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  • Gavin Scott

25 Years Ago This Week: March 19, 1995

If there were two things that defined the first half of the '90s it was grunge bands and vocal harmony groups. This week in 1995, the most successful example of the latter returned to the ARIA singles chart with a song that fell some way short of the chart highs we'd come to expect from them. 

New vocal harmony group 4PM succeeded as Boyz II Men stumbled

Their latest single was also much faster than their recent big hits. They were joined on the top 50 this week by a new quartet, who followed the vocal harmony playbook (down to the tempo) and earned themselves a spot in the top 10. 

At number 1 this week in 1995, MC Sar & The Real McCoy spent a sixth week on top with "Another Night" and once again kept Hocus Pocus at bay. But "Here's Johnny" would not be denied for much longer.

Off The Chart

Number 98 "Annihilating Rhythm" by Ultra-Sonic

Peak: number 84

One upside of the success of "Here's Johnny" was that it opened the door for some actually quite good techno, like this floor-filling release by Scottish group Ultra-Sonic.

Number 97 "Tonight" by Violent Femmes

Peak: number 62

Returning to the top 100 for the first time in just over three years, Violent Femmes lifted this sub-two minute single from their seventh album, Rock!!!!!, which was initially only released in Australia.

Number 79 "You Wreck Me" by Tom Petty

Peak: number 72

A slight chart improvement on "You Don't Know How It Feels", which we saw back in January, this second single from Wildflowers would be Tom Petty's final top 100 appearance.

Number 75 "Joy" by Toni Pearen

Peak: number 71

Also charting for the last time was singer and actress Toni Pearen, who missed the top 50 for the first time with her fourth single, which was remixed from the superior album version.

New Entries

Number 49 "Believe" by Elton John

Peak: number 23

I finished reading Elton John's autobiography, Me, just recently, and, given by 1995 he had kicked his addictions and was in the process of settling down with future husband David Furnish, this era of his career doesn't provide as many reminiscences as his earlier, hedonistic days. Appropriately enough, given where the music legend was in his life at this point, this lead single from his 24th album, Made In England, is quite a stately, mature affair, and while the album went top 10, "Believe" ended up as a mid-table hit.

Number 48 "Open Your Heart" by M-People

Peak: number 25

As much as I liked M-People - and I liked them a lot - the one thing that frustrated me about the British dance band was that the album versions of their songs always went on for so long, like the 5:42 version of "Open Your Heart" found on Bizarre Fruit. Luckily, my favourite song of the album became its second single and came with a tidy 3:41 radio edit. And while I bought the CD single even though I already had the album for that very reason, it seems not enough other people did, with the song becoming their latest UK top 10 hit to get stuck in the 20s here.

Number 44 "Mr Natural" by Mental As Anything

Peak: number 27

Last week, we saw the final hit for Divinyls, and seven days later, another Australian band that had been releasing music since the dawn of the '80s (slightly earlier in this case) entered the chart for the last time. The lead single from the Liar Liar Pants On Fire album, the Martin Plaza-sung "Mr Natural" would give the Mentals a 20th top 40 hit, something they wouldn't manage again despite continuing to release albums for some time afterwards.

Number 42 "Thank You" by Boyz II Men

Peak: number 33

Excluding Christmas single "Let It Snow", Boyz II Men had not peaked lower than number 11 with their previous four singles, which shared one thing in common: they were all ballads. Mixing things up for the third single from II, the world's premier vocal harmony group released uptempo new jack swing track "Thank You", and suddenly found themselves much lower down the chart. It wasn't just Australia that didn't embrace the song as wholeheartedly - even in the US, where debut single "Motownphilly" had reached number 2, "Thank You" just missed the top 20. I actually really like "Thank You" and thought it was a good idea to take a break from the mega-ballads. And perhaps it was - the song's relative lack of success might have had nothing to do with the song's tempo but more the fact that, up until this week, II had not been out of the top 20 on the albums chart since October.

Number 41 "Everlasting Love" by Gloria Estefan

Peak: number 29

Traditionally, Gloria Estefan's hit rate in Australia hadn't seemed to be governed by whether a song was fast or slow - over the years, she'd had hits ("Dr Beat", "Anything For You") and unexpected misses ("Get On Your Feet", "Coming Out Of The Dark") with both. But after the failure of her previous remake, ballad "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me", to progress further than number 48, another uptempo cover did better. The latest version of perennial favourite "Everlasting Love", Gloria's rendition was accompanied by a music video featuring drag queens dressed as her at different stages in her career since she was heavily pregnant with daughter Emily when it was filmed.

Number 37 "Sukiyaki" by 4 P.M.

Peak: number 3

Standing for For Positive Music, new vocal harmony quartet 4 P.M. burst straight out of the gate with a play straight from the Boyz II Men rule book - a partly a cappella remake. In this case, it was a cover of A Taste Of Honey's 1981 worldwide hit "Sukiyaki" (which had peaked at number 24 locally), a song that had in turn been an English-language version of the 1961 tune by Japanese artist Kyu Sakamoto (which reached number 1 in Australia two years later following its US success). Whether 4 P.M. could sustain a chart career beyond this hit remake would remain to be seen...

Number 23 "Yesterdays" by Cold Chisel

Peak: number 23

With everything else going on this week, it's something of an anti-climax that the highest new entry on the top 50 was the latest song plucked from Cold Chisel's bits and pieces album, Teenage Love. "Yesterdays" spent just three weeks on the top 50.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1995 (updated weekly):

Next week: a new hit from a local vocal harmony group, plus a novelty hit about sperm.

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