This Week In 1989: September 17, 1989
Originally posted as 25 Years Ago This Week in 2014. Updated in 2019.
Over the years, rap and R&B artists have caused a lot of controversy, often as a result of music videos featuring scantily clad females (not to mention lyrics portraying them as little more than sex objects). But, this week in 1989, it was a pop act - and a female superstar, no less - who caused a stir with one of the most outrageous outfits ever seen in a music video.
In fact, it was a big week for controversy-courting women who knew how to use their sex appeal. The three highest new entries on the ARIA singles chart came from female artists who were no stranger to assuming the role of sex symbol in the interest of self-promotion (or empowerment, depending on which side of the argument you sit).
There was nothing racy about the single at the top of the ARIA chart this week in 1989. Richard Marx held strong at number 1 with slushy ballad "Right Here Waiting" - and it would take another month for one of this week's new entries to knock him off his perch.
Listen to the full top 50 here:
Off The Chart
Number 97 "Grandpa's Party" by Monie Love
Peak: number 93
This Dancin' Danny D-produced UK top 20 single is one of three songs to peak in the 90s for Monie Love in Australia, where her only hit was Adeva collab "Ring My Bell".
Number 96 "Bem, Bem, Maria" by Gipsy Kings
Peak: number 71
While "Bamboléo" fell from its top 20 peak this week, the follow-up didn't prove as popular, although the French band did spend a second week at number 2 on the albums chart with their self-titled LP.
Peak: number 83
This fourth single from Fingertips would end up being The Cockroaches' final top 100 placement, although the band would release one more album, Positive, around the time some of them got their wiggle on.
Number 86 "What You Don't Know" by Exposé
Peak: number 65
This Latin freestyle trio were big business in the US (and favourites of mine), with eight top 10 hits. This title track from their second album was their only visit to the top 100 locally.
Single Of The Week
Peak: number 69
The last time Bob Marley's children paid a visit to the ARIA top 100 (in 1988 with "Tomorrow People"), I remarked that the reggae legend hadn't actually fared that well on the Australian singles chart. Looks like Ziggy and his siblings were fated to repeat that performance with this lead single from the One Bright Day album becoming their final appearance in the top 100. Hit singles might have eluded them, but Grammy Awards didn't, with One Bright Day earning the band their second straight Best Reggae Album trophy.
Peak: number 63
Another brilliant single, another disappointing chart position as Australia continued to be immune to the charms of Neneh Cherry. "Kisses On The Wind" is my favourite of her singles (and among my top 20 for 1989) - and it also became her second US top 10 hit, following "Buffalo Stance". Next up, Neneh released different singles in different markets, with the UK getting "Inna City Mama", and the US and Australia going with "Heart" instead.
Number 50 "Jackie Brown" by John Cougar Mellencamp
Peak: number 47
After enjoying his highest-charting single in some time with "Pop Singer" earlier in 1989, JCM barely scraped into the top 50 with this follow-up, the second single from Big Daddy. Like "Pop Singer", "Jackie Brown" was an issue-based song, with its lyrics touching on the problem of poverty. It was also the last time John appeared on the top 50 as John Cougar Mellencamp - dropping the Cougar stage name for his next album, Whenever We Wanted.
Number 48 "In My Youth" by Noiseworks
Peak: number 44
Another song that barely registered on the top 50 was this fourth single from Noiseworks' Touch album - and it was actually quite surprising that a) "In My Youth" didn't do better and b) it was made a single so late, given it was a much more commercial song that either "Voice Of Reason" or "Simple Man". With its sing-along chorus and reminiscing lyrics, it sounded like a much bigger hit. As it was, it became Noiseworks' third single in a row to rank in the 40s.
Number 44 "You'll Never Stop Me Loving You" by Sonia Peak: number 29
No, this isn't one of the women I was talking about at the start of this post. Sonia may have been accused of a lot of things in her time, but wearing too little or being a sex symbol is not one of them. Most often described as perky (among other less flattering terms), Sonia Evans pestered producer Pete Waterman until he listened to her sing and, shortly after, recorded this UK number 1 hit with the Hit Factory team of Stock Aitken Waterman. It would be Sonia's only top 50 appearance in Australia, but she racked up a number of top 20 hits in the UK and even represented her country in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1993.
Number 30 "The Only One" by Transvision Vamp
Peak: number 30
Debuting where it would peak, this follow-up to "Baby I Don't Care" was a dramatic comedown for the band fronted by our first of this week's femme fatales: blonde bombshell Wendy James. It's telling that a large headshot of Marilyn Monroe featured both in the music video and on the single cover for "The Only One" - Wendy clearly took inspiration from the iconic movie sex siren.
Number 28 "If I Could Turn Back Time" by Cher
Peak: number 1
When you get to your 19th album, you need to do something a little bit special to maintain people's interest - and Cher's decision to straddle a canon and dance around a navy vessel in little more than a fishnet bodysuit certainly got everyone's attention.
But beyond the provocative barely-there outfit and the bizarre decision to invite her 12-year-old son, Elijah, to be front and centre as sailors whooped at his still-sexy 43-year-old mum, "If I Could Turn Back Time" was a really good song.
Penned by hitmaker Diane Warren, who recently revealed that Cher never liked the song, the rousing pop tune (which features an awesome '80s key change at the end) became the actress/singer's biggest Australian hit - topping the chart for seven weeks in total over a period of 10 weeks (her run was rudely interrupted by a song we'll see debut in early October).
Number 17 "Cherish" by Madonna Peak: number 4
Just when you thought you could rely on Madonna for a controversial music video or a song that played up her provocative image, she went and released something as inoffensive as "Cherish". The natural successor to "True Blue", the third single from Like A Prayer saw Madonna taking a break from the shock tactics and releasing a song that was pure joy. Accompanied by a playful, black-and-white music video directed by photographer Herb Ritts, "Cherish" allowed the Queen of Pop to once again defy expectations - and return to the Australian top 5.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1989:
Next week: Two of my favourite songs released by Australian-based artists in 1989, plus the return of one of the decade's most successful duos.