This Week In 1994: May 1, 1994
I never noticed it at the time, but the release schedules of Prince and Madonna started to sync up in 1992, with the music megastars debuting simultaneously on the ARIA chart a number of times that year with "Sexy MF" and "This Used To Be My Playground", "My Name Is Prince" and "Erotica", and "7" and "Deeper And Deeper".
This week in 1994, it happened once again, with brand new songs by both singers arriving on the top 50, except one of the stars wasn't going by their regular mononym anymore - and earned themselves another number 1 in the process.
Before then, the number 1 song in Australia was "The Sign" by Ace Of Base, which ascended to the top for the first of four weeks this week in 1994.
Off The Chart
Number 98 "March Of The Pigs" by Nine Inch Nails
Peak: number 98
They'd be responsible for one of the decade's most controversial singles with their next release, but this lead single from The Downward Spiral at least got the industrial act's chart career started.
Number 95 "Stomp" by Tyme
Peak: number 70
You can thank Molly Meldrum for this excrutiating attempt at DJ BoBo-style Eurodance - the remake of The Brothers Johnson's disco classic was released by the music guru's Melodian label.
Number 92 "Gotta Lotta Love" by Ice-T
Peak: number 90
Another minor top 100 entry for Ice-T, whose Home Invasion album (which this song was taken from) was recorded back in 1992. The delays and record company interference he faced resulted in the rapper leaving his label so he could release the album as itended.
Peak: number 79
Snapped up by Madonna's Maverick label, this American R&B artist garnered critical acclaim with debut album Plantation Lullabies, which featured this excellently titled single.
Number 88 "Liar" by Rollins Band
Peak: number 65
This Grammy-nominated single from fourth album Weight became the first chart appearance for the band fronted by Henry Rollins (who had visited the chart himself earlier).
Peak: number 60
A slight improvement on their previous top 100 entry, this third single from the Canadian band's debut album was only given a full release in Australia and came with a music video filmed in Sydney.
Number 80 "Big Time Sensuality" by Björk
Peak: number 62
This track from Debut, which was remixed for single release by British electronic group Fluke, is far and away my favourite song by the Icelandic singer (although I prefer the album version). In fact, it may be the only one of hers I like.
Number 50 "To The Top" by Peter Andre
Peak: number 46
Despite coming in two versions - one, a standard single edit and the other, a revised version with new lyrics linked to the 1994 FIFA World Cup for which is served as the official theme - this became the first single by Australia's answer to Bobby Brown to miss the top 20 since his debut effort, "Drive Me Crazy". As it would turn out, Peter Andre was really just getting started.
Number 49 "Danny Man" by Jimeoin
Peak: number 49
Since he'd relocated to Australia in the late '80s, Irish comedian Jimeoin had quickly established himself as one of the country's most popular joke-crackers. So much so that he had his own show on Channel Seven in 1994-95 and managed to sneak into the top 50 with this... well, I don't really know what to call it. Part-rap, part-Irish jig based on Irish folk tune "Danny Boy", it reminds me a little of a novelty version of "Tubthumping". A bigger hit than his last charting effort, "Walk On The Wild Side", but only just.
Number 45 "Rocks" by Primal Scream
Peak: number 43
Earlier in the decade, they'd been one of many British rock bands to incorporate elements of dance music into their sound on third album Screamadelica, but Scotland's Primal Scream changed course for their next effort, Give Out But Don't Give Up, as evidenced by this blues-influenced stomper. More than a little reminscent of T.Rex, "Rocks" is one of those songs that has never really gone away, popping up in TV shows and movies, and covered over the years by all manner of artists - giving it a legacy much greater than you'd expect for a song that peaked outside the top 40.
Number 42 "I Believe" by Marcella Detroit
Peak: number 10
She'd had one of the most unceremonious sackings in music history when she was dismissed from Shakespears Sister by Siobhan Fahey at the 1993 Ivor Novello Awards. Although Marcella Detroit was in attendance at the songwriting awards ceremony, Siobhan was not, and it was the duo's publisher who made the announcement as part of a pre-written speech composed by Siobhan that was delivered when Shakespears Sister won Best Contemporary Collection Of Songs. Cold. (Side note: it took 25 years for the pair to talk again, meeting up in 2018, the same year Siobhan went back on tour with her previous group, Bananarama.)
Anyway, in 1994, Marcella dusted herself off and released this sublime ballad as her solo return, having previously released music in the early '80s. Self-written, "I Believe" perfectly showcased Marcella's vocal range - from the gentle verses to the impassioned chorus to that piercing high note in the song's climax. A great start to her post-Shakespears Sister career, the song peaked one place higher in Australia than the UK, but it would end up as Marcella's only solo hit, with subsequent releases failing to dent the top 100.
Number 41 "Whoomp! (There It Is)" by Tag Team
Peak: number 19
Like "Macarena" a couple of years later, this hip-hop anthem was one of two very similar tracks released in the first half of 1993 in the US. But despite being the bigger of the two, both here and in America (where it peaked at number 2), this song by one-hit wonder duo Tag Team was actually released later than the first: "Whoot, There It Is" by 95 South (which didn't even chart here, but reached number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100).
There's an interesting interview (in terms of the content and where it's filmed) with 95 South member Carlos Spencer about the situation on YouTube (the relevant part is from the five-minute mark), while Tag Team's Cecil "DC The Brain Supreme" Glenn and Steve "Steve Roll'n" Gibson tell their side of the story here. Musically, "Whoomp! (There It Is)" featured a sample from disco track "I'm Ready" by Kano and was an example of Miami bass, a genre made famous by 2 Live Crew.
Number 23 "Doop" by Doop
Peak: number 5
From "Whoomp!" we move to "Doop" and another novelty-esque track that I have to say I found pretty much unbearable. Plenty of other people liked it, though. Blending a 1920s Charleston tune with a 1990s dance beat, the eponymous debut single from the Dutch duo comprised of Peter Garnefski and Ferry Ridderhof reached number 1 in the UK and the Australian top 5, but I wonder how quickly those who bought it got sick of it. Mercifully, this was the only time Doop charted in Australia, although the same team were behind an even bigger hit in 1995 under a different name.
Peak: number 1
Things were pretty much over between Prince (*who I'll continue to refer to as Prince, even though he was going by the same unpronounceable love symbol that had been the title of his most recent studio album) and Warner Bros. Records at this point. As well as making everyone's lives more difficult by insisting on not being called Prince (with many referring to him as The Artist Formerly Known As Prince or just The Artist), he took to writing SLAVE on his face in reference to his belief that he was indentured to a record company that weren't acting in his artistic interests.
His 1993 career retrospective out of the way, Warner Bros. made the unusual decision of allowing new track "The Most Beautiful Girl In The World" to be released by Prince's NPG Records and independent German label Edel Music. In Australia, the song was distributed through a deal with Festival Records. Although all the rigmarole surrounding the release no doubt helped matters, it's likely the song - a ballad inspired by his future fiance, Mayte Garcia, and performed mostly in falsetto - would have been massive regardless. What few would have expected, however, was that it would be Prince's last huge hit.
Number 11 "I'll Remember" by Madonna
Peak: number 7
Here's something I didn't know before now: this Madonna ballad was co-written by Mr Mister frontman Richard Page. He wrote the original version of the song, which was then modified by Madonna and regular collaborator Patrick Leonard. "I'll Remember", which appeared on the soundtrack to long-forgotten Joe Pesci/Brendan Fraser film With Honors, was Madonna's first new song since winding up the Erotica project and its sensitive, delicate style was in marked contrast to the overt sexuality of most of that album (although similar musically and visually to "Rain" and its accompanying music video). Debuting one place above Prince (or whatever he was called) at number 11, she effortlessly racked up her 23rd top 10 hit.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1994:
Next week: another future number 1 with a title that consisted of one word repeated four times, plus the long-overdue arrival of a new British girl group.