This Week In 1991: February 17, 1991
Each week when I sit down to write these blog posts about the ARIA singles chart from decades past, I look for some kind of pattern or link between the songs I'll be talking about. The new entries from this week in 1991 can be approached in a couple of different ways...
Firstly, I could remark that it was a good week for artists who liked to remake other people's songs. Secondly, I could play another round of my favourite game: One-hit Wonder Or Not? Since I'm feeling generous, I'm going to do both!
At number 1 this week in 1991, Londonbeat pushed aside Divinyls to take "I've Been Thinking About You" to the top in what would be a four-week run.
Off The Chart
Number 88 "X, Y & Zee" by Pop Will Eat Itself
Peak: number 88
Never as big as the similar sounding EMF or Jesus Jones, British dance/rock band Pop Will Eat Itself did enjoy their highest-charting single to date both here and in the UK with this track.
Peak: number 56
This was a shocker. It'd taken some time for Gloria Estefan to really cross over in Australia, but with the chart-topping Cuts Both Ways album and its inescapable singles, the Latin superstar had become a household name. And so you might've thought that this comeback single, released following the road accident in 1990 that nearly cost Gloria her life and her subsequent 12 months of recovery, would've been a bigger hit.
An epic ballad with bonus gospel choir, "Coming Out Of The Dark" was not only incredibly poignant but it was one of her best singles - much more powerful than the insipid "Cuts Both Ways" or "Here We Are". We Australians might have been a heartless bunch, unmoved by Gloria's return, but "Coming Out Of The Dark" went all the way to number 1 in America following the singer's triumphant performance at the American Music Awards in late January.
In Australia, Gloria's next big hit wouldn't come until 1994 when she recorded an album of cover versions, which brings us to...
Number 49 "I'm Not In Love" by Will To Power
Peak: number 38
In theory a freestyle act from - where else? - Miami, Will To Power was mostly known from their slow jam medley of "Baby I Love Your Way" and "Freebird" that'd taken them all the way to number 1 in the US. With few takers for their original pop/dance tracks, it was remake time again to launch second album Journey Home. Will To Power broke their one-hit wonder curse with this fairly faithful rendition of 10cc's "I'm Not In Love", which really only differed thanks to it being performed by a woman - new vocalist Elin Michaels. They weren't so lucky with the follow-up: yet another cover version, this time of "Boogie Nights", originally performed by Heatwave.
Number 48 "A Lil' Ain't Enough" by David Lee Roth
Peak: number 42
Here's a man who's no stranger to cover versions. In fact, his first two solo singles were both remakes - one a straight cover, another a medley. By 1991, the former Van Halen singer was up to this third solo album, A Little Ain't Enough, which was launched by this (almost) title track. An original song, "A Lil' Ain't Enough" was co-written by David with Robbie Nevil of "C'est La Vie" fame. As usual, Diamond Dave featured an abundance of scantily clad women in his music video, but in between their bursting bosoms and the blackface sported by a troupe of dancing little people, it was enough to get the clip banned by MTV. This would be David's final ARIA top 100 appearance.
Peak: number 8
Known as the King of Freestyle, Stevie B (real name: Steven Hill, the B comes from middle name Bernard) was another Miami-based performer who achieved his greatest success with a syrupy ballad rather than his trademark dance tracks. Unlike Will To Power, however, some of his dance releases also did quite well on the Billboard Hot 100 - notably "Love & Emotion", which is the only song of his I like. A US chart-topper, "Because I Love You (The Postman Song)" became Stevie's only top 50 hit in Australia, making him a one-hit wonder here - and it's a song I have never been able to listen to more than about 20 seconds of. From the pained vocal to the cheesy lyrics, it's a musical abomination - and this is coming from someone who liked some pretty slushy ballads in the early '90s.
Number 27 "Play That Funky Music" by Vanilla Ice
Peak: number 13
Speaking of musical abominations... here's the single that prevented Vanilla Ice from being a one-hit wonder in Australia. And, it's a remake of sorts! Originally released by funk band Wild Cherry in 1976, "Play That Funky Music" was made over Vanilla Ice-style. In other words, he took the bits he wanted and tried not to credit the original songwriters (until they sued), just as he'd done with "Ice Ice Baby". This was actually Vanilla Ice's second take on "Play That Funky Music". His first version had actually been the record that had featured "Ice Ice Baby" as its B-side. When that flipside became a huge smash, the rapper revisited "Play That Funky Music", adding new lyrics and issuing the new version as the follow-up to his international chart-topper.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1991:
Next week: the best single of all time. Seriously. Plus, what do you get when you mix a Gregorian chant with a dance beat? One of the biggest musical trends of 1991, that's what.