This Week In 1991: March 17, 1991
Sometimes it can take a while for a song to catch on and become a hit - and often the delayed attention can be down to the track's use in an ad, on a TV show or in a film. None of that is out of the ordinary. But, something happened on the ARIA singles chart this week in 1991 that was pretty unusual.
Two of the week's new entries were songs that owed their belated success to separate projects created by director David Lynch. One was a track that was used as the theme to his cult TV series Twin Peaks, while the other had featured in his film Wild At Heart. As we'll discover, that wasn't the only link between the two singles.
Another song with a TV link moved into the number 1 position this week in 1991. "Do The Bartman" by The Simpsons pushed Londonbeat out of the way to enjoy a week on top of the chart.
Off The Chart
Peak: number 100
While it had been a travesty that "Poison" and "Do Me!" missed the top 50, this third single from the former New Edition members was nowhere near as good and didn't deserve much better.
Peak: number 90
At least "Don't Call Me Dude" had been (mildly) amusing. Thankfully, the joke was over for thrashy rock band Scatterbrain, with this follow-up making a short visit to the top 100.
Peak: number 54
After the number 77 peak of "Rhythm Rude Girl", it was an optimistic move to lift a fifth single from Beyond Salvation. "Bleeding With The Times" actually improved on its predecessor but still fell short of the top 50 - something The Angels must've been used to by this point. This marked the fifth time they'd had a track stall in the 50s, and became their 13th top 50 miss (as opposed to 18 top 50 hits) since 1976. The band would add a 14th flop to the list before the year was out.
Number 50 "Cry For Help" by Rick Astley
Peak: number 13
He'd tested the water by releasing some of his own compositions as singles from second album Hold Me In Your Arms, including the title track and top 20 hit "She Wants To Dance With Me". Now, Rick Astley completely shrugged off the shackles of the Hit Factory on his rather pointedly titled third album, Free, with not a Stock Aitken Waterman production in sight. Co-written by Rob Fisher (of Naked Eyes and Climie Fisher fame), the gospel-tinged "Cry For Help" came with a video that reinforced the fact that this was a new Rick Astley - all long flowing locks and live band accompaniment. The result? A US and UK top 10 single, and in Australia, "Cry For Help" was his biggest hit since "When I Fall In Love / My Arms Keep Missing You".
Number 49 "Shelter Me" by Cinderella
Peak: number 48
Despite Australia's love for Bon Jovi and Poison, and to a lesser extent, Mötley Crüe and Warrant, our appetite for American hair metal had never extended to Cinderella - possibly because their two big Billboard hits, "Nobody's Fool" and "Don't Know What You Got (Till It's Gone)" had been power ballads and those didn't work quite as well locally. For whatever reason, this lead single from Cinderella's third album, Heartbreak Station, did (just) make the top 50, although by this point, the band had shifted gears and "Shelter Me" boasted more of a blues-influenced sound. It'd be their only ARIA top 100 entry.
Number 41 "Wicked Game" by Chris Isaak
Peak: number 15
Here's our first artist who had David Lynch to thank for his success. Chris Isaak had released three albums to little fanfare until this track from 1989's Heart Shaped World exploded following its use (well, an instrumental version of it) in the 1990 Lynch film "Wild At Heart". The cult director had been a fan for a while, also including two of Chris's songs in earlier movie Blue Velvet, but "Wicked Game" caught on in a way those previous tracks had not - no doubt helped significantly by the new music video directed by Herb Ritts that featured Chris and model Helena Christensen getting busy on Hawaiian beach. The sexy clip went into high rotation, the song charged up charts around the world and Chris has never looked back, enjoying a long and successful career in the decades since. He's also done the occasional bit of acting, appearing in the film spin-off of David Lynch's TV masterpiece...
Number 12 "Falling" by Julee Cruise
Peak: number 1
Like "Wicked Game", "Falling" had originally been released in 1989 - on Julee Cruise's debut album, Floating Into The Night. This track had an ever greater link with David Lynch, who wrote the lyrics to the song while Angelo Badalamenti provided the music (as they did for the entire album). An instrumental version of "Falling" was used as the theme to Lynch's TV series Twin Peaks, which by this point had Australia hooked, with the big reveal of who killed Laura Palmer coming in May 1991 (some six months after it had aired in the US). Julee, who'd appeared in the show to perform the ethereal track, ended up going all the way to number 1 in Australia with "Falling", but her success, like that of the show, was short-lived and she never returned to the top 50.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1991:
Next week: it's ballad o'clock with a batch of new entries that are liable to put you to sleep. I'll make every effort not to bore you, though!