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  • Gavin Scott

This Week In 1987: November 1, 1987

Originally posted as 25 Years Ago This Week in 2012. Updated in 2017.

In chart history, one song has often dominated the number 1 spot over summer - a feat made easier in the '80s by the ARIA chart closing down for up to three weeks and instantly giving the song at number 1 an uninterrupted stretch at the top. This week in 1987, the song that would rack up seven weeks on top over December '87/January '88 debuted.

Rick Astley: the pop star your mum approved of

Yep, decades before it became a meme, "Never Gonna Give You Up" was a massive hit. In the UK, it was the highest-selling single of 1987. In Australia, because its chart life spanned two years, Rick Astley's debut single never topped an annual countdown, but it was crowned the overall number 1 single for the '80s by the Australian Music Report (who supplied ARIA with their chart data until mid-'88).

Another song that spent seven weeks on top was still there this week in 1987. "La Bamba" by Los Lobos enjoyed its fifth week at number 1.

Off The Chart

Number 100 "Back In The USSR" by B-Mania

Peak: number 100

Pre-empting Billy Joel's live recording of The Beatles song by a couple of weeks, this Dutch dance version had a brief top 100 tenure. One of the two producers behind it, Eric van Tijn, is now a reality show judge in the Netherlands.  

Number 92 "Lost In Emotion" by Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam

Peak: number 83

"Head To Toe" had barely missed the top 50, but this follow-up, which gave the freestyle group a second straight US number 1, didn't fare quite as well locally. 

New Entries

Number 50 "Rock On" by John Justin

Peak: number 50

I almost mentioned this song a few weeks ago when it popped up as a breaker, but then I checked and the cover of the David Essex hit (which had reached number 8 in Australia in 1973) did spend a solitary week in the top 50. A much bigger hit in his hometown of Melbourne, John's version put the rock into "Rock On", a song which was also covered by The Young & The Restless star Michael Damian in 1989. Michael's more traditional version, which was taken from the film Dream A Little Dream (and featured the Coreys - Haim and Feldman, of course - in the music video), reached the other end of the chart in the US, spending a single week at number 1 there.

Number 49 "Die Yuppie Die" by Painters & Dockers

Peak: number 49

If I thought it couldn't get worse than "Nude School", which we saw way back in my first ever blog post, then I was to be sadly mistaken. This cacophony of a song edged its way into the top 50, also spending just one week at this peak position. There are not many concepts more '80s than the yuppie, and this group, named after the shipyard union, clearly didn't like them. Embarrassingly, when I first read the song title at the time, I pronounced it as if it was in German (I'd just started studying the language that year at school, if that's any excuse). It took me ages to realise what the title was actually saying. Anyway, watch the clip if you dare - otherwise, let's move swiftly on.

Number 43 "Never Gonna Give You Up" by Rick Astley

Peak: number 1

Fresh from his five weeks on top of the UK charts, Rick was now taking his bright, young pop sound (well, that of producers Stock Aitken Waterman) around the world. Interestingly - and this is something I only read on another blog earlier this year - when the song first started rising up the British chart, it didn't have a music video since Pete Waterman was more than happy to encourage the assumption that the song's performer was a black soul artist and not a red-haired tea boy from the north of England. The clip, complete with Rick's hand movements and the backing dancer who runs up the wall, would be there from the start as the song commenced its trip to the top in Australia - and the track would go on to spend seven weeks at number 1 across the Christmas and New Year period.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1987:

Well, it was short and only partly sweet, but that's it for another week's look back at the Australian chart from 25 years ago. Next week, we have double the number of songs to talk about, including some much better Aussie rock and one of two songs by a big hair metal band to hit the charts in the dying weeks of the year.

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