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  • Gavin Scott

This Week In 1989: December 17, 1989

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

As 2014 comes to an end, so too does our look back at the ARIA top 50 singles charts from 1989. Fear not, after the obligatory three-week break during which ARIA used to pack up and go on holidays (despite the fact that the festive season is the peak record-buying period of the year), the chart returned in early 1990. And so, on January 7, I'll return with the first top 50 for the '90s - mark your calendars now!


One of 1990's biggest hits debuted on the final chart of 1989

Next year, I'll also start looking back 30 years each week as well. Why? Well, although I didn't personally collect the charts in 1985, I have managed to get my hands on every chart from that year. And it was 1985 - a year that deserves revisiting beyond my own previous posts on the subject.



Back to 1989, and before we get to the week's new entries, respect must go to Cher and "If I Could Turn Back Time", which spent a seventh and final week at number 1 - and thankfully held off a challenge for the top spot from Billy Joel and kept Jive Bunny's run at number 1 mercifully short during that stretch. 

In the first chart for 1990, we'll see what song became the first number 1 for the '90s and benefitted from the Christmas shut-down by registering three weeks at the top in one go.

Off The Chart

Number 100 "Hallelujah" by Absent Friends

Peak: number 100

Sean Kelly's post-Models solo career hadn't amounted to much, but this new band would eventually take off - just not with this debut single, which was the first of three releases by Absent Friends to feature a one-word title starting with the letter H.

Number 98 "Can't Forget You" by Sonia

Peak: number 98

"You'll Never Stop Me Loving You" hadn't done anywhere near as well in Australia as it had in the UK, where it topped the chart. True to form, Sonia's follow-up also disappointed locally.


Number 93 "Bring It All Back" by Grayson Hugh

Peak: number 88

"Talk It Over" was still in the upper half of the top 50 after 18 weeks, but this second single from the soul singer didn't have as successful a chart trajectory.


Number 74 "The Best Thing" by Boom Crash Opera

Peak: number 67

Boom Crash Opera had a problem with the third singles from their albums - "City Flat" had been a poor choice after their first two hits. Similarly, this third cut from These Here Are Crazy Times should maybe have made way for "Dancing In The Storm".

New Entries

Number 46 "This One's For The Children" by New Kids On The Block

Peak: number 40

Cynical marketing ploy or touching seasonal record? Either way, the decision for NKOTB to get festive at the peak of their success was a guaranteed money-spinner... at least, in the US, where "This One's For The Children was a half-million-selling number 7 smash. Even though Australia was still one single ("Cover Girl") behind the States in the New Kids release schedule, "This One's For The Children" was rushed out here to take advantage of those holiday sales, such as they were. The accompanying album, Merry, Merry Christmas, also made the ARIA chart - peaking at number 34. The UK was even further behind the eightball when it came to New Kids, and both single and album were delayed until Christmas 1990 there.

Number 45 "So Alive" by Love And Rockets

Peak: number 24

Love And Rockets was formed by three of the members - everyone but the vocalist - of goth rock band Bauhaus (biggest hit: a 1982 cover of David Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust"). This spin-off group had released three albums before their 1989 self-titled LP, which contained breakthrough hit "So Alive". While much more commercial than Bauhaus's music, the track still had a bit of a dark edge that set it apart from pretty much everything else on the chart. "So Alive" also reached number 3 in the US and would be the only substantial hit for Love And Rockets.

Number 43 "I Can't Believe" by Girl Overboard Peak: number 43

In theory, this was the debut single for the band fronted by singer Lisa Schouw, but Girl Overboard had been around - and releasing music - for a while as Separate Tables. Between 1987 and 1989, the band put out three singles, two of which made inroads into the top 100 ("When The Word Came Down" reached number 82 in February 1988, while "Wrap Your Arms Around Me" managed a peak of number 71 in May 1989). Things obviously weren't quite working, and so Separate Tables morphed into Girl Overboard. The rebranding did the trick, with the freshly renamed band finally able to crack the top 50 - albeit for only two non-consecutive weeks. Still, it was a start.

Number 39 "Girl I'm Gonna Miss You" by Milli Vanilli Peak: number 3

"Baby Don't Forget My Number" was proving to be an incredibly durable single, still bouncing around the top 20 despite being 17 weeks into its chart life - a top 50 run that would end up lasting more than twice that long. And so, rather than release "Blame It On The Rain", which had been the next European single, Milli Vanilli's Australian record company followed the American lead and skipped ahead to ballad "Girl I'm Gonna Miss You", which would wind up as the deceitful duo's highest-charting song in Australia. It was also my least favourite single by the group.


Number 38 "Crying In The Chapel" by Peter Blakeley Peak: number 3

Peter Blakeley's story is one of those classic music industry tales - the Australian singer had done the rounds as a session musician and guest vocalist (including for a pre-success incarnation of Rockmelons in 1985) for years before finally getting his own record deal in 1986, and then another one in 1988. It would take a few more years for Peter to land a hit, but he made up for lost time with this original track - not, as it's often mistaken to be, a cover of the identically named song performed by artists as diverse as Elvis Presley, Bob Marley & The Wailers and The Platters. The lead single from his Harry's Cafe De Wheels album, it would shift enough copies to place in the top 20 highest-selling singles of 1990 in Australia.

Annual Chart

There we have it - the final ARIA top 50 for 1989. As they'd done in 1988, ARIA released a printed chart featuring the top 50 singles for the year - and here it is...


Multiple entries

Ruling the roost for 1989 was Madonna, who not only had the year's highest-selling single with "Like A Prayer", but also placed twice more in the top 50 with "Express Yourself" and "Cherish". Madonna was one of six artists with two or three songs on the annual chart - seven, if you include Roy Orbison, whose solo single "You Got It" appeared alongside The Traveling Wilburys' "Handle With Care".

Australian artists 

The highest-placed Australian single didn't even make number 1. Perennial runner-up "Bedroom Eyes" by Kate Ceberano was the seventh biggest single for 1989, and was one of 11 songs by local acts (including New Zealander Jenny Morris, who was based in Australia). That figure also includes two entries by Kylie Minogue, who was increasingly not based in Australia as the year wore on.

Gold and platinum

1989 was the year when gold and platinum accreditations started being shown on the ARIA top 50 - and what was interesting about this year-end chart was that multi-platinum hit "If I Could Turn Back Time" was only placed fifth, while 12th placed "Teardrops" only went gold but registers higher than many platinum accredited singles. Of course, what became apparent was that a gold or platinum record didn't necessarily sell 35,000 or 70,000 copies (respectively), but they indicated the record company had shipped that many copies to stores. Whether or not they sold was another matter. 

The next 50

They weren't broadcast at the time, but here are numbers 51 to 101 of the year-end ARIA singles chart:


51         SOUL REVIVAL Johnny Diesel & The Injectors

52         SHE MAKES MY DAY Robert Palmer

53         GOOD THING Fine Young Cannibals

54         DON'T NEED LOVE Johnny Diesel & The Injectors

55         I DROVE ALL NIGHT Cyndi Lauper

56         PATIENCE Guns n' Roses

57         SAY GOODBYE Indecent Obsession

58         WAIT Gyan

59         BABY DON'T FORGET MY NUMBER Milli Vanilli

60         THE ONLY WAY IS UP Yazz & The Plastic Population

61         HEALING HANDS Elton John

62         TELEPHONE BOOTH Ian Moss

63         I WANT YOUR LOVE Transvision Vamp

64         SATISFIED Richard Marx

65         TWO HEARTS Phil Collins

66         BELFAST CHILD Simple Minds

67         I FEEL THE EARTH MOVE Martika

68         DON'T WORRY BE HAPPY Bobby McFerrin

69         END OF THE LINE The Traveling Wilburys

70         PUT A LITTLE LOVE IN YOUR HEART Annie Lennox / Al Green

71         I WANT IT ALL Queen

72         CRY IN SHAME Johnny Diesel & The Injectors

73         WAY OF THE WORLD Max Q

74         LISTEN TO YOUR HEART Roxette

75         HANGIN' TOUGH New Kids On The Block

76         TOO MANY BROKEN HEARTS Jason Donovan

77         LIKE THE WAY I DO Melissa Etheridge

78         ONION SKIN Boom Crash Opera

79         GROOVY KIND OF LOVE Phil Collins

80         ROCKET Def Leppard

81         YOU'LL NEVER KNOW 1927

82         BRING ME SOME WATER Melissa Etheridge

83         CAN I GET A WITNESS Sam Brown

84         LOVE BITES Def Leppard

85         MISS YOU MUCH Janet Jackson

86         WHERE DID I GO WRONG UB40

87         EVERY ROSE HAS ITS THORN Poison

88         EVERY LITTLE STEP Bobby Brown

89         LOVE DIMENSION Kate Ceberano

90         TOUCH THE FIRE Icehouse

91         SOWING THE SEEDS OF LOVE Tears For Fears

92         BUFFALO STANCE Neneh Cherry

93         POP SINGER John Cougar Mellencamp

94         HOUSE OF CARDS James Reyne

95         ELECTRIC YOUTH Debbie Gibson

96         SECOND CHANCE 38 Special

97         I WON'T BACK DOWN Tom Petty

98         LOVE SHACK The B-52's

99         WOULDN'T CHANGE A THING Kylie Minogue

100       SEALED WITH A KISS Jason Donovan

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

Back to: Dec 10, 1989 <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jan 7, 1990


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