wrap Your Arms Around Me" by Separate Tables

Peak: number 71

By the end of the year, they'd change their name to Girl Overboard and suddenly find themselves inside the top 50 after three singles - this was the third - as Separate Tables that missed the mark.

Single Of The Week

"Real Love" by Jody Watley

Peak: number 78

Of the five singles released from her debut self-titled album, only one, 1987's "Looking For A New Love", had been a hit in Australia - and unfortunately for the former Shalamar singer, that didn't change now she was onto her second album. Despite peaking at number 2 in the US, "Real Love" didn't come anywhere near the ARIA top 50, which was pretty typical for female R&B songs that weren't by Janet Jackson. Besides Jody, artists like Karyn White, Pebbles and even Sheena Easton (who at this point of her career was working with all the same hot producers) didn't find a wide audience in Australia.


"Cult Of Personality" by Living Colour

Peak: number 54

Run DMC's cover of "Walk This Way" had shown what could happen when rock and hip-hop joined forces - and it was those two genres (plus a few more besides) that Living Colour blended on their debut album, Vivid. The Grammy-winning single "Cult Of Personality" may not have made much of an impression on the Australian chart, but I recall the band receiving a lot of buzz locally and a fair bit of music video play for the track. The band's time would come on the singles chart - but not for a couple of years.

New Entries

Number 47 "Halleluiah Man" by Love & Money

Peak: number 47

I've always liked this song, even though it wasn't very successful for the Scottish band either here (where it spent a single week in the top 50) or in the UK. I associate it with a genre I think of as "white soul" music, named after a compilation of the same name released locally featuring acts like Wet Wet Wet, Level 42, Curiosity Killed The Cat, Kane Gang and, bizarrely, Pepsi & Shirlie. Whether or not that's an appropriate tag for the sound, there certainly was a lot of that slickly produced, vaguely soul-influenced pop coming out of the UK, with bands like Johnny Hates Jazz, Breathe and Climie Fisher a few more examples. I was a big fan of all those artists, so Love & Money fit right in to my musical taste - but it was only the odd exception that became a big hit in Australia.

Number 45 "Dirty Blvd." by Lou Reed

Peak: number 45

Another song to only spend a single week in the top 50 and another entry for which ARIA got the title wrong, "Dirty Blvd." was the lead single from Lou's New York album, one of the best received of his 14 studio sets. The track itself features Lou's unmistakably monotonous vocal delivery and became the highest-charting single of his career. Amazingly, classic single "Walk On The Wild Side" only spent a single week at number 100 back in 1973.

Number 40 "Wild Thing" by Tone Lōc

Peak: number 15

Last week, Sam Kinison debuted with his cover of rock classic "Wild Thing", and this week in 1989, rapper Tone Lōc (real name: Anthony Smith) entered the top 50 with his soon-to-be hip-hop classic of the same name, which sampled "Jamie's Cryin'" by rock legends Van Halen. "Wild Thing" was a two-million-selling smash in the States, while in Australia, his follow-up track would end up being the bigger of his two hit singles. Still, Tone's "Wild Thing" did perform better here than the other identically titled track, so that's something.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1989:

Next week: a future reality show judge makes her debut, as does one of the year's biggest singles (from one of 1989's most popular movies). Plus, we'll look at what two former members of a classic Australian band did next.

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