This Week In 1989: November 19, 1989
Originally posted as 25 Years Ago This Week in 2014. Updated in 2019.
In the almost two-and-a-half years that I've been writing this blog, the thing that's surprised me the most has been just how many novelty songs hit the ARIA top 50 in the late '80s. Of course, novelty records can take several forms — the intentionally funny (Morris Minor & The Majors, Kylie Mole), the sci-fi tie-in (The Firm, The Timelords, ALF) and the lewd (Clarence Carter), for example.
This week in 1989, two novelty songs entered the ARIA singles chart — one aiming for laughs from a well-known group of comedians, and the other incorporating sounds that made it both titillating and a guaranteed hit. Meanwhile, one of the most successful male artists of the '80s returned with the first taste of his un-funny new album.
At number 1 this week in 1989, Cher kept another novelty record — "Swing The Mood" by Jive Bunny & The Mastermixers — at bay as she spent her third non-consecutive week on top with "If I Could Turn Back Time".
Off The Chart
Peak: number 86
Perhaps if this cover of the 1967 song by The Hombres (originally titled "Let It Out (Let It All Hang Out)") hadn't been left until the final single from Big Daddy, it might have performed better.
Number 77 "Hysteria" by Def Leppard
Peak: number 77
The re-release of "Pour Some Sugar On Me" had paid off with a top 30 entry, but the title track of Def Leppard's two-year-old album only generated marginally more interest in late 1989 than it had in early 1988.
Number 75 "Come Back To Me" by Chantoozies
Peak: number 72
A new song written by band members Eve von Bibra and Brett Goldsmith, "Come Back To Me" signalled an era of much line-up upheaval and, except for a brief respite in 1991, a downwards chart trajectory.
Peak: number 71
Skipping over my favourite single for 1989, Australia followed America's lead and chose this track to come after "This Time I Know It's For Real". Slightly remixed from the album version, it was another solid gold Stock Aitken Waterman effort.
Peak: number 60
A few weeks back, we saw the debut of Tina Turner's "The Best", a song originally recorded by Bonnie Tyler. And here's another track released by the Welsh singer before it went on to be made more famous by a different act. This time, however, the song was actually co-written by KISS member Paul Stanley, which explains why the band might've wanted to try their hand at it, including it on their Hot In The Shade album and releasing it as the lead single.
Interestingly, a rival version was also recorded by former KISS member Ace Frehley for his Trouble Walkin' album, which came out around the same time. Even more curious was the fact that despite "Hide Your Heart" not being that great a song, two more covers were recorded in 1989 — one by Molly Hatchet (a band) and another by Robin Beck (a solo female artist who hit number 1 in the UK in 1988 with Coke ad theme "First Time").
Peak: number 57
Poor Debbie Gibson — she really did seem destined to just miss the top 50 more often than she cracked it. Hot on the heels of number 58 single "No More Rhyme", this fourth release from Electric Youth also puttered out just short of the chart. And, like the album's title track, "We Could Be Together" was another song that seemed to go on and on, with a couple of bridges, an a cappella bit and a never-ending series of choruses — and that was with a minute cut off the album version.
Number 49 "French Kiss" by Lil Louis
Peak: number 35
Let's face it, the only reason this otherwise repetitive dance track made such an impact on charts (including a number 2 peak in the UK) is because of the sexual moaning in the middle when the BPM drops. I was in Year 9 at the time and remember playing "French Kiss" to a group of class-mates who were instantly taken with the track — after all, no one gets more excited by moaning women than 14-year-old boys. Speaking of kids, call me a prude, but I'm not sure of the appropriateness of featuring youngsters in the music video of a song with an orgasmic breakdown. Rude sex noises aside, "French Kiss" is in one other way literally a novelty record, since the slowing down and complete stopping of the beat was unprecedented. The track was the only hit for Lil Louis, aka Marvin Burns, but it's lived on thanks to it being regularly sampled in the years since.
Peak: number 11
Now he'd finished with his acting work (for the time being), Phil Collins got on with his day job as a recording artist and released his latest studio album, ...But Seriously — his first in four years. "Another Day In Paradise" was the ultra-serious lead single from the album and Phil's 20th solo single of the '80s — and one of my least favourite. The song about homelessness was also the first of six singles that would end up being taken from the album, and easily the most successful — a number 1 in the US, a number 2 in the UK and the Grammy Award winner for Record Of The Year.
Number 43 "Don't Wanna Lose You" by Gloria Estefan Peak: number 40
Here's another dreary ballad — and another US number 1 — from an artist whose music I otherwise liked in the '80s. The Diana Ross of the Latin music scene, Gloria completed her transition from Miami Sound Machine member to named vocalist to solo star with her 1989 album, Cuts Both Ways. Not a massive hit in Australia, "Don't Wanna Lose You" at least did better than its American follow-up, the far superior and much more energetic "Get On Your Feet", which belatedly reached number 98 in late 1990 after Gloria's Australian record company had exhausted all the album's big ballad singles.
Number 34 "Sometimes" by Max Q Peak: number 31
Looks like the, er, novelty of the Max Q project wore off pretty quickly, with Michael Hutchence's side project from INXS stumbling when this second single fell some way short of the top 10 achievement of debut release "Way Of The World". A third single, "Monday Night By Satellite", from the band's self-titled album was released in 1990, but it didn't even reach the top 100 — and that was that.
Number 29 "Five In A Row" by The D-Generation Peak: number 12
This week's second novelty record was the first of two parody singles by comedy team The D-Generation, who at that stage were a few years out of university, and making a name for themselves in TV specials and a breakfast show on Melbourne's Triple M. Taking easy shots at a handful of Australia's most prominent music stars (John Farnham, Jimmy Barnes, Little River Band, Kylie Minogue and James Reyne), the gags in "Five In A Row" are linked together by patter from a radio DJ character played by Rob Sitch. While the whole thing was reasonably amusing, I can't for the life of me think why you'd want to own the record and play it again and again, especially without the music video.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1989:
Next week: the song of the summer (and wedding receptions for decades to come) arrives, plus more Italo house and the return of one of the most iconic singers of the late '70s and early '80s.