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  • Gavin Scott

This Week In 1990: December 16, 1990

It's that time of year again - when the ARIA charts got ready to close down for the festive period. This week in 1990, the final top 50 bearing a date that year was released, with the next chart covering the three-week period up until January 6, 1991.

There was no change at the top of the singles chart this week in 1990 as "Unchained Melody" by The Righteous Brothers stayed at number 1 for a fourth week.

Off The Chart

Number 98 "C'mon" by The Screaming Jets

Peak: number 84

A slow start for the Newcastle rock band with this debut single sneaking into the top 100. Things would get, er, better for them in 1991.

Number 94 "New Power Generation" by Prince

Peak: number 91

Named after the backing band who'd start to receive a credit on his releases in 1991, this follow-up to "Thieves In The Temple" wasn't the most auspicious of starts for Prince's new crew.

Number 92 "Upside Down" by Collette

Peak: number 91

Not even a cover of Diana Ross's number 1 hit from 1980 could revive Collette Roberts' chart fortunes. This mediocre remake was the Australian singer's final top 100 appearance.

Number 68 "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini" by Bombalurina

Peak: number 66

We should think ourselves lucky - this cheesy cover of the 1960 Bryan Hyland smash masterminded by kids' presenter Timmy Mallet and Andrew Lloyd-Webber was a three-week number 1 in the UK.

New Entries

Number 48 "I Come Off" by Young MC

Peak: number 43

Poor Young MC. Even though "Bust A Move" was certainly a hard song to beat, his other top 50 hits, "Principal's Office" and "I Come Off" deserved to do better on the Australian chart than they did. This fifth single from Stone Cold Rhymin' featured a sample from "Hercules" by Aaron Neville and original vocal contributions from American singer N'Dea Davenport, who would be introduced through Young MC's label, Delicious Vinyl, to UK acid jazz band The Brand New Heavies and become their lead singer. As for Marvin Young, this would be his final appearance on the ARIA top 50 (although he did feature on a bonus track on Euphoria's "Do For You" single in 1992).

Number 46 "Love Takes Time" by Mariah Carey

Peak: number 14

Just when Mariah Carey and her record label thought her debut, self-titled album was done and dusted, she and original songwriting partner Ben Margulies whipped up this ballad. Mariah thought it would end up on album number two, but so impressed were the record company execs that they moved heaven and earth to get it onto Mariah Carey. It was such a last-minute inclusion that initial copies of the album sleeve didn't even have the song listed.

All the effort paid off, with "Love Takes Time" becoming a second number 1 in the US for one of 1990's biggest new stars. The track did surprisingly well in Australia considering the fact that such sentimental non-rock ballads weren't generally so popular locally - making a slow but steady climb to peak just in time for Valentine's Day. The success of the single also boosted the album, which returned to the chart in its wake and enjoyed a much longer top 10 run than the one week it had spent at number 10 following "Vision Of Love". 

Number 44 "I'm Free" by The Soup Dragons

Peak: number 9

It's the classic tale - indie darlings become mainstream success story after a well-timed cover that sounds nothing like their usual music and are subsequently unable to ever match their chart performance with their original music. In this case, it's Scottish band The Soup Dragons, who'd had a string of guitar pop hits on the British indie chart, then suddenly found themselves in the UK and Australian top 10 with their remake of The Rolling Stones track from 1965. Influenced by the rock/dance sound of Madchester, this update of "I'm Free" also featured a rap from reggae star Junior Reid and succeeded locally where other British hits from the genre like "Step On" and "Groovy Train" failed.

Number 33 "Disappear" by INXS

Peak: number 23

This might've seemed like a sudden and shocking downturn in success for INXS, especially given the number 2 peak of previous single "Suicide Blonde" and the fact that the first three singles from last album Kick had all gone top 10. But, if you think about it, Kick was the anomaly. 

In 1985, "What You Need" had also peaked at number 2 and its follow-up, "This Time", ventured no further than number 19. So in that context, "Disappear" did about as well as you could expect for a band whose fans traditionally rushed out and bought their albums straight away, but didn't necessarily pick up subsequent singles.

And before you try to point out that the first three singles from The Swing also made the top 10, two of those were released before the album came out, as opposed to one lead single from each of Listen Like Thieves, Kick and X. The pattern would be the same for future albums Welcome To Wherever You Are and Full Moon, Dirty Hearts, with first singles greatly out-performing later ones.

None of that is to suggest that I think "Disappear" shouldn't have done better - in fact, I far prefer it to "Suicide Blonde" - but it was possibly a little too safe to become a big hit. Huge chart singles were going to prove elusive for INXS from this point on - which probably came down to a combination of the inevitable tall poppy backlash against them for all that overseas success and the fact that, although they still had quite a few good songs left in them, they weren't quite at the level of their '80s output.

Annual Chart

And the next 50:

51.    "Leave A Light On" by Belinda Carlisle

52.    "Love Is" by Alannah Myles

53.    "Ooops Up" by Snap!

54.    "Love And Kisses" by Dannii

55.    "Better The Devil You Know" by Kylie Minogue

56.    "Heart In Danger" by Southern Sons

57.    "I'll Be Your Shelter" by Taylor Dayne

58.    "I Remember You" by Skid Row

59.    "The Right Combination" by Seiko / Donnie Wahlberg

60.    "Lily Was Here" by David A Stewart featuring Candy Dulfer

61.    "Doin' The Do" by Betty Boo

62.    "The King Of Wishful Thinking" by Go West

63.    "Sweet Surrender" by Wet Wet Wet

64.    "Dogs Are Talking" by The Angels

65.    "The Power" by Snap!

66.    "Vision Of Love" by Mariah Carey

67.    "Show Me Heaven" by Maria McKee

68.    "Roam" by The B-52's

69.    "Baby Don't Forget My Number" by Milli Vanilli

70.    "That's Freedom" by John Farnham

71.    "Italo House Mix" by Rococo

72.    "Turtle Power" by Partners In Kryme

73.    "Bound For Glory" by Angry Anderson

74.    "Black Betty (remix)" by Ram Jam

75.    "Black Cat" by Janet Jackson

76.    "Still Got The Blues (For You)" by Gary Moore

77.    "I'm Your Baby Tonight" by Whitney Houston

78.    "Let's Make It Last All Night" by Jimmy Barnes

79.    "Escaping" by Margaret Urlich

80.    "Dub Be Good To Me" by Beats International

81.    "Shake" by Andrew Ridgeley

82.    "Burn For You" by John Farnham

83.    "Tonight" by New Kids On The Block

84.    "Megamix" by Technotronic

85.    "I Feel The Earth Move" by Martika

86.    "Here We Are" by Gloria Estefan

87.    "Please Send Me Someone To Love" by Johnny Diesel & The Injectors

88.    "Miss Divine" by Icehouse

89.    "Tom's DIner" by DNA featuring Suzanne Vega

90.    "Back Street Pick Up" by The Angels

91.    "Step Back In Time" by Kylie Minogue

92.    "Check Out The Chicken" by Grandmaster Chicken & DJ Duck

93.    "Fools Gold / What The World Is Waiting For" by The Stone Roses

94.    "I Wish It Would Rain Down" by Phil Collins

95.    "Praying For Time" by George Michael

96.    "Tell Me A Story" by 1927

97.    "Let The Night Roll On" by The Angels

98.    "Thieves In The Temple" by Prince

99.    "(Can't Live Without Your) Love And Affection" by Nelson

100.  "Escapade" by Janet Jackson

So there it is - one of the most debated year-end charts among chart geeks fans like me. Why the controversy? 

Well, for one thing a couple of the year's chart-toppers - like "Blaze Of Glory", which spent six week at number 1, and "Bust A Move", which had a decent run in the top 50 (including the 13 weeks it took to reach the top) - are surprisingly low. That's especially the case compared to tracks like reigning number 1 "Unchained Melody" and upcoming chart-topper "Ice Ice Baby", which had only been out for a handful of weeks. Yes, sales might've been lower when "Blaze..." and "Bust..." ruled the roost, and the current top 2 would no doubt have been selling huge amounts in the lead-up to Christmas - but it is still curious.

Another contentious point? The total absence in the year-end top 100 of number 8 hit "She Ain't Worth It" by Glenn Medeiros featuring Bobby Brown despite the presence of songs like "Vision Of Love" and "Turtle Power", which were on the chart around the same time and didn't peak as high. Also missing: Technotronic's "Get Up! (Before The Night Is Over)", although we did get three singles by The Angels between 51 and 100.

Those quibbles aside, other things to note are that 26 of the entries on the year-end chart were by Australian acts (or New Zealanders spending a lot of time here). I haven't done a year-on-year comparison, but that seems like a pretty strong showing.

Throughout the year, I talked a lot about how different musical genres - specifically rap, R&B and dance - had started to be represented on the weekly top 50. How did they fare in the year-end listing? Twenty-one singles from those genres are among the top 100, including the worst song for 1990, "Check Out The Chicken". Rock tracks of varying hardness were still dominant, with 34 singles on the list.

Female performers also had a good year, with Sinéad O'Connor at number 1 and another 28 singles by solo or featured female singers in the top 100. Then, there were all the groups with female vocalists - Roxette, Heart, Concrete Blonde, Wilson Phillips, Absent Friends and Black Box, to name a few.

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

Next time: the first new chart for 1991, featuring a slow start for a future number 1, yet another single from an album that came out in 1989 and a new version of a classic Australian single from the '80s. Back to: Dec 9, 1990 <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jan 6, 1991

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