This Week In 1994: September 18, 1994
As we approached the final quarter of the year, 1994 was really shaping up to be the year of the power ballad. This week, two big ballads joined the likes of "Love Is All Around" and "I Swear" on the top 50, and both would go on to be among the year's highest-selling singles.
One was the return of an Australian singer whose biggest hit to date had been a dance-pop tune, while the other was a duet by two American warblers on a song that had already been to number 1 more than a decade earlier.
At number 1 this week in 1994, Kylie Minogue jumped from number 31 to the top of the chart with "Confide In Me", dislodging big ballad "I Swear" in the process.
Off The Chart
Number 98 "Age Of Loneliness" by Enigma
Peak: number 84
Performing slightly better than 1993's "Carly's Song", on which it is based, this bore all the hallmarks of an Enigma tune: panpipes, Sandra whispering seductively and a gentle dance beat.
Number 97 "Games People Pay" by Inner Circle
Peak: number 97
Proof positive that the reggae revival had run its course, this cover of the Grammy-winning 1968 song by Joe South, which was the lead single from Inner Circle's Reggae Dancer album, barely made an impression on the top 100.
Number 96 "Stronger Together" by Rockmelons
Peak: number 96
Two years after the release of the album it first appeared on, 1992's Form One Planet, this fifth single was given a fantastic remix by Paul Gotel and part of a push for the band in the UK.
Number 93 "Losin' It" by Underground Lovers
Peak: number 93
An Australian indie classic, this was the only charting single by the winners of the 1992 ARIA Awards for Best New Talent — and at a criminally low peak.
Number 87 "Kiss From A Rose" by Seal
Peak: number 87
Initially released as the follow-up to "Prayer For The Dying", this future chart-topper had an underwhelming response first time around. Amazing what a key soundtrack placement can do for a song!
Number 86 "I Believe In You" by Electric Hippies
Peak: number 76
Another retro rock-flavoured single from the ex-Noiseworks pair, this was every bit as catchy as their debut offering, "Greedy People", but inexplicably not a hit.
Number 70 "Sunshine Of Your Love" by Living Colour
Peak: number 56
Speaking of retro rock, Living Colour's take on the Cream single from 1967 was included on the soundtrack to 1994's big budget action smash True Lies. The band would split soon after this release.
Number 49 "Selling The Drama" by Live
Peak: number 49
The lead single from what would end up being a massive album, "Selling The Drama" is one of those songs I would never be able to tell you the name of (probably because the title doesn't feature in the lyrics), but which I know really well. The album in question was Throwing Copper, one of those slow burn albums that didn't end up reach number 1 until almost a year after its debut and one that was on high rotation at the music store where I worked at the time (thus my familiarity with the track). Fronted by Ed Kowalczyk, Live were one of the most consistently successful post-grunge rock bands of the '90s, with a number of much bigger hits still to come. What I didn't know until now was that, like Crash Test Dummies' God Shuffled His Feet, Throwing Copper was produced by Talking Heads' Jerry Harrison.
Number 35 "One Night A Day" by Garth Brooks
Peak: number 35
Two weeks ago, we saw Garth Brooks' first ever ARIA chart hit, "Standing Outside The Fire", which fell out of the top 50 this week. Never mind, the country superstar replaced it with another single from In Pieces, which had just as short a tenure among the top 50. With its jazzy saxophone and "At This Moment" bar singer feel, this was quite a change of pace from his previous hit.
Number 30 "Black Book" by E.Y.C.
Peak: number 25
Their second top 50 hit, "The Way You Work It", had been a chart disappointment, but boy band E.Y.C. found themselves back on the right side of the top 40 with this follow-up. After the frenetic energy of debut hit "Feelin' Alright" and the poppier sound of "The Way You Work It", "Black Book" was more on an R&B tip. The song, which was the trio's biggest UK release, would be their final to chart in Australia, with ballad "One More Chance" missing the top 100.
Number 21 "Chains" by Tina Arena
Peak: number 4
Although she has re-embraced it in recent years, Tina Arena turned her back on her debut solo album, Strong As Steel, in the aftermath of its 1990 release — particularly top 3 hit "I Need Your Body". Disappearing from Australia to hone her songwriting skills, she took her time to return with new music. Released by her new record label, Columbia, her second solo album, "Don't Ask", was entirely co-written by Tina, who admitted to me a couple of years ago when I interviewed her that she was "totally freaked out" in the lead-up to it coming out. In fact, she said, "I was a fuckin' rabbit in headlights, I reckon, for fuckin' months, you know, where I was like, 'If this doesn't work, I'm fucked.'"
Turns out she had nothing to fuckin' worry about, with the lead single, power ballad "Chains" not only returning her to the ARIA top 10, but becoming a hit overseas as well. An indication of the type of music we could expect from her now she was more in control of her career, the song's soaring vocals and raw emotion connected in a way the frothy pop of "I Need Your Body" hadn't been able to with the local music industry, that still looked down its nose at pure pop. As a result, as well as selling a large number of singles, Tina also became a bona fide album artist, with Don't Ask spending a mammoth 86 weeks in the top 50, finally reaching number 1 in November 1995 and winning four ARIA Awards along the way, including Album Of The Year.
Peak: number 2
From a new power ballad, we move now to the return of one of the biggest ballads of the 1980s. Originally recorded by Lionel Richie and Diana Ross, and taken from the film of the same name, "Endless Love" had spent four weeks at number 1 in Australia (and nine in the US). Apparently it was Mariah Carey's idea to record the tune with Luther for his covers album Songs, and it turned out to be a good one, resulting in both singers achieving a career best chart peak in Australia. For Mariah, it was a one-spot improvement on the position reached by her previous remake, "Without You", while for Luther, it matched the peak of his last duet, "The Best Things In Life Are Free". For me, while the vocal gymnastics and histrionics were kept to a minimum (cf. Mariah's version of "Against All Odds" with Westlife and, of course, "One Sweet Day"), I much preferred the original version.
Peak: number 9
Unlike Cold Chisel's last chart return in 1991 with "Misfits", which missed the top 50, this latest pre-Christmas clearing-of-the-vaults release made a much more significant impact on the chart, giving the Australian rock legends their first top 10 hit since 1982's "Forever Now". "Hands Out Of My Pocket" had originally been demoed for 1980's East and was issued all these years later to promote Teenage Love, an album of old demos and studio recordings collected from throughout Cold Chisel's career. As you'd expect with such a fan-targetted release, the song's descent out of the chart was relatively rapid.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1994:
Next week: another of 1994's mega ballads, plus the top 50 debut of a man who wrote and produced it. And we'll also see the arrival of a pop/punk band who'd have a very good second half of the decade.